Model United Nations Procedure
Procedure is a vital aspect of any MUN. In committee sessions, there are specific guidelines that must be adhered to when one wants to make an action. While rules of procedure vary from conference to conference, the following document explains the parliamentary procedure at the VHMUN Conference, Mumbai 2015. Parliamentary procedure is the language through which you will communicate during the conference. The following guide is a ‘translation’ and explains each rule in the following ways:
1. Context – describes what the function of the rule is.
2. When – explains the time that the rule is used for.
3. Comment – is provided if there is another part of the rule.
4. Best used for – explains the best time for a rule to be used.
A ‘motion’ is used in a committee when a delegate wants to have an action passed that affects the entire committee. Like the name suggests, ‘motion’, as in ‘moving’, means that you are ‘moving’ towards an action (this may help you remember).
Motion to Open the Speakers’ List
Context: This motion is used when a delegate wants to start a new Speakers’ List; the chair will then call on delegates who want to be added to the list.
When: This is used at the beginning of the conference when a Speakers’ List has to be opened to set the agenda; it is also used to create a new Speakers’ List after the agenda has been set and for every new topic up for discussion thereafter.
Motion to Set the Agenda
Context: This is used to set the order in which the topics will be debated; there will be two speakers ‘for’ and two speakers ‘against’ the motion.
When: The motion is used after there has been sufficient debate upon which of the topics on the agenda is more important and will be entertained at the discretion of the chair.
Motion for a Moderated Caucus
Context: This motion is employed when one wants to start a moderated caucus.
When: It can be called for anytime during organised debate (when the chair asks if there are any points or motions on the floor), or after a previous caucus is finished.
Comment: When a delegate calls for a moderated caucus, they also must specify the length of the caucus, the length of each speaking time, and the purpose of the caucus; for example ‘motion for a ten minute moderated caucus with a thirty second speaking time for the purpose of discussing education within the field of child labour.’
Best used for: Relatively fast paced discussions about a specific sub topic. It is sometimes used to hear the opinions of many nations in order to focus on what the committee will talk about.
Motion for an Unmoderated Caucus
Context: This motion is used when one wants to start an unmoderated caucus.
When: It can be called for anytime during organised debate (when the Chair asks if there are any points or motions on the floor) or after a previous caucus is finished.
Comment: When a delegate calls for an unmoderated caucus, she/he must also specify the length of the caucus.
Best used for: Informal debate. If a delegate wishes to talk, to have a discussion with another delegate or if a delegate wishes to collaborate with others in writing a resolution, then an unmoderated caucus would be appropriate.
Motion for a Right of Reply
Context: If a member of the committee makes a personal attack on another delegate, then the offended delegate is permitted to reply to the delegate. However, if an attack is made on a delegate’s position, the delegate does not receive a Right of Reply, meaning ‘Country A is stupid…’ would deserve a Right of Reply, while, ‘Country B’s idea of satellites is idiotic…’ does not deserve a Right of Reply.
When: A ‘Right of Reply’ is requested directly after the personal attack is made.
Comment: The chair makes the ultimate ruling to decide whether the delegate in question deserves a Right of Reply.
Note: At the VHMUN Conference, Mumbai, all Rights of Reply must be submitted to the Chair in writing.
Motion to Introduce Working Paper/Resolution/Amendment
Context: This motion is used when a delegate wants to introduce (i.e. read it to the committee and make it an official document) a working paper/resolution/ amendment.
When: This motion is used after the dais staff has handed out the working paper/resolution/amendment to the committee.
Comment: When you move to introduce the document, you also must specify the number (eg. Motion to introduce resolution).
Motion to Table the Topic
Context: This motion is used if a delegate wishes to immediately end a debate on a topic and move to the next item on the agenda. If this motion is employed, then there will be no vote on the topic or any resolution introduced on the topic; there will be two speakers ‘for’ and two speakers ‘against’ this motion.
When: The motion can be used any time.
