COVID Vaccination and Attendance Policy

Introduction

Welcome

American Model United Nations (AMUN) is a non-profit, educational organization founded in 1989 to provide students with the highest quality, most professionally run simulation of the United Nations available. AMUN strives to combine educational quality with highly realistic simulations of the United Nations to give students an unparalleled Model UN learning experience. We return to these ideals year after year as we create the policies and applications expressed in this handbook. We are excited to have you join us for the 2023 Conference. 

2023 Simulations

In 2023, AMUN will simulate four main General Assembly (GA) Committees (Plenary, GA1, GA2 and GA3), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the Commission on Population and Development (CPD), the United Nations Security Council and the International Court of Justice (ICJ). AMUN also simulates a historical body, the Historical Security Council of 2003 (HSC03). A parallel online AMUN session will simulate the United Nations Human Rights Council. Finally, AMUN features a simulation of the International Press Delegation (IPD), which produces the Conference newspaper, maintains the AMUN Twitter feed during Conference and covers all simulations’ work.

The General Assembly Plenary (Concurrent), First (Disarmament & International Security), Second (Economic and Financial) and Third (Social, Humanitarian & Cultural) Committees, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the United Nations Human Rights Council are resolution-writing bodies. The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the Commission on Population and Development (CPD) are report-writing bodies whose purpose is to build consensus and to write and ratify reports submitted to the ECOSOC.

The Contemporary Security Council will be responsible for dealing with international peace and security issues as they stand at the opening of the Conference. A tentative list of topics will be provided for preparation, but representatives should be prepared to discuss any and all security issues that might arise. The Historical Security Council of 2003 will simulate the events of that year; it will use contemporary rules of procedure but will role play from the viewpoint of their delegation at the time of the simulation. The Security Council and the Historical Security Council will meet all four days of the Conference, including an emergency session on Monday night and a debrief on Tuesday morning.

The International Press Delegation and the International Court of Justice are unique simulations that will meet throughout the Conference. Individuals must apply for positions on these simulations on the AMUN website (IPD and ICJ). The International Press Delegation will provide journalistic cover for the Conference, producing Accords articles throughout each day. The International Court of Justice will hear cases brought to the Court by Member States.

How to Use This Book

This handbook is published to assist representatives in preparing for the American Model United Nations Conference. This handbook provides representatives with a full picture of conference philosophies, policies and logistics, the rules of procedure required in each simulation, and substantive overviews of the simulations and topics for the Conference. The Introduction section is relevant to all participants at the Conference, while subsequent sections detail the specific rules and substantive overviews for different types of simulations at AMUN. Delegates should be familiar with the sections and chapters relevant to their Conference assignment; faculty advisors and permanent representatives will want to be familiar with the whole handbook. 

General Conference Information

Safety at AMUN

AMUN places extreme importance on the safety of our participants and guests. We hope that you have an excellent and fun learning experience while at the Conference, but encourage everyone to consider safety issues in and around the Conference hotel. Safety should always be more important than avoiding minor embarrassment to you or another person.

We suggest that you follow several common-sense rules to keep all participants safe during the Conference, including the following guidelines:

  • As a general rule, do not leave the hotel grounds without letting your group know how to find you.
  • Always let one of the leaders of your group (faculty, club officer, etc.) know where you are going prior to leaving the area around the hotel (to visit local friends or relatives, etc.).
  • Never leave any hotel alone after dark, and always travel with at least one person that you know.
  • Always remove your credentials prior to leaving the hotel so as not to advertise yourself as a tourist.
  • Help other participants to be safe by encouraging them to not travel outside of the hotel alone.
  • Inform one of the leaders of your group or an AMUN Secretariat Member immediately if you have a safety concern, or if any emergency situation occurs to you or another participant, regardless of the time.

AMUN encourages all faculty advisors and other group leaders to take time before the Conference to reinforce these and any other relevant safety instructions based on the rules of your schools. In case of an emergency, hotel security may be reached by dialing 0 on any hotel phone and requesting the security office. Also, please feel free to contact the AMUN Secretariat at any time during the Conference, day or night, if any emergency event occurs in which we can be of assistance.

Conference Policies

Minimum and Maximum Delegation Counts

AMUN strongly recommends delegations place two representatives on the following committees: the Security Council and the Historical Security Council of 2003. Each delegation may place one or two representatives on the following committees: General Assembly Plenary (Concurrent), General Assembly First, General Assembly Second, General Assembly Third, the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the Commission on Population and Development (CPD). Each delegation may place only one representative on the Special Committee, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Seats on the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and International Press Delegation (IPD) are assigned by application. Generally, only one person from a school can be assigned to ICJ or IPD. Any delegation participating in an ICJ case as an Advocate is advised to place two delegates in their all-Conference committee to allow for a continuation of debate. For the virtual committee, delegations may place one or two representatives on the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Delegations may also designate a floating permanent representative to assist with coordination across the delegation. Representatives may also have part-time assignments at Conference as an advocate for the International Court of Justice or as a party to the dispute in the Security Council or Historical Security Council.

Schools may register up to four faculty advisors.

Dress Code

The appearance of AMUN participants provides the first impressions of their delegation to other representatives. Attention to proper appearance sets an expectation for professionalism and competence. In order to demonstrate respect to fellow representatives, Secretariat members and distinguished guests of the Conference, AMUN requires conservative professional business attire for all representatives and Secretariat during all formal sessions, including the Closing Plenary.

Professional business attire is a business jacket or suit, dress slacks or skirt, dress shirt and dress shoes. Conservative accessories such as ties, scarves, and formal jewelry are traditional in business settings. Sweaters or leggings are too casual for professional business attire. Clothing that reveals undergarments in any way is not appropriate. AMUN will not consider any manner of dress appropriate that includes T-shirts, jeans, shorts, hats, athletic shoes or any form of commercial advertising.

Participants shall not wear the traditional or religious garb of any State or organization. The only exception to this is required traditional or religious garb of a student’s personal religion or culture. Additionally, participants should not affect the mannerisms, linguistic characteristics or any other perceived traits of a State or culture that they are representing. These affectations are inappropriate and may be seen as offensive by other students or by natives of that State or culture. Small lapel pins representing the delegation’s flag or other national symbols are appropriate.

Please be aware that representatives who are not appropriately attired or who do not follow these rules may not be recognized during formal debate in any AMUN simulation. Further, AMUN reserves the right to refuse admittance to the Conference floor to any representative who is inappropriately attired or who violates the above provisions. Decisions about appropriate attire and professional behavior are at the discretion of the AMUN Secretariat.

A note about the AMUN Dress Code policy. The world of international diplomacy is both conservative and slow to change; while what is acceptable as professional attire in business settings is slowly shifting, the appropriate attire for visiting an embassy or engaging in international diplomacy remains conventional. Our goal at AMUN is to encourage students to engage with and experience professional business attire in an educational environment, while also acknowledging that this can be difficult for some of our participants. Representatives should feel free to express themselves within the boundaries of the dress code and should demonstrate an intent to conform with the dress code.

Conduct

Representatives are expected to conduct themselves at all times in a manner befitting international diplomats. This means that every courtesy, both in speech and behavior, should be extended to all representatives, faculty members, hotel staff members, guests and AMUN Secretariat members at the Conference. AMUN expects the same level of diplomatic courtesy in written communications, including notes passed during formal session, posts to social media sites and communications within Google Workspace. AMUN reserves the right to expel any representative not acting in a courteous and professional fashion. Please refer to Rule 2.2, Diplomatic Courtesy, for more information.

To provide all participants, including representatives, Faculty Advisors, exhibitors, hotel staff and AMUN Secretariat, the opportunity to benefit from Conference, AMUN is committed to providing a harassment-free environment for everyone regardless of race or ethnicity, language, disability, appearance, religion, gender identity or expression, or any other group identity. AMUN seeks to provide a conference environment in which diverse participants may learn and enjoy an environment of mutual human respect. We recognize a shared responsibility to create and foster that environment for the benefit of all. Some behaviors are, therefore, specifically prohibited. Examples of such behavior include, but are not limited to:

  • Harassment or intimidation based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, language, physical appearance, race or ethnicity, religion or other group identity.
  • Sexual harassment or intimidation, including persistent and unwelcome sexual attention, stalking (physical or virtual) or unsolicited physical contact.
  • Yelling at or threatening others (verbally or physically).
  • Assault of any kind.

Speakers are asked to frame discussions as openly and inclusively as possible and to be aware of how language or images may be perceived by others. All participants are expected to observe these rules and behaviors in all conference venues, including online. Participants asked to stop one of the aforementioned behaviors are expected to comply immediately. Any final rulings on violations of the Code of Conduct are subject to determination by the Executive Office with consultation as needed with the Board of Directors.

If anything happens throughout the Conference that makes you feel unwelcome, unsafe or that prohibits you from fully participating in the AMUN experience, please let us know so that we can help you understand your options and decide what steps can be taken to address the issue. You can contact us anytime by stopping by the Ohio Room, asking to speak to a member of the Executive Office at Conference Services; emailing us at mail@amun.org; or calling us at 773.777-2686.

Accessibility and Accommodation

AMUN makes every effort to ensure that all attendees are able to fully participate in their respective roles. If you or any member of your delegation requires any accommodations or modifications to get the most out of the AMUN experience, please contact AMUN staff at mail@amun.org as soon as possible, so we can discuss appropriate arrangements. Should you realize once Conference starts that you need an additional accommodation or modification, please alert your Chair/President and a member of the AMUN Secretariat will be happy to assist you.

Use of Electronic Devices

The use of electronic devices, including laptops, tablets, e-readers and cell phones, is permitted in committee rooms provided they are silenced. All electronic devices must be set up and powered in a manner which does not create a safety hazard or distraction for other representatives. During formal session, groups may not congregate around said devices; all caucusing must take place outside committee rooms. Any use of electronic devices in committee rooms should relate to the purposes of the Conference and must comply with the expectation of Diplomatic Courtesy as outlined in Rule 2.2. All representatives are expected to comply with the directions of the AMUN Secretariat regarding the use of electronic devices.

Accessibility and Collaboration

AMUN is committed to making its conference accessible to all participants. Further, collaboration and consensus-building are cornerstone philosophies for the organization. To further both of these aims, AMUN requests all participants work to ensure the work of the body is accessible to all who wish to participate. The work of the body includes participating in formal debate, informal caucusing during suspensions of the meeting, note-passing, and collaborating on working documents or conducting other substantive negotiations via electronic devices and cloud computing. In this broad consideration of accessibility, we ask participants to consider language, disability, access to mobile computing devices and online tools, country of origin, and other factors that may limit some participants’ access. Ensuring accessibility is a matter of diplomatic courtesy. AMUN does not limit the tools that may be used for collaboration nor does it mandate specific access requirements, but the AMUN Secretariat is available for consultation about how to make the work of the body more inclusive and collaborative.

Plagiarism

AMUN strives to create a simulation of the United Nations which is as realistic as possible while still allowing for the fulfillment of our participants’ and the organization’s educational goals. As such, the AMUN policy regarding plagiarism focuses on an educational rather than a punitive goal. At AMUN, plagiarism involves the substantial, verbatim or near-verbatim copying of language, without attribution, in published or unpublished texts, speeches or documents. Representatives should adhere to their country’s policies at all times, but this does not give license to plagiarize existing materials. Thus, parts of speeches or position papers may be derived or paraphrased from previous speeches or papers, but should not be copied verbatim. Additionally, representatives should not copy and represent as their own the work of another representative or group of representatives. Collaboration and consensus-building is encouraged and appropriate, but representatives should take care that the authors of resolutions, reports and other documents are fully represented in the discussion of the body’s work. Collaborative work remains the work of the collaborators even when not all representatives are able to sign on to the final product.

Similarly, AMUN expects that all representatives are familiar with past resolutions at the United Nations, but the work of the United Nations should be expanded on in representatives’ work, not copied verbatim. There are some exceptions: for example, representatives are not necessarily expected to expand upon a phrase that is often or always used when a country gives a formal speech or a clause that is repeated verbatim through several years of resolutions on a topic. Generally, it is not necessary to explicitly credit such sources, although if substantial language is quoted, it should be acknowledged and cited. Final determinations on plagiarism and its consequences are at the discretion of the AMUN Secretariat.

The goal of any Model UN conference is to work toward the resolution of a problem facing the world. The documents created to this end are inevitably the work of a collaborative process; without that collaboration, States could never achieve consensus. Obtaining individual credit for the submission or sponsorship of a draft document should never be a State’s or representative’s goal during a Model UN Conference. Representatives are expected to collaborate in the drafting and submission of draft documents with the utmost level of respect and diplomatic courtesy.

Credentials

Name badges act as representatives’ credentials for the Conference. Credentials will list a representative’s name, country and the Committee to which they are assigned. Credentials for permanent representatives will state “Permanent Representative” regardless of whether they are assigned to a particular simulation. Representatives, faculty advisors and Conference guests will be required to wear their assigned credentials at all times while in the Conference area. This includes social events after normal Conference hours. No one will be admitted to any Conference area, including social events, without approved credentials.

Representatives must also wear their credentials at all times while in the common areas of the hotel. This will allow both Conference and hotel staff to easily recognize representatives and will help to alleviate any potential problems that may arise within the hotel. Representatives should always remove their credentials immediately before leaving the hotel. A convention badge worn on the streets of a large city advertises you as a tourist and can decrease your safety. Please exercise caution in this area.

Seating and Placards

A placard with the name of each delegation will be placed at that delegation’s seat in each Committee. These are the property of AMUN; the placard should not be defaced or removed from the location assigned by the Secretariat or removed from the room. Placards of Member States are generally always placed in alphabetical order, with the exact position of the placards changing at the beginning of each session to ensure equity in seating delegations. Observer States are generally always seated at the end of the Member States, and will also rotate positions when the room is reset. Exceptions to this are routinely made for representatives that require accommodations. Representatives are welcome to take their placard with them as a souvenir after their committee has convened for the last time.

Lost and Found

Any found unclaimed property can be turned in to the Lost and Found located at Conference Services. Items will be held until the end of the closing session, at which time they will be turned over to hotel security.

  • The Conference Services staff will make every attempt to contact the owner if an email, phone number, country name or address is located on the item.
  • In order to claim a lost item from the Lost and Found, the owner must describe as closely as possible the lost item.
  • Conference Services’ hours are listed in the Conference Program.

Post-Conference Surveys

The AMUN Secretariat works year-round to prepare and run a premiere Model UN conference. With your feedback we are able to improve the educational and administrative experience for our participants. Please take a moment to complete a post-conference survey. Your feedback is invaluable to us as we plan for an even more successful Conference the following year. Surveys can be completed online.

Special Conference Events

Keynote Speaker

AMUN strives to bring quality keynote speakers to the Conference. AMUN keynote speakers are usually individuals with extensive background in international affairs and have included ambassadors, United Nations employees, speakers from NGOs and notable personalities. The date and time of a keynote speaker will depend on the speaker’s schedule, and the conference agenda will be adjusted accordingly to accommodate the speaker and to maximize representatives’ time in committee. The Conference Program will provide the keynote speaker’s biographical information. If you have a suggestion for (and, ideally, a connection to) a keynote speaker at AMUN, please email the Executive Office at mail@amun.org.

After-Hours Caucusing Space

One of the draws of any Model UN conference is the after-hours informal caucusing. An informal meeting area is available in the exhibition hall on the lower level of the Conference hotel, which representatives are encouraged to use after hours. Gatherings in hotel sleeping areas are strongly discouraged; these could very easily disturb other guests in the hotel, reflecting poorly on both participating schools and on the Conference.

Representative Dance

AMUN encourages all participants to attend our representative dance on Monday evening of the Conference. The dance theme will be revealed on AMUN’s website and publications in the fall. Attire matching the dance theme is encouraged, although not required.

As the dance is hosted by AMUN, only representatives wearing appropriate attire and their current conference credentials will be allowed to enter the dance. Due to security and safety concerns, NO bags, glassware, bottles or other containers will be allowed on the level of the dance. Representatives bringing any of these items will be asked to take them to their rooms. Representatives participating in the overnight crisis session for the Security Council or Historical Security Council simulations will be provided storage space, which they can access at the start of the emergency session. AMUN is not able to provide storage space for other personal belongings. This policy requires planning and special attention, especially for representatives staying at area hotels rather than at the Sheraton. While attending the dance, representatives are guests of the Sheraton hotel and must remain in approved areas of the hotel at all times. Representatives must remain diplomatically courteous during and after the dance. AMUN and hotel security reserve the right to expel any participant acting in a discourteous or disruptive manner.

Security Council Emergency Session

Representatives in each Security Council will work to resolve a simulated crisis during the Conference. This unique simulation occurs late Monday evening, during and after the representative dance. All members of the Security Councils are strongly encouraged to stay at the Sheraton Grand Chicago Hotel during their participation at AMUN. The rules of procedure mandate that each member of the Council attend the emergency session. Attendance at crisis sessions is limited to Security Council and Historical Security Council representatives, requested parties to the dispute, permanent representatives, and their faculty advisors. Observers must secure the permission of the AMUN Secretariat members in charge of the session. Secretariat members have the authority to request anyone being disruptive to leave the area and return to other areas of the Sheraton or to their hotel.

Events for Faculty Advisors and Permanent Representatives

AMUN hosts several Conference-related events for permanent representatives and faculty advisors during each Conference. They are:

  • Delegation Lottery: The Delegation Lottery is conducted at Conference and allows the current year’s attendees to select countries for the following year. A deposit for next year’s Conference is required to participate.
  • Permanent representative and faculty advisor meetings: Held on Sunday and Monday of Conference, these meetings allow you to share comments and concerns on this year’s Conference and any hotel issues your school is experiencing.
  • Roundtables and workshops for faculty advisors: Guest speakers discuss running and advocating for Model UN with Faculty Advisors in informal discussions and roundtable presentations. Consult the Conference Program for times and locations.

Graduate School and Career Expo

The Expo is a great opportunity to meet with representatives from graduate schools and organizations across the country and plan your future. The Graduate School and Career Expo will be held this year on Monday, 20 November 2023 from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The event and exhibitors will be announced and highlighted both in our Conference Program and the AMUN Chronicle. The Expo will be located on the promenade on the Ballroom level, outside of the primary meeting rooms that hold most of the Conference events. Students will be introduced to the Expo area on their way to and from the open Monday morning meeting sessions.

Introduction to the United Nations

Representatives participating in the American Model United Nations (AMUN) Conference should be familiar with the history of the United Nations and with the changing role the organization plays in international affairs. This section provides a brief introduction to the United Nations system and some of the issues it faces today.

History of the United Nations

Origins of the United Nations

The United Nations came into existence on 24 October 1945. On that day, the United Nations Charter became operative, following ratification by the 51 original Members. The concept of all States uniting to settle disputes peacefully was born of the desire to avoid repeating the horrors of the First and Second World Wars. The United Nations developed as a successor to the League of Nations, which represented the first modern attempt by the countries of the world to achieve this unity.

United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt coined the term “United Nations” in 1942, when 47 countries signed the Declaration of the United Nations in support of the Atlantic Charter. In 1944, representatives of the United States, the United Kingdom, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and China prepared the first blueprint of the United Nations at the Dumbarton Oaks Conference. The final details for the United Nations were established at the Yalta Conference in 1945. On 26 June 1945, 51 States signed the Charter of the United Nations in San Francisco.

Purpose of the United Nations

The primary purposes for which the United Nations was founded are detailed in Chapter I, Article 1, of the Charter:

  1. To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace;
  2. To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace;
  3. To achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion; and
  4. To be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations in the attainment of these common ends.

Structure of the United Nations

The United Nations has six primary organs. Understanding what each of these bodies does and how it interacts with other United Nations bodies, agencies and affiliated organizations is a critical part of Model United Nations preparation.

