As a Chair, you are expected to bring your committee to life as you perform your role within the boundaries of the Model United Nations rules of procedure (RoP). MUN RoP’s are largely the same between most MUN circuits and conferences. Once you know the terms and phrases, you could reliably chair anywhere in the world and the delegates would understand you.
For first time chairs, this chair script for debate will show you what to say and when to say it. The article will make sense of the MUN procedure and put strange terms into a format that can be understood and replicated. It also helps with consistency. The following guide will tell you what to say, when to say it and how to say it.
Staying consistent is one of the most important jobs of a Chair. You must stay consistent to the rules, lack of Bias, respect, etc. You have to be the rock from which delegates anchor their debate from. Therefore, the delegates need to consistently understand what is happening and for that, you need to use terms they understand, consistently! Using the right terms does not replace the need to write a study guide or that you need to know how to chair. Using the correct terms is as much a part of chairing and knowing to equally spread the opportunity to speak throughout the room.
Now that’s clarified, how should you use this guide? This guide isn’t for a chair to read and recall in a monotonous setting throughout a committee. It is for a chair to look at to understand all the possibilities for chairs to say and when, to avoid confusion, and make sure that delegates get the fullest chairing experience possible. For our purpose, the following chairing script will be written about the Human Rights Council (HRC).
This guide will run through all the phrases with a brief description of what they mean and what they can be used for. This guide assumes that you already know the Model UN Rules of Procedure. You don’t need to know them perfectly but feel free to
Setting the Stage
The beginning of the committee may vary depending on what type of committee it is, but as HRC, it will be standard compared to many other MUN Rules of Procedure (ROPs). Nevertheless, it is always good before getting into a proper formal setting to run through the rules of procedure for the opening stage of the committee with the delegates, so they know what is going on, and the likes.
Beginning Roll Call
“We shall begin with the roll call, when your delegation is named, please rise and state whether you are present or present and voting”
- Make sure to explain to delegates if you think they might not know the difference between Present or Present and voting is.
After taking roll call
“Thank you, after the roll call we can see that there are 21 Delegates present, this makes a simple majority 11 and a two thirds majority 15”
- Always nice to remind delegates of the numbers, make sure to remember you always need whatever the arithmetic is +1 for things to pass.
Opening the Floor
“Are there any points or motions on the floor?”
- This is one of the things you as a chair are going to be saying the most throughout committee. You need to keep consistent to this but you can change to say just “points” or just “motions” depending on what you’re looking for. For a list of what to say about points, see the final section on points and general phrases
After taking a good motion
“This is in order, are there any seconds to this motion?”
- To clarify to delegates what is and isn’t in order it’s important to start a sentence after a motion with “this is in order” if it is in order, and “this is not in order” if it is not.
- Seconds and Objections are not standard, and some motions don’t require it, but for simplicity’s sake let’s say we’re doing Seconds and objections for everything possible
*Delegate raise seconds*
“Thank you, are there any objections?”
*Delegates Raise objections*
“Thank you, seeing seconds and objections, we will now take this to a vote, all those in favour of this motion to open the debate please raise your placards now”
*Delegates vote in favour*
“and all those against this motion please raise your placards now”
*Delegates vote against*
“Thank you delegate, this motion passes/fails*
After seeing not all people having voted
“Seeing that not all people have voted, the dias wishes to remind you that this is a procedural vote and so all members must vote either in favour or against, you cannot abstain”
- Good to remember and establish early on
Vote on opening debate passes
“We would now look favourably on a motion to set the agenda, are there any points or motions on the floor?”
- If you ever want to slightly push delegates but not overly, “we would now look favourably” is a tried and tested mechanism, but use it wisely
Setting the Agenda
Delegate raises motion to set the agenda to a topic
“This is in order, we shall now open a primary speakers list to discuss whether delegates are in favour or against setting the agenda to topic X, Delegate would you like to be added first to this speakers list?”
