Debating Guidelines

As a delegate you will assume the role of State representative. You will be the one with the authority on the issues being discussed. Thus, you must faithfully represent your country’s diplomatic stance, its social, cultural and geographical realities as well as its inbuilt political ideology.

Public speaking
“The government of India is clear on the facts…” Be confident! A good speech is not all about content – form and body language are essential.
The key is to speak slowly, take notes from the other parties’ arguments and use them to structure your speech. Be natural and try not to be superficial, as this is recognized easily. Speaking fast is useless: it’s true that time is precious though, so structure your arguments and get straight to the point. Your aim is to get your message across to the committee; also use body language and facial expressions (a hint: use a little bit of theatrics, it can help you go a long way!). You do not need to worry because you are the expert on the topic.

Techniques to start your speech:
Always speak courteously towards delegates and the Chairpersons:
“Thank you honourable chairperson, Japan would like to point out…”
“May I have your attention, honourable delegates; it is with the greatest pleasure….”
* Begin with a startling statement. Make it lead directly to the problem.
* Begin with a short quotation, proverb, saying, poem, etc
* Begin with a specific example: illustrating a concrete aspect makes the problem easier to understand.
* Be aware of any time limits on your speech, and give yourself time for a strong finish.
* Begin with a rhetorical question to which your audience will know the answer.
* Use the “machine-gun” technique: give rapid-fire examples, piling up the evidence.
* Humour is a dangerous technique in a formal debate, particularly when discussing serious topics.

Now that you have their attention, how to pin down your points, use evidence.
“The satellite imagery shows clearly that they have operational biolabs…” (classic)
* Demonstrate the extent of the problem. Use examples, statistics, and expert opinions.
* Demonstrate the causes of the problem and come up with possible solutions.
* Demonstrate the effects of the problem. How does it affect the people? Use examples and facts.
* Demonstrate how your solution will reduce or eliminate causes and symptoms of the problem, result in advantages, reduce costs, increase efficiency or simply help people.
* Evidence should be resolutions, expert evidence, other forms of documents; the UN Charter, CNN and BBC are not the sources you want to cite…

Diplomats are women and men with a great amount of cultural, academic and intellectual knowledge. Courtesy and manners are very important, because when at MILMUN you will be dealing with delegates from different countries and cultures. When at an international meeting representatives treat each other with the utmost respect, and obviously you are asked to do the same. Political differences may be abyssal but this should not show on a personal level: MILMUN is not the right place to display stark differences but rather it is a uniting meeting. Political conflicts and contradictions are allowed so long as they are relevant to the conference.
Formal speech is to be used when addressing and making public statements. Act professionally: differences in opinion are to be respected and personal attacks on delegates will not be tolerated. We urge you to be worth the title assigned to you, believe in your mission and carry it out professionally.

Diplomacy Concepts
Diplomacy is a time consuming process and it requires some general guidelines. There are some practices that cannot be ignored when you sit at a negotiating table: First of all, remember to consult all delegations present! Avoiding consultations intentionally or un-intentionally might lead to unpleasant surprises during voting.
Remember that when negotiating you have to go half way to meet the other party. To do so you must know your State and its interests thoroughly so as to be able to think like them!
Try to increase the platform on which you are bargaining rather than cutting out possibilities. Agreements sometimes require painful concessions: analyse and weigh concessions against agreements, because sometimes they may be worth it.
Use documents that everyone knows. Also, make sure that you and your opposites stand on the same ground and are using the same tools for measuring issues: commonly accepted standards are useful measuring tools that will help lead to fair solutions. This includes legal precedent, equal treatment, market value, UN resolutions etc.
It has been reiterated in other areas of the website but it needs to be stated that policy options are important: you need to weigh whether your interests are best satisfied by an agreement or with the “Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement”(BATNA). This is a major issue: the better your best alternative, plus the more alternatives you have, the greater is your power and leverage. How can you get this important tool? Through research!
Your aim is to choose something that satisfies your interests better than your BATNA. Ask yourself about your first option – is it realistic? What is the second best option and what is marginally better than the BATNA?

Debating Methods
Remember that the decisions are made outside the conference room!
During unmoderated caucuses, delegates have more flexibility to enter into “diplomatic negotiations”. It gives you time to freely talk with the other delegates and it gives you more freedom to discuss compared to formal debate (where everything is structured via a speakers list) and to moderated caucus (which allows you to talk back and forth, answer questions and make free statements). Informal caucuses are the precious moments where you need to get around, put all your energy together and get down to business.
The unmoderated caucus is the phase where you should focus on forming alliances and come up with written documents – resolutions that you can present to the council as soon as it resumes work, or even better present them during caucus to your fellow delegates and have a discussion on them freely before going back in. Caucusing techniques are innumerable to be listed here. Remember that Angola does not caucus like the UK: each has its allies, strategy, style and goals.

Leave a Reply