The General Assembly (GA)

The General Assembly is the central deliberative organ of the United Nations. The General Assembly has been described as the nearest thing to a “parliament of mankind.” All Member States are Members of the General Assembly, and each Member has one vote. The General Assembly makes recommendations on international issues, oversees all other United Nations bodies that report to the General Assembly, approves the United Nations budget and apportions United Nations funds. On the recommendation of the Security Council, the General Assembly elects the Secretary-General and holds the authority to admit and expel Member States. Voting in the General Assembly is ordinarily by simple majority, but most of the body’s work is adopted by consensus.

The Security Council (SC)

The Security Council’s primary responsibility is maintaining international peace and security. It has the power to employ United Nations peacekeepers and direct action against threats to the peace. Fifteen Members sit on the Security Council, including five Permanent Members (China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States) and 10 at-large Member States, which the General Assembly elects for rotating two-year terms. A majority in the Security Council consists of nine Members voting “yes”; however, a “no” vote by any of the Permanent Members has the effect of vetoing or blocking actions.

The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)

The Economic and Social Council is the primary body dealing with the economic, social, humanitarian and cultural work of the United Nations system. It also has a mandate to coordinate the activities of United Nations technical and specialized agencies and programs. The Economic and Social Council oversees five regional economic commissions and nine functional, or subject-matter, commissions. The Economic and Social Council is composed of 54 Member States elected by the General Assembly for three-year renewable terms.

The Trusteeship Council (TC)

In 1945 there were 11 Trust Territories, which were regions without their own governments. These 11 regions were placed under the Trusteeship Council, which helped them prepare for and achieve independence. With the admission of Palau as a United Nations Member State in 1994, the Trusteeship Council has now completed its original mandate. Today, the Trusteeship Council is inactive but is formally composed of the Permanent Members of the Security Council.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ)

The International Court of Justice, or World Court, is the primary judicial organ of the United Nations and decides international legal disputes. All United Nations Member States are able to bring matters before the International Court of Justice; however, States must agree to accept the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice before it can decide a dispute involving that State. Fifteen judges serving nine-year terms sit on the Court.

Secretariat

The Secretariat is composed of the Secretary-General and the United Nations staff. Approximately 44,000 people are employed as the staff of the United Nations, only 5,000 of whom work at the United Nations headquarters in New York City. The vast majority work for various subsidiaries of the United Nations. The Secretary-General serves a five-year renewable term.

In addition to the six main bodies, the United Nations system includes a number of autonomous technical and specialized agencies and programs. Examples include the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). While most of these agencies and programs have independent governance structures, the Economic and Social Council coordinates their activities.

How the United Nations Seeks to Achieve Its Purpose

Since 1945, the United Nations has established itself as a forum for discussing international disputes. The United Nations seeks, through both its principal organs and various subsidiary bodies, to settle disputes through peaceful means without resorting to the threat or use of force. Through their participation in the various bodies of the United Nations, Member States recognize and legitimize the established machinery of the United Nations and its relevance to solving international problems. It should be understood that the United Nations is not a world government, nor does it legislate. Rather, the actions of the United Nations, in the form of resolutions passed by its bodies, have a strong moral persuasive effect. Member States frequently find it in their own best interests to follow United Nations recommendations.

Bloc Politics at the United Nations

Historically, Member States with mutual interests have used a system of bloc politics to organize their efforts within the United Nations. These blocs tend to be made up of Member States with similar political, historical or cultural backgrounds and are often, but not exclusively, formed on a geographical basis. By organizing themselves with other Member States that hold similar interests, bloc members hope to increase their influence above the level that they would have as a single Member State in the General Assembly.

Regional groups were formally established at the United Nations in 1957 with an endorsement by the General Assembly. As the number of Member States increased, the groups were realigned to form today’s five groups: Latin America and the Caribbean group (GRULAC), the Asia-Pacific group, the Africa group, the Eastern European group and the Western Europe and Others group (WEOG). These regional groups are still used today to manage the elections to various United Nations bodies, including the Security Council, and to determine who will serve as Vice Presidents of the General Assembly. Other smaller regional blocs with more specific affinities and interests, such as the Nordic countries or the JUSCANZ group (Japan, United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) are also important, but they lack the formal recognition granted to the five regional groups.

Regional groups are not the only blocs active at the United Nations. The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), formed in 1967 as a group seeking a middle course between the Western and Eastern blocs of the Cold War, rapidly became an active body for the coordination of action at the United Nations for developing countries. While its importance has diminished since the end of the Cold War, it is still active on numerous issues at the United Nations. The Group of 77 (G-77) was founded in 1964 as a coordinating body to protect the economic interests of small and developing countries. With 134 members, the G-77 is the largest United Nations bloc, though coordination among members is fairly loose.

Blocs often attempt to form a consensus among members, allowing them to act as a cohesive group. The effectiveness of any given bloc in exerting its positions in the General Assembly depends upon the bloc’s ability to form a consensus among its own members and to get its members to vote accordingly. These acts of compromise form the basis of United Nations politics and often occur within the various caucusing groups. They also form the starting points for debate in the larger United Nations body.

Bloc politics have changed considerably over time. Some blocs are still coherent, like the Nordic countries, while others, like the Western European and Others Group, lack continuing cohesion. In general, their viability as a political tool is diminishing, and blocs are falling out of use as a predictable measure of votes. Often, blocs get together to draft resolutions which will begin the discussion in the larger body, but ultimately, each Member State will usually vote in its own interest, regardless of bloc memberships. States may be part of multiple blocs with diverging or competing interests, which further complicates the issue.

Today, the most common blocs are small, temporary negotiating groups that gather around one issue to try to overcome stalemate in the larger membership bodies. Additionally, developing countries often bind together to maximize their power, especially given their relative lack of economic power. Some blocs have their own secretariat staff whose job is to draft proposals and find solutions that the larger body is unable to find. Some of the more well-funded and organized blocs have a formally recognized role as permanent observers with permanent observer missions at the United Nations headquarters. Examples include the African Union, the Caribbean Community, the European Union, the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. These blocs are powerful examples of Member States coming together to advance goals that may be independent of the regions they represent.

At AMUN, blocs are not be treated as official bodies. Representatives are encouraged to caucus in their bloc groups only when appropriate. Representatives should be aware that the State they represent may no longer actively participate in bloc politics or may vote outside of its traditional bloc based on the circumstances. Above all, remember that you represent your State and your State’s interests, regardless of your participation in a bloc while caucusing and drafting.

United Nations Documents

Introduction

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. A draft resolution may be formally discussed, amended, rejected or adopted when it is brought to the floor, though 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 may be included in the body of reports, treaties, conventions and declarations. Resolutions may range from general to very specific in content and, depending on the body involved, 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 both 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. AMUN simulates both resolution-writing and report-writing bodies.

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 that then incorporates ideas and concepts contributed by a group of delegations. The authors of draft documents obtain signatures from sponsors through caucusing and discussion, and eventually the draft may be moved to the floor for formal 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.

In preparing to attend AMUN, delegations should consider solutions they believe would help resolve the issues before the body. The most successful delegates will practice drafting preambular clauses that clearly articulate the background and context of the topic and operative clauses that form the policies they seek to advocate. Delegates should also practice reviewing and commenting on the work of others and practice negotiation, collaboration and amendments to achieve common objectives. These notes and practice documents may be useful at Conference as working papers. When all delegations arrive at Conference prepared and ready to work together, the entire body benefits.  

At Conference, when a delegate is asked to sponsor a resolution or report, they should ask themselves whether the document was drafted in collaboration with other delegations in attendance, and whether the drafting and amendment process has been open and collaborative. If a delegate cannot answer yes to these questions, they should consider either working with the drafters to bring the draft document into the collaborative environment, or, if that is not an option, foregoing sponsorship in favor of working on other draft documents that represent the collaborative work of the body.

AMUN strongly discourages delegations from bringing fully-formed pre-written resolutions to Conference with the intent to immediately circulate the draft for signatures and bring it to the floor. Any draft document that is not created with the input and assistance of other committee members foregoing the collaborative process, will not reflect the will of the body and cannot hope to achieve consensus. While bringing these resolutions may seem to be an efficient way to jump-start the body’s deliberations, in reality they short-circuit the collaborative and consensus-building process that is central to AMUN’s educational mission and that reflects the real work of the United Nations. 

Draft resolutions are not eligible for formal consideration on the floor of General Assembly Committees, the Concurrent General Assembly Plenary or reporting bodies until they receive the sponsorship of at least 35 percent of the total delegations registered for their respective 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 which point a delegation may become a sponsor only 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 thereto— it has become the property of the body and no new sponsors may be added or removed from the draft resolution or report. 

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. Representatives are encouraged to use friendly amendments or draft a new, all-encompassing document to accomplish this goal. Rapporteurs are available in General Assembly committees, special committees and reporting bodies to assist with this process.

After a draft resolution, report or presidential statement has been entered into the appropriate Representative Workspace and receives the requisite sponsorship, representatives must share a copy of the draft document with the dais staff for approval. The dais staff will review the draft and discuss with representatives any necessary or suggested edits. Once representatives have entered all necessary edits, the dais staff will approve the draft document and make it formally available to the body for consideration. The body will not formally act on a draft resolution until the entire body has been given the ability to review it.

After a draft has been approved, the dais staff will announce that the draft has become available for consideration. The draft will be available to the body in the AMUN Google Drive environment which all Representatives with an AMUN designated email can access. 

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 using 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.

Purview and Other Content Requirements for Resolutions

One point to consider when drafting a document is whether its content is within the purview of the committee. Each body within the United Nations has a purview, or subject-matter jurisdiction, over which that body is granted authority by the United Nations Charter. A body will not address subject matter that is outside its purview, because that subject almost always belongs to the purview of another body.  The topic briefs for each simulation identify the purview for each United Nations body simulated at AMUN. Dais staff—Rapporteurs in 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 necessary, dais staff will offer suggestions as to how to modify a draft document to bring it within the purview of the body, rather than 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 within this handbook. In committees with limited agendas, Rapporteurs will not accept resolutions unless they are directed to one of the topics for the simulation 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 for that simulation, or those that contain language, proposals or solutions that are generally not seen in 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.

Draft Resolution Guidelines and Format

Draft resolutions will consist of a 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 generated using the resolution template available in the Google Drive workspace, and submitted using the Representative Workspace that AMUN provides for the simulation. 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 Representative Workspace.

Sample Draft Resolution

Draft Resolution Guidelines

  • All preambular and operative phrases are italicized.
  • The first word of all clauses, sub-clauses and sub-sub-clauses is capitalized. In a clause with a two-word introductory phrase (e.g., Further noting) both words are italicized, but only the first is capitalized.
  • All preambular clauses begin with an “ing” form verb (e.g., Acknowledging, Recalling), or other appropriate phrase (e.g., Alarmed by).
  • All operative clauses begin with a verb that demonstrates action (e.g., Requests, Calls upon).
  • All words should be spelled according to standard American usage, except in formal program or organization names or titles (e.g., World Food Programme).
  • Acronyms and initialisms are appropriate in resolutions, except when referring to the United Nations and its principal organs (e.g., the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council), which should always be spelled out in full.
  • Acronyms and initialisms are written out in full the first time they are used within a resolution, followed by the abbreviation in parentheses (e.g., African Development Bank (ADB)).
  • Full dates should always be used, including in reference to resolutions (e.g., 9 October 1977 or resolution 61/171 of 19 December 2006).
  • In Security Council resolutions, the year the resolution was passed should be in parentheses along with the full date (e.g., resolution 1757 (2007) of 30 May 2007).
  • When referencing a resolution, use the short resolution number instead of the full document symbol (e.g., resolution 61/171 instead of resolution A/Res/61/171).
  • Whole numbers under 10 are written out, except in fractions, in lists or comparisons, in percentages, vote counts, ratios, etc. Do not use a % symbol. Use “none” instead of zero.
  • Numbers between 10 and 999,999 should be written in figures, except at the beginning of a clause or sentence.
  • Millions, billions and trillions, are written as follows: 1 million, 4.3 billion, etc.
  • Isolated references to weights and measurements are spelled out (e.g., ten kilometers).
  • Generally, do not use a comma before the final element of a list.
  • Lists of sponsors and/or authors are not included in the final version of documents. Once passed, they become the work and property of the whole body.

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 a single word, or as large as the deletion or insertion 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 drafting the amendment in the appropriate Representative Workspace 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 of an amendment, the amendment is considered “friendly” and automatically becomes part of the draft resolution without a vote. If not all of the resolution sponsors have 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 property of the body and the friendly amendment process is no longer available to the resolution’s sponsors. Any subsequent amendments must be voted on by the body to be incorporated into the resolution.

Formally submitted amendments should be in the Representative Workspace, and should provide information on what changes are to be made to the existing resolution. This should include what language is to be amended, where that language currently exists in the resolution and where the newly proposed language should go.

Sample Amendment

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 Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the Committee of Experts on Public Administration (CEPA).

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. It is important that the executive summary contains all the critical information for the body hearing the report. The presiding special rapporteurs will guide representatives through the report-writing process and 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. This section of the report will be added by the Rapportours. 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.

Reporting bodies should aim to conclude their substantive work by Monday evening, and they should finalize and accept the reports and compose the executive summaries for the reports on Tuesday.

Sample Table of Contents for Reports

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):

Affirming Emphasizing 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):

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

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

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 connote 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

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

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

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 Security Council 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 Representative Workspace, has received approval by the Dais Staff and has 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.

Sample Security Council Presidential Statement

 

The AMUN Approach to Model United Nations

AMUN Philosophy and Realism

One of the core principles of AMUN is to mirror the practice and dynamics of the United Nations as much as possible. To that end, AMUN strives to create and conduct simulations that are a realistic representation of diplomacy at the United Nations and within the broader international system. We believe this commitment furthers AMUN’s aims to create a fair and fun experience for all representatives and to enhance the educational mission of the organization.

For any issue before the United Nations, each Member State or Observer State will have a variety of responses available to it; however, a realistic simulation will consider only those options that would have reasonably been on the table for a State at a particular moment in time. In other words, there will always be options that States do not consider or dismiss out of hand because historical, cultural or political constraints limit their capabilities. In a realistic simulation, these options are not appropriate.

In conjunction with our policy on delegations that are “Out of Character,” members of the AMUN Secretariat will work with representatives to ensure the highest-quality, and most realistic simulation of the United Nations  possible, while still allowing innovative and creative thinking to open up new possibilities for the United Nations and the international community.

The Purview of Each Simulation

Each background guide contains a brief overview of that simulation’s purview, which provides a general outline of the types of discussions each simulation might have on the topics in question. Purview is an extremely important, though often informally understood, concept in the United Nations system, where a variety of different committees, councils and commissions may discuss different aspects of an international problem. Not stepping on another body’s toes or into its territory is a matter of diplomatic courtesy, respect and an acknowledgement of specific expertise. Representatives should research their topics carefully, so their deliberations can focus on the piece of the problem considered within their simulation’s purview.

Purview is usually best understood through an extended example. Consider the topic of development. A wide variety of committees, councils and commissions at the United Nations address this topic, but will do so in different ways. The General Assembly First Committee might discuss the relationship between disarmament and development. At the same time, the General Assembly Second Committee may discuss a variety of financing initiatives to assist Least Developed Countries. Similarly, the General Assembly Third Committee might discuss the social and humanitarian considerations that stem from a lack of development, including gender issues, economic concerns or the impact on underrepresented populations such as the elderly or disabled.  The General Assembly Fourth Committee may discuss the development issues of Non-Self-Governing Territories. The General Assembly Concurrent Plenary might discuss the problem in its entirety or address issues that cut across the mandates of the committees. By contrast, the Economic and Social Council would focus on how the United Nations specialized and technical agencies work with Member States to support economic and social development. The Security Council would address the interlinkages between peace, security and development.

Clearly, different aspects of a single problem are regularly discussed in different bodies. More importantly, at the United Nations, delegations are typically careful to only discuss those aspects relevant to their own committees, councils and commissions, leaving other aspects to others in their delegation to address in the appropriate forum.

Simulations, Roles, and Roleplaying

Simulations, Roles and Roleplaying

The AMUN Conference is a simulation of the United Nations. By its very nature, the quality and tone of debate will be different than at the United Nations in New York. AMUN’s policies, topics and Rules of Procedure are all designed to enhance the educational value of the simulation. Each person involved at AMUN, from representatives to faculty advisors to members of the Secretariat, has a role to play in ensuring a successful simulation. This chapter outlines the various roles and responsibilities of Conference participants.

AMUN Philosophy and the Realism of Simulations

One of the core principles of AMUN is to mirror the practice and dynamics of the United Nations as much as possible within the confines of the simulation. To that end, AMUN strives to create and conduct simulations that are a realistic representation of diplomacy at the United Nations and the international system more broadly. We believe this commitment furthers AMUN’s aims to create a fair and fun experience for all representatives and that it enhances the educational mission of the organization.

For any issue before the United Nations, each Member State or Observer State will have a variety of responses available to it; however, a realistic simulation will consider only those options that would have reasonably been on the table for a State at a particular moment in time. In other words, there will always be options States do not consider or dismiss out of hand because they have limited capabilities or due to historical, cultural or political constraints; in a realistic simulation, these options are not appropriate.

In conjunction with our policy on delegations that are “Out of Character,” AMUN members of the Secretariat will work with representatives to ensure the highest-quality, most realistic simulation of the United Nations as possible while still allowing room for innovative and creative thinking to open up new possibilities for the United Nations and the international community.

The AMUN Secretariat

The AMUN Secretariat is made up of college students, graduate students and professionals from a variety of fields. All staff are highly experienced in Model UN-ing, both as representatives and staff members at previous AMUN simulations or other Model UN conferences. Secretariat members will chair the committees, serve as Simulation Directors, and Rapporteurs; direct the International Press Delegation and the International Court of Justice; and run the Home Government, Conference Services and Executive Offices. Secretariat members will be able to answer any questions that representatives or faculty members have about AMUN or direct them to someone who will be able to answer their questions.

The Secretariat will also be available at after-hours functions. They will encourage all representatives to move all gatherings to designated areas and to not become disruptive. They will intervene with the hotel, when possible, in disputes between the representatives and the hotel. In the interest of an orderly conference, please follow all directions of Secretariat members.

Executive Office

The AMUN Executive Office includes the Executive Director and other senior members of the AMUN Secretariat. This is the primary point of contact for participating schools throughout the year. At the Conference, the Executive Office handles all financial and registration issues, makes changes to credentials as needed, is available at Faculty and Permanent Representative meetings and conducts the lottery for country assignments for the next year’s Conference.

Home Government

The AMUN Home Government Secretariat is available to help representatives provide an accurate roleplaying experience at Conference. See Chapter 2 for a detailed list of how Home Government can assist representatives during the course of the Conference.

Conference Services

Conference Services is the all-purpose information hub for representatives and faculty. Visit Conference Services, on the Ballroom level, to find helpful information about the Chicago area and all things related to the Conference.

The staff will answer your Conference-related questions and provide Conference handouts. Conferences Services is the place to purchase AMUN memorabilia to commemorate your AMUN experience. Conference Services also prints replacement credentials for representatives and faculty advisors. Those applying for AMUN staff can submit their applications at Conference Services.

Dais Staff

Members of the AMUN Secretariat assigned to all simulations except the International Court of Justice and the International Press Delegation are referred to as Dais Staff. The specific makeup of a dais team will vary depending on the type of committee. Generally, resolution-writing bodies will have chairs or presidents who facilitate debate through the use of the AMUN rules of procedure and rapporteurs who assist the committee with the resolution process. Report-writing bodies that submit a report to a plenary body will have presidents to facilitate debate and rapporteurs who will guide the body through the reporting process. In the Security Council and Historical Security Councils, presidents and vice presidents will facilitate debate through the use of the AMUN rules of procedure and assist representatives with the processing of resolutions and presidential statements, and simulation directors will act as the primary source of information for the Councils, including acting as the Home Office for the Councils’ participants.

International Court of Justice Staff

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is run quite differently than other simulations. The Court is structured and directed by the Justices who participate in the simulation. The AMUN Secretariat members, the ICJ Director and ICJ Registrars, guide the simulation by providing advice about the structure of the simulation and supplemental research to the Justices.

