5 Stages of MUN

MUN committee sessions are all about discussing a topic, then hopefully passing a resolution. Passing a resolution in MUN is not some random chain of events, there are 5 stages almost every MUN committee will go through in order to have a fruitful MUN debate. 

Each of the 5 stages in MUN has their own unique attributes to take into consideration. Whether you are a first-time MUNer, MUN Pro, Chair, Trainer, Teacher, knowing the MUN stages will help explain MUN to future participants, improve your MUN strategy and so much more. 

In this article, we don’t go into MUN How-To, this is all about the stages and what sort of things you should take into account and fine-tune each MUN stage. 

Pre-Conference Research/Preparation & Communication

The 5 MUN stages are related to a MUN committee. There are other Pre-Conference things to do that are also important but are not covered in this breakdown. Still it is extremely important to research your country, topic and committee. You can organize your research in a research binder & fact sheet. You might also need to submit a position paper before the conference so make sure to check in with your conference.

Resources for Further reading: 

Ideas (Stage 1)

Start: Beginning of the MUN Conference (Sometimes before)

End: First unmoderated caucus

n the ideas stage is exactly as it sounds, a way to formulary and non formally introduce your ideas to your fellow committee members. This is created through creating relationships and using the platforms MUN allows to get your ideas on the floor and into discussion. MUN is a social activity, so a key part is making friends and influencing people. Your first impression can be made as simply as saying “Hi’ to other delegates and your chairs. While your opening speech is also an introduction, you don’t need to jump into topics and ideas to make an impression. Sometimes, a good informal introduction will make everything easier.

The formal introduction will happen in the committee during your opening speech. Between the time you showshow up to registration and the first roll call you might already have a good idea of which delegates are MUN pros and who might be the new kids on the block.  

Opening speeches are the second way delegates introduce themselves, along with proactively offering motions. The opening speech is where a delegate gives you their position in a short and concise way. It’s your responsibility to keep track of the speeches and ideas.

Taking notes: Write down the flow of debate (or flow in short form) is the process of taking notes of what other delegates say. It is suggested that you keep these notes in a document where you can write a short summary of each speech. You can write a more elaborate description of their position, or just a “friendly to x” or “unfriendly to y” if you want to keep things short. This will be useful to include in your own speeches, i.e you can echo other delegates that you like, and also later when you can chase down certain ideas. Note-taking should be done throughout the conference but here, in the introduction stage, it is essential. Also, when people start talking, the number one rule is NOTES.

Notes: Notes, or chits, should be sent to other delegates is a very important part of communication, especially as you haven’t been able to communicate in person yet (that comes during the first unmoderated caucus).

The introduction stage starts with the beginning of committee and moves between the General Speakers List (GSL) and moderated caucuses. This generally continues until the first unmoderated caucus where you will begin to move onto negotiating, debating and discussing the wider ideas on the committee topic informally with others, and that is where coalition-building comes in.

Resources for Further reading: 

Coalition (Stage 2)

Start: Around the time of first unmoderated caucus

End: Successful submission of a working paper/start of drafting a draft resolution

The Coalition stage can start before the first unmoderated caucus through note passing and echoing during speeches. However, the real coalition forming usually truly begins during the first unmoderated caucus.

In the coalition stage, there should be two distinctions to make, coalitions of ideas, and coalitions of like-minded delegates, called a bloc. The former is a good description of what goes on during moderated caucuses, where you are sharing ideas, bringing new ones into the fray, and generally debating. The latter is an example of what is happening during unmoderated caucuses, where you flesh out these ideas in a bloc, and create what you traditionally think of as a coalition in international relations. Caucusing is the main tool used to form and maintain your coalition, moving between private and public discussions.

Using the notes you took from stage 1, you should now have identified, and even talked to, those delegations that are important to you, those with interesting ideas, and have a good idea of what the rest of the committee looks like. This is going to be very handy here because you can use this information to work further on your coalition-building, with new ideas and new people! Don’t hesitate to keep introducing yourself, in a big committee you’ll never be able to see everyone but if many people know you, and then you will be known to many others you’ll never directly meet.

If you’re going for the position of a bloc leader, then this stage will be one of the most important, creating a bloc and coalition around you is essential in this respect, and getting noticed in the committee will be important.

Lastly for this stage, your ideas and coalition-building should have become something more concrete, and if not, then join a coalition that is. Eventually, these ideas must be put on paper, submitted to the chairs as a working paper, and if successful and introduced, then we can move to the next stage, Drafting.

Resources for Further reading: 

Drafting (Stage 3)

Start: Starting to write a draft resolution

End: An accepted draft resolution introduced onto the floor

Now it might seem counterintuitive here, but drafting is only half of what this stage is about. In this stage the important points to remember are keeping the momentum of the coalition and idea building going from stage 2 (and 1 in some areas) whilst being able to write a functional draft resolution with a majority of support. In this sense, stage 3 is more of a balancing act. The committee here has gotten quite tired but is also into the rhythm and routine of an MUN committee, so delegates have to be careful not to backtrack or else they will exhaust too many other delegates.