Motion to Close the Speakers’ List
Context: Closing the Speaker’s List means that no more countries will be added to the Speakers’ List; when all the names on the Speakers’ List have been exhausted, then the committee immediately moves into voting procedure.
When: This motion can be used any time during formal debate.
Motion to Close Debate and Move into Voting Procedure
Context: This motion is used if a delegate wants to end a debate on a topic and move into voting procedure; there will be two speakers against this motion.
When: This motion can be used any time but it will not be taken seriously unless an ample amount of debate on the issue has occurred.
Motion for a Roll Call Vote
Context: During voting procedure, as opposed to raising one’s placard to vote, a delegate can motion for a roll call vote, which means that each country will be called on individually to cast their vote.
When: The motion is used during voting procedure and automatically adopted, with the Chair’s approval. Comment: The ways one can vote during a roll call vote are ‘yes’, ‘no’, ‘yes with rights’, ‘no with rights’, ‘abstain’,
and ‘pass’. If a delegate votes ‘yes’, it means he is in favour of the resolution. If a delegate votes ‘no’, it means the delegate is against the resolution. If a delegate abstains, it means she/he does not wish to cast a vote on the resolution. If a delegate votes ‘yes/no with rights’, it means the delegate wishes to explain her/his vote. The delegate, upon completion of the role call vote, will be given time for a thirty second speech. If a delegate votes
‘yes/no with rights’ it usually means that the delegate would like to explain why she/he is voting against their country’s position or against what the country was arguing for during the debate. If a delegate passes, it means that the delegate is unsure of how to vote, and will be called upon at the end of the roll call vote. Please note that if a delegate passes, she/he cannot vote with rights.
Motion to Divide the Question
Context: This motion is used if a delegate wishes to divide a portion (certain clauses) of a resolution; each portion of the resolution will then be voted on separately. This requires two speakers ‘for’ and two speakers ‘against’ the motion to divide, not for the individual divisions.
When: This motion is used during voting procedure.
Comment: A delegate would use this motion if she/he agrees with the majority of a resolution but is unable to vote for it because of a certain clause.
Motion to Recess
Context: This motion is used to suspend debate at the end of each committee session.
When: At the end of each committee session, once the Chair says that she/he would take a Motion to Recess.
Motion to Adjourn
Context: This motion is used to end the last committee session, ending the conference.
When: The motion is used at the end of the last committee session, once the Chair says that she/he would take a
Motion to Adjourn.
Motion to Question the Competence of the Committee to Discuss
Context: This motion is used if a delegate believes that a topic either in a resolution or discussed in committee is out of the jurisdiction of the charter of that committee. For example, if a resolution
for the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) had a clause which discussed Iraq’s nuclear disarmament, then that merits a motion to question the competence because CSW does not have the ability to disarm Iraq. When someone uses this motion, there will be two speakers ‘for’ and two speakers ‘against’ the topic/clauses at hand; followed by a vote. If the vote passes, then the topic at hand will be deleted from the resolution/discussion.
When: The motion can be used any time during a formal debate.
Comment: This motion is a very serious motion that drastically changes the course of debate. Accordingly, it should only be used if you and your fellow delegates believe there is a serious problem and the topic of discussion is fully outside the scope of the committee.
Motion to Question the Competence of the Chair
Context: This motion is used if a delegate believes that the Chair of the committee is not well versed with VHMUN Conference conduct or procedure or if a delegate believes that the Chair is doing a poor job in running the committee. If this motion is brought to the floor, the Co Chair will determine whether or not the motion is in order. If the Co Chair finds the motion in order, she/he will continue the procedural process of questioning the competence of the Chair.
When: The motion can be used any time during formal debate.
Comment: This motion is very serious and should be considered very carefully before use.
In general, points are a way in a committee to ask a question, or bring something of non substantive importance to the committee’s attention.