International Press Delegation Staff

The International Press Delegation (IPD) is staffed by a Director and Editors who work to produce AMUN’s Conference newspaper, the AMUN Chronicle and keep participants informed about the functions of AMUN via social media. Editors are responsible for assisting reporters in reviewing articles and for suggesting any corrections to spelling, grammar, or style for all articles in each issue. The Director is responsible for making final corrections, passing articles to the Publisher for inclusion in the Chronicle, submitting the final version of the Chronicle to the Executive Committee and Executive Office for approval, and for publishing the Chronicle.

Delegations

Delegations are, collectively, the group of people who represent a United Nations Member State or Observer State at the Conference. A school may field more than one delegation; delegations from the same school may share a faculty advisor and meet together after-hours, but their in-character actions during the simulation should be based on their countries’ respective policies. Delegations can range in size from 5 people to more than 20.

The leeway allowed by roleplaying and simulation does not give delegations license to act “out of character.” Representatives should research and generally follow the policies of their State, modifying these as new circumstances dictate. Successful roleplaying involves walking a careful line on policy, avoiding the extremes of either reading verbatim a State’s past statements or creating an ad hoc policy with no previous basis.

The Representative

Well-prepared representatives are critical to the success of any Model UN conference. A delegation’s job is to research the positions of a United Nations Member State or Observer State, both on the specific topics that will be discussed at the conference and for a general overview of that country’s policies.

With adequate preparation, representatives should be ready to discuss the issues with their counterparts and to prepare draft documents that, based on the specifics of each simulation, codify solutions to problems. These draft documents may be submitted for debate at the Conference provided they meet the requirements for formatting and content as outlined in this handbook.

Finally, representatives attend the AMUN Conference to represent their State in discussing the various issues presented. When representatives enter the opening session of AMUN, they assume the role of Distinguished Representative from their country with all the rights and responsibilities that entails.

At AMUN, however, representatives will have only four days to assume the role of their State’s representative and simulate the actions of the United Nations. This consolidation of time leads to many different circumstances with which each delegation will have to contend. Among the considerations is the fact that representatives will rarely have the opportunity to give a pre‑written speech on a topic. Instead, they will often be forced to verbally react to circumstances as they arise, which may put them in a position where it is reasonable to reinterpret their country’s position in light of new facts. Representatives should not simply read from their country’s established record on the issues presented; they should be prepared to compromise with the other States represented and adapt their policies where needed to meet the current circumstances of the world as simulated at the Conference.

At the Conference, representatives (speaking on behalf of their governments) debate the issues on the agenda to seek solutions to the problems facing the world community by caucusing with representatives who are representing other States and by drafting and discussing resolutions, reports and statements. In the United Nations today, Member States and Observers often discuss an agenda item to reach a solution that can be agreed to by all, or at least by most, Member States. Draft documents can be amended, combined, accepted, adopted by consensus, or rejected, and occasionally, a body will engage is significant discussion and debate and still produce no final document on an issue.

Consensus-building is one of the most important goals for representatives in a Model United Nations simulation. At the United Nations, more than seventy‑five percent of the United Nations General Assembly’s resolutions are adopted by consensus. Adoption by consensus shows solidarity and strong support within the body for a decision or course of action. Passing resolutions by consensus is not possible on every issue, but this figure illustrates the importance of consensus-building in the international community. By aiming for universal agreement on written work, AMUN simulations strive to emulate this aspect of international diplomacy.

At the United Nations, representatives and their consular staffs spend months in preparation, caucusing behind closed doors and interacting with other delegations before an issue is brought to a vote. A United Nations representative, or Head of State, rarely makes a prepared speech that would be surprising to the other representatives present.

The Permanent Representative

Each delegation must appoint one person to act as the primary representative for that delegation who will assume the role of permanent representative when the delegation is on the floor for meetings. Schools with more than one delegation must appoint one permanent representative per delegation.

The permanent representative has a number of responsibilities including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Being responsible to the Secretariat for the delegation and its actions
  • Acting as the leader of the delegation for substantive matters
  • Coordinating the delegation across Committees
  • Coordinating and monitoring the delegation’s submission of draft documents
  • Representing the delegation at general meetings of Permanent Representatives called by the Conference
  • Acting as liaison to the Secretariat for any administrative matters at the Conference.

The permanent representative may sit in any committee at AMUN on which that delegation is seated in addition to the two regular representatives allowed in any body, The permanent representative may be assigned to a specific committee or may float throughout the various simulations at the Conference, helping where needed. The permanent representative may not be assigned to a Historical Security Council or the Historical Commission of Inquiry. If they are assigned to the Security Council (Contemporary) they must have a partner. If the permanent representative is not assigned to a specific committee, this person may be in the best position to represent the country if it is called as a party to the dispute in the Security Council or the Historical Security Councils or as a witness in the Historical Commission of Inquiry. Permanent representatives will be asked to provide their hotel room numbers, cellular phone numbers and primary committee assignment (if applicable) to the Secretariat during registration at Conference.

As the leader of the delegation, the permanent representative should be the focal point for coordinating the delegation’s efforts across the various simulations. This person should facilitate your delegation’s ability to maintain coherence in policy and statements across simulations.

Permanent representatives should maintain close contact with all committees to ensure that one representative is not acting inconsistently with their delegation. While the character of the delegation’s roleplaying should be thoroughly discussed in advance of the Conference, the permanent representative must ensure that individuals remain within that character at the Conference.

Permanent representatives should also review draft documents sponsored by the delegation. Each draft document should be considered carefully to ensure that it is within the State’s policies and is of sufficient content to not prove embarrassing to the country if submitted for consideration on the floor. The permanent representative may also lead the delegation in its preparations for the plenary sessions on Tuesday, again acting to ensure consistency and to note how the country wishes to vote on final proposals before the body.

Developing a Conference Strategy

As part of its preparation, each delegation should determine its strategy and goals for the Conference. All delegations should be involved in working toward solutions to the problems placed before the United Nations. This requires a great deal of negotiation and compromise, often at the expense of certain positions that may be of concern to an individual delegation. Each delegation’s representatives must therefore decide which items are of greatest importance to their country and set their strategies accordingly. Strategic areas to consider include the following:

  • What kind of role will your delegation play at the Conference (e.g., conciliatory, obstructive, aggressive, neutral or leading)?
  • Will your delegation seek informal leadership positions in each committee?
  • How can your delegation achieve the goals and interests identified in your research and delegation strategy?
  • What other countries will your delegation attempt to work with? Note: these delegations may vary by committee or by topic.
  • Which countries may present adversarial positions to your delegation and how will your delegation respond?

Remember, passing resolutions and reports is not the only or even truest measure of success at the Conference. While each delegation is encouraged to propose solutions on the various issues and to secure passage of resolutions and reports that outline the solutions, representatives must stand ready to compromise to achieve any real solution to the problems being discussed.

The Faculty Advisor

If a school has a faculty advisor, AMUN suggests that their main role be in working with and preparing the school’s delegation(s) before the Conference. Faculty advisors can assist the delegation in both logistical and substantive  preparation for the Conference.

AMUN recognizes the important role faculty advisors have in a delegation’s preparation for and negotiating the logistics of attending the Conference. Faculty can act as a sounding board for their students during the Conference, but that advice and consult should generally be given outside of official session times. If consultation during sessions is required, it should take place outside of committee rooms.

It is important to note that faculty are not delegates to the Conference. It is therefore inappropriate for faculty to participate in or interfere with the work of the body. Faculty will not engage in caucusing or resolution drafting and may not take a seat at the Member State’s placard. Faculty from one school should never engage representatives from another school in debate on issues relating to Conference participation. Faculty are welcome to observe formal debate from the gallery seating provided at the back of committee rooms. Faculty should model the level of professionalism expected of all attendees of the conference.

Logistically, the faculty advisor may be the main contact with both the Conference and the school administration. This role could include working with finances and group organization, registering the school for the Conference, making hotel reservations, preparing travel arrangements and a host of other preparations. Alternatively, these roles could be delegated and assumed by the delegation leaders or club officers at a school.

In helping delegations prepare for the content issues they will face at the Conference, faculty advisors could either run a full-curriculum class or serve as a resource for a Model UN Club or other organization. They may use the well‑established, proven curriculum provided by the Model UN in a Box simulation guide, which contains resources to assist Model UN leaders in training delegations to participate at a Model United Nations conference. Also, the faculty advisor can coordinate and run preparatory sessions to better prepare students for the Conference.

Grading the Model UN Experience

AMUN strongly recommends that faculty advisors not grade students based on quantitative measures of performance at the Conference. This practice often leads to poor roleplaying as the students involved are working for their grade and not necessarily for the accurate portrayal of their country’s positions. Grading or evaluating students on quantitative measures such as these can also undermine collaboration and consensus-building that is at the core of the Model UN educational mission. Several areas where AMUN specifically discourages grading include the following:

  • Students getting “their” draft resolution or amendment to the floor or passed
  • Students speaking a certain number of times (stressing quantity over quality)
  • Students making a certain number or type of motions

If grading is necessary, AMUN suggests the following as possible areas for appraisal:

  • Pre‑Conference preparation, which may include papers or tests
  • Quality of position papers, either internal or those submitted to the Conference
  • Quality of resolutions drafted
  • Attendance at scheduled Conference simulations and being on time for session
  • Effectiveness of roleplaying based on direct observations
    • Clearly stating and basing all actions upon the delegation’s position
    • Effectively working with other delegations, both on the floor and in caucusing
    • Effectively working toward consensus, when appropriate
  • A post‑Conference reflection paper about the student’s learning and experience
  • A post-Conference paper analyzing the substantive discussion from the conference
  • Peer and self evaluation

The interactive nature of the Model UN experience provides incredible learning opportunities for students who attend and become immersed in that experience. AMUN requests that Faculty Advisors not dilute the students’ experiences by linking grades to quantitative performance at the Conference.

Additional simulation considerations

AMUN Home Government

Home Government is a resource center where representatives can obtain information to supplement their pre-Conference research. AMUN’s Home Government has specialized knowledge and training about the United Nations in general and the issues being discussed at AMUN in particular. They are expert researchers who excel at finding information about unexpected aspects of the topics. The Home Government staff will be available to give competent, general advice on many areas. They can also give country-specific advice if a representative is unsure of their State’s policy. While Home Government is happy to provide expertise on a representative’s country, it will not advise a representative how to vote on any issue.

Roleplayers in simulations

Representatives and members of the AMUN Secretariat may request roleplayers to represent a country, organization or entity that is not represented at AMUN. All requests for roleplayers should be directed to the dais staff. Roleplayers may be brought in to provide the following: a substantive report from the Secretariat; an expert report from a relevant United Nations body; an informational source from a non-governmental organization; or the perspective of an unrepresented Member State, observer or other unrecognized group. Roleplayers may be used to clarify any points of confusion about the work or goals of a simulation or to provide additional technical information about the current status of United Nations efforts in a particular area. Based on the availability of the Home Government roleplayer and at the discretion of the dais staff, representatives may have the opportunity to raise points of inquiry to gain additional information about the subject.

Purview

Issues occasionally arise that are outside the scope of an AMUN simulation. In these cases, representatives should consult their Rapporteur to determine whether the issue may be discussed at the Conference. Representatives in Security Councils should consult their Simulation Directors about such issues. All decisions of the Secretariat are final.

Delegations that Are “Out of Character”

Because students attending the Conference are not career diplomats representing their country and, in most cases, will not have lived in the country they are representing, questions do sometimes arise at Conference as to whether the actions of individuals are “out of character” in relation to their delegation’s policies in the real world. AMUN has several specific suggestions to address this issue.

First, and most importantly, being “in character” is the responsibility of each delegation and ultimately falls to the permanent representative or the faculty advisor. There is no possible substitute for extensive preparation on your country and the issues to be discussed before attending the Conference. AMUN operates under the expectation and assumption that the members of each delegation will enter the Conference prepared and more knowledgeable about their individual country and their country’s stance on the issues than any other representative present.

If you, or your delegation, believe that a representative has not done sufficient research and is misinformed or acting “out of character” on a particular issue, AMUN recommends several steps: First, please revisit, internally, the actions taken by the representative in question. Is the representative “out of character” given the particular resolution and situation on the floor? Have circumstances (either in the real world or at Conference) changed such that the representative could realistically modify their country’s stance on a particular issue? Are you certain that you know the actual stance of the country in question on the issue? Many cases of a representative appearing “out of character” stem from one party’s misinterpretations of what was said or of a country’s previously stated policies.

If you still believe that a representative is “out of character,” AMUN asks that you talk to the representative about the issue before bringing the problem to the Secretariat. This can be easily done in a non-confrontational manner by stating something like, “I hadn’t realized that was your country’s position on the issue; where did you see that?”  -or-  “I thought I read something in [state your source] about your country having a different opinion on this issue; have you seen that information?” Directly confronting a representative to say, “You’re wrong on this,” will likely not succeed and could damage your diplomatic relations in the future.

The representative will likely respond in one of two ways to your question. The representative may respond with information to justify his or her position with a statement like, “I did the research and this is my country’s view on the issue,” or they may express interest in the new information you have provided. If this response answers your question, the issue is resolved. If a representative is interested in more information, please suggest that person visit the Rapporteurs or speak to a Simulation Director in Security Council. If the representative is non-responsive or chooses not to answer your question, you can bring the issue to the attention of the Dais Staff who may assist representatives in seeking further assistance from the Home Government Secretariat or Simulation Director.

Chairs, Rapporteurs or Special Rapporteurs may arbitrate disagreements but will never render an opinion regarding an “out of character” situation. AMUN Secretariat members have different roles within the simulations, and Chairs, Rapporteurs and Special Rapporteurs are specifically instructed to not investigate or determine whether representatives are acting in or out of character. Chairs are specifically trained on the Rules of Procedure. Rapporteurs are trained to assist with issues related to the drafting of resolutions and reports and ensuring that documents fall within the purview of a specific simulation. The Home Government Secretariat and Simulation Directors are trained to assist representatives in refining and managing the consistent and accurate representation of their country. If delegations or individuals are finding it difficult to remain in character, AMUN’s goal is to provide them with the information needed to correctly represent their country on a given issue. AMUN will work with the delegation’s permanent representative and committee representatives to resolve the situation.

Because all participants at AMUN are learning about the United Nations as they participate, these situations may occur. AMUN expects that all delegations will take the time necessary to prepare and correctly portray their countries on each issue under consideration. AMUN also asks that representatives not jump to conclusions about other delegations’ roleplaying without having a detailed background on the other countries’ positions on the issues. Finally, AMUN asks that representatives on all sides handle potential “out of character” situations with the utmost diplomatic courtesy for all parties involved. The AMUN Secretariat will be the final arbiter of any “out of character” disputes that arise at the Conference.

AMUN Rules of Procedure

While substantive discussions of the issues form the basis of any good simulation of the United Nations, the rules of procedure are essential to facilitating the substantive debate which occurs. In general, these rules are intended to provide an even playing field, allowing each country to accomplish its individual goals in advocating their policies, while also maximizing opportunities for the group to reach agreement, or even consensus, on the issues. Several levels of preparation are possible on the rules. For new Model UN participants, AMUN recommends that each person have a working knowledge of the principal motions that can be made during the simulation, encapsulated on the Rules Short Forms. The Dais Staff of each committee will assist representatives in using these rules and assist in bringing everyone onto an even playing field. For experienced representatives, especially those who have not attended AMUN in the past, we suggest reading AMUN’s rules in‑depth, both as a refresher on these rules of procedure and to note differences from other conferences a school might attend. Most Model UN conferences use slightly different rules of procedure, and in some cases, the contrasts are significant. In order to best facilitate everyone’s experience, it is incumbent upon every participant to learn and use the rules established for this Conference. All representatives are encouraged to attend the appropriate Rules and Roleplaying session on Saturday afternoon before Opening Plenary. These are led by senior AMUN Secretariat members and are designed to give representatives an overview of AMUN’s rules and procedures.

Introduction to the General Assembly

The General Assembly is the central deliberative organ of the United Nations. The General Assembly has been described as the nearest thing to a “parliament of mankind” that exists. All Member States are members of the General Assembly and each delegation has one vote, regardless of size or population. The General Assembly makes recommendations on international issues, oversees all other United Nations bodies that report to the General Assembly, approves the United Nations budget and apportions United Nations funds. On the recommendation of the Security Council, the General Assembly elects the Secretary-General and holds the authority to admit and expel Member States. Voting in the General Assembly is ordinarily by simple majority, but most of the body’s work is adopted by consensus.

The General Assembly at AMUN

The Conference exists to provide a safe and educational environment for both representatives and AMUN Secretariat members to grow and learn. At the root of this is one of AMUN’s founding principles: to create the most realistic simulation possible by mirroring the United Nations’ beliefs and processes.

Due to time limitations on our simulations, AMUN has selected a set of two topics for each General Assembly simulation. We do this to help foster more thorough discussions around each topic.

General Assembly bodies use resolutions to help provide solutions and create pathways forward from the complex international issues under consideration. These are the principal documents produced by the General Assembly and they discuss the history of the topics before the body and suggest ways for the international community to address those issues. Every resolution must have at least one preambular and one operative clause, though most resolutions contain more. In addition to the requisite number of clauses, each resolution must be within the purview of the body. For more information regarding the crafting of resolutions please see the United Nations Documents Section of the AMUN Handbook. For more information on the purview of each committee, please reference the specific topic brief.

Research and Resources available

One of the most important resources available is the research and preparation done before conference. This research can greatly affect a representative’s experience in the simulation. AMUN has several suggestions for how to go about researching a State’s position, history and culture. Information to aid in this research can be found in the Research and Preparation Section.

While pre-Conference research is one of the most valuable tools available to a representative, AMUN provides several other tools to support the educational experience. These resources are provided by several Secretariat members who will be available both in the simulation rooms as well as on the office level of the conference hotel.

Two types of dais staff are readily available in the simulation rooms: Committee Chairs and Rapporteurs.

The Committee Chairs preside over the room and facilitate debate in all simulations. They are the experts in the room when it comes to AMUN’s Rules of Procedure and are more than willing to help representatives understand and use the rules throughout the simulation. Chairs also observe substantive debate and keep track of the Committee’s proceedings.

Rapporteurs assist with content in each General Assembly simulation. Their role is to work with representatives as they write resolutions and to help ensure that the work of the body meets both AMUN and the United Nations’ standards for resolutions. They also provide guidance on committee purview and will help representatives work resolutions into purview, should it be necessary.

AMUN also provides content experts outside of committee. Home Government is available to help representatives with several tasks. If a representative wants an in-depth review of their country’s position on the topics being covered in a committee, Home Government can conduct briefings to provide them the information they need to participate more fully in the simulation. Home Government also has the ability to furnish committees with Roleplayers who provide information to the entire body as opposed to an individual representative.

Lastly, should representatives like to update the rest of the Conference on how their work is coming along, the International Press Delegation (IPD) is another resource they have for spreading information, be it through inclusion in an article or a Press Conference.

General Assembly Rules of Procedure

1.0 Administrative

1.1 The Secretariat. The Secretariat consists of the volunteer staff members of American Model United Nations (AMUN).

1.2 Rules Committee. The President of the General Assembly, the Senior Vice President(s) of the General Assembly, the Director of Rules and Procedures, and one other person as appointed by the Secretary-General shall compose the membership of the Rules Committee.

1.3 Credentials.  All questions concerning the validity of representative credentials shall be submitted in writing to the Secretariat,

  • The Secretariat has sole authority to create and distribute credentials,
  • The Secretariat has sole authority to decide all questions concerning credentials, and
  • Representatives must display approved credentials at all times while on the Conference premises.

1.4 Quorum/Majority. A quorum is one-fourth of the member delegations in attendance for each Committee; a majority is one-half of the member delegations in attendance for each Committee,

  • A quorum must be present at all times during Committee sessions,
  • A majority must be present for a substantive question to be put to a vote,
  • Questions concerning quorum or majority should be directed to the Chair, and
  • It is the responsibility of the Chair to ensure that a quorum is present at all times.

