Model UN Rules of Procedure

Each conference has a slightly different take on the rules of procedure, however they all follow the same fundamental model. The following rules are used for all IDIA Model United Nations Conferences.

Download the full set of rules here: RulesofProcedure

1. Scope of the Rules

These rules shall be applicable for all RUMUN sessions of the General Assembly and the Specialized Agencies. They shall be considered adopted prior to the opening of the session.

2. Language

English shall be the official language of the conference. Speeches in other languages shall be permitted only when accompanied by a translation. (The time taken for translation time will be applied against the speakers time allotment.)

A. Governing Body

3. The Secretariat

The Secretary-General shall act as the highest authority at the conference. He/She shall serve as the chairperson of the Board of Directors, and shall further appoint the Director General, Chief-of-Staff, Director-of-Communications, and Director-of-Operations to administer the conference and act on his/her behalf. Therefore, the Secretariat shall be composed of the Secretary-General, the Director General, the Chief-of-Staff, the Director-of-Communications, and the Director-of-Operations, and will act as the executive body of the Board of Directors.

4. Statements of the Secretariat

The Secretary-General, or a member of the Secretariat designated by him/her, may, at any time, make either oral or written statements to any plenary meeting or any committee or sub-committee concerning any questions under consideration by it.

5. The Directors

Each committee shall have one Director, appointed by the Secretariat, prior to the conference. All Directors shall be voting members of the Board of Directors, and play two main roles. First, they are to organize their individual committees, ensuring all staff members perform their duties well and are knowledgeable about the topics under discussion. Second, all Directors will have an understanding about the administration of the conference, and will act as representatives from the Board of Directors to their individual committees.

6. Provisional Agenda

The provisional agenda for a regular session of all committees of the conference shall be decided by the Secretary-General along with the Board of Directors, and shall be communicated to members of the United Nations at least forty-five days before the opening of the session.

7. Functions and Powers of the Chair

The Chair is responsible for all parliamentary procedure during committee meetings, and therefore

a) shall declare the opening and closing of each committee of each committee session and may propose the adoption of any procedural motion to which there is no significant objection;

b) subject to these rules, has complete control of the proceedings and the maintenance of order at any meeting;

c) directs discussions, accords the right to speak, announces decisions, rules on points of order and personal privilege, and enforces the observance of these rules;

d) has discretionary power to entertain motions or to suggest to the committee that such a motion is in order; or alternatively, to not entertain a motion, thus suggesting that it be withdrawn. The Chair may also rule a motion out of order.

Chairs will be appointed by the Secretariat prior to the conference.

8. Quorum

The chair may declare a meeting open and permit debate to proceed or a procedural vote to be taken when at least one-quarter of the members represented in that committee are present. A majority of the represented members of the committee must be present for any substantive vote to be taken.

a) Procedural votes refer to motions regarding the nature of debate (e.g., a motion for recess, or closure of the speakers’ list).

b) Substantive votes address the subject of debate itself (e.g., a vote on the contents of a resolution or amendment).

B. GENERAL SESSION OF A COMMITTEE

9. Creating a Speaker’s List

Whenever a committee is in general debate on a topic, or the agenda is being set for the first time, a speakers list shall be created. The chair will ask for any delegate interested in speaking on the topic or motion to raise his/her placard, then recognize countries in no particular order. This list shall regulate which delegate is next in line to speak, once having been recognized by the Chair.

At the conclusion of general debate on a topic, the speaker’s list should be erased, and a new one started. No delegate may appear twice on the list. Once a delegate has spoken, they shall be removed from the list, and may indicate to the Chair that they would like to be placed back on the list again.

10. Adoption of the Agenda (Setting the Agenda)

After the initial business for each committee has been conducted at the first session of RUMUN, the first order of business for each committee shall be the consideration of the agenda. Only topics which are on the provisional agenda can be considered unless the Secretary-General rules otherwise. A temporary speakers’ list shall be established for the purpose of debating the order of debate only. After sufficient debate has occurred, a motion to place one of the topics on the agenda will be in order. Once a proposed agenda has been moved, and deemed appropriate by the Chair, the Chair will entertain two (2) speakers for and two (2) speakers against the motion. If the motion carries, the Chair shall open a new speakers’ list for the debate of the chosen topic. If the motion fails, debate on the agenda will resume until another proposed agenda has been moved. The vote is decided by a simple majority.

A simple majority is defined as fifty percent of the members present and voting plus one.

