If you’re a beginner, MUN does suck a bit, or maybe more.
I’ve personally seen beginners losing confidence and motivation a lot at their first MUNs. A big reason that happens, apart from nervousness, is that they don’t feel prepared enough. A big reason that happens, is that they don’t know what’s going on in the sessions. A big reason that happens, is that they simply don’t understand the basic things. This is what we’ll change.
Look, your first MUN can either throw you into the MUN world or out of it. If you don’t have a good basic understanding, chances are you’ll easily slip out, maybe forever.
But don’t worry, because that’s where this article comes in. Whether you’ve previously learned something or not, here I’ve got 10 important MUN terms easily explained to give you enough understanding to be confident for your upcoming MUN.
Before you check this out, know that this is the 2nd part of the MUN terms series. So if you haven’t yet, check out the 1st part here, as some terms used in this article were explained in the 1st part.
Off you go now! Happy learning!
This is one of the Chairpersons. The person conveys message notes between delegates, as talking is strictly prohibited. Delegates use this person to convey their messages to each other, as part of their planning.
It’s possible, in fact probable, that this role will be played by any of the ACDs instead of having a person dedicated to it.
A wooden hammer that usually the Committee Director uses by smashing to start a session, maintain order or complete a session.
The gavel is also given as an award in many top MUN conferences to best delegate(s) of a committee.
3. MUN Observer
An observer only observes a conference and doesn’t participate.
Delegates go as observers if they wish, usually when they’re complete beginners. It could be good to observe the first conference to get the basic know-how.
Here’s my opinion though: Don’t go as an observer, even if it’s your first. It’s way better to go as a participating delegate.
See, you’ll always get a better understanding by participating than just watching. You’ll gain more confidence for your next conference. Also, since an observer isn’t eligible for any awards, why not participate the most you can to maybe snatch one of the awards(doesn’t usually happen at top conferences, experience matters there).
4. Member states and Permanent 5(P5)
Member states, as seen by the name, are all the countries/states that are part of the UN. This isn’t important for the conference as definitely everyone at the conference will be representing a member state, but just for information.
Permanent 5(P5) are the member states that have a permanent seat at the UN. In the United Nations Security Council(a committee of the UN), these countries have the veto power; the power to annul a resolution even if everyone else stands by it.
These countries are the USA, UK, France, Russia, and China. These countries had won World War 2 and they founded the United Nations in 1945. Thus, if you’re representing one of the P5, you have the veto power which is only applicable in the United Nations Security Council(UNSC).
5. MUN Rules of Procedure(RoP)
As indicated by the name, these are the rules based on which the conference is conducted. Every conference’s RoP is provided to the delegates before the event in soft copy.
Any action is out of order if it’s not according to the RoP.
To be fair though, almost no delegate goes through them. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t. You definitely should, especially if it’s your first conference unless someone has taught them to you. The reason no one goes through the RoP is that, more or less, all MUNs have the same RoP and so barely anything changes, that also unnoticeable. So if you have prior knowledge of roughly how things move in a MUN, you can skip it if you’re short of time. Otherwise, go through it.
I may not be able to give its exact meaning because this term is used in different phrases like, ‘Delegate, you have the floor.’, ‘Are there any motions(discussed below) on the floor?’ and so it doesn’t have a fixed meaning. Basically, it means something like an opportunity to take an action. So when it’s said, ‘Delegate, you have the floor’, it means that the particular delegate can speak. Depending upon the context, it could be a speech, or a motion to direct a committee in a certain direction.
Don’t worry, I’ll use this term more below to give a better idea of what it means(if still unclear, drop your confusion in the comments. I’ll entertain it.)
This can be understood by simply understanding the Physics meaning of motion; movement in a direction. Yes, that’s what it means, except that you’re not moving when you raise a motion, but rather you want to move the committee in a certain direction.
