The substantive outputs of committees at MILMUN conferences generally take the form of resolutions. Other outputs are possible in a few committees (specified in rules of procedure). As most MILMUN committees will pass resolutions, this section describes the resolution-writing process in detail.
Resolutions can have multiple purposes; they can either simply register an opinion or recommend actions to be taken by an UN organ or related agency. The following points are to be kept in mind when drafting a resolution:
* A resolution is a UN body’s “answer” to a current problem that falls into its competence.
* Once a resolution is passed, it accounts as an official policy of the body that passed it.
* While most resolutions are a statement of policy, some may include an entire treaty, declaration or convention.
* Resolutions can be either general statements or directives to specific organizations, UN bodies, or States.
* Resolutions can condemn actions of states, call for collective actions, or as is the case of the Security Council, require economic or military sanctions.
A resolution is the most appropriate means of applying political pressure on Member States, expressing an opinion on an important issue, or recommending action to be taken by the United Nations. Most UN resolutions are not “law-binding”; the only body that may produce resolutions that are binding upon the Member States of the United Nations is the Security Council.
The goal of formal debate and caucusing is to persuade enough countries to support a particular solution regarding the topic under discussion. Resolutions formally state the agreed-upon solution by outlining the relevant precedents and describing the proposed actions. The committees are not limited to one resolution per topic; often the committees will pass multiple resolutions dealing with different aspects of a topic.
Life of a Resolution
As a given agenda topic is debated in both formal and informal debate, blocs of delegations will begin to work together on drafting resolutions. During the initial writing and revision stages, these documents are referred to as working papers. Working papers are drafted by a relatively small group of delegates, who will most likely be the paper’s sponsors. They are then discussed with a larger number of delegations and revised as needed according to their input. These second-stage delegations may become signatories to the paper. Sponsors are generally the countries having contributed to writing the draft document. They are also those countries that not only agree to see the draft resolution put to a vote but also commit themselves to supporting it. Signatories on the other hand only wish to see the draft resolution debated and hence do not necessarily commit themselves to supporting it. For instance, a state might be against a draft resolution but might want to see it debated to be able to convince other countries to find new avenues of compromise.
In order to be formally introduced to the floor, working papers must garner a certain number of signatories (specified in rules of procedure). The chairperson will then examine the working paper and may require changes before it can be distributed to the committee at large. After approval by the chairperson, the working paper is upgraded to a draft resolution, and sent to Conference Secretariat for number assignment and printing.
Drafting Working Papers
When drafting a working paper, keep in mind that the wording will greatly influence the appeal of the resolution, or lack thereof. The working paper should be clear, concise, and specific; vague resolutions that do not really say or propose much may be seen as documents created by delegates who did not prepare themselves a great deal for the simulation. The substance should be well researched.
As there is only one computer per conference room, participants’ personal laptops can be very useful not only in order to accelerate the drafting process, but also to take notes and add points to the resolution during the debates.
The entire resolution consists of one long sentence, with commas and semi-colons throughout, and only one period at the very end. Working papers should be single-spaced, with each line numbered in the left-hand margin. The first word in each clause should be italicised. The typing style must be ‘Times New Roman’ with a size 12 for font. Resolutions consist of three main parts:
1. The heading
The required heading includes the number and topic of the resolution, the committee in which it is introduced and both a list of the sponsors and signatories of the resolution. The Conference Secretariat will assign a document number to each resolution.
2. Preambulatory clauses
Within the preamble of a resolution, one will not find clauses proposing action or making substantive statements. The preambulatory clauses explain the purpose of the resolution and state the main reasons for the suggestions to follow. This is where previous UN resolutions are referred to and relevant precedents of international law are cited. Preambulatory clauses should specifically refer to factual situations or incidents regarding the topic at hand. The preamble may also include altruistic appeals to the common sense or humanitarian instincts of members with reference to the Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, etc. The preamble remains critical since it reflects the general context of the problem treated in the resolution. Remember that preambulatory clauses begin with participles, are in italic, and are always followed by a comma. Some common preambular clause beginnings are:
* Alarmed by
* Aware of
* Bearing in mind
* Deeply concerned
* Deeply convinced
* Deeply conscious
* Deeply disturbed
* Deeply regretting
* Expressing its satisfaction
* Fully alarmed
* Fully aware
* Fully believing
* Further deploring
* Further recalling
* Guided by
* Having adopted
* Having considered
* Having considered
* Having devoted attention
* Having examined
* Having heard
* Having received
* Having studied
* Keeping in mind
* Noting with regret
* Noting with satisfaction
* Noting with deep concern
* Noting further
* Noting with approval
* Taking into account
3. Operative clauses
The main part of a resolution is a logical progression of sequentially numbered operative clauses. These clauses may recommend, urge, condemn, encourage, request certain actions, or state an opinion regarding an existing situation. Each operative clause calls for a specific action by member states, by the Secretariat, or by any UN bodies or related agencies. The action may be as vague as denouncing a certain situation or calling for negotiations, or as specific as, for example, a call for a cease-fire or a monetary commitment for a particular project. Keep in mind that only Security Council resolutions are legally binding upon the international community. The competence of a committee, as specified in its constitutional treaty, determines what may be included in the operative clause. Resolutions are seldom complete solutions to a problem; they are usually only one step in the process of developing a solution.
Operative clauses are numbered, begin with an active, present tense verb and are followed by a semi-colon, with a period placed after the final clause. Some common operative clause beginnings are:
* Calls upon
* Declares accordingly
* Draws attention
* Expresses its hope
* Further invites
* Further proclaims
* Further recommends
* Further reminds
* Further requests
* Further resolves
* Has resolved
* Solemnly affirms
* Takes note of
An amendment is a change or a clarification made to a draft-resolution after it has been formally submitted to the committee. An amendment can be friendly or unfriendly. A friendly amendment is proposed when all the sponsors of the resolution agree on the change that is to be made, thereby making a vote unnecessary for the inclusion of it into the draft resolution. A vote is needed in the case of an unfriendly amendment, where not all of the sponsors agree on the change. Both can be proposed by any member of the committee, even those who are neither sponsors nor signatories of the resolution. The only difference lies in who supports the change. A friendly amendment will simply be added to the draft resolution. An unfriendly amendment must be submitted to the chair with the appropriate amount of signatures (specified in rules of procedure). There will be a vote whether or not to include it into the draft resolution.
There are acceptable amendments and then there are unacceptable ones. Amendments are unacceptable when they change the intent of the resolution, i.e. going from condemning an action to supporting it. Those that are acceptable include: Amending by addition, adding a word or a phrase, amending by deletion, deleting a word or phrase. The chairpersons decide whether an amendment is acceptable or not.
An Abbreviated Sample Resolution
[Code: Resolution 1520 (2003) (will be assigned by the Conference Secretariat)]
Committee: Security Council
Subject: The situation in the Middle East
The Security Council,
Having considered the report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations
Disengagement Observer Force of 9 December 2003 (S/2003/1148), and also
reaffirming its resolution 1308 (2000) of 17 July 2000,
1. Calls upon the parties concerned to implement immediately its resolution
338 (1973) of 22 October 1973;
2. Decides to renew the mandate of the United Nations Disengagement
Observer Force for a period of six months, that is, until 30 June 2004;
3. Requests the Secretary-General to submit, at the end of this period, a
report on the developments in the situation and the measures taken to
implement resolution 338 (1973).