Flow of Debate

Model UN Preparation

It is sometimes helpful to think of a Model UN conference as if it were a play in which delegates are the actors and Secretariat members are the directors. The storyline of a stage show is similar to what Model UNers call the "flow of debate" – the order in which events proceed during a Model UN conference. Just like scenes in a theatrical performance, debate unfolds in several different parts. The chart below shows the various stages of debate that take place during a Model UN simulation. Being familiar with how the action will proceed, from the first "scene" to the last, is an important way to prepare yourself for a Model UN conference.

Roll Call

The Chairperson will announce each country's name. After delegates hear their country, they should answer "present."

Setting the Agenda

When Model UN committees have more than one topic available, the body must set the agenda to begin working on one of these issues. At this time a delegate typically makes a motion, stating "The country of [name] moves to place [topic A] first on the agenda, followed by [topic B] and then [topic C]." Once the motion has been made, three delegations must speak in favor of the motion, and three other delegations will speak against it. These speeches should alternate between those in favor and those opposed. Once these six speeches have been given, a vote is taken. Setting the agenda requires a simple majority vote.


Formal Debate: Formal debate revolves around a speakers list. The Chair begins by asking all delegates interested in addressing the other members to raise their placards. The Chair then chooses delegates to be placed on the speakers list. A country may only be on the speakers list once, but delegates may add their country to the end of the list after their speech.                                                            

1a. When the session begins, speeches focus on stating country positions and offering recommendations for action.

2a. After blocs have met, speeches focus on describing bloc positions to the entire body.

3a. Delegates now make statements describing their draft resolutions to the committee.

4a. Delegates try to garner more support through formal speeches and invite others to offer their ideas.

5a. Delegates make statements supporting or disagreeing with specific draft resolutions.

6a. Delegates present any amendments they have created.                        
Informal Debate: Informal debate involves discussion outside of the speakers list. During moderated caucuses, the Chair calls on delegates one-by-one so that each can address the committee in short speeches. During unmoderated caucuses, the committee breaks for a temporary recess so that delegates may meet with each other and discuss ideas.

1b. After several countries state their positions, the committee breaks for caucuses (often in blocs) to develop regional positions.

2b. Writing begins as countries work together to compose draft resolutions.

3b. Countries and groups meet to gather support for specific draft resolutions.

4b. Delegates finalize draft resolutions.

5b. Draft-resolution sponsors build greater support for their resolution and look to incorporate others’ ideas through friendly amendments.

Close of Debate

Once the speakers list is exhausted, the committee automatically moves to voting. Also, once a delegate feels that his or her country's position is clear to others and that there are enough draft resolutions on the floor, he or she may make a motion to proceed into voting procedure by moving for the closure of debate.

Voting Procedures

Once a motion to close debate has been approved, the committee moves into voting procedure. Amendments are voted on first, then resolutions. Once all of the resolutions are voted on, the committee moves to the next topic on the agenda.

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