Return To: AMUN Rules and Procedures 2018

Introduction to United Nations Documents

Resolutions are the primary tools for action at the United Nations. Debate at the United Nations focuses on solving, at least in part, the many problems facing the global community. After months of debate and behind-the-scenes discussion on a topic, Member States try to come to an agreement about how to proceed on an issue. This agreement is then codified in the form of a draft resolution. The text of a draft resolution is usually developed and agreed upon well in advance of its being brought to the floor, with many States making suggestions and changes behind the scenes. When a draft resolution is brought to the floor, it may be formally discussed, amended, rejected or adopted as circumstances dictate. It is very rare for a United Nations resolution to be rejected after being brought up for consideration; most Member States prefer to bring a draft resolution to the floor only if they are sure it will be adopted. In fact, sponsoring Member States will often wait to bring a resolution to the floor until they are sure that all Member States present will agree to the resolution and adopt it by consensus.

Resolutions usually express a policy that the United Nations will adopt or implement, and they may be included in the body of reports, treaties, conventions and declarations. Resolutions range from general to very specific in content and, depending on the body involved, may call for or suggest a course of action, condemn an action or require an action or sanctions on behalf  of Member States. The General Assembly, Economic and Social Council, special committees and commissions may either call for or suggest actions. However, only the Security Council can require action from or place sanctions on Member States. In some cases, conventions and treaties may also require action, but such requirements would be applicable only to the States Parties (i.e., those States which have ratified or are otherwise party to the convention or treaty).

Resolutions are formal documents adopted by a United Nations body that follow a standard format and include at least one preambular and one operative clause. Any body may issue a resolution, but in practice most are adopted (often by consensus) by the General Assembly, its main Committees and the Security Council.

Reports and presidential statements are similar to resolutions in that they state a United Nations policy or objective, but they have different purposes and utilize different formatting. Reports, which are typically written by long-standing commissions and committees composed of experts on the topics being discussed, advise and inform decision-making bodies of a committee’s work and are divided into chapters and sections that cover the various topics under discussion. Presidential statements comparatively offer a less formal pronouncement of some United Nations action or position and are often used when the Security Council cannot come to agreement or deems that the issue does not necessitate a formalized resolution. Both resolution-writing and report-writing bodies are simulated at the American Model United Nations (AMUN) Conference.

 

Draft Documents Draft Documents

AMUN simulations will accept draft resolutions, reports and other documents only during the AMUN Conference. Draft documents may not be submitted in advance of Conference. Drafting documents is a collaborative process that begins with an idea about how to approach a problem and then incorporates ideas and concepts contributed by a group of delegations. The authors of draft documents obteain signatures from sponsors through caucusing and discussion, and eventually the draft may be moved to the floor for debate. The debate process brings the entire body into the discussion; often, the debate identifies areas where the draft must be amended to bring about a final document that the body may support by consensus.

AMUN strongly discourages delegations from bringing pre-written resolutions, as is common practice at some conferences. These are fully-formed draft resolutions that a delegation brings to the conference with the intent to immediately circulate the draft for signatures and bring it to the floor. This approach fails the body in a number of ways. Any draft document that is not created with the input and assistance of other committee members will not reflect the will of the body and cannot hope to achieve consensus. Pre-written resolutions (and even pre-written clauses) do not create the sense of ownership necessary for members to advocate for the resolution and its proposals. Pre-written resolutions detract from the educational experience for all delegations, but it particularly affects those who intentionally forego the collaborative process. Delegations may bring working documents with them to assist in starting their deliberations but should keep the aforementioned purpose and process in mind when doing so.

Draft resolutions are not eligible for formal consideration on the floor of General Assembly Committees or the Concurrent General Assembly Plenary until they receive the sponsorship of at least 35 percent of the total delegations in attendance at the Conference. The specific number of sponsors needed is announced at the first session of each committee. For reporting bodies, draft resolutions and reports require the sponsorship of at least 35 percent of total delegations registered for that simulation. In the Security Council and the Historical Security Councils, only one sponsor is required. In all bodies additional sponsors may be added as the document is written until the document has been moved to the floor; at that point, a delegation may only become a sponsor with the consent of the original sponsors. Once a substantive vote has been taken on a draft resolution or report, or on a contested amendment to the draft resolution or report, no new sponsors may be added to or removed from the draft resolution or report, as it has become the property of the body.

Chairs and presidents will entertain motions for a suspension of the meeting to facilitate the process of discussing, creating, combining and changing draft documents. It is recommended that representatives use this time to discuss the problems facing their committee and begin creating documents or combining existing drafts as proposed by Members of the body. These sessions offer representatives an opportunity to enter the United Nations political process of working with others in an attempt to build consensus, but in a less formal setting.

