How to Format a Model UN Resolution
Why is formatting important?
You and your allies have solved every single problem addressed by the committee and it is time to debate the resolution that shows your brilliance. You know there is no way anyone can be against the resolution. All the ideas you have come up with are 100 % perfect. Suddenly, a delegate stands to speak against it. The delegate tears your resolution apart; not because of its ideas and solutions, but because the formatting is all wrong. Your perfect resolution now looks, and feels, like a disaster.
Let’s face it. Technicalities have the ability to hurt in the real world and a Model UN conference is no different. Resolutions are hard to create on the basis of content alone, let alone getting the formatting correct all the time, but it must be done. Imagine having a period at the end of clause three. Suddenly, that is the end of the resolution. Clauses four, five, and six are irrelevant to the resolution, even though they contain most of the problem solutions. Formatting matters.
The ultimate success of any committee session will be the resolutions it produces. Formatting errors can stop the progress of a resolution in its tracks. It can cause a delay in the ultimate vote of your resolution, or worse, allow another resolution to be ready first and get voted on in its place.
To avoid such situations, we are dedicating the article entirely on the formatting of resolutions for Model UN. For related articles, you can also read our articles on How to Write a Resolution and How to Write a Clause. Of course, learn to write great clauses, but learn to write them the correct way as well so they count
Formatting for General Assembly resolutions
Keep in mind that each conference you attend may have slightly different formatting rules. However, most Model UN conferences follow the same basics. You will be able to see a template example in section 4.
- A Model United Nations resolution will start with a title of sorts, identifying it as a “Draft Resolution” and it will specify which revision it is.
- The top section, under the “Draft Resolution” will contain the following, each on separate lines:
- Committee – name the committee here.
- Topic – the topic of the resolution here.
- Sponsors – in alphabetical order, list the sponsors.
- Signatories – in alphabetical order, list the signatories.
- Keep in mind that sponsors should vote yes for the resolution unless there is a justification for them not to, such as a key clause getting removed during voting procedure. Signatories are not obligated to vote in favor and can simply want the topic discussed. Also, the number of sponsors is usually limited. Be careful not to identify a signatory as a sponsor, as they could ask to be removed from the document and that could derail the process when it happens.
- The Committee Name in italics followed by a comma.
- Preambulatory Clauses.
- Remember, the preambulatory clauses are addressing the “why.”
- The first word of each preambulatory clause must be italicized.
- Each preambulatory clause must end with a comma.
- Each preambulatory clause should have a matching operative clause.
- Operative Clauses.
- Remember, each operative clause is an “answer” to the corresponding preambulatory clause. They must be specific and explain “how” action is being taken.
- Each operative clause should be numbered.
- Italicize the first word of each operative clause.
- Each operative clause should end in a semicolon.
- If sub-clauses are used, they should be indented and labeled a, b, c, etc. To go into sub-clauses from the main clause, break it with a colon. Each sub-clause will end with a comma, except for the last on which will end with a semicolon.
- The last operative clause should end with a period.
For a full list of the phrases for preambulatory and operative clauses refer to our guide to of preambulatory and operative clause phrases. You must begin each clause with one of these. Model UN clauses are meant to be legally binding and avoid vague language. For this reason, there is a selected list of words. Use those to begin your clauses and you will find your ideas coming out more clearly.
Formatting for Specialized Committees
There are no universal rules for how to format resolutions for specialized committees. Very often, at many Model UN conferences, specialized agencies will use regular Model UN GA formatting. This is common across European Union committees such as the European Commission, Council of the European Union, European Court of Justice, etc. the African Union, League of Arab States, ECOWAS and many others. Some specialized committees, such as NATO, may choose to use only operative clauses following the same instruction written above. Others might have different phrases or other formatting requirements which should be provided by the conference.
Some regional conferences pride themselves on having unique rules of procedure for their specialized committees. Good examples of specialized rules for specific committees can be found here on the London International Model United Nations (LIMUN) website.
Other conferences with specialized rules can be seen at EuroMUN in Maastricht or HaMMUN in Hamburg, Germany. These conferences usually have special formatting instructions for their European committees. When unsure, it is best to ask the conference secretariat. If they have no clear answer, it is safest to default to the classes Model UN General Assembly format.
Model UN Template Example
The following example has been taken from an actual General Assembly resolution from 2009. It has been changed slightly to fit with the Model UN format most used for conferences.
Draft Resolution 2-3
Committee: General Assembly Plenary
Subject: Democratic Breakdown in Honduras
Sponsors: France, Germany, United Kingdom
Signatories: Algeria, Brazil, Canada, Egypt, India, Italy, Morocco, Norway, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Spain Sweden, Turkey, United States
The General Assembly,
Deeply concerned by the coup d’état that took place in the Republic of Honduras on 28 June 2009,
Deeply concerned also by the acts of violence against diplomatic personnel and accredited officials in the Republic of Honduras in violation of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations,
Recalling the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations, international law and conventions on international peace and security,
Gravely concerned by the breakdown in the constitutional and democratic order that has led to the endangerment of security, democracy and the rule of law, which has jeopardized the security of Honduran and foreign citizens,
- Condemns the coup d’état in the Republic of Honduras that has interrupted the democratic and constitutional order and the legitimate exercise of power in Honduras, and resulted in the removal of the democratically elected President of that country, Mr. José Manuel Zelaya Rosales;
- Demands the immediate and unconditional restoration of the legitimate and Constitutional Government of the President of the Republic of Honduras, Mr. José Manuel Zelaya Rosales, and of the legally constituted authority in Honduras, so that he may fulfil the mandate for which he was democratically elected by the Honduran people;
- Decides to call firmly and unequivocally upon States to recognize no Government other than that of the Constitutional President, Mr. José Manuel Zelaya Rosales;
- Expresses its firm support for the regional efforts being undertaken pursuant to Chapter VIII of the Charter of the United Nations to resolve the political crisis in Honduras.
Resolutions show the results of all of your hard work in committee so it is important to get them right. This means the content as well as the formatting. Resolutions go through many stages, from working papers to draft resolutions. Ultimately, you want them to become a well written resolution which can get a majority of votes and get and adopted by your committee. With practice, you can start using proper formatting during the working paper stage, which will save you time as the simulation gets more intense.
By following these formatting rules, you will be one step ahead of the game. You will ensure that delays are minimal and the committee delegates can focus on the content and not nitpick at any errors you made. Resolution writers who excel at formatting find themselves in a unique position of influence, as they will be the final ones to in a position to tweak the content just as the fix the punctuation. To be able to remain strongly relevant as you proceed to the endgame, become a pro at formatting. Not only will it save you time and make you move valuable to your block but it will also free you from worrying about technical mistakes so you can spend your valuable time focusing on the content