“All those wishing to be added to the primary speakers list, please raise your placards now”
After getting people on the list: “First we will have the delegate of X speak, delegate of X you now have the floor”
After delegate X has spoken: “
Thank you, we will now have the next delegate, the delegate of X speak, delegate of X you now have the floor”
If you wish to add more people to the list you can just reuse “all those wishing to be added…”
After the list has been emptied
“Seeing that the primary speakers list has been exhausted, we will automatically close the debate on setting the agenda to topic X and move to voting procedure. All those in favour of adopting Topic X first before moving onto topic Y please raise your placards now”
*vote passes and topic X is adopted*
Starting the Main Debate
After you have set the agenda, the real fun begins and the main substance of the debate can start! You will be in this section for a majority of the conference, likely one full day, interrupted occasionally with suspending the debate (see the last section) and reopening debate in the morning. You should make sure that after the speakers list is established and speeches have started, that once enough speeches have been made for some key issues to be raised (usually around 4 or 5) then you open the floor to points or motions.
The General/Secondary Speakers list
“The Floor is now open for points or motions”
Motion to open the general speakers list is called and passes
“Thank you, Delegate who motioned for the speakers list, would you like to be added first to the list” *says no* “Ok, all those wishing to be added please raise your placards now”
- Similar to the primary speakers list, the key here is that there must ALWAYS be people on the general speakers list or else debate is automatically closed and you move to vote procedure, avoid this.
Responding to Yields
Yielded to the Chair/Floor/Dias
“Thank you delegate, the next delegate to take the floor will be the delegate of X, Delegate of X, you have the floor”
Yielded to another Delegate
“Delegate of Y, the Delegate of X has yielded to you, do you accept?”
Delegate Y Says Yes “You have the floor for the remaining time”
Delegate Y says No, “Delegate Y has rejected to take the remaining time, therefore the time it automatically assumed to the chairs”
Yielding to Points of Information/Questions
“Thank you delegate, the Delegate has yielded to points of information, do any delegates have any points of information” *Delegate Raises Placard* “Yes Delegate of Y”
After the point has been raised “Delegate of X, do you accept this point of information”
Delegate X says yes, “Delegate of X, you have the remaining time to answer”
Delegate X says No, “Do any other delegates have a point of information to ask to the delegate of X”
No delegate has a point, “There are no remaining points of information for the delegate, the chairs will automatically assume the time”
Forgetting to Yield
“Delegate, how do you yield your time”
Delegate is clearly unsure of what is happening
“Do not worry delegate, if you wish to merely end your speech and sit down, please state that you wish to yield to the chair”
Accepting Moderated and Unmoderated Caucuses
“The floor is open for points and motions; all those with points and motions please raise your placards now”
- As mentioned, try to do this regularly within committee because these are what push the debate substantially
After Motion with Seconds and Objections
“Seeing this motion has received seconds and objections, we will take some more motions, are there any other points or motions on the floor?”
After all motions are defeated
“Seeing all motions defeated we will return to the general speakers list”
If a motion passes, see below.
Delegate motions for Moderated Caucus, Speaking time 1min, Overall time 10mins on the Subject of X
“Thank you delegate, this is in order, the delegate has motioned for a 10 minute moderated caucus, 1 minute speaking time on the subject of X, are there any seconds to this motion?”
- Make sure to read out the motion just afterwards to clarify with the delegate, and so people understand what it is about.
“Seeing more votes in favor/no objections this motion passes, delegate of X, do you wish to speak first or last in this moderated caucus?”
- Always make sure to keep track of who is speaking in Mod Caucuses, stops you from accidentally choosing spoken people and stops confusion.
Chair chooses someone to speak
“All those delegates who wish to speak in this moderated caucus please raise your placards now, *time choosing* delegate of X, you have the floor”
- Don’t let them raise their placards before now.
Delegate is done speaking and it is ready to choose the next delegate
“Thank you delegate, all those wishing to speak raise your placards now”
“Seeing more votes against/no seconds this motion fails”
- If there are more motions to vote upon go to them, otherwise if that was the last motion to vote on and it has failed, then go to the general speaker’s list.