11. Speakers’ List

After the agenda has been established, a new, continuously open speakers’ list shall be created and followed by the Chair to facilitate general debate for each topic area. This Speakers’ list shall be followed for debate while the committee is in session, except when superseded by procedural motions, or for the introduction of a resolution or of an amendment to a resolution. Speakers may only address the topic area under discussion, and when referring to resolutions can only discuss those already formally introduced. After the speakers’ list has been created, a member-state may add its name to the list is it is not already on the list and if the list has not been closed. Such a request may be submitted in writing or, if the Chair allows it, by a showing of the placard.

12. Speeches

No member may address a committee without having previously obtained permission from the Chair. The Chair may call a speaker to order if his/her remarks are not relevant to the topic area under discussion.

13. Time Limit on Speeches

The Chair may, upon consultation with the committee or upon the proposal by a member of the committee, limit the time allotted to each speaker. When this time limit is exceeded, the chair shall immediately call that member to order. There shall be one (1) speaker for this motion, and one (1) against the motion. This procedural motion needs a simple majority to pass.

14. Closure of the Speakers’ List

The speakers’ list may be closed at any time; if the motion is carried, no further speakers may be added to the speakers’ list. One (1) delegate may speak in favor of the motion and another (1) against the motion. A simple majority is required for passage.

15. Reopening of the Speakers’ List

The speakers’ list may be reopened upon the majority vote of the members present. If the motion carries, more names may be added to the speakers’ list. One (1) delegate may speak in favor of the motion and another (1) against the motion. A simple majority is required for passage.

C. PARLIAMENTARY POINTS OF PROCEDURE

16. Point of Order

The purpose of this point to inform the Chair that there has been a procedural error made by the Chair or by another member; that is, an error in the application of the rules occurred. During the discussion of any matter, a member may rise to a point of order, interrupting the speaker or a motion being considered. A point of order, however, may not be used to address the substance of the matter under discussion. The Point of Order will be ruled upon immediately by the Chair in accordance with the Rules of Procedure.

17. Appeal of the Chair

A delegate may appeal against the ruling of the Chair on a Point of Order or against a discretionary decision the Chair has made. The Chair and the appealing delegate will speak, each defending their point of view. The appeal shall then be immediately voted upon, and the Chair’s ruling shall stand unless overruled by two-thirds of the members present and voting. Voting “yes” on this motion means that a member wishes to overrule the decision of the Chair; a “no” vote means that the member supports the ruling of the Chair.

18. Point of Parliamentary Inquiry

A member may rise to a point of parliamentary inquiry whenever he/she is uncertain of the procedural setting of the committee. This point may not interrupt a speaker. Delegates may use this point to have the Chair explain any procedural matter. It is particularly important if delegates are unsure on what they are voting. Upon being recognized by the Chair, the me questioning member must address the point directly to the Chair, and not to another member or member-state.

19. Point of Personal Privilege

A member may rise to a point of personal privilege in order to bring to the attention of the Chair some physical discomfort which is disrupting the proper functioning of the committee. This includes excessive noise or unruliness within the committee itself. A point of personal privilege may interrupt a speaker. The Chair will attempt to resolve the member’s discomfort.

20. Right of Reply

If a speaker has impugned the personal or national integrity of another member, the Chair may accord that member the right of reply at his/her discretion, and set a time limit accordingly. Delegates may use the right of reply to call the committee attention to the insult. A right of reply may not interrupt a speaker and the decision of the chair is not appealable. This point may not be used to address the substance of the matter under discussion. If the Right of Reply is granted, the speaker will be recognized immediately.

D. YIELDING SPEAKING TIME

Before beginning any speech, delegates must inform the Chair of how they plan to yield any time they may have remaining after their prepared remarks are completed. Only the speaker whose name appears on the speaker’s list may opt to yield their time, and they have three options:

21. Taking Questions or “Points of Information”

If a delegate chooses to accept questions following their prepared remarks, other delegates in the chamber may direct questions toward the speaker after they being recognized by the Chair. The speaker may at any time determine that he/she will cease accepting questions and thus immediately yield his/her remaining time to the Chair. Only the answers to questions from the committee shall be deducted from the speaker’s time. Only one question may be asked by a member each time he/she is recognized by the Chair. A brief preface may be granted to the questioning member upon request.

22. Yielding to the Chair

A delegate may yield his time to the chair. In this case, any remaining allotted time is given over to the Chair, and debate will move to the next speaker on the speaker’s list. Any delegate not indicating how they plan to yield before speaking shall yield all remaining time to the chair.