The process of using drafts and requiring more than one sponsoring delegation is intended to replicate the United Nations practice of gaining near-universal support for drafts before they are brought to the floor for debate and decision. Further, it should push delegations away from looking at a proposal as “theirs” and toward working with others to find a solution and to gain consensus on the topic being discussed. AMUN requires a relatively high number of sponsors in order to encourage the body to work together on proposals, rather than individual delegations or small blocs working on separate proposals in isolation. States that sponsor (or sign) a resolution should be in general agreement with its content at the time it is submitted, such that they would vote “yes” on the resolution. This sponsorship, however, is non-binding. Member States may exercise their sovereign right to vote in any way on any matter that affects the outcome of the resolution.

To this end, representatives will need to work together and most likely combine clauses from a number of drafts or subsequent proposals made by other Member States at the Conference. Representatives are strongly encouraged to undertake this process before a draft is brought to the floor. As with the United Nations in New York, building support for one draft that encompasses the entire topic will be a much better use of the representatives’ time than trying to work on multiple draft resolutions, many of which will overlap. AMUN suggests that representatives not contend over which draft will come to the floor, but rather caucus and compromise to determine how best to combine drafts into a coherent, whole product that all Member States can accept, either through friendly amendments or through the drafting of a new, all-encompassing document. Rapporteurs are available in General Assembly committees, special committees and reporting bodies to assist with this process.

After a draft receives the requisite sponsorship, two copies must be brought to the Dais for approval. Once an approved draft is printed and distributed, the Dais Staff will announce that the draft has become available for consideration. Although AMUN strives to print draft resolutions as quickly as possible, it may take up to several hours for copies to be delivered to the body, depending largely on the printing needs of the rest of the Conference.

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Points to Consider in Writing Draft Resolutions Points to Consider in Writing Draft Resolutions

The following list includes important points to consider when writing a draft resolution. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but should provide a good starting point to make draft resolutions as realistic as possible.

  • In the preambular clauses, describe the recent history of the situation and the issue as it currently exists.
  • Refer to specific past United Nations actions and previous resolutions passed on the topic, when available.
  • In the operative clauses, include actions or recommendations that will address or solve the problem, not just make a statement.
  • Avoid blatantly political language in the content of the draft resolution—this may damage efforts to reach a consensus on the issue.
  • Take into account the points of view of other States whenever possible.
  • Write the draft resolution from an international or United Nations perspective, not just from a single country’s point of view.
  • Consider whether the substance of the draft resolution is within the purview of the committee and refer relevant parts to other bodies where appropriate.
  • Refer issues which need further discussion to appropriate, existing bodies.
  • Do not create new committees/councils/commissions/working groups/etc. without first considering if other similar bodies already exist.
  • Always consider previous United Nations resolutions on the topic; do not duplicate what other resolutions have done without referencing the appropriate sources.

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Purview and Submission Requirements for Resolutions Purview and Submission Requirements for Resolutions

While representatives are free to circulate unofficial drafts, no draft resolution will be accepted for discussion on the floor unless it has been entered into the AMUN Document Processing System (DPS) located in the Delegate Services Lab and has been approved by the Dais Staff in the corresponding simulation. When a draft resolution is approved, it will be copied and distributed to the entire body, a process which may take several hours. Once copies of the draft resolution are printed, it can be moved to the floor for formal discussion. The body will not formally act on a draft resolution until the entire body has been given ability to review it.

As noted above, one point to consider when drafting a document is whether the document’s content is within the purview of the committee. Each body within the United Nations has a particular purview, or subject-matter jurisdiction, over which that body is particularly concerned. A body will not address subject matter that is outside its purview, because another body almost always has purview over that subject matter. The Issues at AMUN handbook identifies the purview for each United Nations body simulated at AMUN. Rapporteurs in the committees and reporting bodies and Simulation Directors in the Security Councils will review submitted documents to determine whether they are within the purview of the body. If possible, Dais Staff will offer suggestions as to how to modify a draft document to bring it within the purview of the body, rather than simply rejecting a submission.

As part of our educational mission, AMUN strives to simulate the United Nations as realistically as possible, within the confines of a four-day simulation. Accordingly, for all simulations outside of the Security Council and Historical Security Council simulations, AMUN limits the topics that may be discussed. These topics are identified in depth in the Issues at AMUN handbook. In committees with limited agendas, Rapporteurs will not accept resolutions unless they are directed to one of the topics described in the Issues at AMUN handbook and can assist in migrating work in this direction as needed.