Delegate motions with a fault in their motion i.e ask for a 25min caucus
“Delegate you cannot motion for a moderated caucus of total duration over 20 minutes, would 15 minutes be more reasonable?”
- Always try and suggest something to overcome the fault a delegate makes, will make the process a lot smoother.
Moderated Caucus ends
“Thank you delegate, The time for this moderated caucus has elapsed”
If you want to open the floor again for motions go to opening the floor, otherwise, go back to the general speaker’s list.
Delegate Motions for an Unmoderated Caucus, duration of 20 minutes
“Thank you delegate, this is in order, the delegate has motioned for an Unmoderated caucus of total duration 20 minutes, are there any seconds to this motion?”
- Make sure to stress the “UN” in unmoderated caucus, so delegates understand
“The motion has passed, we are now in an unmoderated caucus for 20 minutes, delegates can get up from their seats and discuss with each other, however, we would like to ask delegates not to leave the room”
Motion has failed
“The motion has failed”
If there are more motions to vote on then the Chair should motion on them, otherwise go to the general speaker’s list
Time has elapsed for the unmoderated caucus
“Delegates *bang gavel*, your time has elapsed, please take your seats”
Writing Papers and Introducing Documentation
Now, the debate is going smoothly. Delegates are bringing up points, discussing them around and reaching some sort of conclusion that requires writing them down. Of course, firstly you need a working paper, not quite formal enough to be a draft resolution, but better than just aimlessly shouting out ideas.
It’s important to plan these stages too. Working papers should be appearing relative soon in the whole debate because it’s only from there can the debate really becomes substantive. You might want to think of it like this, 1/3 of the committee pure debating, 1/3 of the committee drafting, 1/3 of the committee amending and voting. In this style, we are now in the 2nd third of the committee, let’s see what we have to say!
Firstly, Working papers do not need to be in any specific format, and don’t need a motion to be introduced. However, they do need chair approval and a way to be disseminated to the committee. Therefore, you probably want them sent via email for you to look at, then put onto either a google drive that everyone has access to, or a facebook group to put them on.
Delegate submits a working paper and it is approved:
“Delegates, we have received one working paper from the Delegate of X, this working paper is approved and has been added to the (whatever you’re using to share). This working paper will now be known as working paper 1.1”
- Note that if you are on the first topic, the first number is 1, if you are on the second topic, the first number is 2
- Also, the second number relates to the number of working papers, 1.1 is the first WP of the first topic, 1.2 is the second WP of the first topic, ect…
You can have multiple working papers, but try not to have too many, because the main act of working papers is a bridge to the draft resolution
Draft resolutions are where the real substance comes in. They require a specific format (a good example is found on WiseMee here) and require some level of motioning to introduce and some extra motions afterwards. In brief, a Draft Resolution needs signatories (and sometimes sponsors) and will need some back and forth on the clauses to make sure that they are formatted properly and are all correct. However, once a Draft Resolution is all formatted correctly and ready to introduce, then that’s where we start
A Draft resolution has been submitted and is ready to be introduced
“Delegates, we have received one Draft resolution from the delegate of X, this draft resolution is ready to be introduced”
- You need to “approve” the DR first before it can be properly introduced
Motion to introduce the Draft Resolution is called by a delegate
“Delegates, a motion to introduce Draft Resolution 1.1 has been raised, this motion does not require seconds nor a vote, and thereby passes automatically, it has been uploaded to the Drive, would the sponsors of the resolution please like to read out the operative clauses of the resolution”
- So a few things, firstly the numbering is the same as for Working Papers
- Secondly, depending on ROPs you might not need seconds or a vote, but motion is always needed, and it is very rare for a motion to introduce a DR is ever failed
- Thirdly the resolution does need to be read out, unless you are pressed for time
Motion for a Question and Answer Session is called
“Delegates, there has been a motion for a Question and Answer session on Draft Resolution 1.1, could the sponsors of the resolution please come up to the dais. They will have 10 minutes to answer any technical questions about the resolution”
- This motion is only in order straight after the introduction of a resolution, and it’s also good to mention this after the resolution is introduced
- In addition, this Q&A session should NOT be about the substance of the resolution, just technicalities such as clarification of wording ect…
Amendments are always the hardest part of the committee to get right. By the time you’re at this stage you’ve had 2 days debating and endless drafting. Still, amendments are some of the most important parts of the committee as it allows for constructive debate towards the end.