1.5 Committee Officers. The Secretariat shall appoint the President/Chairperson, Vice President/Vice Chairperson, and Rapporteur(s) for each Committee, and shall select any other positions necessary to help conduct the sessions of the Committees,

  • Hereafter, in these rules, “Chair” will refer to both “Chairpersons” and “Presidents” and
  • Hereafter, in these rules, “Committee” will refer to any Committee, Council or Commission, unless otherwise stated in the rule.

1.6 General Authority of the Chair. In addition to exercising such authority conferred upon the Chair elsewhere in these rules, the Chair shall,

  • Declare the opening and closing of each session,
  • Ensure the observance of the rules,
  • Facilitate the discussions of the Committee and accord the right to speak,
  • Advise the Committee on methods of procedure that will enable the body to accomplish its goals, and
  • Rule on points and motions, and subject to these rules, have complete control of the proceedings of the Committee and the maintenance of order at its meetings.
  • During the course of the session the Chair may propose Suspension of the Meeting (rule 7.1), Adjournment of the Meeting (rule 7.2), Closure of Debate (rule 7.4), and Limits on Debate (rule 7.9). 
  • The Chair is under the direct authority of the Rules Committee and may be directed to inform the body on matters of procedure or the body’s topical competence if such action is deemed necessary by the Rules Committee.

1.7 Absence of Chair. If the Chair is absent during any part of a Committee Session, the Chair will designate an individual, usually the Vice Chair, to chair the session with the same authority.

1.8 Number of Accredited Representatives. Each delegation is allowed two representatives per Committee on which it is a member, plus one Permanent Representative,

  • This excludes the Special Committee to the General Assembly, which only allows one representative plus one Permanent Representative.

1.9 Selection of Agenda Topics. Agenda topics shall be selected by the Secretariat prior to the start of the conference. Once selected, these topics are fixed for the duration of the conference.

1.10 Observer Status. Those delegations recognized as having Observer Status by AMUN shall be accorded all rights in the Committee except the following,

  • They may not vote,
  • They may not make or second the following motions:
  • Adjournment of the Meeting (rule 7.2),
  • Adjournment of Debate (rule 7.3),
  • Closure of Debate (rule 7.4), and
  • Decision of Competence (rule 7.7).

2.0 General Rules

2.1 Statements by the Secretariat. The Secretary-General or any member of the Secretariat may make verbal or written statements to a Committee at any time.

2.2 Diplomatic Courtesy. All participants in the AMUN Conference must accord Diplomatic Courtesy to all credentialed representatives, Secretariat Members, Faculty Advisors, Observers and Hotel staff at all times,

  • Representatives who persist in obvious attempts to disrupt the session shall be subject to expulsion from the Committee by the Chair,
  • The Secretariat reserves the right to expel any representative or delegation from the Conference, and
  • This decision is not appealable.

2.3 Speeches. No representative may address the Committee without obtaining the permission of the Chair,

  • Delegations, not representatives, are recognized to speak; more than one representative from the same delegation may speak when the delegation is recognized,
  • Speakers must keep their remarks germane to the subject under discussion,
  • A time limit may be established for speeches (rule 7.9),
  • At the conclusion of a substantive speech, representatives will be allowed to answer questions concerning their speech,
  • A delegation that desires to ask a question of the speaker should signify by raising a Point of Inquiry (rule 6.3),
  • All questions and replies are made through the Chair,
  • A speaker who desires to make a motion may do so after speaking and accepting Points of Inquiry, but prior to yielding the floor, and
  • By making a motion the speaker yields the floor.

2.4 Recognition of Speakers. Delegations wishing to speak on an item before the body will signify by raising their placards,

  • The exception to this rule occurs on any Point of Order (rule 6.1), Information (rule 6.2), or Inquiry (rule 6.3), at which time a representative should raise their placard and call out “Point of ___________” to the Chair,
  • Points will be recognized in the order of their priority,
  • Motions may not be made from Points of Order (rule 6.1), Information (rule 6.2), or Inquiry (rule 6.3), or from any procedural speeches, except,
  • A motion to Appeal the Decision of the Chair (rule 7.6), may be made when recognized for a Point of Order.
  • The Chair shall recognize speakers in a fair and orderly manner,
  • Speakers’ lists will not be used.

2.5 Right of Reply. The Chair may accord a Right of Reply to any representative if a speech by another representative contains unusual or extraordinary language clearly insulting to personal or national dignity,

  • Requests for a Right of Reply shall be made in writing to the Chair,
  • Requests shall contain the specific language which was found to be insulting to personal or national dignity,
  • The Chair may limit the time allowed for a reply,
  • There shall be no reply to a reply, and
  • This decision is not appealable.

2.6 Withdrawal of Motions. A motion may be withdrawn by its proposer at any time before voting on it has begun,

  • Seconds to a motion may also be withdrawn,
  • A withdrawn motion or second may be reintroduced by another delegation.

2.7 Dilatory Motions. The Chair may rule out of order any motion repeating or closely approximating a recent previous motion on which the Committee has already rendered an opinion,

  • This decision is not appealable.

3.0 Rules That Relate to the Rules

3.1 Rule Priority and Procedure. The rules contained in this handbook are the official rules of procedure of the American Model United Nations and will be used for all Committee sessions. These rules take precedence over any other set of rules.

3.2 Precedence of Rules. Proceedings in the Committees and General Assembly sessions of AMUN shall be conducted under the following precedence of rules;

  1. AMUN Rules of Procedure,
  2. AMUN General Assembly (GA) & Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Order of Precedence of the Rules Short Form,
  3. Rulings by the Rules Committee,
  4. Historical usage of the AMUN Rules of Procedure,
  5. Historical usage of the United Nations Rules of Procedure,
  6. The Charter of the United Nations.

3.3 The Order of Precedence of Procedural Motions.The order of precedence of procedural motions is listed in both the General Assembly and Economic and Social Council (GA/ECOSOC) Precedence Short Form and in these rules under Section 7, “Procedural Motions In Order of Priority.”

3.4 Rule Changes. The Rules Committee reserves the right to make changes to these rules at any time. Should a change occur, it will be communicated to the representatives in a timely manner.

4.0 Draft Proposals & Amendments

4.1 Definition of Draft Resolutions. A draft resolution is a written proposal consisting of at least one preambular and one operative clause.

4.2 Draft Resolutions. Draft resolutions may be submitted to the Committee Secretariat for approval at any time during the Conference,

  • For a draft resolution to be considered, it must be organized in content and flow, be in the proper format, have a minimum of 35 percent of the delegations in attendance listed as sponsors, and have the signature of the Rapporteur,
  • The final required number of sponsors will be determined by the Rules Committee at conference registration and announced at the opening of each committee session,
  • After acceptance by the Rapporteur(s), draft resolutions shall be processed in the order in which they are received and distributed to all delegations as soon as feasible.

A draft resolution that has been distributed may be proposed when the Committee considers the agenda topic that is the subject of the draft resolution.

  • Only one draft resolution may be considered on the floor at any time during formal debate,
  • Once a draft resolution is on the floor for discussion, additional sponsors may only be added to that draft resolution with the consent of the original sponsors,
  • Once a vote has been taken on a contested amendment to a draft resolution, no sponsors may be added or removed,
  • Friendly amendments (rule 4.4) do not limit the addition of sponsors as noted above, and
  • See also Closure of Debate (rule 7.4), Consideration of Draft Resolutions (rule 7.13) and Consideration of Amendments (rule 7.14)

4.3 Definition of Amendments. An amendment to a draft resolution is a written proposal that adds to, deletes from, or revises any part of a draft proposal.

4.4 Amendments. All amendments must be signed by 15 percent of the delegations in attendance,

  • The final required number of sponsors will be determined by the Rules Committee at conference registration and announced at the opening of each committee session,

An amendment is submitted on an official amendment form to the Rapporteurs for approval.

  • Amendments will be approved if they are legible, organized in content and flow, and in the proper format,
  • Approved amendments will be assigned an identification letter by the Rapporteurs, and
  • Typographical errors in a resolution will be corrected by the Rapporteurs and announced to the body.

One or more amendments may be considered on the floor at any given time (see also Closure of Debate (rule 7.4) and Consideration of Amendments (rule 7.14)).

An amendment will be considered “friendly” if all sponsors of the draft resolution or report are also sponsors of the amendment,

  • A friendly amendment becomes part of a draft proposal upon the announcement that it is accepted by the dais,
    • A vote is not required to add a friendly amendment to a draft resolution,
  • A dais member shall announce the acceptance of a friendly amendment on the first opportunity at which no speaker has the floor, and
  • Friendly amendments cannot be accepted after a vote has been taken on a contested amendment or after closure of debate on the resolution has been moved.

4.5 Withdrawal of Sponsorship. Sponsorship of a resolution or amendment may be withdrawn at any time before entering into voting procedure on the item,

  • Sponsorship of a resolution may not be withdrawn after a vote has been taken on a contested amendment,
  • If a draft resolution or amendment falls below the number of sponsors required for consideration, additional sponsors may be added to that proposal with the consent of the original sponsors, and
  • If a draft resolution or amendment falls below the required number of sponsors, it is automatically removed from consideration.

5.0 Voting

5.1 Voting Rights. Each Member State is accorded one vote in each Committee on which it is represented,

  • No representative or Delegation may cast a vote on behalf of another Member State.

5.2 Simple Majority. Unless otherwise specified in these rules, decisions in the Committee shall be made by a majority vote of those Members present and voting. If there is an equal division between yes and no votes, the motion fails.

5.3 Adoption by Consensus. The adoption of draft resolutions and amendments by consensus is desirable when it contributes to the effective and lasting settlement of differences, thus strengthening the authority of the United Nations,

  • Any representative may request the adoption of a report, amendment or draft resolution by consensus at any time after closure of debate has passed,
  • The Chair shall then ask whether there is any objection to consensus and then shall ask if any Member States wish to abstain from consensus,
  • Delegations abstaining from consensus will be officially recorded,
  • If there is no objection, the proposal is approved by consensus, and
  • If any representative objects to consensus, voting shall occur as otherwise stated in these rules.

5.4 Method of Voting. The Committee shall normally vote by a show of raised placards,

  • Any delegation may request a roll call vote on substantive matters, unless adopted by consensus,
  • The Chair may grant a request by a delegation for a roll call vote on any substantive matter, and the Chair’s decision on such a request is not subject to appeal,
  • When applicable, roll shall be called in English alphabetical order beginning with a member selected at random by the Vice Chair,
  • Representatives shall reply “yes,” “no,” “abstain,” or “abstain from the order of voting,”
  • A member may abstain from the order of voting once during a roll call; a second abstention from the order of voting will be recorded as an abstention.

5.5 Conduct During Voting. Immediately prior to a vote, the Chair shall describe to the Committee the item to be voted on, and shall explain the consequences of a “yes” or a “no” vote. Voting shall begin upon the Chair’s declaration “we are now in voting procedure,” and end when the results of the vote are announced,

  • Following Closure of Debate, and prior to entering voting procedure, the Chair shall pause briefly to allow delegations the opportunity to make any relevant motions,
  • Relevant motions prior to a vote include:
    •  Adoption by Consensus (rule 5.3), 
    • Suspension of the Meeting (rule 7.1),
    • Adjournment of the Meeting (rule 7.2), 
    • Decision of No Action (rule 7.5) (only available in GA Plenary), 
    • Decision of Competence (rule 7.7),
    • Division of the Question (rule 7.10), or
    • Important Question (rule 7.12) (only available in GA Plenary), and
  • Relevant requests prior to a vote include Adoption by Consensus (rule 5.3), Request for a roll call vote (rule 5.4), and
  • Once in voting procedure, no representative shall interrupt the voting except on a Point of Order or Point of Information concerning the actual conduct of the vote.

5.6 Changes of Votes. At the end of a roll call vote, but before Rights of Explanation (rule 5.7) are granted and the subsequent announcement of the vote, the Vice Chair will ask for any vote changes. Any delegation that desires to change its recorded vote may do so at that time.

5.7 Rights of Explanation. Rights of Explanation are permitted on all substantive votes after voting. The Chair may limit time for Rights of Explanation.

6.0 Points of Procedure in Order of Priority

6.1 Point of Order. During the discussion of any matter, a representative may rise to a Point of Order if the representative believes that the Committee is proceeding in a manner contrary to these rules,

  • The representative must call out their point and will be recognized immediately by the Chair and the point ruled on,
  • A representative rising to a Point of Order may not speak substantively on any matter,
  • If a representative’s ability to participate in the Committee’s deliberations is impaired for any reason, the representative may rise to a Point of Order,
  • A Point of Order may interrupt a speaker, and
  • See also Speeches (rule 2.3).

6.2 Point of Information. A Point of Information is raised to the Chair if a representative wishes to obtain a clarification of procedure or a statement of the matters before the Committee,

  • The representative must call out their point to be recognized,
  • A Point of Information may not interrupt a speaker, and
  • See also Speeches (rule 2.3).

6.3 Point of Inquiry. During substantive debate, a representative may question a speaker by rising to a Point of Inquiry,

  • Questions must be directed through the Chair and may be made only after the delegation has concluded their remarks, but before the delegation has yielded the floor,
  • The representative must call out their point to be recognized,
  • A Point of Inquiry may not interrupt a speaker, and
  • See also Speeches (rule 2.3).

7.0 Procedural Motions in Order of Priority

7.1 Suspension of the Meeting. During the discussion of any matter, a representative may move to suspend the meeting. Suspending a meeting recesses it for the time specified in the motion,

  • This motion requires a second,
  • This motion is not debatable,
  • The Chair may request that the delegation making the motion modify the time of suspension, and
  • If the motion passes, upon reconvening the Committee will continue its business from the point at which the suspension was moved.

7.2 Adjournment of the Meeting. The motion of adjournment means that all business of the Committee has been completed for the year, and that the Committee will not reconvene until the next annual session,

  • This motion requires a second,
  • This motion is not debatable,
  • The Chair may refuse to recognize a motion to adjourn the meeting if the Committee still has business before it, and
  • This decision is not appealable.

7.3 Adjournment of Debate. During the discussion of any draft resolution, or amendment, a representative may move for adjournment of debate,

  • This motion requires a second,
  • Two delegations may speak in favor of the motion, and two opposed; the motion shall then be put to a vote,
  • An item upon which debate has been adjourned must pass a vote of Reconsideration before it may be brought back to the floor for consideration (rule 7.11), and
  • The effect of this motion, if passed, removes the item from consideration and allows the Committee to move on to another draft resolution or amendment.

7.4 Closure of Debate. A representative may move to close debate on a draft resolution or amendment before the Committee at any time during the discussion of item. The effect of this motion, if passed, is to bring a draft resolution or amendment that is on the floor to a vote,

  • This motion requires a second,
  • Two delegations may speak against closure; the motion shall then be put to a vote,
  • Representatives should specify whether the motion for closure applies to an amendment or a draft resolution,
  • If closure passes on a draft resolution, all amendments on the floor will be voted on in the reverse order from which they were moved to the floor, and
  • After voting on all amendments is completed, the draft resolution shall be voted upon in accordance with these rules.

At the conclusion of voting procedure, the draft resolution or amendment being voted on is removed from consideration, regardless of whether the proposal passes or fails. Debate then continues on the current agenda topic.

7.5 Decision of No Action. Applicable only in the General Assembly Plenary (rule 8.5).

7.6 Appealing a Decision of the Chair. Rulings of the Chair are appealable unless otherwise specified in these rules,

  • This motion requires a second,
  • Two delegations may speak in favor of the motion and two opposed; the motion shall then be put to a vote,
  • An appeal must be made immediately following the ruling in question,
  • This motion may be made by a delegation that has been recognized through a Point of Order,
  • The Chair shall put the question as follows: “Shall the decision of the Chair be upheld?” A “yes” vote supports the Chair’s decision; a “no” signifies objection,
  • The decision of the Chair shall be upheld by a tie, and
  • Rulings by the Chair on the following rules or motions are not appealable: Diplomatic Courtesy (rule 2.2), Right of Reply (rule 2.5), Dilatory Motions (rule 2.7), granting of a roll call vote (rule 5.4), Adjournment of the Meeting (rule 7.2), and any time a ruling by the Chair is a direct quotation from these Rules of Procedure.

7.7 Decision of Competence. A motion calling for a decision on the competence of the Committee to discuss or adopt a draft resolution or amendment as outlined in the United Nations Charter is in order at any time prior to entering voting procedure,

  • This motion requires a second,
  • Two delegations may speak in favor of the motion and two opposed; the motion shall then be put to a vote, and
  • The effect is the same as Adjournment of Debate (rule 7.3) and requires a motion for Reconsideration of Proposals (rule 7.11) in order to discuss the item again.

7.8 Consideration of Agenda Topics. Agenda topics will be considered in the order in which they appear in the AMUN Handbook, unless that order is altered by the passage of a motion for Consideration of Agenda Topics,

  • This motion requires a second, and
  • This motion is not debatable.

7.9 Limits on Debate. A motion to limit or extend the time allotted to each delegation, or limit the number of times each delegation can speak on a proposal, is in order at any time,

  • This motion requires a second,
  • Two delegations may speak in favor of the motion and two opposed; the motion shall then be put to a vote,
  • The time allotted for substantive speeches shall be no less than three minutes,
  • The time allotted for procedural speeches shall be no less than one minute,
  • This motion may limit the number of Points of Inquiry a speaker may accept to a minimum of one, and
  • A motion to limit the time of debate on an agenda topic, draft resolution, or amendment is also in order.

7.10 Division of the Question. A motion to divide the question, proposing that clauses of an amendment or draft resolution be voted on separately, is in order at any time prior to entering voting procedure on the amendment or draft resolution,

  • This motion requires a second,
  • Two delegations may speak in favor of the motion and two opposed; the motion shall then be put to a vote,
  • After a motion for Division of the Question passes, no other motion for Division of the Question is in order on that amendment or draft resolution,
  • Those clauses or paragraphs of the amendment or draft resolution which are approved shall then be put to a vote as a whole, and
  • If division causes the draft resolution to no longer be in the proper format (rules 4.1 and 4.3), the proposal as a whole is rejected.

7.11 Reconsideration of Proposals. A motion for Reconsideration of Proposals is in order on an amendment or draft resolution which has passed or failed when put to a final vote. The motion is also in order for proposals on which Adjournment of Debate has passed (rule 7.3), on proposals on which a Decision of No Action was decided (rule 7.5) and on proposals upon which the Committee has decided it was not competent to discuss or adopt (rule 7.7),

  • This motion requires a second and a two-thirds majority vote for passage,
  • Two delegations may speak opposed to the motion, and
  • If the motion passes, the issue is brought back before the body for debate and may be voted on again.

7.12 Important Question. Applicable only in the General Assembly Plenary (rule 8.6).

7.13 Consideration of Draft Resolutions. A draft resolution may be moved to the floor by a motion for Consideration of Draft Resolutions,

  • This motion requires a second,
  • The motion is not debatable,
  • Only one draft resolution may be on the floor at any time, and
  • If the motion passes, the delegation moving consideration will be allowed to speak first on the draft resolution, if desired.

7.14 Consideration of Amendments. To bring an amendment to the floor for discussion, a delegation must first be recognized by the Chair,

  • No second is required. Upon recognition of this motion by the Chair, the amendment will be under consideration by the body,
  • The Committee Secretariat will present the amendment to the body, and
  • The delegation moving consideration will be allowed to speak first on the amendment, if desired.

8.0 Rules Relating Only to the General Assembly Plenary Sessions

This section of the rules applies to the Concurrent General Assembly Plenary session, which will convene at the same time as the main Committees.

8.1 Interchangeability of Rules. All Committee rules apply to the conduct of business in the General Assembly Plenary.

8.2 Quorum. The Concurrent General Assembly will observe the quorum requirements of rule 1.4. 

8.5 Decision of No Action. During the discussion of any draft resolution or amendment, a representative may move that the body take no action on that matter,

  • This motion requires a second,
  • Two delegations may speak in favor of the motion and two opposed; the motion shall then be put to a vote,
  • The effect is the same as adjourning debate (rule 7.3) and requires a motion for Reconsideration (rule 7.11) in order to discuss the item again, and
  • This motion is in order during the Concurrent General Assembly Plenary sessions.