The Dais Staff will not accept draft resolutions or other documents that it views as disruptive to the work of the body or the Conference as a whole. Disruptive resolutions and other documents are those that are only tangentially related to a topic in the Issues at AMUN handbook or contain language, proposals or solutions that are generally not seen in actual United Nations resolutions. Such disruptive resolutions detract from the educational experience of all AMUN’s participants. Accordingly, the submission of disruptive resolutions is considered diplomatically discourteous, and will be addressed by the Dais Staff in accordance with Rule 2.2., Diplomatic Courtesy. Decisions of the Secretariat on these matters are final.

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Draft Resolution Guidelines and Format Draft Resolution Guidelines and Format

Draft resolutions will consist of the standard heading section followed by preambular and operative clauses. Preambular clauses are listed first; they are used to justify action, denote past authorizations and precedents for action, or denote the purpose for an action. Operative clauses are the statements of policy in a resolution. Each operative clause is numbered, begins with a verb to denote an action (or suggested action) and usually addresses no more than one specific aspect of the action to be taken.

Draft resolutions must be submitted using AMUN’s Document Processing System (DPS), which formats resolutions in accordance with AMUN guidelines. The draft resolutions must also comply with the following additional formatting requirements:

  • During the processing of draft resolutions, do not use italics, bold or underlined print to highlight words. Italic text should only be used as shown in the Sample Draft Resolution.
  • Clauses must begin with proper introductory words/phrases in italics.
  • Information in the header (the topic and the name of the committee) will be automatically generated when you input the draft resolution into AMUN’s DPS.
  • See the Sample Draft Resolution for additional requirements.

Rapporteurs and Dais Staff are available to assist representatives with any questions you may have about format, grammar and entry into the AMUN DPS.

Sample Draft Resolution Sample Draft Resolution

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Amendments Amendments

An amendment is a written statement that adds to, deletes from or otherwise modifies a draft resolution, report or other document. An amendment may be as small as changing the word “and” to the word “or” in a sentence, or as large as the deletion or addition of numerous clauses in a document. Both preambular and operative clauses in draft resolutions may be amended.

Member States typically propose informal changes to draft documents during the drafting process. If a sponsor of a draft document does not approve of the proposed changes, they will not be incorporated into the draft document. However, the proposed changes may be introduced via a formal amendment after the document is officially introduced to the body for discussion. Otherwise, a sponsor may choose to withdraw its sponsorship from the draft document into which the proposed changes are incorporated.

Once a document is approved by the body’s Dais Staff, amendments must be made through a formal process. This involves writing the proposed changes on an Amendment form (available in each simulation) and submitting it to the appropriate Dais Staff for approval. See the Sample Amendment Form. A minimum of 15 percent of delegations must sponsor each amendment, although only one sponsor is required in the Security Council and Historical Security Councils. If all of the sponsors of a resolution are also sponsors on an amendment, an amendment is considered “friendly” and automatically becomes part of the draft resolution without a vote. If all of the resolution sponsors have not agreed to the amendment, it must go through the standard amendment process. This includes moving the amendment to the floor, discussion and voting procedure. If the body takes any substantive vote on an amendment or any part of the draft resolution, the document becomes the official product of the body and the friendly amendment process is no longer available. Any subsequent amendments must be voted on by the body to be incorporated into the resolution.

Formally submitted amendments should be written legibly, provide exactly what language is to be amended and identify where the current language exists in the draft document or where the newly proposed language should go.

Sample Amendment Sample Amendment

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Reports Reports

A report is another type of formal document at the United Nations. Reports of functional commissions, standing committees, regional commissions or other bodies that make reports to the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) or the General Assembly generally follow the United Nations format for annual reports. At AMUN the reporting body may write only one report for each topic that is presented. The reports summarize the body’s discussion of the topic and make recommendations of actions to be taken by the appropriate body. At this year’s Conference, the following simulations will write reports: the Commission on Population and Development (CPD) and the Committee for Development Policy Expert Group (CDPEG).

The report format is outlined here, and a sample Table of Contents for the report follows. A more detailed description and sample reports are available online here. The Dais Staff in each report-writing body will provide additional details to the commission on the first day of Conference and will assist representatives throughout the report-writing process. Please note that in this section “commission” refers to the reporting body and “council” refers to the body that receives the report.

The first item in the report will be an executive summary, not exceeding one page, that outlines the major points of the report, including the commission’s findings and its recommendations to the council. Copies of the executive summary, rather than copies of the full report, will be distributed to all council delegations before the presentation of reports during the General Assembly or ECOSOC Plenary sessions on Tuesday afternoon. Thus, it is important that the executive summary contains all the critical information for the body hearing the report. Rapporteurs will guide representatives through the report-writing process and the chairs will guide the body through the formal acceptance of the report. The executive summary is written last to encompass all parts of the compiled report once actions are determined and deliberations finalized.

