If you think learning MUN is hard, conquering it is even harder, but that also makes it beautiful.
Previously, we talked about some basic terms without which you’d struggle to even participate. Now it’s time to discuss terms related to more deep procedures and concepts, which if you do well, make you a hero.
1. MUN Formal Debate
There are 2 types of MUN debate and the first is formal debate. Each session starts with a formal debate. This is important so the delegates make their first impressions.
Formal debate basically consists of General Speakers List(GSL) and that’s why it’s even referred to by that name.
GSL speech is basically you talking your position paper. A good format is the format you used for your position paper; Brief history of topic and UN actions/resolutions on it, your country’s position on it, and 1 or 2 recommended solutions.
The solutions must not be very deep but also not very vague as your aim is to direct the committee in the direction of the solutions at this point. A vague solution is, “Let’s solve this” and is of no use, but going very deep in a solution is also just gonna take your time at this stage.
Let’s suppose you’re China and the topic is Kashmir issue. Ideally, you’d point out that all concerned parties must not violate UN resolutions and that the member states must play their part in bringing India and Pakistan on the table.
I’ll explain in a later article why these solutions aren’t deep.
A motion is required for GSL and the delegate raising the motion specifies the time to be given to each delegate willing to speak. Normally, this time is 1 min or 1.5 min. If a delegate specifies some other time, usually the chair objects the motion and may reject it if the time frame isn’t changed to the normal.
MUN GSL Procedure
- A delegate raises a motion
- If good, the motion is accepted by the chair and put to vote
- Usually, all delegates vote for it and so it passes
- One of the ACDs starts making a GSL by recognizing delegates who are willing to speak, via their raised placards. The delegates are listed in order of who is recognized first. Once a delegate is recognized, they lower their placard
- Till a specific number, the ACD continues to recognize and then asks any others to lower their placard as they won’t recognized. Not a big deal
- The first delegate in the list rises and addresses the committee, and so on
GSL may continue until all listed delegates have spoken, but sometimes the chair pauses it and asks for a motion directing away from GSL. This is a motion to go into informal debate i.e. moderated caucus. This is because the chair feels that enough things are talked about and it is time to move forward.
The remaining delegates are allowed to speak in order when the GSL resumes in the next session. Sometimes a new GSL may be started in the next session but there also preference is given to the delegates who have haven’t spoken.
Do understand that variations in the procedure are normal, and so I’ve made sure to add everything I’ve experienced and heard. Again, the variations will be slight and it will not be an issue.
2. MUN Informal Debate
The 2nd type of MUN debate is the informal one. This mainly consists of Moderated Caucus(also called Mod in casual) and Unmoderated caucus(also called Unmod in casual).
Informal debate is where some delegates find common grounds and thus form blocs because in the GSL, so many delegates may be having some sort of common ground but that may differ later.
As I mentioned, when the GSL is completed or the chair feels no need for it, a motion is required. This motion is for informal debate and it almost always is for a moderated caucus, so we’ll discuss it first.
What does this mean firstly? Let’s simplify the words. ‘Moderated’ meaning being kept in order due to moderation, and ‘Caucus’ meaning a meeting or conference.
In this, delegates rise from their positions and address the committee like GSL, except that it’s for a shorter while and that the topic is deeper.
Delegates raise motions and the same procedure applies as in a normal motion(discussed in part 2. Checkout here if you haven’t yet). However, the delegate has to mention the sub-topic e.g. In Kashmir, it could history of Kashmir, prospect of independence etc., the total duration of the speeches to be made on the topic and the time per delegate. For example, it could be like, “The delegate of Germany would like to raise a motion for a moderated caucus on the history of Kashmir with timeframe 5 min:30 seconds” The 5 minutes are the total time here, and the 30 seconds is the time per delegate. The time per delegate is kept at 30 secs or sometimes 45 seconds, as one minute is long but 15 seconds is too short.
