UN4MUN Rules of Procedure is a creation of the UN Department
of Global Communications and the World Federation of United Nations
Associations. It was developed to close the gap between the Roberts rules found
in MUN and the real United Nations. This is a radical change from the
parliamentary procedures that you can find in Roberts Rules, and brings
benefits and challenges of its own. It
has been pioneered by Bill Yotive and WFUNA who have since focused on some of
the developing countries of MUN such as Brazil, China, Russia, India and South
This article will evaluate the advantages and disadvantages
of UN4MUN, focussing on the style, it extenuates and the way committees ran in
this style work.
UN Debating Style
As identified in the last article on Roberts Rules of
Procedure, in the real United Nations, there are no such thing as Caucuses or
motions. Instead, debating and lobbying is done through a speakers list created
far ahead of time, with far more informal sessions, in the mode of an
unmoderated caucus, than formal sessions. Ultimately, what is highlighted in
UN4MUN rules of procedure is the need to cooperate rather than compete.
In essence, the UN is not a parliament, and therefore does
not need to adhere to parliamentary rules.
Start of Debate
In the real UN, abstaining is always in order in any part of
a voting decision, as removing it can violate some of the principles of equal sovereignty.
Therefore, when the roll call is declared, the only decision that can be made
is being present. Present and voting, unlike in other MUN ROPs, is not necessary.
Furthermore, in some UN4MUN rules, the chairs are not
appointed before the conference, but instead elected among their peers during
debate. This model is most used in WIMUN conferences run by WFUNA and have the
added benefit of acting even more similarly to the real UN. In this case,
Chairs truly serve the committee themselves, rather than the conference.
Setting the Agenda
In UN4MUN the overall agenda is already set before debating
has started. Much like the real UN, the agenda of the meeting has been set
months beforehand. Nevertheless, the integral agenda setting does take place in
the first session of debate. This changes in some local forms of UN4MUN but
often the first session is dedicated to creating an internal agenda, breaking
down the overall agenda into specific topics that can be tackled in turn.
Chairs in UN4MUN have a far more active role, moderating as
a chair does in the real UN, meaning that keeping to agenda and steering debate
is more prevalent. Therefore, the integral agenda might be written down and
submitted to the chair before debating properly begins. This is not always the
case, but the requirement to break down a topic before debating certainly is.
Formal and Informal
The main difference between UN4MUN and other ROPs can be found
in the way debating sessions are handled. As mentioned, there are no caucuses,
and instead only formal and informal sessions.
The speakers list is the main part of formal debate, much
like in the real UN, they are very important and are the primary way to declare
intentions and form speeches. There are usually proper opening
speeches in UN4MUN which also give delegates time to declare their intent on
The speakers list is also sometimes
called “Formal Formal Consultations” (FF).
As well as the “Formal Formal” consultations there are
Formal – Informal Consultations (FI, rather similar to moderated caucuses) and
Informal – Informal Consultations (II, Rather like unmoderated caucuses). Moving
into these types of consultations is often described as “Caucusing”.
Delegates may move into these other consultations by
suspending the debate in a Formal Formal consultation. Doing this reflects the
fact that when in real session, only speaker’s list speeches are entertained.
Therefore, when you want to debate on a certain smaller topic (in an
Formal-informal consultation) you need to suspend the meeting and move into
The same can be said for moving into informal informal
consultations, which are akin to lobbying time in the UN. A majority of a
delegates will be in these informal informal sessions as creating blocs and
moving as one is of great importance in the UN and is similarly important in
Points and Motions
In UN4MUN there aren't a wealth of points or motions to
use. The two most basic are motions to suspend the meeting (to go into II or FI
sessions) and point of order. Points of order here are used strictly to gain
the attention of the chair to make a point either that the chair has not
followed procedure correctly, or that the delegate requires clarification on
debate and sessions. The versatility of using mostly these two makes
for a far smoother experience of MUN than having lots of points or motions to
remember. Again, this reflects the real UN experience where there are not many
points or motions to use, but few that are meant to be used sparingly and with
There are still motions to Adjourn and close debate, but
like in Roberts rules, these are not used often and don’t take part in the
regular debating sessions. Other times, if there are specific points or motions
to be made, chits or notes are used to raise the attention of the chairs.
As in most UN meetings, decisions are adopted unilaterally,
showing how consensus is how most the United Nations works. This encourages
documentation to be drafted together within blocs, and merged before presented
properly to the committee. Almost 80% of the General Assembly’s resolutions are
passed by consensus and UN4MUN seeks to keep this balance.
Generally, anyone can submit a draft resolution without any
specific level of support. However, simply put, if there is little support for
that resolution, then there is little point in discussing it. Therefore, a
natural barrier is made where draft resolutions should have some support before
being officially tabled. Working papers are less of a formality, being created
by blocs but not presented to the committee, instead presented during informal
informal sessions for debating and lobbying amongst the committee.
Amendments too are different, with amendments being produced
in a less formal manner, either by notes or aurally, and objections being taken
rather than formal voting procedures. This can be confusing and often some
local rules introduce a more formal procedure for handling amendments like
parliamentary debating does. Nevertheless, the attention is once again on
consensus and tabling amendments to sink resolutions is less common, with
amendments usually coming to placate blocs and groups in committee.
Decision Making or “Action
Once the caucusing is over, the decision making begins. As
mentioned, consensus is common, and it is assumed that a draft resolution will
be adopted by this method. If there are
objections, then voting is taken, but rarely does the committee adopt special
measures for this voting procedure, and effort is taken to amend draft
resolutions to produce consensus.
A member state can still request separate votes on different
parts of the draft resolution before adopting the whole text. This is similar
to dividing the question and again is produced normally to remove controversial
parts of a resolution to allow consensus to emerge on the whole text.
Should there remain delegates unhappy with the text, there
is sometimes time for formal formal speeches to understand why delegates are
still opposed to the text. This is sometimes taken as a closing speech before
the adoption of the resolution, but can also be held after the resolution is
Once the action phase has ended, and there are no further
suspension to the meeting, committee is fundamentally closed. There is little
to add to here with motions to adjourn the meeting being called. In this way
the focus is very much held on the resolution just adopted and the ending of
committee is synonymous with the successful completion of the agenda.
UN4MUN takes a strong approach to the heart of UN values,
consensus. Through this a lot of its rules are crafted to draw delegates into
working together and creating a resolution that all agree on. It is true that
without consensus, real process is seldom made, and many things can be learnt
from this method. Then again, the informality and unstructured process can make
the debating difficult for many delegates, and many of the power difficulties
that result from louder delegates can be exacerbated by stronger delegates.
UN4MUN is a lot harder to understand than Roberts Rules, and
takes more training to grasp properly. However, once they are understood and
mastered by all, they are a powerful tool to turn normal MUN debating into a
force for consensus and debating as close to the UN standard as possible.