Point of Parliamentary Inquiry
Context: This point is used when a delegate is unsure of or wants a clarification of a rule or a committee procedure; it can also be used if a delegate has a non substantive question such as, ‘Would it be in order to start handing in working papers at this time?’
When: Any time when the Chair is taking points from the floor.
Point of Personal Privilege
Context: This point is used when a delegate’s ability to participate in a committee is impaired. For example, one could use this point if it is difficult to hear the speaker or it is very cold in the room.
When: This point can be used anytime, even during another delegates’ speech.
Comment: Using too many points of personal privilege can be unproductive to the committee, so use them very sparingly and only if the issue is truly impairing your ability to delegate.
Point of Clarification
Context: A Point of Clarification is used when a delegate wants to clarify a non substantive point
(meaning syntax, spelling, word choice, awkward phrases) in a resolution or amendment. When: While/directly after a resolution or amendment has been introduced.
Comment: This point is only used during the introduction of a resolution or amendment.
Point of Information
Context: This is used when a delegate has a substantive question for a speaker during formal debate; however, these can only be used when the chair says questions are in order.
When: Any time
Point of Order
Context: A delegate can raise a Point of Order when there is a violation of the rules of procedure. The chair will decide whether there is a violation immediately, and if there is, then the violation is corrected/stopped.
When: This point can be used anytime, including during another delegate’s speech.
Comment: A Point of Order is a very serious procedural matter, especially since it has the power to interrupt other committee proceedings. Therefore, it should be used in a responsible manner; it should only be used if a delegate is sure a rule is broken. If a delegate is not sure a rule is broken or if a rule is broken, but the broken rule does not affect the committee proceedings, it would be prudent to rephrase the question at a more appropriate moment in the form of a point of parliamentary inquiry. Also note that while all VHMUN Conference Chairs are well versed in the official rules and procedures, they have the ability to adopt rules of debate at their own discretion. All modifications will be announced at the beginning of the Conference and delegates are encouraged to use Points of Parliamentary Inquiry if anything is unclear.
Yields and Comments: Yield to the Chair
Context: After the completion of a Speaker’s List speech, a delegate may yield to the chair. This means that the
Chair will absorb the remaining time in the speech (meaning nothing will happen with any time remaining). When: After a speech on the Speaker’s List.
Yield to Questions
Context: After the completion of a Speaker’s list speech, a delegate may yield to questions. This means that with the remaining time, the Chair will call upon other delegates to ask questions to the delegate that is giving the speech. Please note that the questions asked must pertain to the speech that was just given.
When: After a speech on the Speaker’s List.
Comment: The time taken for a delegate to ask the question will not be counted towards the time remaining in the speech.
Yield to another Delegate
Context: After the completion of a Speaker’s List speech, a delegate may yield to another delegate. This means that in the remaining time, another delegate will be able to elaborate on the ideas that
the first delegate presented (the second speaker may not talk about a topic the first speaker did not mention). Please note that only one yield may be made per speaker on the Speaker’s List.
When: After a speech on the Speaker’s List.
Comment: If the speaker intends to yield to another delegate, she/he should be sure that the delegate yielded to will support her/his ideas.
Yield to Comments
Context: After the completion of a Speaker’s List speech, a delegate may yield to comments. This means that 2 thirty second speeches can be made by any delegate (the Chair will call on two delegate who wish to make comments). Note that the comment must pertain to the original speech.
When: After a speech on the Speaker’s List.
Context: If a delegate fails to yield after a Speaker’s List speech, then 2 thirty second comments are in order. If a speaker fails to yield, a delegate can motion to comment. These comments can be made by any delegate in the committee (the Chair will choose 2 delegates who wish to speak). Please note that the comment must pertain to the original speech.
When: After a speech on the Speaker’s List.
It is probably very intimidating seeing all these different points and motions, and it seems difficult to have to remember all the specific procedural rules. But relax and take it slowly, and it will come much easier than expected. After a few committee sessions, you will feel like a procedural expert!