23. Yielding to Another Delegate

A delegate may yield the remainder of his/her speaking time to another delegate. Delegates who have been yielded to may not yield to another delegate, nor may they accept points of information. Delegates must inform the Chair of their intention to yield the remainder of their time before the beginning of their speech. The member being yielded to must accept the yield before the beginning of the original speech

E. SUBSTANTIVE MATERIALS

24. Working Papers

Delegates must present working papers to the Director for approval before any copying and distribution will be permitted. A working paper need not be in resolution form and is intended to facilitate the work of the committee. The necessity for approving and copying all working papers is at the discretion of the Director.

25. Resolutions

Resolutions shall be submitted in writing to the Director for the purpose of typing, copying and distribution to the entire committee. In order for a resolution to be approved, it must have at least two official sponsors (resolution authors) and at least one-fourth of the nations represented in the committee as signatories (delegates who believe the resolution should come before the floor but who not necessarily support it). Sponsors of the resolution can be included as signatories.

The Director has complete discretion over the typing, copying, and distribution of resolutions and may reject a resolution if a similar one has already been brought forward, or, if in the Director’s opinion, the resolution does not appropriately address the topic at hand.

All submitted resolutions must follow official RUMUN format as previously described in this guide. Resolutions not adhering to those guidelines may be rejected at the discretion of the Chair.

26. Introducing Resolutions

Once a resolution has been approved as stipulated above and has been typed, copied and distributed, the sponsor may rise to introduce the resolution, subject to recognition by the Chair. Regular debate is suspended while the author(s) read the resolution and answer and technical questions. The resolution may now be discussed and debated by the committee, and debate continues as normal.

27. Amendments

An amendment to a resolution may be made in two ways. A friendly amendment has the approval of all the original resolution’s sponsors, and must be submitted to the Chair with the appropriate signatures of such sponsors. Deemed appropriate by the chair, this amendment then becomes a part of the resolution without debate or vote.

An unfriendly amendment does not carry the support of the resolution’s sponsors, and may only be submitted to the Chair for approval provided it has been signed by at least one-fifth of the committee. If an unfriendly amendment is moved to the floor, it shall be voted upon at the closure of debate in the order of its complexity vis-a-vis any other unfriendly amendments to the particular resolution. At no time may an unfriendly amendment be amended.

No amendments or resolutions may be voted upon or discussed unless they have been distributed to all members of the chamber.

F. PARLIAMENTARY PROCEDURE

28. Adjournment of Debate (Tabling)

During the discussion of any matter, a member may move to adjourn debate on the topic area under discussion. If the motion passes, debate is said to be tabled, and the committee moves immediately to the next topic on the agenda. Debate will consist of two (2) speakers in favor of the motion, and two (2) opposed. An immediate vote is to take place – a simple majority required for passage.

29. Resumption of Debate

When debate on a topic area has been adjourned, it may not be considered at the same session unless the committee decides to resume debate on that topic area. Two (2) speakers in favor of the motion and two (2) opposed will be recognized by the chair. The vote is procedural with a two-thirds majority required for passage.

30. Closure of Debate

A member may move to end debate on a topic, thereby immediately forcing the committee to enter into voting procedures. All amendments and resolutions on that topic will be voted upon, and the regular business of the committee will be suspended until every item is voted upon. Debate on this motion will consist of two (2) speakers in favor of the motion, and two (2) opposed. This is a procedural motion, and requires a two-thirds majority of members present and voting to pass.

31. Recess of the Meeting (Caucus)

During the discussion of any matter, a representative may move to suspend the meeting. Such a motion shall include the proposed length of such a recess (which shall not exceed twenty minutes in length) as well as the reasons for the proposal. This motion requires one (1) speaker to debate for the motion and one (1) to debate against it. A simple majority is needed for passage. The chair’s decision to rule this motion in or out of order may not be appealed.

32. Adjournment of Session

A member may move to adjourn the session temporarily and resume its meeting at a later date or time. This procedural vote requires a two-thirds majority for passage. There is no debate.

33. Precedence of Procedural Motions

The following motions have precedence over all other proposals or motions before the meeting:

a) To adjourn the session (Rule 32)

b) To recess the meeting / Caucus (Rule 31)

c) To close debate on the item under discussion (Rule 30)

34. Voting Rights

Each nation of the United Nations shall have one vote. If more than one delegate is representing a country, they are still allotted only one vote per nation. Observer delegations may not vote on substantive matters, but may vote on procedural matters.

