An Introduction to Model UN Procedure and How it Differs from UN Procedure
Why Procedure is Needed
Welcome to Model United Nations (MUN)! MUN and procedure go hand in hand, like peas in a pod. Model UN Procedure dictates debate protocol, and it structures committee sessions during Model UN conferences.
You may hear procedure referred to as “Parli Pro,” shorthand for Parliamentary Procedure. The original procedure used in Model UN was modeled off of European, specifically British, Parliamentary rules. While this provides structure to Model UN, it has the unfortunate effect of diverting Model UN from the actual rules that govern the United Nations.
The United Nation General Assembly does not use Parliamentary Procedure because it is not a parliament!
The guiding principle of the United Nations General Assembly is a concept known as “one state, one vote.” Above all else, the UNGA recognizes that each state has an equal vote, regardless of the size of the country.
You may be thinking, “Well that makes sense for the UNGA, but what about the Security Council?” Great question. Like the General Assembly, states serving in the Security Council also have one vote, as defined in Chapter 5, Article 27, Paragraph 1 of the United Nations Charter.
“But wait, what about the veto power in the Security Council?”
Actually, the UN Charter makes no mention of a “veto power.” When people speak about the veto power of the permanent members, they are referred to Chapter 25, Article 27, Paragraph 3, which reads:
“Decisions of the Security Council on all other matters shall be made by an affirmative vote of nine members including the concurring votes of the permanent members; provided that, in decisions under Chapter VI, and under paragraph 3 of Article 52, a party to a dispute shall abstain from voting.”
At the risk of overstating this point, it is important to know that Model UN procedure, especially in competitive conferences in the United States, differs drastically from actual UN procedure.
Ten Differences between UN Procedure and Model UN Procedure
- Only one “point” exists in UN Procedure, the Point of Order, and even still, it is rarely used.
Seconding of motions does not exist because it contradicts the “One State, One Vote” principle.
- No state needs another’s approval to make a motion.
- There is no such thing as “Moderated” or “Unmoderated” caucuses in UN procedure; those motions do not exist.
- UN delegates only have one chance to make a formal speech on each agenda item, unless they request a right of reply; if granted, they are allowed to speak at the end of the day.
- Right of Reply in UN rules is used to respond to substantive matter of a speech. It has nothing to do with being insulted, as in most Model UN procedure
- There is no minimum requirement for sponsors for a resolution. Again, this violates the sovereign rights of states.
- There is no formal amendment process. This means no friendly or unfriendly amendments. Resolutions are generally agreed upon before they are presented to the body. In cases when they are not, resolutions can be changed at any time.
- While voting does exist in UNGA procedure, it is rarely used. General Assembly resolutions are typically adopted by consensus.
- However, any state may demand a vote on a draft resolution at any point. A majority is not needed to move to vote because it violates “one state, one vote.”
- After a resolution is adopted, any state may give an “explanation of a vote,” with the exception of the main sponsor and co-sponsors.
If you are interested in UN procedure, you can read about it on the UN Department of Public Information website.
If you have no idea what any of the phrases or vocabulary above mean, do not worry! That’s why you’re here! Go through this tutorial to learn about Model UN procedure for US competitive Model UN conferences.