8.6 Important Question. An Important Question in the General Assembly requires a two-thirds majority vote of all members present and voting for passage. Amendments to draft resolutions dealing with Important Questions also require a two-thirds majority vote for passage. Decisions on Important Questions are applicable only to the General Assembly. When discussed in committees, these issues are debated and voted upon utilizing normal committee rules. Such questions shall include:

  • This motion requires a second and a simple majority to pass,
  • Two delegations may speak in favor of the motion and two opposed; the motion shall then be put to a vote,
  • This motion is in order only in the Concurrent General Assembly Plenary sessions,
  • Recommendations with respect to maintenance of international peace and security (only when the Security Council fails to act),
  • Admission of new members to the United Nation,
  • Suspension of rights and privileges of membership,
  • Expulsion of Member States,
  • Questions in relationship to the Trusteeship system, and
  • Budgetary questions.

Draft resolutions which fall into these categories are automatically Important Questions, and will be designated as such by the President of the General Assembly,

  • Determination of additional categories of Important Questions may be made by a simple majority vote of the Members present and voting, before a vote is taken on any part of a proposal dealing with the subject.

8.7 Security Council Priority Relating to Issues Concerning the Maintenance of International Peace and Security. The Security Council, as established in the United Nations Charter, shall have priority over the General Assembly on issues that pertain to the maintenance of international peace and security. Issues of this type, while under discussion in the Security Council, shall be seized from General Assembly action. Any General Assembly draft resolution pertaining to a seized issue cannot be put to a final vote until the Security Council has completed its deliberations on the subject,

  • General Assembly draft resolutions that deal with a seized issue may be discussed and amended, but no final vote on the draft resolution may be taken,
  • If no resolution has been adopted, the Security Council will be considered to have completed its deliberations on a seized issue once that agenda topic is no longer under discussion,
  • The Council may declare itself actively seized on a topic by stating this in a resolution; this seizure will prevent the General Assembly from taking action until a two-hour time period has elapsed,
  • General Assembly representatives will be kept informed by the Secretary-General of any seized issues, and
  • Note that this rule applies to only the Concurrent General Assembly Plenary sessions.

8.8 Applications for Admission of New Member States. Any State which desires to become a member shall submit an application to the Secretary-General prior to the start of the Conference and at a date communicated by the AMUN Secretariat. Applications shall contain a declaration, made in a formal instrument, that the State in question accepts the obligations contained in the United Nations Charter,

  • The Secretary-General shall inform the Security Council and the General Assembly of any applications.

8.9 Consideration of Applications and Decisions Thereon. If the Security Council recommends the application of a State for membership, the General Assembly may consider whether the applicant is a peace-loving State and is able and willing to carry out the obligations contained in the United Nations Charter,

  • Any draft resolution on admission is automatically an Important Question,
  • If the Security Council does not recommend the applicant State for membership, or if it postpones consideration of the application, the General Assembly may, after full consideration of the special report of the Security Council, send the application back to the Council, together with a full record of the discussion of the General Assembly, for further consideration and recommendation, and
  • Note that this motion is in order only in the Concurrent General Assembly Plenary sessions.

8.10 Notification of the Decision and Effective Date of Membership. The Secretary-General shall inform the applicant State of the decision of the General Assembly. If the application is approved, membership shall become effective on the date on which the General Assembly takes its decision on the application.

General Assembly Short Form

Download a PDF version of these short form rules optimized for printing.

Rule Second? Debatable? Vote Required Description
6.1 Point of Order No No None Point out a misuse of the rules
6.2 Point of Information No No None Ask any question of the Chair, or gain a clarification
6.3 Point of Inquiry No No None Ask a question of a speaker at the end of their speech, prior to the Delegation’s yielding the floor
7.1 Suspension of the Meeting Yes No Simple Majority Recess the meeting for a specific period of time
7.2 Adjournment of the Meeting Yes No Simple Majority End the meeting for the year
7.3 Adjournment of Debate Yes 2 Pro
2 Con
Simple Majority Remove from consideration any proposal on the floor without a vote on the content of that proposal
7.4 Closure of Debate Yes 2 Con Simple Majority End debate on any proposal on the floor and bring it to an immediate vote
7.5 Decision of No Action Yes 2 Pro
2 Con
Simple Majority Only in GA Plenary sessions; signify that no action will be taken on the matter
7.6 Appealing a Decision of the Chair Yes 2 Pro
2 Con
Simple Majority Challenge a ruling made by the Chair
7.7 Decision of Competence Yes 2 Pro
2 Con
Simple Majority Question whether the UN body is competent to act on a certain issue within the Charter and international law
7.8 Consideration of Agenda Topics Yes No Simple Majority Change the order in which agenda items are discussed
7.9 Limits on Debate Yes 2 Pro
2 Con
Simple Majority Impose (or repeal) a limit on the length of any form of debate
7.10 Division of the Question Yes 2 Pro
2 Con
Simple Majority Divide a draft resolution or amendment into two or more clauses, or divide a report into two or more paragraphs, each to be voted on separately after Closure of Debate
7.11 Reconsideration of Proposals Yes 2 Con 2 / 3 Majority Reconsider an item on which debate has been adjourned or upon which a vote has been taken
7.12 Important Question Yes 2 Pro
2 Con
Simple Majority Only in GA Plenary sessions; requires a 2/3 majority vote to adopt a draft resolution or amendment
7.13 Consideration of Draft Resolutions Yes No Simple Majority Bring a draft resolution to the floor for discussion
7.14 Consideration of Amendments No No None Bring an amendment to the floor for discussion

 

General Assembly Plenary (Concurrent)

The General Assembly Plenary considers issues that are best addressed in a comprehensive manner or that require coordinating work between many bodies of the United Nations. The Plenary has the widest latitude of the deliberative bodies to discuss and pass resolutions on a wide variety of topics. For example, the 60th General Assembly established a Peacebuilding Commission that oversees the United Nations peacebuilding processes and coordinates the work of the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Secretary-General and Member States emerging from conflict situations. Note: if the Security Council, which is given the primary task of ensuring peace and security by the Charter, is discussing a particular issue, the General Assembly Plenary will cease its own deliberations and defer to the Security Council. Additionally, only the Fifth Committee is able to set or discuss the United Nations budget. No other body, including the Plenary, is able to do so.

International cooperation on humanitarian assistance in the field of natural disasters, from relief to development

With the ever-encroaching threat of climate change, the global environment is more unpredictable than ever. The frequency with which the global community must face natural disasters has only accelerated in the last five decades. The prevalence with which natural disasters happen, along with the untold ripples and consequences of civil and international war, leave millions without their basic needs met. This impacts all parts of the world, from cyclones in Bangladesh to droughts in Sudan. Humanitarian assistance is a moral imperative and international cooperation is key in making this aid more accessible and helpful. The United Nations uses its resources to aid survivors of natural disasters, found mostly in the form of coordinating organizations such as the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) or the World Health Organization (WHO). This aid usually includes food, shelter, clean water, education and medical care, though it can also include some legal aid and relocation services. 

The United Nations Charter states that its purpose is “to achieve international co-operation in solving international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural or humanitarian character.” This includes natural disasters, which often affect multiple countries and also can cause infrastructure damage that greatly diminishes the ability of the affected country to respond without outside aid. Since the 1960s, the United Nations have worked to help provide aid to areas experiencing natural disasters. However, early experiences suggested the need for a more direct aid and organizational structure to assist in disaster response. In 1971, the Office of the United Nations Disaster Relief Coordinator (UNDRO) was created to help mobilize a more coherent international response to natural disasters through the many organizations and groups in the United Nations system. Then, in 1991, the United Nations formed the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), creating an office specifically for humanitarian aid. According to OCHA’s website, the Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC) “works with the Secretary-General and the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), in leading, coordinating and facilitating humanitarian assistance.” In 2006, the United Nations created the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) which helped provide a more readily accessible fund for humanitarian assistance in instances where natural disasters and armed conflict are impacting individuals. 

With more humanitarian aid being necessary due to global climate change, more has been done recently to combat these risks. In 2015, the United Nations passed a resolution to create the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030. The Sendai Framework outlines seven clear targets that not only seek to help substantially reduce risk and the loss of life but also seek to build this resilience across the globe by 2030. These include developing understanding of disaster risk, disaster reduction strategies to limit vulnerabilities, developing institutional capacity to mitigate and respond to disasters, and preparations for reconstruction that minimize risks should a similar disaster occur again. These goals are sought to be attained by the year 2030. In 2016, the World Humanitarian Summit set five core responsibilities relating to humanitarian response: prevent and end conflict, respect rules of war, leave no one behind, work differently to end need, and invest in humanity. These responsibilities all work together to continue building towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In 2019, the General Assembly passed Resolution 74/115, which noted the relation of the increase in natural disasters to climate change and encouraged a variety of resilience-building measures that States could take to prepare for natural disasters. This was followed in 2021 by Resolution 76/128, which sought to strengthen the global coordination and cooperation of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance of the United Nations and special economic assistance. The General Assembly has recently commissioned several reports as well to provide more detailed advice on the matter of disaster response. The 2021 report reviewed the impacts of COVID-19 on natural disaster relief and noted the success of anticipatory action frameworks in a number of countries, including Bangladesh and Somalia. The 2022 report, meanwhile, highlighted the consequences of climate change and stressed the importance of properly localizing disaster responses to ensure they are available in the most heavily impacted regions. Most recently, in late 2022, the General Assembly highlighted the importance of protection of vulnerable groups and preparations for disaster-related displacement.

As climate change becomes more severe, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction sees the need for more to be done to assist those more vulnerable populations who are at the greatest risk of natural disasters. In fact, it is frequently those who live in the poorest areas of the world who will experience the adverse effects of climate change the most. There are additional challenges in some regions leading to calls for effective ways to distribute aid in conflict-ridden areas. While the multilateral funding mechanism for disaster relief has been well-reviewed in delivering disaster aid effectively, it still heavily relies on a small number of core countries and as such is vulnerable to political changes in those countries. Finally, many experts believe more could be done by the United Nations to help ensure more sustainable development after natural disasters and other crises. To these ends, there are organizations like the Better World Campaign, Human Rights Watch and Doctors Without Borders that could help the United Nations better serve humanitarian aid and development needs, but studies point out the need for better coordination mechanisms with these non-governmental organizations

Questions to consider from your country’s perspective:

  • How can Member States better address potential disparities in humanitarian aid access and distribution to aid in development?
  • What should Member States do to help provide more effective assistance to those in areas most directly impacted by climate change? 
  • Should the United Nations act to build resilience to non-cooperation from individual Member States, whether in the funding process or the relief process itself? If so, how would it be best to do so while respecting national sovereignty?

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

Return or restitution of cultural property to the countries of origin

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) defines cultural property as all objects, both man-made and natural, which are of archaeological, historical, artistic, scientific or technical interest. Cultural property and its protection have been a recurring topic within the United Nations since the 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. These discussions pose moral and practical considerations for safeguarding people’s identity and promoting reconciliation between countries wishing to continue participating in global cooperation. Following the 1970 Convention, the United Nations committed to developing security protocols, preservation pathways and the meaningful exchange of cultural property.

Cultural property faces threats of illicit trafficking due to the limited security abilities of counties of origin, especially countries dealing with unstable political climates. Civil and international unrest generate opportunities for heightened looting, trafficking and property destruction. Whether a result of foreign colonial occupation or following illicit trafficking, cultural property ownership remains contested, and the histories of extraction that shaped the current conditions of countries that face significant cultural property loss require prioritization. Legal protections for current owners, such as individual private collections and museums, challenge the efforts of international mechanisms of return and restitution working to rectify past injustices and may not always account for the continuing cultural links of the original owners of cultural property that were illicitly trafficked and sold. 

In 1978, the United Nations established the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for Promoting the Return of Cultural Property to its Countries of Origin or its Restitution in Case of Illicit Appropriation (ICPRCP) and tasked the Intergovernmental Committee with implementing the goals of 1970 and future conventions. The Committee continues to seek means of promoting multilateral and bilateral cooperation for the restitution and return of cultural property, encouraging public information campaigns on this issue and promoting exchanges of cultural property. In 1981, the Intergovernmental Committee developed a Standard Form concerning Requests for Return or Restitution. The form acts as a frame for bilateral negotiations where non-mediated efforts have failed. 

The United Nations continued to host conventions to address the return or restitution of cultural property to the countries of origin: the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects, the 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage and the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. These conventions reaffirmed the United Nations’ commitment to encouraging countries to uphold principles of equal dignity and respect for all cultures that govern what groups of people regard as historically significant, keep up to date inventories of cultural properties, protect underwater cultural sites and consider the need for national services that protect against illicit trafficking. 

The United Nations recognizes that cultural property is critical to the recognition of peoples’ identities and their ability to pass on traditions and knowledge to younger generations. Having libraries and archives that ensure that their collections are built up in accordance with universally recognized moral principles mediates multilateral tensions. The 2004 United Nations Convention on Jurisdictional Immunities of States and Their Property offered a framework for legal proceedings in lieu of mutual agreement on ownership and restitution of cultural properties, encouraging the enhancement of the rule of law and legal certainty. In 2005, UNESCO outlined and adopted a strategy to facilitate the restitution of stolen or illegally exported cultural property, explicitly articulating the Intergovernmental Committee’s mediating and conciliatory functions. The General Assembly looks towards the government and local organizations dedicated to cultural property to aid in the resolutions it makes. In 2018 and 2021, the General Assembly commissioned reports from the Secretary-General regarding the issue of returning stolen cultural property. The 2018 report highlighted ongoing efforts to address the issue, including innovative educational methods for raising awareness of the issue in several Middle Eastern countries. The 2021 report highlighted areas of increasing law enforcement cooperation between countries as well as cooperation with art dealers to ensure items sold are of legitimate provenance. In 2021, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution titled “Return or restitution of cultural property to the countries of origin” that included a strong recommendation for States to contribute financially as a way to support the preventative measures and return of cultural property. Financial contributions would assist countries with limited resources to garner necessary security measures to ensure continued protection of cultural property after they are returned to make sure the property is not looted or illicitly trafficked again. 

The Intergovernmental Committee faces potential resistance from countries who have contested recollections of history and disputes regarding ownership of cultural property. Activist groups continue to be limited by internal processes and drawn out lobbying in efforts to convince their government representatives to pursue the return of property where that pursuit may encounter opposition. Where trust between States does not already exist and sovereignty is in question, the Intergovernmental Committee is likely to encounter challenges. The combination of State cooperation and mutual respect however has created suitable templates for continued return and restitution in some cases and may represent a model for moving forward with this issue. 

Questions to consider from your country’s perspective:

  • How can the United Nations facilitate the return of cultural property when governments refuse to request the return of cultural property in fear of retaliation?
  • How can the United Nations encourage countries to seek assistance from the Intergovernmental Committee to mediate cultural property negotiations and maintain good multilateral relationships? 
  • How can the United Nations resolve the contention between the legal protections of current owners and the requests of people with cultural connections to the property amicably?

Bibliography

United Nations Documents:

General Assembly First Committee (Disarmament and International Security)

The General Assembly First Committee addresses the disarmament of conventional weapons, weapons of mass destruction and related international security questions. The First Committee makes recommendations on the regulation of these weapons as they relate to international peace and security. The First Committee does not consider legal issues surrounding weapons possession nor does it address complex peace and security issues addressed by the Security Council. The First Committee also adheres to the purview guidelines of the General Assembly as a whole.

Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction

Bacteriological (biological) and toxin weapons are a classification of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) that disseminate disease-causing organisms or toxins to harm or kill plants, animals or humans. The consequences of the deliberate release of biological agents or toxins by state or non-state actors can be dramatic. In addition to the tragic loss of life, such events could cause food shortages, environmental catastrophes, devastating economic loss and widespread illness, fear and mistrust among the public. While early forms of biological warfare ranged from poisoning water wells to throwing clay pots filled with venomous snakes onto enemy ships, modern biological warfare is significantly more dangerous. Biological agents such as anthrax require little expertise to grow or weaponize. Gene-editing techniques such as CRISPR could make biological weapons more deadly. States could develop novel or modified pathogens that would spread more quickly, infect more people, cause more severe sickness, or resist treatment more fully.

Historically, United Nations actions regarding bacteriological (biological) and toxin weapons have centered around the larger goal of global disarmament. Following World War I, the League of Nations hosted the signing of the 1925 Geneva Protocol, which prohibits the use of chemical and biological weapons in war. Despite being a landmark treaty, the protocol had several limitations. In particular, it failed to address the production, storage, testing and transfer of the weapons, allowing countries to amass large supplies of biological agents.

In 1975, the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction, or Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), came into force, and was reviewed about every five years thereafter. The Convention aimed for the complete disarmament of biological weapons by preventing States Parties from developing and stockpiling biological weapons and their precursors, by developing and enforcing confidence-building measures, and by promoting and improving peaceful biological activities. In 1986, the Second Review Conference of the Convention attempted to increase compliance by passing a number of confidence-building measures (CBMs) that allow States Parties to reduce ambiguities and doubts in their compliance with the Convention through annual reporting. These CBMs would evolve and expand over the following years, currently including six different measures States Parties can report under.

The Third Review Conference in 1991 saw a focus on verification. The Conference created a group of governmental experts to research potential scientific methods the international community could use when verifying that States Parties were destroying biological weapons stockpiles. A Special Conference in 1994 created an Ad Hoc Group of States to negotiate and develop a legally-binding verification system in which States Parties could be held accountable for stockpile destruction. In order to address concerns that these measures might stifle scientific growth and economic potential, the General Assembly First Committee and States Parties to the BWC affirmed their commitment to technological research and economic growth. This was accompanied by commitments to prevent proliferation of biological weapons at all research levels. Reporting procedures remained complex, causing difficulties when monitoring compliance. As a result, the Sixth Review in 2006 adopted by consensus a detailed plan for promoting universal adherence and agreed to update and streamline procedures for submission and distribution of CBMs.

The early 2000s were marked by both terrorist threats and the threat of multiple widespread epidemics. These crises redoubled the desire among States Parties to reduce access to biological weapons and the technology that can create them. In response to these growing fears, States Parties approved an Implementation Support Unit (ISU) in 2006, which would provide assistance to States Parties in adhering to the BWC. However, attempts to strengthen the ISU and fully equip it to the recommendations of the Review Conference chairman and secretariat were fundamentally unsuccessful due to, in part, reluctance to further increase the ISU’s capability as well as unrealistic monetary and capacity expectations. 

The Eighth and Ninth Review Conferences in 2016 and 2022 suffered from an increase in seemingly insurmountable disagreements among the States Parties. While support for the core missions of the BWC remained strong—as evidenced by the General Assembly’s adoption by consensus of a 2017 resolution urging full compliance with the BWC—progress has become increasingly difficult to attain. At issue were the scope and capacity of the ISU, whether to have legally-binding protocols for verification and compliance, and unfounded allegations that the United States and Ukraine had been conducting biological weapons activities in violation of the BWC on Ukrainian territory. In the end, the Ninth Review Conference was unable to find consensus for a Final Declaration to be included in its Final Report.

In addition to the unresolved questions from the recent Review Conferences, States Parties are also grappling with updating the BWC to address modern challenges. Proposals to address these include developing standardized procedures for requesting assistance, setting up an assistance database for strengthening preparedness and response to the use of biological or toxin weapons, and establishing nationally-operated rapid-response biomedical teams that could be delegated to a roster maintained by the BWC and deployed in the event of a public health emergency. The BWC has also failed to provide a framework for States Parties to cooperate on biotechnology, leaving gray areas in research. One such significant research in recent years is gain-of-function (GoF) research. GoF research involves manipulating viruses to increase their ability to infect humans or animals or to enhance their transmissibility or pathogenicity. Although the goal of this research is to better understand the mechanisms by which viruses evolve and spread and to develop treatments or vaccines to combat them, GoF research can also risk the creation and release of more dangerous pathogens. While the Observer Research Foundation has proposed the creation of a scientific expert group as part of the BWC, mirroring a similar body in the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, it is unclear if this expansion of the BWC would have the support of States Parties.