When it comes to the actual drafting Resolutions, the process is rather simple, write effective operative clauses and relevant preambulatory clauses. For this, you will probably need to split up a bit, find delegates focused on one area of the topic to write for those clauses, and then edit, edit, edit to polish all of them into a nice draft resolution.

Importantly, the idea giving and consensus building doesn’t stop from stage 2-3, and regular moderated committees will be happening alongside unmods and drafting time. So make sure you are not too involved in one aspect so you don’t get lost in another side of the committee. Again, as Thanos said, Balance is key.

Once you have a lovely draft resolution, and submit it to the chairs, and it is then approved, you then start with the next stage, Amending.

Resources for Further reading: 

Amending (Stage 4)

Start: Approval of a Draft Resolution (doesn’t have to be yours)

End: Closure of Debate and Moving into voting procedure

In this stage, new ideas are usually out of the question. As a committee you have one or a few draft resolutions on the floor to debate and submit amendments to. None of what you’ve worked towards in past stages stops, they just change focus. You want to really give attention to those smaller groups with specific ideas and promote them because in this stage you also start to lobby a lot harder. This is especially true if there are multiple resolutions, because the one that gets the most “successful” amendments, to give the content broader appeal, is the one that most delegates will want to support. This is where debating the draft resolutions is done, and where analysis of the text, as well as challenging and amending the text, is done.

So here, work with your bloc again, use the information from stage 1 to find different ideas to promote, use your coalition-building from stage 2 to spread out, get known and work with others, use your drafting in stage 3 to be the ringleader in the amendment process, especially important if you are a sponsor of a resolution, which often means you have influence on the amendments that pass to your draft resolution.

This stage can either be the slowest, or the fastest, depending on a committee. At times, especially if you’ve spent ages drafting or there’s only one resolution, few people will have amendments and this stage might be entirely skipped. Otherwise, if it’s a larger, or more controversial committee, managing the amendments will be challenging for everyone involved. Make sure to scout out during the previous stage what ideas other delegates liked and didn’t like with the resolutions. Knowing what’s coming, and preparing for it, will put you in a good position for the Amending stage.

Either way, Amendments or no, eventually debate must come to an end, and that is where the final stage comes into play, Voting.

Resources for Further reading: 

Voting (Stage 5)

Start: Closure of Debate / Entry into Voting Procedure

End: Adjournment of Debate / Moving to next topic

To some, the voting procedure has nothing to it but voting, yet that is not true. In many voting procedures there are other motions and items to discuss (non-substantive) that make a BIG difference to the outcome of the vote. Take the most basic, reordering draft resolutions. If you’re in a committee that can pass only one resolution, then this will be very important to discuss and vote upon to get your items though.

Therefore, in this stage you will be relying heavily on the coalitions you’ve built from all previous stages to support your procedural attempts. In this, the ROPs are king and vary substantially from conference to conference, so see what is available here.

What is the least able to choose is the final vote. By this point many delegates have made up your mind, and lobbying time is mostly over, pray it goes your way. If it does, well done, if not and another resolution unfavourable to your bloc passes, then hey, you don’t have to ratify it or care about it as a country anyway, just ask the United States.

Otherwise, from here your committee and conference is over, and you can now party and have fun, or you might have another topic to do. If you have another topic, then definitely use all you’ve learnt in the first 5 stages to almost “foresee” the 5 stages of the next topic, because they will just repeat over again for each topic. If the conference is over however, then well done, you made it and I hope you enjoyed it!

Resources for Further reading: 

Conclusion

To review, the 5 stages of a MUN committee session work as follows. First comes the Introduction stage, where delegates meet before and during the start of committee, up to the end of the opening speeches. Next, there is a Coalition stage, where delegates begin to share substantive ideas, and start to create blocs of like-minded delegations. Work on working papers also usually begins during this Coalition stage. At around the same time comes the third Drafting stage, where delegates start writing the draft resolution together with their coalitions to turn ideas into clauses to create a resolution with the intention to reach a majority. The penultimate fourth Amendment stage is more than just amendments to the resolution, but also an area where the wider committee is engaged, making changes to both your draft resolution and the draft resolution of others. Lastly, is the fifth Voting stage, where some extra procedures during voting procedure, but most importantly, where the resolutions feature a final vote!

Another important thing to note is that these stages are not strict. There is no set in stone beginning or endpoint, other than the adjournment of committee at the end, and instead, these should be seen as somewhat overlapping and influenced by various different factors. For example, during the amendment stage a merge can take place which moved the groups taking part in the merder back to the Drafting stage. The aim here is for delegates to understand the different priorities in different stages throughout the MUN committee.

In conclusion, these 5 stages each build up different parts of a MUN into a simple and followable guide. They can blend into each other but each has its own unique considerations, variables and challenges. Furthermore, no one delegate will be able to manage everything within all 5 stages in a single topic, so teamwork remains key at every point. It’s worth creating a rough plan, either alone or with a group, of how you will tackle these 5 stages, because as the great military mind Eisenhower said, “Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable”.

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