Model UN Cheat Sheet - An Encyclopedia of MUN Terms | mymun

Model UN Cheat Sheet

You're new to MUN or just quickly need to look up one of the many specialized terms? This is your place.


Abstain from Voting / Abstention

When a country abstains from voting in a substantive vote, it means that the vote is effectively not counted. The country withdraws from having to take a position in favour or against the matter up for voting. It is typically not possible to abstain during procedural votes.


The topic which is to be discussed in committee. It is typically set through a "Motion to set the agenda".


A change to an already introduced draft resolution. It may remove, add or change existing operative clauses.


At most conferences, the best delegates of a committee are recognized for their performance. Typically the chairs pick the best delegate of their committee and a few runner-ups.



Not a piece of furniture. Impartial moderator of the debate and mentor to delegates. Typically a committee has multiple chairs to handle all required tasks.


One of the usually many simulated bodies of the United Nations which focuses on a specific topic in international relations. Committees can be as small as having only 15 people, like the Security Council or as large as 400, like a double-delegate General Assembly.


Draft Resolution

Already fulfilling all formal resolution requirements, a draft resolution remains a draft until it is voted upon after the closure of the debate. If it is adopted, it becomes an actual resolution, and the 'draft' prefix is dropped.


General Speaker's List

A list of countries which will speak in order one after the other. The GSL persists for as long as the agenda item is debated. Though it can be interrupted by different modes of debate, such as moderated or unmoderated caucuses, it continues to persist in the background. It will be returned once the dedicated mode of debate has elapsed.


In favour

When you are for something, not against it, you are in favour of it.


Moderated Caucus

A moderated caucus is an intense debate lasting for a specified amount of time (usually between 5 and 15 minutes) to discuss a specific aspect of the overall agenda. Speeches are shorter than in the general speaker's list.


A suggestion to change something about current committee procedures which is brought forward by one of the delegates: if the motion is granted by the chairs and a majority of delegates, the change will be adopted.


Placard (not Playcard)

A little sign stating your country's name. In committee sessions, it is used, so chairs know which country you represent. You can raise it to indicate to the chairs that you want to raise a point or a motion.

Point of Information

This really is just another word for 'question'. Points of information may be allowed after speeches on the General Speaker's list or at some conferences also directed at the chair.

Point of Order

When the chair has made an error, or there was some other error in the committee's proceedings, this can be raised to the chair requesting a correction of the error.

Point of Parliamentary Inquiry

This is a request to the chair to clarify the rules of procedure.

Point of Personal Privilege

When raised to the chair, this point allows delegates to communicate concerns regarding their personal well-being (too warm, too cold, can't hear, can't read...) to the chair in hopes of improvement of the situation.

Position Paper

A document prepared before the conference outlining a country's position on the agenda item or items. It ideally states how the country feels about the current state of affairs and also hints at possible solutions it envisions.



The quorum is the amount of countries present which is required for the committee to conduct its business. Typically it is a certain share of the countries present during the conference's first roll call.



The document detailing the measures your committee has agreed upon to tackle the committee's agenda. Resolutions are written as one long continuous sentence and must fulfil a specific format. They generally contain two sections: the preambulatory clauses to justify the action taken in the resolution and the operative clauses which take action.

Roll Call

The process of checking who is there and who isn't. During a roll call, the chair will check for each country which should be part of the committee, whether it is absent (not there), present (there and participating fully), or present and voting (there and committing not only to vote infavor or against at the end).

Rules of Procedure

A document outlining how the specific conference works and what guidelines have to be followed during the debate. They typically vary to different degrees between conferences, so it's worth taking a look every time you go to a new conference!


Secretary General

While in the real world, a Secretary General is the head of the UN, in Model UN, he or she is usually the chief organizer or head of the conference's academics.


Unmoderated Caucus

A mode of 'debate' during which most rules are suspended. Whilst delegates are usually still expected to remain in the room, they can move around freely, talk to each other and prepare documents. They typically last 10 to 20 minutes at a time.


Voting - Procedural Vote

Procedural votes are voting procedures which decide on procedural matters (the proceedings of the committee) only. They do not decide on substantive matters, such as measures being taken in a resolution. Their most common use is to decide on the adoption of motions.

Voting - Substantive Vote

A substantive vote is one that decides on substantive matters in the committee. It is almost exclusively used to vote on draft resolutions once the debate has been closed. At some conferences, votes on amendments are also substantive. Depending on the conference and committee, the required majorities may be different when compared to the procedural vote. Substantive votes usually also allow for additional motions to customize the voting, such as voting by roll call, division of the question, division of the house or reordering of draft resolutions.


Working Paper

Whilst not having to fulfil a specific format, working papers are the first time ideas to tackle the agenda are written down, introduced to the committee and shared with everyone else. A document can usually only be formally referred to as a working paper once it has been introduced through a motion.



The concept of returning 'the floor' or speaking right back to the chair, another delegate or questions at the end of a speech on the General Speaker's list.