Questions to Consider

  • How can the BWC be strengthened to further encourage compliance from Member States? What steps can be taken to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of confidence-building measures?
  • How can the United Nations increase cooperation amongst Member States following the Ninth Review Conference? Are there better ways for Member States to share biological research with each other?
  • How can the goals of the Implementation Support Unit (ISU) be actualized? What potential obstacles does the United Nations need to address in order to make the ISU functional?

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

Youth, disarmament and non-proliferation

Today’s youth are part of the largest generation in history, consisting of 1.8 billion people, 90 percent of whom live in developing countries. Youth can play an important role in both resolving conflict and ensuring long lasting peace, specifically in regards to nuclear disarmament. Secretary-General António Guterres emphasized in his Agenda for Disarmament: Securing Our Common Future the importance of youth and their involvement in disarmament talks because they are more likely to reject the xenophobic and racist policies that drive militarization. At the same time, armed conflict primarily victimizes youth, resulting in youth being orphaned, kidnapped or killed. Despite this, traditional processes towards disarmament and non-proliferation often exclude youth, both due to their inherent lack of credentials like education and the current trend of focusing on internal resources, rather than soliciting external input. Youth continuously find new, innovative and bolder solutions to disarmament and non-proliferation that could pave the way for strengthening collective security and peace.

The United Nations first recognized youth as a collective group in 1965 when Member States passed the Declaration on Promotion among Youth on the Ideals of Peace, Mutual Respect and Understanding between Peoples. The declaration included six principles that focused on educating youth to make them more engaged global citizens, with the first principle encouraging young people to be brought up in the spirit of peace, justice, freedom, mutual respect, and understanding to promote disarmament and international peace. In 1979, the United Nations designated 1985 as International Youth Year and implemented the Programme of Measures and Activities in connection with International Youth Year with the goal of increasing overall welfare of youth, but also including youth in discussions on disarmament. In 1983, the Secretary-General reported the progress of Member States in identifying distinct problems youth face in the areas of housing, unemployment and education. At the same time, following the Programme, there was increased awareness that educating youth on peace and mutual understanding is significant for creating positive attitudes on disarmament.

In 1995, the World Programme of Action for Youth (WPAY) was adopted, strengthening the United Nations commitment to young people. The Programme initially included 10 priority areas to improve the livelihood of youth; five more priority areas were added in 2007. WPAY recognized that youth were simultaneously agents, beneficiaries and victims of major societal change and that they were in a paradoxical position of trying to integrate into the global order while at the same time trying to transform it. The Programme also emphasized how crucial it is to have youth involved in the designing and building of the future due to their intellectual capacity and unique perspective.

By 2015, the Security Council adopted Resolution 2250, further recognizing that including youth, especially those in armed conflict, can significantly contribute to the maintenance and promotion of international peace and should be part of a comprehensive strategy to resolve conflict. The United Nations launched Youth2030, an umbrella framework to guide the United Nations as it steps up its work with young people in peace and security, human rights and sustainable development. The strategy seeks to create the conditions that allow youth to progress and play an active role in achieving peace by strengthening knowledge production, accelerating resource mobilization, and more effectively and meaningfully engaging with young people, The United Nations adopted its first resolution entitled “Youth, disarmament and non-proliferation” in 2019, where it encouraged Member States to promote the inclusive participation of youth in discussions over disarmament and non-proliferation through mentoring, internships and fellowships. In order to further promote the empowerment and participation of youth, the United Nations established Youth4Disarmament, a digital outreach initiative that provides a way for youth to learn about current international security challenges, but also how to actively participate in the work and discussions of the United Nations. 

Youth can play a vital role in discussions over disarmament and non-proliferation due to their position as victims of conflict, but also as beneficiaries of future actions made by the United Nations. Despite progress being made in terms of access to information for youth on disarmament and non-proliferation, there is not a clear pathway for youth to actively participate in discussions. Youth-led initiatives like Youth for TPNW are leading the charge and finding  solutions and creating  spaces for youth to be involved in discussions about disarmament and non-proliferation.  In 2022, Youth for TPNW hosted the first annual  Youth MSP, a conference that takes place concurrently with the Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Another aspect to consider is incorporating the recommendations coming from youth. Youth Fusion, a world-wide networking platform endorsed the Nuclear Taboo: From Norm to Law A Declaration of Public Conscience, a call to action which encourages Member States to adopt a no-first use policy and enshrine it in international law.

Questions to consider from your country’s perspective:

  • How can the United Nations better integrate  programs such as Youth2030 and Youth4Disarmament to increase engagement of youth on topics relating to disarmament and non-proliferation?
  • What barriers still exist for youth that dissuade them from engaging with the United Nations and other international organizations in discussions over disarmament and non-proliferation?
  • Can the United Nations better support youth-led initiatives and create opportunities for them at all levels in the field of disarmament?

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

General Assembly Second Committee (Economic and Financial)

The General Assembly Second Committee addresses the economic development of Member States and the stability and growth of international financial and trade networks. The Second Committee deals solely with the economic development of Member States and State-to-State assistance. It does not set or discuss the budget of the United Nations, which is addressed only by the Fifth Committee. The Second Committee also does not address social issues that affect development; such issues are considered by the Third Committee. The Second Committee also adheres to the purview guidelines of the General Assembly as a whole.

Ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

Access to energy is critical for economic growth and sustainable development. Despite significant progress made in recent years, 675 million people worldwide still lacked access to electricity in 2021. Additionally, 2.3 billion people relied on traditional biomasses—such as wood fuels, animal dung and agricultural byproducts—for cooking and heating. These biomasses generate harmful household pollution that disproportionately affects the health of women and children. Expanding access to more reliable and less harmful energy sources would support development and create new economic opportunities for billions worldwide. At the same time, the international community is looking to shift the global energy supply to more sustainable energy sources in the wake of fossil fuels’ role in global climate change. While renewable energy sources make up an increasing share of global energy consumption, rising to 19.1 percent of energy consumed in 2021, it is not yet enough to meaningfully combat the effects of less renewable energy sources in slowing climate change.

Actions to address sustainable energy development have been taken with increasing frequency beginning at the end of the 20th century. 1992 saw the landmark United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), also known as the Earth Summit or Rio Conference. The main outcome document of UNCED was Agenda 21, which set the goal of global sustainable development by the year 2000. Agenda 21 contained energy-specific goals for development, including increasing energy production in developing States, using more renewables and improving energy efficiency. The General Assembly established the Commission on Sustainable Development to implement Agenda 21 and more broadly provide guidance and recommendations on sustainable development issues. Another key outcome of UNCED included the adoption of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which mentioned the importance of energy-related emissions in climate change with an eye towards moving towards more sustainable energy sources. This framework was built on by the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which asked developed economies to reduce reliance on greenhouse gasses and lead to an average emissions reduction of 5 percent by 2012 compared to emissions from 1990.

In 2000, the General Assembly adopted the Millennium Declaration, including eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). None of the MDGs explicitly focused on energy; however, multiple subsequent outcome reviews pointed out the necessity of energy access to achieving the MDGs, with a need for greater investment in making energy affordable and sustainable. The United Nations System established multiple initiatives around energy accessibility, including UN-Energy, an interagency coordination mechanism for energy-related issues in 2004; and the Sustainable Energy for All initiative in 2011, which aims to promote universal access to modern energy services, double the rate of improvement in energy efficiency and double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix by 2030. In recognition of the importance of sustainable energy access to development, the General Assembly declared 2014 to 2024 to be the United Nations Decade of Sustainable Energy for All.

The General Assembly adopted the Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015, including the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) it hopes to achieve by 2030. Unlike the MDGs, SDG 7 focused specifically on universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy. SDG 7 set five specific targets and six indicators to track progress in implementation and orient policy discussion. The landmark Paris Climate Agreement, a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, was also adopted in 2015. The agreement sought both to limit the global temperature increase and to recognize the importance of affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy as a critical component of the transition to a low-carbon economy. While SDG 7, the Paris Agreement and the Decade of Sustainable Energy for All resulted in new commitments, the COVID-19 pandemic substantially slowed progress on renewable and sustainable energy development, due largely to supply chain issues and reallocation of resources. In September 2021, UN-Energy led a High-Level Dialogue on Energy in New York. Its outcome document, the Global Roadmap for Accelerated SDG7 Action, calls for more decisive and equitable action to decarbonize the global energy supply in meeting both the SDGs and the Paris Agreement goals.

International attention and effort have led to admirable gains in access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy. Between 2010 and 2021, the number of people without access to electricity was cut in half. At the same time, massive global gains in solar and wind energy are leading to historic shifts towards renewable energy sources. However, a 2022 report from the Secretary-General notes that progress on SDG 7 has been inconsistent, and that the international community will not meet its goals at current rates of attainment. Furthermore, progress in the achievement of each target is highly variable between regions. The Global South continues to lag in electrification and clean cooking fuels, with wide disparities between regions. At the same time, increases in clean energy development are largely driven by developed nations with the resources to shift their existing energy infrastructure.

The 2023 Energy Progress Report also notes that funding for clean energy in developing countries continues to decline, a trend that began before the COVID-19 pandemic. Of this declining pool of funds, just 19 countries received 80 percent of committed financial flows in 2021. United Nations leaders have uniformly called for a substantial scaling-up of policy commitments and financial flows in order to have a chance of meeting climate and sustainable development goals. Others have argued for a need to build greater institutional capacity to allow less developed States to better utilize available funding.

Questions to consider from your country’s perspective:

  • What can the international community do to improve its chances of attaining the targets and indicators in Sustainable Development Goal 7?
  • How can the United Nations ensure that sustainable energy initiatives are implemented equitably across regions and meet the needs of those with the least access?
  • How can the United Nations help encourage growth in financial flows, including private-sector development and regional partnerships, to support sustainable energy initiatives?
  • How can the United Nations better leverage existing programs and initiatives to support multilateral cooperation and capacity building around implementing sustainable energy initiatives?

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

External debt sustainability and development

External debt is the portion of a country’s debt that is borrowed from foreign lenders including commercial banks, governments or international financial institutions. While debt has been instrumental in helping provide capital for investment and development, it is also a potentially high-risk financial asset subject to the vagaries of international financial markets, which are especially vulnerable to global economic crises (such as the global recession of 2007/08) or global pandemics (such as the COVID-19 pandemic). External debt crises can also be exacerbated by natural disasters or conflict, as these events further strain already stressed national economies. High debt burdens also impede growth and sustainable development. Debt defaults and debt restructuring have high costs for debtors and creditors, and when problems occur in systemically important countries, it has negative implications for global financial stability as well.

When governments are overly burdened by external debt and debt payments, they face tough choices on how to allocate annual budgets. In addition to broad development goals and international agreements, states must make significant capital infrastructure investments—such as electricity generation and distribution, roads, airports and ports. Significant debt loads limit the resources available for such capital investments required for development, frequently pushing governments to issue new debt to make infrastructure investments. This additional debt further limits future resources and investment. This cycle is especially problematic for Least Developed Countries (LDCs), which begin with more limited revenue. In the most extreme cases, the international financial system relies on a system of debt relief and bailouts to ensure a functioning global financial system; but these systems of relief also have consequences.

The first round of modern international debt crises came to a head in the 1990s when dozens of developing countries faced unsustainable debt levels. In response, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and other international financial institutions worked together to offer solutions. Initiatives such as the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative, which offered eligible countries debt reduction in exchange for meeting certain benchmarks in setting sound financial policies and poverty reduction strategies and the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI), which grants full debt cancellation for countries that have met HIPC Initiatives, have been quite successful in reducing debt, setting in place financial safeguards and reducing poverty.

Coming out of the 2002 Monterrey Consensus and the 2008 Doha Declaration on Financing for Development (FfD), external debt is one of the six chapters and has, since then, been at the center of the FfD process. The General Assembly reaffirmed the importance of FfD in 2015, with Resolution 69/313 on the Addis Ababa Action Agenda of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development. Both the General Assembly and ECOSOC are involved in this work, and the General Assembly Second Committee examines the agenda topic as part of its work on “Macroeconomic policy questions.” Also in 2015, the General Assembly adopted the Sustainable Development Goals, of which Goal 8 explicitly tracks sustained economic growth.

The years 2020–2023 are widely understood as a period of poly-crisis, with global economies facing the COVID-19 pandemic and associated global recession, war in Ukraine and many other low-intensity conflicts, high inflation, and climate emergencies and natural disasters, all accelerating these trends. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) reports that the growing threat of a debt crisis—and increasing resources spent keeping debt default at bay—threatened progress toward both the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement. ECOSOC’s 2023 Financing for Development Forum summary draft plainly states that both low and middle income countries faced a choice between fiscal stability and development. LDCs’ total external debt service reached $31 billion in 2020, but for 2021 and 2022, this total is expected to increase to $50 billion and $43 billion respectively. That is an increase of more than $20 billion compared to the pre-pandemic average. In response to the rapidly-emerging crisis, the G20 adopted the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI), and the G20 Common Framework for Debt Treatments, which were useful and timely, but insufficient to forestall the crisis.

Since 2002, the Secretary-General of the United Nations has been releasing annual (or nearly annual) reports on external debt and development. The last report was published in 2020 pursuant to GA 72/204. The report summarizes the trend of increasing debt load (as debt to GDP ratio and debt to export ratio), increasing privatization of external debt, and other increasing financial vulnerabilities before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The report then details the implications of the global pandemic on external debt sustainability, due to global financial disruptions, the inability of developing economies to rely on strong central banks, non-resident capital flight from developing countries, and reduced global demand for goods. The report ends with policy recommendations including large scale liquidity support; debt-cancellation, restructuring, or rescheduling; and working to find new ways to address structural challenges in debt sustainability.

Challenges remain in bringing private creditors on board to address the large-scale crisis of external debt sustainability; finding the balance between supporting global financial systems and broad development goals and national sovereignty, accounting for local conditions and responsibility for prudent financial management, and ensuring debt sustainability through sound fiscal policy. The poly-crisis period of the early 2020s also highlighted the need for external debt sustainability efforts to focus on a broader range of countries, not just the lowest income countries in the international system.

Questions to consider from your country’s perspective:

  • How can the United Nations encourage private creditors to engage in conversations and programs designed to promote external debt sustainability?
  • How can the United Nations and other organizations balance short-term relief with medium- and long-term structural changes to better stabilize external debt sustainability?
  • How can the United Nations promote both sustainable development and external debt sustainability? What is the relationship between global financial stability and sustainable development?

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

General Assembly Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural)

The General Assembly Third Committee focuses its discussions on social, humanitarian and cultural concerns that arise in the General Assembly, although its work often overlaps with that of other United Nations organs, including the Economic and Social Council and its subsidiary bodies. Human rights, education and cultural preservation are typical issues for the Third Committee. Notably, the Third Committee would not discuss the legal implications of human rights matters, as those are discussed by the Sixth Committee, nor would it call for special studies or deploy monitors, as those tasks are handled by the Human Rights Council. The Third Committee also adheres to the purview guidelines of the General Assembly as a whole.

The safety of journalists and the issue of impunity

Between 2017 and 2022, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) reported that 85 percent of the world’s population experienced some form of erosion in freedom of the press. Within this environment, physical and digital threats against journalists are high. Between 2006 and 2020, UNESCO’s Observatory of Killed Journalists reports that over 1,200 journalists were killed. In 2022, 84 journalists were killed, half of whom while off duty and many in public places. Even when journalists are not killed, the threat of intimidation and violence remains high.

The issue of impunity—a lack of judicial remedy for these crimes—is a further challenge that has not shown significant improvement. With as many as 87 percent of journalist killings going unsolved and unpunished, impunity creates a continued cycle of violence against journalists and promotes a toxic environment of self-censorship and intimidation. While most of the journalists killed are men, 73 percent of women journalists say they have experienced some form of online violence and 20 percent saying they had been attacked or abused offline, contributing to stagnating gender equality in the journalism profession. Data show that journalist killings and impunity are typically correlated—the lack of response to crimes against journalists begets future harms.

Article 19 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights holds that everyone has the right to freely “seek, receive and impart” information and ideas through any media. Similar language is contained in Article 19 of the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In 1992, following a UNESCO seminar, the Declaration of Windhoek celebrated African and worldwide democratization as welcome changes to provide the legal and social climates in which a pluralistic and independent press could emerge. Despite promising trends at the time, the Declaration noted that journalists were victims of violence and State-led repression. As a matter of human rights, the Declaration prioritized funding from governmental and non-governmental sources to consolidate the positive changes and counter the negative ones. In 1993, the General Assembly declared 3 May, the Anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek, as World Press Freedom Day. That year, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) also created a mandate for the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, whose purview includes the protection of the rights of journalists and media. In 1997, UNESCO, the lead United Nations agency on freedom of expression, passed a resolution condemning violence against journalists. 

In 2012, UNESCO, the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly approved the United Nations Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, the first-ever strategic plan for protecting journalists. The Plan of Action contains a variety of strategies, including raising awareness, capacity building at State and regional levels, and developing strategies and metrics for tracking progress on initiatives. Building off of the Plan of Action, the General Assembly declared 2 November as the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists. The Security Council in 2015 built off of its own previous work in affirming the civilian status of journalists in war zones, condemning violence against women journalists in particular and urging Member States to form regional and sub-regional organizations to share information and expertise. The General Assembly has also focused in recent years on the effects of the shifting of media to digital spaces and ensuring journalists are not unjustly persecuted in connection to their actions online. In 2015, the General Assembly adopted the Agenda for Sustainable Development. Press freedom was included as Target 16.10 of Sustainable Development Goal 16, pertaining to peace, justice and strong institutions. This includes measurable progress indicators for both the number of journalists killed or arrested and the passage of national laws supporting press freedoms. In 2018, UNESCO established the Observatory of Killed Journalists, an important element in monitoring and reporting on the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity. This database works alongside others maintained by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ). In 2021, the Windhoek+30 Declaration was adopted in recognition of the thirtieth anniversary of the original Declaration of Windhoek. The Windhoek+30 Declaration called for greater regional cooperation in Africa, along with a stronger focus on digital technologies and called on technology companies to help support information as a public good. 

In the eleven years since the adoption of the Plan of Action, there have been successes in creating new mechanisms that support the safety of journalists. Investment of adequate time and resources, implementation of an agreed upon methodology of data collection and the systemic analysis of disaggregated data serve as important first steps in increasing the safety of journalists and eliminating impunity. However, those successes have not been enough to prevent the rise in deaths, attacks and imprisonment of journalists in 2022, nor to reduce impunity for those acts. The Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression used a 2022 report to highlight how attacks on journalists and media organizations enable the spread of disinformation and propaganda by State and non-state actors, arguing that many States have chosen not to uphold their obligations under international law due to a lack of political will. The Special Rapporteur has also argued that further study of the true efficacy of the mechanisms put in place under the Plan of Action is necessary to truly assess whether they are bringing about meaningful change. NGOs have also criticized the United Nations for failing to fully account for the scope of risk journalists face, focusing SDG Target 16.10 metrics on killings and judicial actions rather than the more pernicious forms of harassment, intimidation and targeted surveillance that can silence the free press. In late 2022, a group of press freedom NGOs released a formal call to action to Member States and the United Nations System to bolster safety of journalists, reduce impunity, better engage diverse stakeholders and address specific gender-based risks.

In the meantime, the challenges that journalists and media outlets face continue to rise. During the COVID-19 pandemic, independent media rose to the challenge of reporting on important stories, often putting individual safety at great risk in a background of rising disinformation and suppression of press freedoms. The ongoing war in Ukraine has also highlighted the challenges that journalists face both in covering war zones and in dealing with States whose laws do not protect the free press.