I’ll explain more: Moving the committee in a direction is to dictate what must be the next step for the committee e.g. you could raise a motion for General Speakers List, a moderated caucus, an unmoderated caucus, or an entertainment session(yeah you heard that right, that’s where the dope fun things happen, to chill). So essentially what you’re doing is that you’re trying to dictate the next step.
As mentioned above, if the motion is out of order or the chair feels it’s raised at the wrong time, the chair tells you that and rejects the motion.
General Speakers List, Moderated Caucus and Unmoderated Caucus are different forms of debate which I will discuss in the upcoming articles. Just had to mention to give some understanding of a motion.
Procedure to raise a motion in MUN
- One or more delegates raise their placards
- The chair ‘recognizes’ about 3 delegates(in a few conferences, even only one is recognized) by saying e.g. ‘Delegate of The Republic of India, you have been recognized.’, ‘Delegate of The United States of America, you have been recognized.’, ‘Delegate of….’, and you get the gist. This means that the recognized delegates have the floor, with the chair deciding who’ll raise the motion first.
- The other delegates lower their placards and the recognized delegate stands up and says e.g. ‘The delegate of The Republic of India would like to raise a motion to (whatever form of debate or any other step etc.)’
- In case the motion isn’t out of order or the chair doesn’t think it’s at the wrong time, the chair accepts it and allows the remaining recognized delegates to raise their motions.
- Once all motions have raised, voting is done on each motion to see if it passes or fails.
If a motion passes, that’s what the committee does. If it fails, next motion is voted upon. In case all motions fail, more delegates can be recognized the same way and all steps repeated.
8. MUN Study guide
This is another document provided in soft copy prior to the event. This is basically a document which facilitates you in your research for your committee’s topic. It contains basic information about the topic.
To be fair, it’s not a very short document so the information doesn’t look basic, but it is. So instead of using the study guide as the only source, use it like a summary or basic knowledge of the topic and do the research by yourself.
Put the most time before the event for research. It’s the most important thing for MUN preparation.
9. MUN Roll call
This is a procedure at the start of each session. Roll call is like attendance marking. Alphabetically, each country’s name is called and the delegate can respond with ‘Present’ or ‘Present and voting’.
If there’s no response, it’s marked absent, and that has a few minor consequences.
‘Present’ means you’re there but you can abstain from voting(basically on a resolution which we’ll discuss in upcoming articles) in case you want to. ‘Present and voting’ means you’re there but you don’t want to take the right to abstain from voting
So, to be safe, ‘Present’ is better.
Just remember that while responding with ‘Present’ or ‘Present and voting’ isn’t wrong, it’s better to respond fully e.g. ‘The People’s Republic of China is present/present and voting’, ‘The Russian Federation is present/present and voting’, ‘The Islamic Republic of Pakistan is present/present and voting’. See how I use ‘People’s Republic of…’, ‘…. Federation’, ‘Islamic Republic of…’ instead of simply saying ‘China’, ‘Russia’ or ‘Pakistan’. Again, not needed but better.
Let me also distinguish between ‘session’ and ‘conference’ here. The conference is the whole MUN which is usually 3-5 days long, while a session is about 1.5 hours long(the maximum I’ve attended was 2 hours). Thus, there would be 3-4 sessions in a day and thus, many in a MUN.
This is used to pause all proceedings because the session time is over.
A motion from a delegate is needed.
Just like every motion, the delegate raises his/her placard, gets recognized, and says, ‘The delegate of (country/organization) would like to raise a motion to suspend the debate.’
The chair passes the motion without any voting cuz duh, time’s over, man. As the session ends, the delegates leave to have a break or go home if it is the last session of the day.
Thus, note that the chair has the right to pass or fail a motion at his/her discretion.
Thank you for reading my article!
Check out the 3rd part here
If there’s any question or you want me to explain a concept more, bomb the comment section!
Make sure to stay tuned as we’ve got some more to discover together, buddy.
Don’t forget to share this!
Good luck in your MUN journey!