Flow of Debate

In this section, you will find a very general overview of how councils at MILMUN function. Please note that this step-by-step process is only meant to give an indication to participants. Please refer to the general Rules of Procedure, as well as the Special Rules for your respective council to gain a better understanding of how it functions. Your chairpersons will also of course explain these rules to you at the start of the conference. If you have any concerns or questions, please do not hesitate to contact them.

Roll Call

At the start of every session, the chairperson will perform a Roll Call. This is basically an attendance list where all countries in the council will be called upon one after the other. Delegates are expected to answer either by stating that they’re “present” or “present and voting”. States that are present and voting may not abstain during voting procedures.

Setting the Agenda

At the start of the conference delegates must agree on the order in which they would like their council to discuss these topics. This process is called Setting the Agenda. To engage in this process, the chairpersons will welcome a motion from one of the delegates to propose a specific order of topics.

Example: “The delegation of (country name) moves to place (topic A) first on the agenda, followed by (topic B).”

Once the motion has been made by one of the delegates, an equal number of maximum three (3) delegations will speak in favour and speak against it. Speeches in favour or against should alternate. As soon as the speeches have been given, a vote is taken requiring only a ⅔ majority.

Debate

There are three ways delegates can debate in sessions:

Formal Debate: Formal debate is one of the main methods delegates have at their disposal to communicate with the council. It’s a very structured method of communication, with a specific amount of time dedicated for each delegate’s speech. It functions with a Speaker’s List, where the Chair asks all delegates wishing to address their council to raise their placards. Once a delegate has been recognized, they’re automatically added to the to the Speaker’s List. Each State is only allowed to be on the Speaker’s List once at a time.

Moderated Caucus: The moderated caucus is one of the most widely used debating methods. It has a general time limit, as well as an individual speaker’s time limit, but it provides the council with more flexibility to discuss specific issues. Delegates don’t need to be placed on the Speaker’s List in advance, but may raise their placards as soon as a delegate has finished their own speech. The chairperson decides on who may have the floor at the end of each speech.

Unmoderated Caucus: As the name suggests it, during unmoderated caucuses, there is no specific structure to follow. Each unmoderated caucus has a general time limit, but delegates are free to discuss with each other without any moderation from the chairpersons. This is generally the best time to form alliances, discuss specific issues with certain states, as well as write draft resolutions.

General Step-by-Step Debating Procedure

  1. Formal Session: At the start of the discussion on a given topic, based on their position paper delegates are expected to state their country’s positions and offer recommendations.
  2. Moderated Caucus: After countries have stated their positions, the council moves to informal debate (often in multiple blocs) to develop and find links with countries.
  3. Formal Session: Once the delegates have familiarized themselves with each other’s positions in more depth, they then move to describe their regional positions to the entire council.
  4. Unmoderated Caucus: At this point, allied delegates team up to start writing a Draft Resolution.
  5. Formal Session: Once sufficient time has elapsed for preparing draft resolutions, the sponsors of the drafts present it to the chairpersons and after it’s been officially recognized to be in the proper format, the sponsors then introduce it to the council.
  6. Moderated Caucus: Countries then move into a moderated caucus to discuss each draft resolution on the table. This is very important to identify what needs to be modified, and which nations are agreeing or disagreeing with it.
  7. Unmoderated Caucus: Delegates finalize their draft resolutions.
  8. Formal Session: Delegates make statements supporting or disagreeing with specific draft resolutions.
  9. Unmoderated Caucus: Draft-resolution sponsors build greater support for their resolution and look to incorporate others’ ideas through friendly amendments.
  10. Formal Session: Delegates present any amendments they have created.
  11. Closure of Debate and Voting Procedure: Debate on a specific topic ends when the Formal Debate’s Speaker’s List is exhausted, or when a delegate makes a motion for closure of the debate and it’s accepted by the council with a two-thirds majority. Once debate on a specific has closed, if there are any draft resolutions on the table, the council moves directly into voting procedure. There is more than one way to proceed with the voting, but in general the council votes on the amendments first, then on the resolutions as a whole. As soon as the voting procedure has been completed, the council moves directly to the next topic on the agenda.

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