The ROPs regarding amendments are almost ALWAYS different too, so I would ask you to take this section with a grain of salt. Here I’m going to use what I call UNA-USA Simplified. For a brief rundown:
Amendments need to be sent in and do one of three things, Modify, Strike (delete) or Add a Clause. You can only do ONE of these per amendment. They must be sent digitally and approved first before being able to be introduced
There are two types of amendments, Friendly and Unfriendly, Friendly amendments are those with all the sponsors of the resolution as signatories to the amendment. When Friendlies are approved and then introduced through a motion, they are automatically put into effect.
UNfriendlies require signatories to the amendment and are not approved by all sponsors. Therefore when they are introduced via a motion there are 2 speakers in favour and 2 against, then a vote to introduce it.
If all else fails, relying on this method will save you time and energy, but for a more comprehensive overview, do check your MUNs ROPs as it will be different.
After an amendment has been sent and is approvable
“Delegates, we have received one (Friendly/unfriendly) amendment from the delegate of X, this amendment is ready to be introduced as Amendment 1.1. “
- Number for an amendment is dependent on which topic and how many have preceded it, 1.1 is the first, 1.2 the second ect…
Motion to introduce Amendment 1.1 (which is friendly) is raised
“This motion is on order, are there any seconds?”
*Seconds and no objections, motion passes*
*Chair briefly reads out amendment*
“Sponsors of resolution 1.1, (read out the sponsors), are you all in favour of this amendment?”
*They all say yes*
“This amendment is therefore automatically introduced into the draft resolution 1.1”
Motion to introduce Amendment 1.1 (which is unfriendly) is raised
“This motion is in order, are there any seconds to this motion?”
*Chair Reads out the amendment*
“We will now take two delegates who wish to speak in favour of this amendment, and two against. All those wishing to speak in favour of this amendment please raise your placards now”
*Chair chooses 2 speakers to speak in favour, adds to a speakers list*
“All those wishing to speak against this amendment please raise your placards now”
*Chair chooses 2 speakers to speak against, adds to a speakers list, alternatives speakers so it is for, against, for and against*
“Delegate of X, you have the floor for 60 seconds speaking in favour of this amendment”
*The rest of the speeches occur*
“We will now close the debate on the amendment and move swiftly to voting procedure on amendment 1.1, remember delegates this is a substantive vote, so the options to vote are in favour, against and abstain. If you declared yourself present and voting, you cannot abstain. All those in favour raise your placards now”
*Delegate raise, e.g. 10 in favour, 9 against, 2 abstentions*
“With 10 in favour, 9 against and 2 abstentions this motion passes, it will be added to the draft resolution shortly”
Now you’re done! You have a good draft resolution, it’s been amended enough and you’re on the home stretch. There’s no substantive debate left, maybe some competing draft resolutions but it’s time now to move to voting procedure. This part can be very complicated for delegates, so it is important to explain at every stage what’s necessary. You can look at it like this, firstly you close debate and move to voting, then there’s a few motions you can do firstly, then you vote. Simple enough, but believe me, it can get confusing.
Moving to Voting
The floor is open and there is a motion to close debate and move to voting procedure
“This is in order, this motion does not require seconds or objections but a 2/3rds procedural vote in favour, all those in favour please raise your placards now”
*The 2/3rds threshold is met*
“Delegates we are now in voting procedure, the use of electronics is forbidden and the doors are now locked”
*Close the doors, make sure that no-one has their laptops open*
– Sometimes there is also a 5 or 10 minute unmod caucus when this happens, to give people time to do some final lobbying, check your ROPs
Motions during the voting procedure
This is where the delegates get really confused. Everyone imagines that voting procedure just means voting on the resolution, but there is a lot more to do here. Firstly, you want to explain to the delegates that only one resolution can pass and if there are multiple resolutions, what numbers they are and who the sponsors are.