Chapter I of the report will be titled “Matters calling for action by the Economic and Social Council or brought to its attention.” (For bodies reporting to the General Assembly, the chapter titles should be changed accordingly.) First, this chapter will contain the text of draft resolutions recommended by the commission for adoption by the council. With the exception of the title and numbering, the resolutions should follow standard resolution format as detailed in this handbook. Second, this chapter may contain a short statement on any other matter that requires action or attention by the council but has not been included in a draft resolution. Take care when including other matters that require action to ensure that there is consensus within the body for addressing these matters. Further, although Chapter I contains the text of draft resolutions recommended for adoption, the entire report should include substantially more material. The body should focus its efforts on drafting the report, rather than passing draft resolutions, which are merely recommendations, for inclusion in the report.

Chapter II of the report will be titled according to the official agenda item before the commission. This chapter should contain a brief account of the proceedings that the commission considers essential to transmit to the council and should focus on the decision making process that the commission followed in order to make its recommendations. This chapter is typically written throughout the entire time the commission is in session, taking into account all essential proceedings and decision making processes as they occur. Essential proceedings often include statements made by delegations regarding the topic at issue.

Chapter III, if necessary, should be titled “Decisions adopted by the Commission at its [year] session” and should contain those decisions, if any, adopted by the commission that do not require further action and that the commission takes in its own name. This practice is rare because ECOSOC Resolution 1623 (LI) states that resolutions of functional commissions and subsidiary bodies should normally be in the form of drafts for approval by the council. Generally, resolutions the body recommends (in other words, those that require further action) would not be incorporated in this chapter, but rather in Chapter I.

The last chapter should be titled “Adoption of the report.” The chapter should detail the manner in which the commission adopted the report, including the voting record, if any. Following the substantive chapters of the report, the commission may choose to include additional information as appendices for the council, including statements regarding the financial implications of the council’s recommendations; other relevant publications or statements; and relevant data, charts or graphs.

Reports will be heard, as appropriate, by the Combined General Assembly and by the Economic and Social Council during plenary sessions on Tuesday afternoon of the Conference. Reporting bodies should conclude their substantive work by Monday evening, and they should finalize and accept the reports and compose the executive summaries for the reports during the morning session on Tuesday. All States are encouraged to attend the plenary session, but only those States which are Members of the Council—and whose attendance is required—will vote on the adoption of the reports.

After hearing the report and asking any questions, representatives in the body receiving the report will decide how it wishes to accept the report—this is usually done by consensus. This vote is an acknowledgment of the reporting body’s work, rather than an endorsement of it. Generally, if a State has strong negative feelings about the content of a report or feels the report is inadequate, it will abstain from such a vote, rather than voting no, as a “no” vote would be seen as diplomatically discourteous to the work of the reporting body.

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Sample Table of Contents for Reports Sample Table of Contents for Reports

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Resolution Introductory Phrases Resolution Introductory Phrases

The following phrases/words are a partial list of appropriate introductions in resolutions.

Preambular Phrases (single verb in present participle or other introductory phrase): Preambular Phrases (single verb in present participle or other introductory phrase):

Affirming Emphazing Keeping in mind
Alarmed by Expecting Noting with approval
Approving Fulfilling Noting with concern
Aware of Fully alarmed Noting with regret
Bearing in mind Fully aware Noting with satisfaction
Believing Fully believing Observing
Confident Fully deploring Reaffirming
Convinced Guided by Realizing
Declaring Having adopted Recalling
Deeply concerned Having considered Recognizing
Deeply convinced Having examined Seeking
Deeply disturbed Having heard Taking into consideration
Deeply regretting Having received Viewing with appreciation
Desiring Having studied Welcoming

Operative Phrases (verb in third person present indicative tense): Operative Phrases (verb in third person present indicative tense):

Accepts Emphasizes Reaffirms
Affirms Encourages Recommends
Approves Endorses Regrets
Authorizes Expresses its appreciation Reminds
Calls Expresses its hope Requests
Calls upon Further invites Solemnly affirms
Condemns Further proclaims Strongly condemns
Confirms Further recommends Supports
Congratulates Further reminds Takes note of
Considers Further requests Transmits
Declares accordingly Further resolves Urges
Deplores Has resolved Welcomes
Designates Notes
Draws the attention Proclaims

 

Lending Emphasis to Resolution Phrasing Lending Emphasis to Resolution Phrasing

Diplomatic communication relies heavily on connotation and nuance, and United Nations resolutions and decisions are no exception. When resolutions are constructed, they often contain language that actually conveys the very precise attitudes and intentions of the authors. At AMUN, representatives are urged to select words carefully when drafting resolutions. The introductory phrases listed above also carry significant emotional and diplomatic meaning. Accurate use of these introductory terms is of paramount importance at the United Nations, and should also be emphasized in AMUN simulations.

