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In nearly all Model United Nations Conferences, debates will follow a similar pattern. Various Motions can adjust this set formula, but until a Motion has been proposed, the debate will contain most of the following:
Any delegate may speak once it is their turn and they have been recognied or acknowledged by the Chair. The speaker is said to "have the floor" and usually will speak from a podium at the front of the committee. Usually there is a set time that a speaker can have, and they may be asked to "come to their closing remarks" if they go on for too long.
The Chair should ask all delegates to raise their placards if they would like to speak, and then select a speaker from those who have shown willingness.
When starting a speech, you always have to address the chair and the house first. Therefore start a speech with something like "Honourable chair and fellow delegates..."
Speaking in the "first person" (i.e. saying I think...) is not permitted in the Model United Nations, and the requirement to speak in the "third person" (i.e. China thinks..., The honorable delegate thinks...) is probably the most common mistake that beginner delegates make.
In the Model United Nations (as in the real United Nations and other political forums), delegates are asked to refer to themselves in the third person to make sure that they are not representing themselves personally, and instead representing their constituents.
Do not worry if you accidently say "I want to make sure that....," all that will happen is the Chair will correct you once your speech is over.
In the first half of most debates, the speakers will be describing why their countries think that the resolution is a good thing. Speakers take this oportunity to highlight excellent clauses and outline why they think the issues will be tackled by this particular resolution. The delegate who submitted the resolution is usually asked to be the first speaker.
During the second half of the debate, delegates who do not support the resolution will have their turn to "take the floor" and outline why they will not be voting for it. They may point out gaps that the resolution does not cover, or ideas that the resolution has that will not solve the problem.
- Main article: Amendments
Amendments may be submitted at any time, but will usually be debated during Time Against a resolution. Amendments are a kinder alternative to voting against a resolution, as they offer a chance to alter the resolution in subtle or major ways to make it more to a delegate's liking. Amendments are debated with time for and time against.
Any speaker during the debate can "yield the floor" to another delegate. Yielding means that you ask another delegate to take the floor after the end of your speech. It is advisable to select a speaker who will agree with and back up the points that you have made, and to that end it is also advisable to agree the yielding with the delegate before hand.
Yielding is always at the discretion of the Chair, they have the right to decide whether or not you are able to yield. A good chair will give a reason as to why that is or is not in order. Usually yielding will be permitted, but a delegate who has been yielded to would not be allowed to yield to a third delegate.
A series of delegates yielding to each other is known as a yield chain.
Point of InformationEdit
Every speaker will be asked by the chair at the end of their speach if they will take questions from the other delegates. These questions are called points of information. A delegate can decide how many Points of Information they would like to answer, but the Chair will decide who asks the quetions.
Point of OrderEdit
This point may be raised when you feel that a delegate or the Chair is not abiding by correct parliamentary procedure (as laid out for the conference). A point of order is not allowed to interrupt the speaker. Points of Order are usually raised when a delegate has insulted another country, made a false accusation, or in any other way contravened the rules of the conference. If the delegate is found to be guilty, they may be asked to retract their statements or apologise, and may be evicted from the debate.
Point of Personal PrivilegeEdit
This point is used to indicate personal discomforts or impediments to debate. It may be raised during the debate if, for example, you cannot hear the speaker or feel uncomfortably hot or cold. This point is allowed to interrupt a speaker, but may not refer to the content of any speech or resolution.
Point of Parlimentary InquiryEdit
This point is used when a delegate feels as if the proper procedures as outlined on this page or in the conference handbook are not being followed or need clarification. These are usually used to clear up issues to do with voting procedures.
At the end of the debate time, the resolution as a whole will be placed up for a vote. Delegates who wish to vote in favour of the resolution (or to vote "for") are asked to raise their placards, then those who wish to vote "against" the resolution. Finally those who do not wish to vote (or who wish to "abstain") are asked to raise their placards. The votes will be counted and varified by the chair, who may also take note of who voted for and against. Submitters and co-submitters have to vote for the resolution, unless it has been amended.
Delegates are usually asked to wait until they have been told to do so before raising thier placards, and likewise should keep them raised until the vote has been completed and they have been told to lower their placards. This makes sure that those who are counting the votes are able to do so properly and accurately during the first attempt without having to consider a recount.
Any delegation is allowed to abstain from a vote for whatever reason they choose. Traditionally, no abstentions are permitted during amendments, but are permitted at any other time. If a large number of absentions occur in a vote, a Motion to Divide the House may be suggested, which would remove the right to abstain if it was successful.