Next, start explaining the motions they can do. Some are obvious, like the motion to vote by roll call, but some are very much not, such as dividing the question. Take this part slowly and make sure EVERYONE knows what is happening.
Motion to vote by Roll Call
Motion to vote by roll call is raised
“This is in order and does not require a vote and is passed automatically”
Motion to reorder the draft resolutions
Motion to reorder the draft resolutions is raised
“This is in order, there is a motion to reorder the draft resolutions. Firstly we will vote on whether we wish to reorder the draft resolutions and if this passes, we will take motions for how they should be reordered, any seconds for reordering the draft resolutions”
*This motion passes*
“We will now be taking ways to reorder the draft resolutions, any delegate who wishes to propose a method of reordering the draft resolutions please raise your placards now”
*There are 3 resolutions, and 2 ways are suggested, voting on them 2,1,3 and voting on the 3,2,1*
“These methods of reordering have been noted, all those in favor of reordering the draft resolutions to vote on them 3,2,1 please raise your placards”
“All those in favour of reordering the resolutions to vote on them 2,1,3 please raise your placards”
“We will, therefore, be voting on the resolutions in the order of Draft resolution 1.2, then 1.1, then 1.3, however the first resolution to pass will be the final resolution and all the others will be discarded”
- Important to note here is that you vote on the order of reordering the resolutions on how disruptive they are, e.g how different they are to the starting order of 1,2,3.
- You should always take this motion before taking a motion to divide the question, because dividing the question is always related to dividing the draft resolution NEXT to be voted upon
Motion to Divide the Question
Motion to divide the question on the next to be voted draft resolution is raised
“This motion is in order, this motion requires a simple majority to pass, once it passes, we will begin accepting ways to divide the questions. Once there are no more ways to divide the question suggested, we will then vote on these ways by most disruptive, with voting clause by clause being most disruptive”
*motion to divide the question passes”
“This motion has passed, we are now accepting ways to divide the question, if you wish to raise a motion for a way to divide the draft resolution please raise your placard now, please keep in the mind only one way to divide the question will ultimately be used”
*2 ways to divide are raised, one clause by clause and the other in 2 sections*
“We will now vote on these ways to divide the question, starting with voting clause by clause, all those in favour of dividing the question in this method please raise your placards now”
*This method passes*
“This method of dividing the question passes and therefore the other method will be discarded, when we go onto voting on the draft resolution, we shall therefore vote clause by clause on each operative clause of the Draft resolution with a substantive simple majority vote. Any clauses that fail this vote will be discarded and all those that pass will be reconstituted into a new draft resolution which will then be voted on as a whole”
- As you can see, this is a mighty complicated motion, but as always, take it slow and the delegates should be fine
- Be aware the procedure for this is also very different in many conferences
- Also, if the draft resolution that has been divided on fails, and there is another to vote upon, a motion to divide the question for this resolution can be raised too. Imagine in between the voting that everything is reset
Well now you’re done with that, it’s time for the voting procedure finally! This might be repeated a few times but it’s unlikely to take long. In the normal voting procedure you merely do the voting via raised placards, and entertain In favour, Against or Abstentions. Make sure to check the roll call at the beginning of the session for who made themselves present and voting
“We are now moving onto the voting procedure for Draft Resolution 1.2, All those in favour raise your placards now”
*12 raise their placards*
“All those against raise your placards now”
*7 raise their placards*
“And all those abstaining*
*2 raise their placards*
“With 12 in favour, 7 against and 2 abstentions, this Draft Resolution passes and all others are discarded, clapping is now in order”
- Note that because we reordered the draft resolutions earlier, Draft resolution 1.2 is the first we vote on
In roll-call voting the situation is similar except you have to go round every delegate and ask whether they are voting in favour, against, Yes with rights, No with rights, Abstaining or Passing.