Questions to consider from your country’s perspective:

  • How can Member States address the rapidly changing and growing issues that online and other digital forms of media raise for journalists’ safety in person and online?
  • How can the United Nations work with States, regional bodies and NGOs to strengthen mechanisms for protecting journalists and ensuring freedom of expression?
  • How can the United Nations foster gender equality in journalism and protect women online and in-person from targeted harassment and violence

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

Preventing and combating crimes that affect the environment

Crimes that affect the environment—such as illegal mining, deforestation, waste disposal, fishing and wildlife trafficking—are a wide array of activities that are diverse not only in the forms they take but in their perpetrators, being committed by individuals, companies, States and organized criminal groups alike. These crimes have devastating environmental impacts including habitat loss, pollution, loss of biodiversity and increased occurrence of human disease. Importantly, these crimes often co-occur with other serious crimes including smuggling, corruption, money laundering and human trafficking. These crimes can be highly lucrative; a 2018 Interpol estimate suggests that crimes that affect the environment generate 110 to 281 billion US dollars annually, while the World Bank in 2019 estimated their cost to society at 1 to 2 trillion US dollars annually. Because of these factors, efforts to prevent and combat these crimes must be comprehensive and collaborative.

Historically speaking, the regulation of crimes against the environment was largely confined to international law pertaining to specific areas of interest. International instruments such as the 1973 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna; the 1982 United Nations Convention on Laws of the Sea, which regulates fisheries; and the 1989 Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal were used to set standards pertaining to specific areas of environmental protection. Over the past three decades, the international community has come to recognize the importance of addressing the impact of crimes on the environment. In 1990, at the Eighth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders in Havana, Cuba, the international community discussed officially for the first time what the role of criminal law should be in environmental protection. At the Ninth Congress, five years later, focus was placed on environmental crimes such as trafficking in wastes and wildlife trafficking and the groundwork was laid for future work. Concurrently, the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ), passed resolution 1994/15 on the role of criminal law in the protection of the environment.

In 2000, the General Assembly adopted the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC), which focuses on implementing universal standards and building capacity to target organized crime activities, including trafficking of humans, firearms and illicit goods as well as money laundering and corruption. Three years later, the General Assembly adopted the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), which encourages information exchange and cooperation in targeting both public and private sector corruption. While the original texts of UNTOC and UNCAC make no formal mention of crimes that affect the environment, the United  Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Member States have used both conventions extensively in tackling international flows of illegal goods and money connected to environmental crime.

The international community recognized emerging forms of crime and their threat to the environment with the 2010 Salvador Declaration on Comprehensive Strategies for Global Challenges: Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Systems and Their Development in a Changing World. Following the Salvador Declaration, the CCPCJ declared the twenty-second session of CCPCJ to have the prominent theme of “The challenge posed by emerging forms of crime that have a significant impact on the environment and ways to deal with it effectively.” This growing focus was then supported by the 2015 Doha Declaration on integrating crime prevention and criminal justice into the wider United Nations agenda. Through the Doha Declaration, Member States committed to supporting efforts to counter activities associated with crimes affecting the environment including money laundering, organized crime and corruption. It was in this international context that the first resolution on preventing and combating crimes that affect the environment would be passed. In 2016, the International Criminal Court also released a policy paper outlining, for the first time, a process for prosecuting environmental crimes at the international level.

In 2021, UNODC released the Kyoto Declaration, the outcome document of the Fourteenth Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, which referenced the need for strengthened approaches to fighting environmental crime. At the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27), UNODC participated in discussions on the intersection of environmental crime and biodiversity loss and the effects of illegal plastic pollution on the environment. They also released research papers in concert with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) on the relationship between environmental crime and climate change. These reports have highlighted some successes in capacity building and implementing regional approaches, but also point to ongoing challenges.

As crimes that affect the environment continue to wreak havoc while becoming more integrated with other forms of organized crime, the international community continues to try to build approaches that take the diffuse and complex nature of the crimes into account. These approaches largely fall into two areas: directly combating existing illegal activities and preventing future environmental crimes from taking place, and there are obstacles to achieving both sides. UNODC and its partners have identified gaps in available information, lack of enforcement capacity, weak or ineffectual laws and lack of international cooperation as limiting factors in responding to environmental crimes. However, researchers have questioned whether current enforcement-centric approaches have created harmful outcomes and target low-level actors while failing to affect the root causes of environmental crime, stop more powerful actors or meaningfully disrupt transnational flows of illicit goods and money.

At the same time, these crimes also have human costs that are not always fully accounted for. A common concern from researchers and non-governmental organizations is the perception that environmental crimes are either “victimless” or purely related to environmental conservation. However, environmental crimes are one of the largest drivers of financing of armed conflict, prolonging fighting and bringing about attendant humanitarian crises. This is compounded by the fact that crimes affecting the environment disproportionately affect least developed countries in the Global South, which are abundant in exploitable natural resources but may lack the institutional controls or financial resources to address the issues as they occur. Successful approaches to combating crimes that affect the environment require a high level of cooperation between international organizations, States, communities, civil societies and private actors to make meaningful change

Questions to consider from your country’s perspective:

  • How can the United Nations help Member States to better coordinate responses to transnational crimes that affect the environment?
  • How can the United Nations help States develop the instruments and capacities to take on environmental crimes within their own borders?
  • How can the international community better target the underlying root causes of environmental crimes before they require an active enforcement approach?
  • How can the international community help to support those whose enjoyment of their fundamental human rights has been hampered by environmental crimes?

Bibliography

United Nation Documents

SPECIAL COMMITTEE: International Telecommunication Union (ITU)

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is the United Nations specialized agency for information and communications technologies (ICT). Tracing its lineage to the International Telegraph Union, founded in 1865, it is the oldest specialized agency, with a strong focus on ensuring collaboration on standards and best practices in ICT to support a reliable and evolving system of communications.

ITU organizes its operations into three sectors: radiocommunications (ITU-R), which covers satellites and the radio-frequency spectrum; telecommunication standardization (ITU-T), which studies and facilitates international standards necessary to create seamless global communications; and telecommunication development (ITU-D), which supports sustainable development and social policy surrounding the implementation of ICT, particularly in emerging markets. ITU is governed by the Plenipotentiary Conference, the supreme decision making organ that determines the direction and activities of the ITU.

Facilitating digital inclusion initiatives for indigenous peoples

The United Nations estimates that the population of indigenous peoples internationally exceeds 470 million, representing approximately six percent of the world’s population. While the United Nations has not adopted a formal international definition for “indigenous peoples,” the functional working definition used by the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (PFII) and the international community is as follows: “Indigenous communities, peoples and nations are those which, having a historical continuity with pre-invasion and pre-colonial societies that developed on their territories, consider themselves distinct from other sectors of the societies now prevailing on those territories, or parts of them.”

 

Indigenous communities worldwide face consistently disproportionate negative outcomes in a variety of poverty metrics, including education outcomes, health outcomes and access to resources. Lack of access to information and communications technologies (ICTs) has directly exacerbated existing issues like lack of access to healthcare and education resources, particularly in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, it contributes to existing difficulties for advocacy both within and outside indigenous communities about their need.

 

Prior to the mid-2000s, many of the issues that indigenous communities face fell into the Economic and Social Council’s purview, namely through the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC). Throughout this time, the body was largely focused on advocating for human rights and the recognition of indigenous people within their country of origin. In 2000, ECOSOC established the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, followed by the creation of the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2001. Throughout this time period, the body advocated for increased legal rights, particularly around access to resources and respect for indigenous cultural practices. The body furthered the creation and adoption of these policies throughout the Second International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, which lasted from 2005-2015, culminating in the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples.

 

On 13 September, 2007, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which recognized the legitimacy of indigenous populations worldwide and asserted the United Nations’s commitment to preserving the right of indigenous communities to preserve their cultural heritage, access ancestral lands and self-determination. UNDRIP had overwhelming support, with 111 members voting in favor. The four members voting against—Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States—have all since reversed their positions and adopted the terms of the resolution.

 

In recent years, matters of indigenous peoples have been a recurring topic for the international community as the United Nations and other international organizations have worked to implement the Declaration’s goals. The Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy of Technology released a roadmap for connectivity, which outlines the Secretary-General’s stated goal of universally affordable access to broadband internet for all by 2030. The ITU and its work were central to the policy’s creation.

 

United Nations reports consistently find that access to technologies, including access to ICTs, is a key factor in improving economic and social conditions for indigenous and other marginalized communities. Moreover, modern discourse in the international community has moved to increasingly strong pushes to declare internet access a human right, again citing the vast disparities in access and its direct link to negative economic and health outcomes. The United Nations has also cited technology as a tool for educational advancement and for fulfilling language and cultural preservation efforts that directly serve the goals in UNDRIP.

 

In more recent years, the ITU has purposefully incorporated digital divides as the impact indigenous peoples into its deliberations, including featuring discussions about indigenous people and connectivity in the WSIS+10 2021 programme. While digital inclusion initiatives’ goals are frequently lauded on the international stage, the largest issues the ITU faces are in political will and action. Implementing initiatives often involves large infrastructure investments, particularly in areas where indigenous communities were historically forced into rural areas or reservations. ITU estimated in 2021 that it would cost 428 billion US dollars to bridge the digital divide across all sectors by 2030, with even developed countries, such as the United States and Canada, struggling or failing to connect rural indigenous communities to broadband internet. Moreover, indigenous communities have raised questions about sovereignty and self-determination in the implementation of ICTs and associated training and access programs, expressing concerns regarding inclusion and leadership in areas where States have historically excluded indigenous voices from decision-making processes.

 

Questions to consider from your country’s perspective:

  • How can Member States and the ITU best facilitate information spread both as a matter of technological infrastructure and as an issue of education?
  • How can the United Nations better account for and accommodate the wide variety of needs and cultural differences indigenous communities face in regard to technology access?
  • What role can the United Nations play in facilitating programs and bridging the divide between indigenous communities and Member States, particularly where there is existing tension?

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

Telecommunication/information and communication technology accessibility for persons with disabilities and persons with specific needs

The World Health Organization estimates that 1.3 billion people, or one-sixth of the global population, live with some form of disability or special need. Of them, approximately 80 percent live in developing countries. Information and communications technologies (ICTs) can help facilitate the social, cultural, political and economic integration of individuals living with disabilities into society. ICTs can help expand access to key public services, enable distance learning for access to education when there may not be local infrastructure, and prevent economic exclusion by connecting people to employment and financial services who might otherwise struggle to gain access. For persons with disabilities, ICT services can be made further accessible through both computer-based and web-based accessibility applications such as screen readers, speech recognition, video communication (for sign language communication and video relay interpretation), voice-to-text services (open and closed captioning, both realtime and embedded) and visual assistance. However, people with disabilities often lack the same ability to access to these technologies as people without disabilities. This can be due to the need for special adaptations to technology, the relegation of persons with disabilities in some societies and difficulties in accessing persons with disabilities in developing countries.

The international community has taken multiple steps to promote access to ICTs for people with disabilities in recent years. The 2006 Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) states that States Parties shall promote access for persons with disabilities to new information and communications technologies and systems. Article 9 of the CRPD calls upon Member States to adopt laws, legislation and regulations that support the integration of accessible ICTs into society. In 2010, the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference adopted Resolution 175, which set ITU’s mandate for improving access to ICTs, including assistive technologies, for persons with disabilities and special needs. Resolution 175 also considered how the United Nations’ approach to rights for persons with special needs has evolved from one focused on health and welfare to an approach based on the promotion of human rights.

In 2013, ITU participated in the High-Level Meeting on Disabilities and Development, which produced a report on creating a disability-inclusive development framework for ICTs. The report noted several “pervasive barriers” to expanding ICT access for persons with disabilities. These include the cost of implementation, technical challenges such as the limited availability of ICT technologies in the language in users’ principal language and a broader lack of policy at the State level to ensure successful implementation of disability-inclusive strategies. ITU also adopted an Accessibility Plan that year, with the goal of making ITU itself a more accessible organization. In 2014, the Plenipotentiary Conference set the Connect 2020 agenda to promote inclusiveness in accessibility to ICTs. Embracing ITU’s previous work, such as Resolution 175, the Connect 2020 agenda outlined the accessibility goals of the ITU, such as quality education for all, reduced inequalities and promoting peace, justice and strong institutions. In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Agenda for Sustainable Development, which contained 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). While none of the SDGs focused explicitly on ICTs, SDG 10 is focused on reducing inequality, with specific targets for reducing inequality for persons with disabilities. A subsequent report by the United Nations expanded ways in which the SDGs help persons with disabilities, including with regards to assistive technologies.

In 2018, the Plenipotentiary Conference revised Resolution 175 with information gathered from the implementation of the Connect 2020 Agenda. The Plenipotentiary Conference also adopted the Connect 2030 Agenda as a successor to Connect 2020. Target 2.9 of Connect 2030 called for the establishment of “enabling environments” for accessible ICTs for people with disabilities in all States no later than 2023. In 2019, the United Nations Secretary-General released the United Nations Disability Inclusion Strategy, a high-level approach designed to increase the inclusion of persons with disabilities and special needs in decision-making processes across the United Nations System. In 2020, the United Nations released the Secretary-General’s Roadmap for Digital Cooperation, a report outlining goals for increasing equity and access in the digital world. The Roadmap sets digital inclusion, including improving ICT access for people with disabilities and special needs, as one of its eight priority areas, and the Secretary-General commits to improving data collection around digital inclusion, promoting public-private partnerships and working with Member States to enhance national policies on digital inclusion. In 2021, the ITU Council adopted the ITU Accessibility Policy for persons with disabilities. The Accessibility Policy sets two key overarching goals: to make ITU itself a fully accessible organization and resource for people with disabilities and special needs, and to increase the output of accessibility-related outcomes and activities to achieve universal accessibility in ICTs. This strategy includes a set of 12 objectives and a larger framework for implementation and reporting to the ITU Council. The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Forum also hosted a special event on ICTs and accessibility for persons with disabilities and specific needs in 2021.

While the United Nations System has provided thorough thought-leadership on disability inclusiveness, implementation, especially in developing countries—where persons with disabilities are often hidden members of society—can be difficult to enact. Many current efforts focus on expanding accessibility to ICTs for people with special needs and disabilities through broader analysis and information collection on the subject, yet action is needed on implementing the findings of these studies. In a 2022 report, the United Nations Secretary-General noted that the COVID-19 pandemic led to a loss of access to needed assistive technologies, even as the pandemic demonstrated the importance of access to ICTs and assistive technologies to accessing education and health care.

ITU maintains a number of resources, standards and frameworks for implementing specific technologies and programs pertaining to accessibility across its three sectors. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as the Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs (G3ict) also maintain resources and best practices for improving access to ICTs for people with disabilities. However, many of the “pervasive barriers” identified in 2013 remain, even with increased international attention, and ITU has not met the goals outlined in the Connect 2030 Agenda. A 2021 report by ITU points out the continued need for the development and implementation of policies and regulation at the Member State level, with a need to tailor approaches specifically to the communities being served.

Questions to consider from your country’s perspective:

  • What role do governments play in facilitating the introduction of accessible ICTs to persons with disabilities? What about the role of the private sector or civil society organizations?
  • How does a lack of dedicated general ICT infrastructure within developing Member States exacerbate the challenges faced by persons with disabilities?
  • How can ITU further support and develop international standards to promote and implement accessibility into ICT infrastructure?

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

VIRTUAL SIMULATION: Human Rights Council

The Human Rights Council (HRC) serves two primary functions: it sets human rights standards and it attempts to bring non-compliant countries into compliance through persuasion, capacity building and—if necessary—highlighting human rights abuses on the world stage. The Council also deploys Special Rapporteurs to monitor human rights and study topics of interest. While the Security Council, General Assembly and HRC often address similar issues, the HRC is limited to addressing the human rights aspect of the problem, not broader security and development issues.

Members

  • Algeria
  • Argentina
  • Bangladesh
  • Belgium
  • Benin
  • Bolivia
  • Cameroon
  • Chile
  • China
  • Costa Rica
  • Côte d’Ivoire
  • Cuba
  • Czechia
  • Eritrea
  • Finland
  • France
  • Gabon
  • Gambia
  • Georgia
  • Germany
  • Honduras
  • India
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malawi
  • Malaysia
  • Maldives
  • Mexico
  • Montenegro
  • Morocco
  • Nepal
  • Pakistan
  • Paraguay
  • Qatar
  • Romania
  • Senegal
  • Somalia
  • South Africa
  • Sudan
  • Ukraine
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United Kingdom
  • United States of America
  • Uzbekistan
  • Viet Nam

The human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation

Access to a sufficient supply of safe, low or no-cost water for drinking, cooking and cleaning is a human right and a universal necessity. To meet World Health Organization (WHO) standards, the nearest safe water source must be no more than one kilometer or a 30 minute walk from an individual’s primary dwelling. To meet all personal and domestic needs, the WHO estimates that each individual in a household should be afforded 50 to 100 liters of water per day. Ensuring the safety of a drinking water source is perhaps the most important consideration, as the wide variety of health conditions and diseases can arise from consuming unsafe water. Accordingly, a source of water must be free of hazardous chemicals and harmful microorganisms to be deemed safe. In addition, the water’s color, odor and taste should not be noticeably unusual.

It is important to note that water facilities also need to be culturally acceptable and sensitive to local customs and norms with regard to gender, age and privacy. Culturally appropriate water facilities are critical because local attitudes towards such facilities can seriously impact the likelihood that they will be used. One example of this phenomenon comes from Senegal, where only half of the schools that incorporated toilet facilities were separated by gender. As a result, many girls avoided these facilities, negatively impacting their ability to concentrate in the classroom. Affordability is another critical aspect of accessibility—United Nations Development Program (UNDP) guidance maintains that the cost of water use should be less than 3 percent of household income.

To take actions towards ensuring the accessibility of safe drinking water and sanitation, the United Nations has hosted conferences, established intergovernmental agencies, and created partnerships and councils. The International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade lasted from 1981 to 1990 and served to raise awareness about and encourage the expansion of access to clean water and sanitation. In 1992, the International Conference on Water and the Environment took place in Dublin. In combination, these actions called attention to the need for new and transformational approaches to ensuring water rights and established guiding principles and an action agenda for securing access to water.

Building on the conference of 1992, the First World Water Forum was hosted in Marrakech and the World Commission for Water in the 21st Century was formed in 1997. In 2000, the United Nations Millennium Declaration was adopted, which later became known as the  Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Through 2015, the MDGs established two key priorities related to drinking water: halving the number of people who lack access to safe drinking water and ensuring the sustainability of water supplies through water management strategies. Sanitation, however, was not mentioned in the Millennium Declaration despite severe issues with access to sanitary facilities in multiple regions.

Along the way, many conferences and partnerships were held to discuss water and sanitation access, including the 2001 International Conference on Freshwater hosted in Bonn and the 2002 United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg. The International Conference on Freshwater focused on ensuring adequate funding for drinking water infrastructure while keeping costs affordable. This included a lengthy debate on whether privatizing water infrastructure aids or hinders accessibility. The United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development paired sanitation with drinking water as a priority in international development, and reiterated the goal first expressed in the MDGs of halving the number of people without access to safe drinking water. In 2010, the General Assembly explicitly recognized access to clean water and sanitation as a human right for the first time.

Between 2000 and 2015, the proportion of people without improved drinking water facilities declined from 24 percent to 9 percent. This exceeded the related Millennium Development Goal, which was to halve the proportion of people without improved drinking water to 12 percent. Sanitation, which was less prominent in the MDGs, remained a serious issue, highlighting the importance of aligning development goals to the problems faced in developing countries. In 2015, the Millennium Development Goals were succeeded by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Among other goals, the SDGs are aimed at recognizing the importance of the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, with Sustainable Development Goal 6 dedicated to achieving clean water and sanitation by 2030. In 2019, pursuant to this goal, status reports were conducted on the implementation of Integrated Water Resources Management, a strategy aimed at ensuring that sufficient water is provided in an equitable fashion.