No list is made(this may vary) and the delegates get recognized via their placards and have the floor instantly. Delegates keep getting recognized and speak until the time is over, in which case new motions are awaited.
By meaning, this is the unordered meeting, and for a good reason.
In this, delegates can move around and talk to different delegates. Based on speeches in the mod, this is where delegates make a bloc and start to work together.
This also requires a motion. However, its motion can be easily rejected if raised too early because the chair may think that there hasn’t been enough substantial discussion yet. So, although there is no specific time, after 4-5 mods, it’s good to raise it. It’s possible that one delegate is raising a motion of unmod while others are raising motions for different mods. That’s perfectly normal as far as the chair thinks it’s fine to have an unmod now, because it’ll be put to vote and that will determine its result.
Unmod is very important because the planning happens here and the dynamics of the committee can be defined here. That’s what makes it interesting for me.
Yielding means giving time. Understandably, this time is from your speeches. If you’ve completed your speech before the time, you can yield it to:
- Chair: By saying, “I yield my time to chair”, you simply give it up. This is what almost all delegates do.
- Another delegate: By saying, “I yield my time to the delegate of (country/organization)”, you allow that delegate to speak in your remaining time.
- Questions/comments: By saying, “I yield my time to questions/comments”, you allow other delegates to question you or comment on what you said. Since any delegate can question you or comment, no one does this.
4. MUN Right To Reply
A MUNner’s favorite right in life.
This is a right a delegate can ask for if he/she feels they or their country/organization was insulted by another delegate during his/her speech.
This right can be asked for by writing a note to the chair or by raising the placard and verbally requesting for it upon being recognized. The chair may grant it or not, depending upon whether the chair feels there was an insult or not.
The fun part is that it gets interesting when delegates use it to bash each other, although that still must be kept civil.
5. MUN Simple Majority
This simply refers to the lowest possible majority; 1 vote more than half of the total possible votes.
Most MUN procedures e.g. motions etc. require a simple majority to be passed, while only a few require a 2/3rd majority.
6. Seconds and Objections
This is a voting method sometimes used to see if there’s unanimous support for the thing to be voted upon.
To vote on something, the chair first asks all those in favor to say ‘seconds’ and all those against to say ‘objections’. If there are seconds but no objection, the thing to be voted upon passes. If there are objections, the thing is put to a voting method where the votes can be counted.
7. Point Of Personal Privilege
This can be asked by a delegate if he/she feels uncomfortable with something outside the debate content. Examples are the need to go to the washroom, the inability to hear a delegate, the room temperature, the need to answer a phone call etc.
The placard is raised and ‘point of privilege’ is said upon recognition if the delegate needs to go out of the room(for washroom, phone call etc.). If the delegate needs some help inside the room, the delegate can add that after ‘point of personal privilege’.
In my experience, the chair always grants it.
It is also the only one granted while a delegate is speaking, only if there’s an issue with the delegate speaking, otherwise not granted and considered very disrespectful. So, only if you can’t hear the delegate, raise your placard. Otherwise, wait until the delegate has finished.
8. Point Of Inquiry
Also called Point of Parliamentary Inquiry.
This is asked if the delegate doesn’t understand something related to the debate. It could be anything, including a procedure.
For this also, the placard has to be raised and upon recognition, the delegate says, “Point of (Parliamentary) Inquiry,………..?”
9. Point Of Order
This is raised by a delegate when he/she feels the chair has made a mistake in a procedure.
Generally speaking, it’s better to avoid it and instead communicate it as a question in the point of inquiry, and the chair will correct it if it was a mistake. That’s because sometimes some chairs consider it as a disrespect, so leave it.
There are some other points as well, but since they’re not important neither a usual part, I’ve not discussed them. Examples are Point of Entertainment, Point of Information etc.
This means to end the debate as the last session’s time finishes.
A motion is required and understandably, it passes to end the whole committee. All committees of an MUN conclude more or less at the same time.
Thanks for reading my article!
Check out part 4 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.
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Good luck in your MUN journey!