35. Voting

Members may vote Yes, No, or Abstain on any substantive motion. In order to pass a proposal, a simple majority of members present and voting shall be required. “Members present and voting” refers to those members casting an affirmative or negative vote, those members abstaining are considered to have not voted.

Members may vote Yes or No only on procedural motions. No abstentions are allowed.

36. Important Questions

The following issues are considered Important Questions:

a) Maintenance of International Peace and Security

b) Admission of new members to the United Nations

c) Suspension of the rights and privileges of members

d) Expulsion of members

e) Budgetary Questions.

Any member may move that a resolution under consideration addresses an Important Question. If the motion passes, any resolution which is so designated requires the concurrence of two-thirds of the members present and voting to pass. Debate will consist of two (2) members in favor, two (2) opposed. The vote is procedural and requires a simple majority to pass.

37. Competence

A member may challenge the authority of a committee to adopt any resolution regarding a topic. The Director shall consider this motion, and if it is deemed to have merit, shall allow a vote to be taken by the committee. Any such motion challenging the scope of the committee must be voiced prior to any substantive votes regarding the topic. Debate on such a motion consists of one (1) speaker in favor; one (1) speaker opposed. This procedural motion requires a two-thirds majority to pass.

Note: All topics which are included in the provisional agenda of a committee should be considered within the competence of the committee.

38. Voting Procedure

Votes shall normally be taken by means of a show of placards. However, upon the request of a member and the concurrence of the Chair, a roll-call vote may be taken. The roll-call shall be taken in English alphabetical order of the names of the countries present and voting. The name of each member shall be called, and one of its delegates shall answer Yes, No, Abstain or Pass. A delegate who passes during the first sequence of the roll-call must vote during the second sequence. Delegates who vote no may request the right to explain their votes after the tally has been completed.

39. Conduct During Voting

After the Chair has announced the beginning of voting, no member shall interrupt except on a point of order in connection with the conduct of voting. The doors of the committee hall should be closed, and no member will be allowed to enter or exit until the voting is completed.

40. Voting on Amendments

Amendments shall be voted on first. When two or more amendments to a proposal are moved, the committee shall first vote on the amendment furthest removed in substance from the original proposal and shall continue to proceed as such until all the amendments have been put to a vote. However, when the adoption of one amendment necessarily implies the rejection of another amendment, the latter amendment shall not be put to a vote.

Once an amendment has passed, the resolution it concerned must be immediately changed in accordance with the amendment. This is a substantive vote, and a two-thirds majority of members present and voting is needed for passage. There is no debate during voting procedures.

41. Division of the Proposal

A motion may be made to divide the operative clauses of a proposal such that they can be voted upon separately. Only the operative clauses of a resolution can be divided, not the preambulatory clauses. In the event of several motions for division, the Chair shall order the motions so that the one which divides the resolution into the most parts is voted upon first, followed by the less radical motions for division. If there is an objection to the request for division, then the committee may hear two (2) speakers in favor of, and two (2) speakers opposed to the motion. This is a procedural motion, and a simple majority is needed for passage.

Once the procedural motion to consider dividing the proposal passes, a substantive vote shall be taken as stipulated in the division motion. Each part shall stand alone, and only those parts that pass shall be considered part of the final resolution. If no parts pass, the entire resolution fails. Since this is a substantive vote, there is no debate, and a simple majority is needed for passage. This motion is typically used to remove extremely objectionable clauses from a proposal, but pass the remaining sections.

Once the final form of the proposal is determined by voting, a conclusive substantial vote shall be taken as normal. Because preambulatory clauses do nothing more than frame the resolution, they cannot be divided.

42. Precedence of Proposals

If two or more proposals relate to the same topic, the committee shall vote on the proposals in the order in which they were submitted. Each proposal will be voted upon, unless the sponsors withdraw it from consideration.

43. Passage of Proposals and Motions

All substantive votes shall be made by a simple majority of the members present and voting, unless the proposal has been deemed an Important Question.

44. Changes to the Rules of Procedure

The Secretariat may deem changes to the Rules of Procedure necessary to ensure the smooth functioning of RUMUN’s committees. In the event of such a change, all delegates will receive written notification explaining exactly which rule has been updated, or have a member of the Secretariat present the change to every committee during the actual conference.

All concerns with this format of the Rules of Procedure should be directed to the Secretariat.