“We are now moving onto the voting procedure for Draft Resolution 1.2, Delegate of A how do you vote”
*Votes In favour*
“Delegate of B how do you vote”
“Delegate of C how do you vote”
*Votes in Favour*
*goes through all other delegates, returns to Delegate of B*
“Delegate of B, do you vote in favour or against”
*More votes in favour than against*
“With 12 votes in favour, 7 against and 2 abstentions, this draft resolution passes, all others are discarded and clapping is in order”
Moving to the next topic
If there is another topic to discuss, and enough time to do it, then a motion to set the agenda is once again in order
Motion to set the agenda to topic B is set
“This is in order, seeing no other topic to set the agenda to this motion will immediately go to seconds, are there any seconds?”
*There are seconds, no objections*
“This motion passes, the Agenda has now been set to topic B, the floor is open for points and motions, and the chairs would look favourably on a motion to open the general speakers list”
- Return to the section on the general speakers list and go from there!
Ending the debate
Once you are done with your topics and resolutions, then the time has come to end the debate. This is to be done after the last draft resolution has been passed, or all have failed, and there are no more topics or time to be discussed.
Motion to adjourn debate I raised
“This is in order, this motion requires a 2/3rds majority to pass and does not need seconds or objections, all those in favour of adjourning the debate please raise your placards now”
“Delegates the meeting has been adjourned”
- Note this motion can also be used at the end of the day to in effect suspend debate until the next day, but is also used to adjourn until the next edition of the conference
After the debate
Well now the debating is done, it’s time to relax, cool down and have some fun. At this point many committees might do superlatives or funny awards, get to signing placards and also get feedback from chairs. Revel in the enjoyment you had and the good and bad times.
Points, General Phrases and What to do when delegates strike
Now here are some phrases that might come all the time in the committee, and are available at almost every point in the committee.
Point of Parliamentary Inquiry is raised
“Delegate, please rise and state your inquiry”
- Make sure to be friendly with the delegate, they’re only trying to understand what’s happening
- That said make sure they’re not using this to make a silly point or just throwing shade on other delegates
Point or Personal Privilege is raised
“Delegate, please rise and state what the issue is”
Point of Order is raised
“Delegate, please rise and state what your point of order is”
*Delegate raises point of order e.g. missed doing seconds and objections*
“Thank you for your point of order, you are correct and we would therefore like to take seconds and objections”
- Most of the time points of orders might be mistaken, but don’t discourage them because we chairs do get things wrong quite a lot
Point of Order is raised, refuted and delegate raises a motion to appeal the decision of the chair
“This is in order, delegate please state why you think this motion should be overturned”
*Delegate speaks, then chairperson speaks in defense of their decision*
“This appeal will now be taken to a vote, a two-thirds majority to pass, all those in favour of overturning the decision of the chair”
– This motion almost never gets raised, but it is important to know of
Delegate motions for a Right to Reply after a damaging speech to themselves
“This is in order, delegate you have 30 seconds off-the-record to reply to the comment made by the delegate of Y”
- This shouldn’t be used all the time and generally you should discourage angry arguments and delegates
Motion to suspend debate is raised
“This is in order, are there any seconds to the motion to suspend the debate?”
“The debate is now suspended, please make sure to return at XX:XX”
When delegates strike back
Delegate is speaking over time
“Delegate, please return to your seat, your time has elapsed”
*Bang gavel if still not sitting down*
Delegate makes rude comments during speech
“Delegate, please remain courteous and polite during speeches, rudeness will not be tolerated and can result in suspension from the debate”
Delegates are talking during another speech
“Delegates no cross-talking”
Delegates say I too many times
“Delegate please remember to avoid personal pronouns”
And there we have it! I hope that this chairing script can help you to master the basics of chairing and also inspire you to use more authoritative language that chairs are known to use!
Remember, the rules of procedure used in this script are not standard, and each MUN uses their own, make sure to check up before the conference what those ROPs are about, and how they will affect the words and procedure you use!
Best of luck with all your chairing experiences!