Parliamentary Procedure

(also affectionately known as parli-pro)

A Note to new delegates: While parliamentary procedure is a substantial part of Model UN and key to maintaining professionalism, do not stress or worry about making a procedural mistake. From veteran delegates to chairs, everyone makes procedural mistakes sometimes, so as long as you don’t completely disregard parli-pro, you’ll pick up pretty quickly on aspects you’re unsure of, and you’ll do great!

 

GENERAL INFORMATION:

When committee is in session, you should stand whenever you are speaking. If you’re ever unsure about whether you should sit or stand, you should probably be standing. This page is meant to help you understand parliamentary procedure, but if you make a mistake during committee, don’t worry about it! Even chairs will make mistakes with parliamentary procedure, and it’s not a big deal.

“Are there any points or motions on the floor?” means “Is there anything that needs to be addressed? What should we talk about?”

If there are no points or motions on the floor, or all the motions fail, the committee will return to the speaker’s list in a UN committee, or the chair will just ask for speakers in a Congress committee.

 

POINTS:

Point of Inquiry: Excuse me, Chair, I have a question! Say point of inquiry when you need to clarify something generally committee-related with the Chair. (If you have a very long, very specific, or personal question and not something that can be addressed quickly, send a note up to the chair.)

Point of Inquiry Directed to the Speaker: The speaker is accepting questions! Use this point to ask the speaker a question that relates to the speech they just gave. For example, ask “Point of Inquiry directed to the speaker.” The speaker can then accept or decline the question. If accepted, ask the speaker your question, and remember to STAND!

Point of Parliamentary Inquiry: Inquiries specifically regarding parliamentary procedure. For example, after saying, point of parliamentary inquiry you might ask something like, “Why is there a primary and secondary speaker’s list?” (These questions also fall under point of inquiry.)

Point of Personal Privilege: Is it too hot in the room? Is it so noisy outside that you can’t hear the speaker? Do you need a delegate to repeat what they said in a louder voice? Make this point when you have a question to address personal needs or requests. (You generally do not need to make a point of personal privilege to go to the bathroom or get a drink. Most chairs will allow delegates to leave the room freely, but don’t abuse that privilege and stay in committee!)

 

MOTIONS:

Motion to open the Speaker’s List: This is one way to formally begin a committee session. This motion will allow delegates to present their opening speeches.

Motion for Moderated Caucus: With this motion, you are asking to enter a moderated caucus. Set a topic, total time, and time per speaker for the caucus. For example, “Motion to enter a 12 minute moderated caucus with 45 seconds speaking time to discuss the problem of pollution in water.”

Motion for Unmoderated Caucus: For example, “Motion to enter a 10 minute unmoderated caucus.” Unmoderated caucuses do not need to have a topic.

 

YIELDING TIME:

Before you give your position speech, the chair will ask you: “How would you like to yield your time?”

Yield to points: (ALWAYS SAY THIS!) After you’re done with your speech, you’ll answer questions from other delegates using the remainder of your time.

Yield time to *some other delegate*: (DON’T EVER SAY THIS!!!) This gives the remainder of your time to the other delegate you choose, and they can use it to say whatever they like.

Yield time to chair: (DON’T SAY THIS EITHER!!!) This yield will let the chair absolve any remaining time after you finish talking on the speakers list.

 

DEFINITIONS:

motion – Do you want your committee to take a whole action? For example, you can say “Motion to enter voting procedure” if you would like to begin voting on resolutions. Or, if you want to propose a caucus, say “Motion for a nine minute moderated caucus with 45 second speaking time to discuss the proposed resolutions so far.” Motions will then be voted on by the committee.

moderated caucus – This is the “debate” part of Model UN. Set a time limit for the whole caucus, and a time limit for each individual speaker. (6 minutes total and 30 seconds per speaker, for example.) A delegate gets called on by the chair, stands, speaks for the time limit, and sits. Then the char will call on another delegate, repeat, until all the time is used up. This is introduced by a motion, and is time and topic specific.

unmoderated caucus – This is the informal aspect of a committee. During “unmods,” as they are called, delegates can freely move around and speak with other delegates about committee issues. Although unmods do not require a topic, they are commonly used to form blocs (groups of people you will work with) and write resolutions or legislation.

resolution – This is the product of your sleepless nights! The resolution is what it sounds like — the solution to your committee’s problem or issue.

amendments (friendly/unfriendly) – If you see something that should be changed on a working paper, you can send up an amendment that corrects the paper. It’s a friendly amendment if the writers, or sponsors, accept it. It’s an unfriendly amendment if they don’t. The entire committee will vote on unfriendly amendments.

speaker’s list – The list of which delegates will be speaking in front of the room, and in what order. The speaker’s list generally opens debate.

bloc – A group of delegates/countries with similar ideas on the committee’s topic. Generally, the bloc works together to write resolutions.