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Committees Suck When Your Chair Doesn’t Know Procedure

Written by Michael Dianetti

November 1, 2017

Committees Suck When Your Chair Doesn’t Know Procedure

Why do you compete in Model United Nations? Is it for the intense debate, exciting issues, and satisfying awards? However for any of your favorite parts of MUN to happen, the committees must run smoothly and properly in a way that allows each delegate an equal opportunity to express their ideas. Procedure is an essential element of any committee as it is the only way through which order can be maintained.

Imagine being in a committee where there are no motions, points or structure and the delegates are just left to debate, write resolutions, and pass something. It’s probably hard. In this scenario, everything would be one prolonged unmoderated caucus, and any delegate would quickly become overwhelmed by the inability to get a word out or a point across.

Perhaps the only thing worse than no procedure is bad procedure. Every delegate has been in a committee where their chair has absolutely no idea how procedure, or Model UN itself, works. This lack of knowledge and control detracts from the real purpose of Model UN. One possibility is that no delegate will say anything and committee will merely continue on its rocky course. This, while unfortunate, does not put any delegates at risk to win or lose out on awards. Another scenario is that a procedure-informed power delegate will attempt to take the room over with their superior knowledge. In this case, that delegate may either be looked favorably upon by the chair or, more likely, be hated by the chair for pointing out their lack of competency. Needless to say, poor procedure on the part of a chair, leads to poor committee for the delegates.

Model United Nations becomes a better experience for all delegates when the rules of procedure are followed. Delegates who have never been to a conference before or who are afraid to speak, are given more opportunities to present their thoughts and are encouraged to contribute. More experienced delegates are able to show off their Model UN skills in structured debate instead yelling over an entire room. When procedure is implemented correctly, students of all grades and experience levels are able to engage in productive discussion and write comprehensive resolutions as a result. However, it is possible for chairs to over-enforce rules of procedure. Delegates should be competing in a structured environment, not an authoritarian one. Chairs must remember that it is the delegates that should be running the room under the chair’s guidance, not the other way around. An overly strict adherence to procedure can have the same effect of no procedure at all, a bad MUN committee.

Overall, the rules of procedure are a positive part of Model United Nations. Providing structure and order, they play essential role in all Model UN committees, crisis and GA alike. All MUN delegates have stories of bad committees and chairs, but the stories they truly remember are of good ones, with chairs who knew how to use procedure to influence committee and allow delegates to direct the debate, while still maintaining control of the room.


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