857-400-9525 [email protected]

The Secondary Speakers List

Opening the Secondary Speakers List

“Motion to Open the Secondary Speakers List”

Think back to opening debate and what motions don’t exist. Similar to moving to open the primary speaker’s list, follow the above verbiage to move to open the secondary speaker’s list.

Motion Parameters: Motion to open a speaker’s list can take on two optional parameters,

  1. A speaker may indicate a time limit for speeches in his or her motion.
  2. A speaker may indicate the default yield during the speaker’s list.

“Motion to Open the Secondary Speakers List with a speaking time of 60 seconds with a default yield to comments.”

In most conferences, speakers tend to only motion to open the secondary speaker’s list and occasionally will amend the motion with a default speaking time. Rarely do speakers amend their motion to include the default yield. Still, it is possible to do so. Don’t worry if you do not know what a “yield” is, we’ll cover this in the next section!

How to Skip Setting the Agenda

It is possible to skip over the “motion to set the agenda.” How? The agenda must have more than two topics.


A speaker moves to open a secondary speaker’s list on Topic A during the primary speaker’s list when there are three topics on the docket. What happens if this motion passes?

In the above situation, the committee has three topics and someone moves to open the secondary’s speaker’s list to discuss Topic A without formally setting the complete agenda and it passes. What happens now?

In the event this motion passes, the committee would begin formal substantive debate on the named topic. When and if resolutions on that topic have been voted on, the committee will resume their original primary speaker’s list to determine which of the two remaining topics should be debated next, because the primary speaker’s list never closed. Gaining a full understanding of procedure will allow you to organize the flow of debate and presents many strategic advantages.

How to Make Speeches and Yields during the Secondary Speakers List

Speeches in a Secondary Speaker’s List

Finally, we’ve reached substantive debate! At this point in committee, delegates will begin formal debate of a topic with the goal of structuring and evaluating draft resolutions. To control debate, procedure insists only one delegate speak at a time and that all comments are directed at the chair, not other delegates.

In Model UN, first-person pronouns are not allowed. In the United Nations, however, most debate is conducted in the first person.

Once a secondary speaker’s list has been opened by the committee, the chair will ask for delegates to add their name to the list. The order of the list determines the order in which states control the floor to delivery their speech to the committee. Once the moderator has recognized a state during the secondary speaker’s list, that state then controls the flow for the allotted time. How a state chooses to use that time is a matter of strategy. Delegates may use all of their time speaking or many limit their speech to utilize a specific yield, as discussed below.

Yielding Time after Speeches

In the event a speaker has not used all of their allotted time for a formal speech, the speaker must indicate how he or she would like to use the remaining time. Depending on the conference, some chairs will ask for speakers to denote their yield prior to beginning their formal speech, while other conferences allow speakers to wait until the end of their formal speech to declare a yield. Regardless, there are four ways you may yield speaking time.

  • Yield to the Chair: When a speaker yields time to the chair, the dais absorbs any unused time and call on the next speaker.
  • Yield to the Questions: The remaining speaking time is given to the committee to be used for questions to the speaker regarding the given speech. All other questions are dilatory. Time is deducting from the speaker only when answering, not while the question is being asked. By rule, a delegate may not directly address another delegate during formal debate. Therefore, the proper way Questions, or Inquiries, should work would be to have each delegate raise a “Point of Information directed at the speaker.” After which, the main speaker who yielded time should be given the opportunity to accept or reject the question. Again, all debate must go through the chair—though this seldom happens.
  • Yield to another State: Any remaining time will be given to another speaker in the committee to use for a speech only. The state who accepts the yield cannot yield any used time.
  • Yield to Comments: Comments are usually, but not necessarily, the default yield. The remaining time of a speech will be absorbed by the chair, who will in turn recognize two speakers to address the substance of the given speech. All comments must be pertinent to the given speech. At most conferences, comments are limited to 30 seconds, though this can change depending on a conference’s rules.

Motions that Directly Affect the Secondary Speakers List

There are many motions that can be made during a formal debate. Here are the ones that directly affect the functioning of the secondary’s speakers list.

  • Motion to Change the Speaking Time: Change the default speaking time. Simple majority to pass.
  • Motion to Change the Default Yield: Change the default yield after speeches. Simple majority to pass.
  • Motion to Close the Speaker’s List: Disallow speakers to be added to the speaker’s list. Two-thirds majority to pass. Once all speakers have been exhausted, the committee will move into voting.

Points and Motions to Raise during the Secondary Speakers List

Model UN Points

Points are a specific type of motion that a delegate can raise during a Model UN conference. While the classification and types of points change depending on the rule set, we’ll introduce three points you must become familiar with for a Model UN conference in the United States.

  1. Point of Order– used to ask or to challenge the dais to confirm the validity of a procedural ruling;
  2. Point of Personal Privilege– used to ask the dais for a personal accommodation, such as the speaker’s volume, room temperature, or seating arrangement;
  3. Point of Parliamentary Procedure/Point of Inquiry– used to ask the dais for instruction on a procedural element;

You will most likely encounter a number of other points in your Model UN journey in the United States, but is worth pointing out these are the only three that conferences should be using. Below are some additional points you may see.

  • Point of Information (POI)– a POI is a parliamentary debate element that seems to slip into Model UN from time to time.
  • Point of Clarification– a point of clarification is a type of POI that, again, is a Parliamentary Debate element.

It’s also worth pointing out that the UN procedure only recognizes one point, a Point of Order, which is made by forming a “T” with your arms.


Continue to Lesson 4: Model UN Caucus Motions