MUN Glossary

Must Know MUN GLOSSARY – MUN Made Easy

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Table of Contents

Abstain – During a vote on a substantive matter, delegates may abstain rather than vote yes

or no. This generally signals that a state does not support the resolution being voted on, but

does not oppose it enough to vote no.

Adjourn – All UN or Model UN sessions end with a vote to adjourn. This means that the

debate is suspended until the next meeting. This can be a short time (e.g., overnight) or a

long time (until next year’s conference).

Agenda – The order in which the issues before a committee will be discussed. The first duty

of a committee following the roll call is usually to set the agenda.

Amendment – A change to a draft resolution on the floor.

Bloc – A group of countries that form a logical combination because of geographical,

economic, or cultural similarities (e.g., G8, African bloc, Arab League).

Caucus – A break in formal debate in which countries can more easily and informally discuss

a topic. There are two types: moderated caucus and unmoderated caucus. Usually, some of

a committee’s most productive work is accomplished during caucuses.

Chair – Also known as a moderator, this is a member of the dais that moderates debate,

keeps time, rules on points and motions and enforces the rules of procedure.

Delegate – A participant acting as a representative of a member state or observer in a Model

UN committee.

Delegation – The entire group of people representing a member state or observer in all

committees at a particular Model UN conference.

The draft resolution – A Working Paper which has been signed by sponsor countries and

approved for debate by the chair. A draft resolution seeks to fix the problems addressed by

a Model UN committee and must be submitted in the correct format. If passed by the

committee, the draft resolution will become a resolution.

The flow of debate The order in which events proceed during a Model UN conference.

Foreign aid – Money was given by one country to another for humanitarian or developmental

purposes. It plays a key role in shaping foreign policy.

Foreign policy – The attitudes and interests of a state towards external issues. Foreign policy can be influenced by a variety of factors such as military strength, trading partners,history and domestic government.

Formal debate – The “standard” type of debate at a Model UN conference, in which

delegates speak for a certain time in an order based on a speakers’ list. They must also

formally yield the floor to questions, the chair, or another delegate.

Moderated caucus – A type of caucus in which delegates remain seated and the Chair calls

on them one at a time to speak for a short period, enabling a freer exchange of

opinion than would be possible in a formal debate.

Motion – A request made by a delegate that the committee as a whole does something.

Some motions might be to go into a caucus, to adjourn, to introduce a draft resolution, to

enact a right of reply, or to move into a voting bloc.

Operative clause – The part of a resolution following the Preamble which describes how the

UN will address a problem. These numbered clauses set out actual solutions and initiatives

for the committee to undertake, and always begin with a verb (such as: decides, establishes,

or recommends).

Point – A request raised by a delegate for information or for an action relating to that

delegate. Examples include a point of order, a point of inquiry, and a point of personal


Position paper An informal paper written by a delegate before a Model UN conference

summarising their country’s position on a topic, including its track record on the issue, policy

targets and proposed solutions.

Preambulatory clause – The clauses at the beginning of a resolution that introduces the

issue by describing previous actions taken on the topic and reasons why the resolution is

necessary. Each begins with a participle or adjective (noting, concerned, regretting, aware

of, recalling, etc.). They are not numbered.

Quorum – The minimum number of delegates needed to be present for a committee to meet.

In the General Assembly, a quorum consists of one-third of the members to begin debate,

and a majority of members to pass a resolution. In the Security Council, no quorum exists for

the body to debate, but nine members must be present to pass a resolution.

Rapporteur – A member of the dais whose duties include keeping the speakers’ list and

taking the roll call.

Resolution – A document that has been passed by a UN body aiming to address a particular

problem or issue. The UN equivalent of a law.

Right of Reply – A right to speak in reply to a previous speaker’s comment, invoked when a

delegate feels that their personal or national integrity has been insulted or slandered by

another’s speech. It is easily the most over-attempted and misused motion in Model UN

debating – delegates often fail to understand that asking for a ‘Right of Reply’ is making a

very serious accusation and must not be abused. The Director decides whether to grant the

Right of Reply and their decision is not open to appeal. If granted the Chair will normally ask

the offending party if they wish to apologise.

Roll call – The first order of business in a Model UN committee, during which the Chair

reads aloud the names of each member state in the committee. When a delegate’s country’s

name is called, he or she may respond “present” or “present and voting.” A delegate

responding “present and voting” may not abstain from a substantive vote.

Rules of Procedure – The rules by which a Model UN committee is run.

Signatory – A country that wishes for a draft resolution to be put on the floor and signs the draft

resolution to accomplish this. A signatory need not support a resolution; it only wants it to be


Simple majority – 50 per cent plus one of the numbers of delegates in a committee. The

amount needed to pass the most votes.

Speakers’ list – A list that determines the order in which delegates will speak. Whenever a

new topic is opened for discussion, the Chair will create a speakers’ list by asking all

delegates wishing to speak to raise their placards and calling on them one at a time. During

the debate, a delegate may indicate that he or she wishes to be added to the speakers’ list by

sending a note to the dais or raising a point. Your country’s name cannot be on the speakers’ list more than once at a time.

Sponsor/Co-sponsor – Working papers and resolutions require sponsors (the main authors)

Veto – The ability, held by China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and

the United States, to prevent any draft resolution in the Security Council from passing by

voting against it.

Vote – A time at which delegates indicate whether they do or do not support a proposed

action for the committee. There are two types: procedural and substantive.

Voting bloc/Voting procedure – The period at the end of a committee session during which

delegates vote on proposed amendments and draft resolutions. Nobody may enter or leave

the room during the voting bloc.

Working paper – Sometimes informally called an ‘idea paper’, these are documents in which

the ideas of some delegates on how to resolve an issue are proposed. A working paper is

drawn up in the form of a resolution, but its status as a “working paper” allows for

amendments to be made which do not require the support of the entire committee, only the

sponsors themselves. Working papers are one step below a draft resolution, and many are

often combined into one. Their overall purpose is to set out specific solutions or policy

stances on an issue that can be debated within the committee.

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