A more useful method for listing introductory phrases, rather than the alphabetical listing above, might be in order of the phrases’ emotional weight, described by United Nations practitioners as crescendos. Each of the following crescendos begins with a neutral phrase at the top (conveying little emotion) and concludes with a strongly worded phrase (conveying strongly positive or negative emotion). Some of these opening phrases also have common uses in the language of United Nations resolutions; when applicable, this information has been included parenthetically with each phrase. Some phrases that express strong insistence or negative emotion are typically only used in Security Council resolutions and even then are selected with great care—these are noted where appropriate.

Sample Preambular Phrase Crescendos Sample Preambular Phrase Crescendos

All lists of sample phrase crescendos presented below start with the most neutral/weakest phrase and end with the strongest phrases.

Noting (by being neutral, this term actually can connote negativity; for example, a resolution “noting the report of the Secretary-General” actually insults the Secretary-General’s work by not being more approving)

Noting with appreciation (this is the typical way to recognize a report or other document)

Noting with satisfaction

Noting with deep satisfaction

Alternatively, there can be further detail added to connotate a more negative context for the point that is about to be made as shown in the following example:

Noting

Noting with regret

Noting with deep regret

 

Sample Operative Phrase Crescendos Sample Operative Phrase Crescendos

Notes (See comments on “noting” above)

Notes with appreciation

Notes with satisfaction

Welcomes

Recommends (suggests that other United Nations organs take an action)

Invites (suggests that Member States take an action)

Requests (suggests that the Secretary-General take an action)

Appeals (suggests that Member States take an action, more emotional)

Calls Upon (suggests that Member States take an action, very emotional)

Urges (strongest suggestion by the General Assembly)

Demands (rarely used outside of the Security Council)

Notes with concern

Expresses its concern

Expresses its deep concern

Deplores

Strongly deplores

Condemns (rarely used outside of the Security Council)

Commonly Misunderstood Terms Commonly Misunderstood Terms

Declares (used to make a statement)

Decides (used to indicate an action to be taken)

For sample usage of the phrases, see the Sample Draft Resolution and the Checklist for Resolution Formatting.

 

Security Council Presidential Statements Security Council Presidential Statements

While the General Assembly and other United Nations bodies usually speak through reports and resolutions, the Security Council has another option: the presidential statement. At the United Nations, the Security Council adopts presidential statements more frequently than resolutions.

A presidential statement is a written statement issued by the President, noting that the Council has been discussing a specific topic and stating the general course of that discussion. These documents are frequently made at the beginning of or after a significant event in a crisis situation, but can be used at any point in the simulation. These statements can be as short as a sentence or two in length, but they can be longer if the situation dictates. Presidential statements are usually simple enough that they are agreed to by the entire body. This also means they often do not prescribe action and have little weight, unlike resolutions, which are technically binding on Member States. Presidential statements are often used when Members want to make a strong statement, but when one or more Member States, often Permanent Members, find it politically inexpedient to pass a binding resolution on the subject.

At AMUN, presidential statements are not written by the body’s President as they are at the United Nations in New York. Instead, presidential statements are written by the Council as a whole; the Council must enter an informal session and reach consensus to adopt a draft presidential statement. While draft statements, like draft resolutions, may be constructed by individuals or small groups during suspensions, AMUN recommends that representatives collaborate as much as possible on the creation of presidential statements and suggests entering into a consultative session for this purpose. For more information, please see Rule 7.7 Consultative Sessions.

Representatives are free to circulate unofficial drafts, but a draft statement cannot be adopted until it has been entered into the AMUN Document Processing System located in Delegate Services, has received approval by the Dais Staff and copies have been distributed to the Council. To adopt an approved draft statement, the Council must enter a consultative session. Once it appears consensus on the statement has been met, the president will ask if there is any objection to consensus on the document. If there are no objections to consensus, the statement will be adopted. If there are objections, the Council may wish to discuss the draft further and make changes. Once consensus is reached, the statement is considered adopted; the Dais Staff will update the document with any agreed to changes and copies of the final presidential statement will be made available to the Council.

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Sample Security Council Presidential Statement Sample Security Council Presidential Statement

 

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