Disclaimer: Before I get sent angry emails of how I have soiled the dignity of MUNs with false information, when I say beginner's guide, I do not mean that this guide is for beginners (although, in a way, it is). But what I mean by beginner's guide is that this guide is.. literally by a beginner. Sneaky, I know. ;)
People passed notes instead of speaking and were forced to sit isolated from one another… All were clad in formal clothing whilst someone else dictated if we were allowed to voice out…
And the strangest of all? Everyone spoke in third person.
It was like a different world, whereby normal decorum did not apply. In a way, it was. Being involved in Model United Nations was (despite the common assumption), a far cry from the debates I had become accustomed to in the past.
KTJMUN 2012 was my first ever MUN Conference and despite the rigid rules and required formalities, it was surprisingly enjoyable. As a first timer, this guide is probably seasoned with mistakes and peppered with flaws (of which I readily invite correction), but hopes to be able to give a rough layman's summary of how MUNs work.
1. Opening Speech
Each delegate (participant) is expected to prepare an opening speech of 1 minute to 1 minute 10 seconds. The speech should include an introduction and the opinion of the country on the issues to be discussed. I don't think there's any particular format to it, besides the fact that oneself should be referred to in third person. e.g: The delegate of the UK would like to wish..
Despite its name, lobbying doesn't mean that one sits down at a lobby.
It encompasses sitting down in libraries and various other rooms too!
Prior to participating at a conference, a delegate is assigned a country and a committee, of which the delegate will represent and debate in. In my case, I was the delegate of the United Kingdom for DISEC, the Disarmament and Security Committee. We are informed beforehand of the topics to be discussed during the conference and are expected to research accordingly before arrival.
Lobbying is done to write resolutions. Basically, the delegate can choose which group of people she would like to work with regarding a resolution and can decide to either become the main submitter or co-submitter of the resolution.
There are certain formalities to be adhered to while drafting a resolution (which is much too meticulous for me to pretend to understand) and examples of one can be found online.. at another website. <<<<< lazy blogger.
In a nutshell, when lobbying begins, one find a group of like-minded countries/people, decide on a main submitter, brainstorm for hours, and then draft a resolution.
Debates in MUN are close to 100% unidentical to any of the Parliamentary debates, save for the fact that Points of Information (POI) still occur.
Basically, the resolution that was drafted during lobbying is to be presented during the debates. The main submitter goes up, reads out the resolution, babbles a bit as to why the resolution should pass, then can either choose to accept a few POIs or take none at all. Those who want to POI will have to raise their placards and wait for the chair to choose them. If chosen, they can ask their question, and so on and so forth.
After the main submitter had been questioned, others can choose to go up and speak on their views of the resolution. Both supporting and opposing views will be entertained and those who choose to speak may have the option of also being interrogated via POIs.
Adam & my failed placard shot.
During the debate, there are options available to help improve the resolution. Those who agree with the resolution may go up and speak to support it, but if they have dissatisfaction over a particular clause or a small detail, they may then submit amendments.
I didn't actually submit any during the conference but if I'm not mistaken, one has to write a note addressed to the chair with the amendment written down (ONE AT A TIME!) and raise their placard when the floor is given the opportunity to speak. The delegate then asks if the chair has received the amendment and if so, can go up to present the amendment.
The same procedure whereby POIs are asked and anyone supporting/opposite are given the chance to speak applies as well. After a certain amount of time has passed, everyone is to vote for the amendment to pass or not.
Voting is done by raising your placard when it is time to vote. For amendments, all delegates are to vote. (I think!)
However, for the resolution as a whole, delegates are given the option of voting for it to pass, rejecting it, or abstaining from voting (YOU COWARD!)
All delegates are reminded to vote based on the opinion of the country assigned, rather than personal opinion. If there is a majority of votes favoring the resolution, then it passes.
Otherwise, it fails.
A few debates are done throughout the conference, depending on the number of resolutions drafted. If I'm not mistaken, we debated on a total of 5 resolutions.
DISEC members from Taylor's! (Hartamas + Subang) (AND THE CHAIR!, Mr Jarrod Joshua!)
Our committee was ridiculously lovable with numerous shoe-related metaphors, multiple slips of tongue in first person instead of third, a teddy bear at some point, and hilarious superlatives.
At some point, the MUN almost bored me to sleep with its proper language and diplomacy often absent from debates. In fact, during one of the debates, the chair was forced to remind us that "sleeping is not in order". :P
But thanks to the new friends I made, old ones I connected with, wonderfully warm committee, and jovial atmosphere, I'd say it was a pretty good use of the first three days of my holiday.
And maybe it helped that I had someone to squish.