Recent work by the Human Rights Council has focused on better defining the right to drinking water and sanitation, and drawing special attention to groups that have faced barriers in exercising this right. Resolution 45/8, passed in 2020, mentions some of these groups, such as displaced persons, and also suggests that states create judicial remedies for those denied the right to water and sanitation. The resolution also discusses menstrual hygiene as an essential part of the right to sanitation. Resolution 51/19, passed in 2022, focuses primarily on bringing a gender equity perspective to matters of drinking water and sanitation, and also emphasizes that provision of clean drinking water and sanitation facilities is essential to prevent the spread of several communicable diseases such as cholera. As originally commissioned by the General Assembly in 2010, the Human Rights Council has also produced annual reports on the issue. The most recent, from 2022, is centered around bringing the perspectives of indigenous and ancestral cultures to drinking water and sanitation issues. While the report does state that some lessons from those cultures may be usable by broader society, it is focused on ensuring that indigenous people have adequate access to drinking water and sanitation in their homelands or in other rural areas where they have settled. In March 2023, the United Nations Water Conference met for the first time in decades, and collated a range of voluntary commitments to improve water access into the Water Action Agenda.

While significant progress on ensuring access to water and sanitation has been made over the past several decades, several matters remain active subjects of debate and action in the Human Rights Council. First of all, while there is broad agreement that water and sanitation are critical parts of development, their status as a human right remains debated, with some governments questioning the source and enforceability of such a right. A related debate is the relation between the right to water and the privatization and commodification of water supply. Privatizing water utilities has been used as a way to attract additional investment in upgrading water infrastructure, but it can have a negative impact on affordability to the extent that some believe it undermines the human right to water.

Another area of discussion is the framework that should be used to incorporate technological advances in drinking water and sanitation. Resolution 45/10 envisions progress in ensuring the right to drinking water and sanitation as a series of ladders from surface water and open defecation to safely managed access to water. The use of new technologies could help, but there is currently a gap between experimental advanced technologies and their implementation on a large scale, such as the installation of solar-powered water pumps to allow access to groundwater in areas that are not served by an electric grid. In addition, climate change threatens to exacerbate nearly every extant water issue and create a multitude of new ones. According to the Independent Expert on the issue of human rights obligations related to access to drinking water and sanitation, water scarcity due to warming or changes in rainfall patterns is likely to increase the cost of providing water and sanitation infrastructure. The Independent Expert notes that even in particularly water-scarce regions, there is enough water available for personal and domestic use (the uses to which a human right to water applies), but only if such use is prioritized over agricultural and industrial use.

Questions to consider from your country’s perspective:

  • What areas of responsibility for water and sanitation rights fall on governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), or intergovernmental organizations (IGOs)? How can the United Nations partner with and assist governments and NGOs in securing water rights?
  • What role should the private sector in general, and international investment in particular, play in upgrading water and sanitation infrastructure? How should governments, NGOs, and IGOs balance attracting investment with ensuring affordable water and sanitation for all?
  • How can the UNHRC secure the rights of groups which disproportionately suffer from a lack of access to safe water and sanitation, such as those who have been displaced or who belong to a marginalized group?

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

Consequences of child, early and forced marriage

Although long prohibited by international law and policy, the practice of child, early and forced marriage remains common worldwide. This practice results from a structurally violent system perpetuated by economic insecurity, gender inequality and disrupted social networks. Early and forced marriage violates the rights of children to education, freedom from violence, access to reproductive and sexual health care, employment, freedom of movement, and the right to consensual marriage. Most common among girls, child marriages are especially common in developing countries: 18.7 percent of young women aged 20–24 in least developed countries were married before the age of 18. Child, early and forced marriage compromises the development of children and leaves them vulnerable to domestic violence.

Since the founding of the United Nations, its human rights agenda has strived to uphold the rights of children. Starting from the assurance in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that men and women of full age have the right to marry, and that marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses, the United Nations developed a trio of conventions that addressed various aspects of the problem of child, early and forced marriage: the 1964 Convention on Consent to Marriage, Minimum Age for Marriage and Registration of Marriages, the 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the 1990 Convention on the Rights of the Child. Unfortunately, despite widespread adoption of these conventions, they were insufficient to fully resolve these challenges. Exceptions to prohibitions against child marriage in local law allow girls to be married before 18 if parents or judicial bodies give their consent, undermining international legal protections. Although national and international law prohibit child marriage, local legal systems based around religious or customary practices have not followed suit. International conventions often defer to custom and religion, creating exemptions that have slowed the movement to eradicate child, early and forced marriage worldwide. In 2007, the Secretary-General issued a report with recommendations concerning forced marriage, noting how enforcement remained a challenge even after many States enacted laws prohibiting child, early and forced marriage. The report elaborated how States lacked the resources necessary to adequately monitor and enforce their laws and procedures. More broadly, a lack of knowledge about the scope and prevalence of the practice at the national and international levels undermined efforts to monitor progress in addressing the issue.

The United Nations and the Human Rights Council recognize that child, early and forced marriages prevent people from living their lives free from all forms of violence and from accessing the right to education and the right to the highest attainable standard of health, including sexual and reproductive health. The Human Rights Council adopted its first resolution to strengthen efforts to prevent and eliminate child, early and forced marriage in 2013. While the resolution called for a panel discussion with a focus on challenges, achievements, best practices and implementation gaps, it failed to provide Member States with clear, actionable and immediate solutions. In 2015, the Human Rights Council approved a resolution promoting urgency in strengthening efforts to prevent and eliminate child, early and forced marriage and detailed substantive measures to address the human rights violation. Shortly thereafter, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in 2016 launched the UNFPA-UNICEF Global Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage. The Global Programme works with governments to uphold the rights of adolescent girls in the 12 Member States that exhibit the highest prevalence of child marriage. By mid-2018, the programme successfully delivered training and resources to over 5.5 million girls, exceeding the programme’s original objective to reach 2.5 million girls by the end of the decade. The Human Rights Council continues to push for solutions to child, early and forced marriage, adopting a resolution in 2019 that calls upon Member States to strengthen family responsive legislation at the national level, such as policies that provide for parental leave and increased flexibility in working arrangements, which aim to create an environment that enables women’s full economic empowerment. On 10 August 2022, the Secretary-General released a report which highlighted the disruption caused by the pandemic to the efforts made to increase the resilience of women, girls and families to child, early and forced marriage. These disruptions, which exacerbated gender inequality and poverty, could increase the number of girls susceptible to child, early and forced marriage by 10 million by the end of the decade, according to UNICEF estimates.

Looking ahead, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which aims to leverage momentum accumulated from years of capacity building by intergovernmental bodies like the Human Rights Council, specifically includes the elimination of the practice of child, early and forced marriage in Goal 5.3. Despite efforts to eliminate child, early and forced marriage, the implementation of international laws and policies has remained slow at the national and international levels. Approximately 650 million girls and women alive today were married before their 18th birthday. Even so, the United Nations and Member States achieved some progress. In the last decade, the proportion of young women who were married as children decreased by 15 percent, from one-in-four to nearly one-in-five. The combination of social upheavals and economic insecurities make the elimination of child, early and forced marriage a challenging global issue, but one that requires urgency to ensure the protection of children.

Questions to consider from your country’s perspective:

  • How can the United Nations facilitate the implementation of existing laws in Member States that prohibit child, early and forced marriage?
  • How can the Human Rights Council balance protecting human rights with respecting the culture and national sovereignty of Member States?
  • What role does the eradication of poverty play in eliminating child, early and forced marriage?

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

Introduction to ECOSOC and Report Writing Bodies

The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)

The Economic and Social Council is the primary body that addresses the economic, social, humanitarian and cultural work of the United Nations system. It also has a mandate to coordinate the activities of United Nations technical and specialized agencies and programs. The Economic and Social Council oversees five regional economic commissions and eight functional, or subject-matter, commissions. The Economic and Social Council is composed of 54 Member States elected by the General Assembly for three-year renewable terms.

ECOSOC at AMUN

AMUN simulates ECOSOC as a Special Committee on a rotating basis. Much like the General Assembly bodies, ECOSOC’s primary initiative is to discuss the designated topics and produce, preferably by consensus, resolutions. A resolution will often provide historical context for a topic or issue as well as present a path forward for Member States and for international institutions. A resolution must be in the purview of the committee that passes it, and it must contain at least one preambular clause and one operative clause. For more information on resolution formatting, requirements and best practices, please reference this chapter of the handbook or speak with the committee Rapporteur at Conference.

As an update to AMUN’s procedures and as a way to preserve student’s productive time and experience, AMUN has chosen to forego ECOSOC plenary sessions. Similarly, AMUN has also chosen to provide a streamlined set of report writing rules meant to better facilitate the work of the body. 

Report Writing Bodies and their Role at AMUN

Each year, AMUN simulates two bodies that write reports rather than resolutions. These bodies, which can can be committees, councils, or commissions and which have various relationships to ECOSOC, are sometimes called “Report Writing Bodies” (RWB). These bodies have a unique function within the United Nations system, and delegates to these bodies are often subject-matter experts on the topics being discussed in the simulation. Their role, rather than to produce resolutions that lay out a course of action, is to collaboratively produce reports on topics in their purview. Reports follow a specified format, but the length, content and complexity of each report varies. Each body produces only one report on each of its topic, so collaboration and consensus-building in these committees is essential. Producing only one report also means that dissenting or minority opinions may be placed within the text of the document. AMUN has adapted the format for annual reports for use in these reporting bodies. The time constraints of the simulation allow for a format that bears many similarities to those of the United Nations, but is not identical. Just as representatives familiarize themselves with their State’s positions, they must also do the same with the AMUN report format.

The main focus of a RWB is to create a report, not write resolutions. The report as a whole functions as a recommendation for actions that ECOSOC can take. Thus, it is of the utmost importance that the report contains a record of how the representatives of the body came to their conclusions. This is the primary function of the report’s Deliberations section, without which a report cannot exist. The nature of a report often leads to a report-building process that is highly collaborative and inclusive of all Members of the body. If a body disagrees on an issue, it is common to include all sides of the discussion and what was considered, thus allowing for consensus on the final report. More information on report components and the report writing process can be found here.

Consultative Session

Both ECOSOC and reporting bodies have available to them a special rule intended to facilitate their work: Consultative Session. Consultative Session is a designated period of time in which the Committee is still in session but the formal rules of debate, with the exception of Rule 2.2 Diplomatic Courtesy, are suspended. It is moderated by whomever the body chooses for the role, with the first Consultative Session usually being moderated by a member of the dais staff. Consultative Sessions allow for free and open exchange between representatives in a less-formal setting than is created in formal debate. It is an expedient method of accomplishing many of the report writing processes and is typically also used to pass the Executive Summary, which is the final piece of a report.

A Note About AMUN’s Simulation Philosophy

The Conference exists to provide a safe and educational environment for both representatives and AMUN Secretariat members to grow and learn. At the root of this is one of AMUN’s founding principles – to create the most realistic simulation possible by mirroring the beliefs and processes of the United Nations. Diplomacy is a tool with the power to change lives for the better. Our Report Writing Bodies offer another perspective on diplomacy as Representatives work with a small group throughout Conference to build not a single resolution, but an entire report. Report writing leads to a non-competitive free flowing exchange of ideas that ultimately helps build an intensely collaborative environment and informs ECOSOC on the actions it should take regarding the complex international issues that make up the RWB topics.

Research and Resources Available

One of the most important resources available is the research and preparation done before conference. This research can greatly affect a representative’s experience in the simulation. AMUN has several suggestions for how to go about researching a State’s position, history and culture. Information to aid in this research can be found here.

In order to provide a Conference of the highest quality, AMUN Secretariat members play distinct roles inside and outside of the Committee room. Inside the Committee room, the most recognizable resources available are the dais staff: Committee Presidents and Rapporteurs.

The Committee Presidents are experts on AMUN’s Rules of Procedure. They facilitate debate by helping representatives use the rules correctly to accomplish the work of the body. They answer all questions related to the AMUN rules. Presidents (and Vice Presidents) also observe substantive debate and keep track of the committee’s proceedings.

Rapporteurs assist with content in each ECOSOC simulation. Their role is to work with representatives as they write reports and to help ensure that the work of the body meets both AMUN and the United Nations’ standards. They also provide guidance on committee purview and will help representatives work reports into purview, should it be necessary.

AMUN also provides content experts outside of committee. Home Government is available to help representatives with several tasks.  If a representative wants an in-depth review of their country’s position on the topics being covered in a committee, Home Government can conduct briefings to provide them the information they need to participate more fully in the simulation. Home Government also has the ability to furnish committees with roleplayers who provide information to the entire body as opposed to an individual representative.

Lastly, should representatives like to update the rest of the Conference on how their work is coming along, the International Press Delegation (IPD) is another resource they have for spreading information, be it through an article or a Press Conference.

ECOSOC Rules of Procedure

1.0 Administrative

1.1 The Secretariat. The Secretariat consists of the volunteer staff members of American Model United Nations (AMUN).

1.2 Rules Committee. The President of the General Assembly, the Senior Vice President(s) of the General Assembly, the Director of Rules and Procedures, and one other person as appointed by the Secretary-General shall compose the membership of the Rules Committee.

1.3 Credentials. All questions concerning the validity of representative credentials shall be submitted in writing to the Secretariat,

  • The Secretariat has sole authority to decide all questions concerning credentials, and
  • Representatives must wear approved credentials at all times while on the Conference premises.

1.4 Quorum/Majority. A quorum is one-fourth of the member delegations in attendance for each Committee; a majority is one-half of the member delegations in attendance for each Committee,

  • A quorum must be present at all times during Committee sessions,
  • A majority must be present for a substantive question to be put to a vote,
  • Questions concerning quorum or majority should be directed to the President, and
  • It is the responsibility of the President to ensure that a quorum is present at all times.

1.5 Committee Officers. The Secretariat shall appoint the President(s) for each Committee, and shall select any other positions necessary to help conduct the sessions of the Committees,

  • Hereafter, in these rules, “President” refers to the President who is presiding the meeting, facilitating formal and informal debate, and ruling on procedural items before the body. 
  • Hereafter, in these rules, “Committee” will refer to any Committee, Council or Commission, unless otherwise stated in the rule.

1.6 General Authority of the President. In addition to exercising such authority conferred upon the President elsewhere in these rules, the President shall,

  • Declare the opening and closing of each session,
  • Ensure the observance of the rules,
  • Facilitate the discussions of the Committee and accord the right to speak,
  • Advise the Committee on methods of procedure that will enable the body to accomplish its goals, and
  • Rule on points and motions, and subject to these rules, have complete control of the proceedings of the Committee and the maintenance of order at its meetings.

1.7 Absence of President.  A Vice President, or other Secretariat member as assigned, for the committee may preside over the committee’s sessions. 

1.8 Number of Accredited Representatives. Each delegation is allowed two representatives per Committee on which it is a member, plus one Permanent Representative.

1.9 Selection of Agenda Topics. Agenda topics shall be selected by the Secretariat prior to the start of the conference. Once selected, these topics are fixed for the duration of the conference.

1.10 Observer Status. Those delegations recognized as having Observer Status by AMUN shall be accorded all rights in the Committee except the following,

  • They may not vote,
  • They may not make or second the following motions:
  • Adjournment of the Meeting (rule 7.2), and
  • Closure of Debate (rule 7.4).

2.0 General Rules

2.1 Statements by the Secretariat. The Secretary-General or any member of the Secretariat may make verbal or written statements to a Committee at any time.

2.2 Diplomatic Courtesy. All participants in the AMUN Conference must accord Diplomatic Courtesy to all credentialed representatives, Secretariat Members, Faculty Advisors, Observers and Hotel staff at all times,

  • Representatives who persist in obvious attempts to disrupt the session shall be subject to expulsion from the Committee by the President,
  • The Secretariat reserves the right to expel any representative or delegation from the Conference, and
  • This decision is not appealable.

2.3 Speeches. No representative may address the Committee without obtaining the permission of the President,

  • Delegations, not representatives, are recognized to speak; more than one representative from the same delegation may speak when the delegation is recognized,
  • Speakers must keep their remarks germane to the subject under discussion,
  • A time limit may be established for speeches (rule 7.7),
  • At the conclusion of a substantive speech, representatives will be allowed to answer questions concerning their speech,
  • A delegation that desires to ask a question of the speaker should signify by raising a Point of Inquiry (rule 6.3),
  • All questions and replies are made through the President,
  • A speaker who desires to make a motion may do so after speaking and accepting Points of Inquiry, but prior to yielding the floor, and
  • By making a motion the speaker yields the floor.

2.4 Recognition of Speakers. Delegations wishing to speak on an item before the body will signify by raising their placards,

  • The exception to this rule occurs on any Point of Order (rule 6.1), Information (rule 6.2), or Inquiry (rule 6.3), at which time a representative should raise their placard and call out “Point of ___________” to the President,
  • Points will be recognized in the order of their priority,
  • Motions may not be made from Points of Order (rule 6.1), Information (rule 6.2), or Inquiry (rule 6.3), or from any procedural speeches, except,
  • A motion to Appeal the Decision of the President (rule 7.4), may be made when recognized for a Point of Order.
  • The President shall recognize speakers in a fair and orderly manner, and
  • Speakers’ lists will not be used.

2.5 Right of Reply. The President may accord a Right of Reply to any representative if a speech by another representative contains unusual or extraordinary language clearly insulting to personal or national dignity,

  • Requests for a Right of Reply shall be made in writing to the President,
  • Requests shall contain the specific language which was found to be insulting to personal or national dignity,
  • The President may limit the time allowed for a reply,
  • There shall be no reply to a reply, and
  • This decision is not appealable.

2.6 Withdrawal of Motions. A motion may be withdrawn by its proposer at any time before voting on it has begun,

  • Seconds to a motion may also be withdrawn, and
  • A withdrawn motion or second may be reintroduced by another delegation.

2.7 Dilatory Motions. The President may rule out of order any motion repeating or closely approximating a recent previous motion on which the Committee has already rendered an opinion,

  • This decision is not appealable.

3.0 Rules That Relate to the Rules

3.1 Rule Priority and Procedure. The rules contained in this handbook are the official rules of procedure of the American Model United Nations and will be used for all Committee sessions. These rules take precedence over any other set of rules.

3.2 Precedence of Rules. Proceedings in the Committees and General Assembly sessions of AMUN shall be conducted under the following precedence of rules;

  1. AMUN Rules of Procedure,
  2. AMUN General Assembly (GA) & Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Order of Precedence of the Rules Short Form,
  3. Rulings by the Rules Committee,
  4. Historical usage of the AMUN Rules of Procedure,
  5. Historical usage of the United Nations Rules of Procedure, and
  6. The Charter of the United Nations.

3.3 The Order of Precedence of Procedural Motions.The order of precedence of procedural motions is listed in both the General Assembly and Economic and Social Council (GA/ECOSOC) Precedence Short Form and in these rules under Section 7, “Procedural Motions In Order of Priority.”

3.4 Rule Changes. The Rules Committee reserves the right to make changes to these rules at any time. Should a change occur, it will be communicated to the representatives in a timely manner.

4.0 Draft Proposals & Amendments

4.1 Definition of Draft Reports. A draft report is a formal written proposal consisting of sections and paragraphs that detail a committee’s deliberations and recommendations on a particular topic. The report may include resolutions that the reporting body recommends for adoption by the body that receives the report. Reports must include an Executive Summary (rule 4.7).

4.2 Draft Reports. Draft reports may be submitted to the Committee Dais for approval at any time during the Conference,

  • For a draft report to be considered, it must be organized in content and flow, have a minimum of 35 percent of the delegations in attendance listed as sponsors, and the approval of the Dais staff,
  • The final required number of sponsors will be determined by the Rules Committee at conference registration and announced at the opening of each committee session,
  • After acceptance by the Dais staff, draft reports shall be processed in the order in which they are received,
  • Limited copies of the full text of the draft report shall be issued to the committee, and a copy of the Executive Summary shall be distributed to all delegations as soon as feasible,
  • Only one draft report per topic area shall be accepted for consideration by the Dais staff,
  • Once a draft report is on the floor for discussion, additional sponsors may only be added to that draft report with the consent of the original sponsors,
  • Any resolutions adopted by the committee on the topic of the report will be automatically included in Section III of the report, including after the adoption of the report or Executive Summary,
  • Once a vote has been taken on any part of a draft report, including a contested amendment, it becomes the property of the body, and no additional sponsors or friendly amendments may be added or removed,
  • Friendly amendments (rule 4.6) do not limit the addition of sponsors as above,
  • See also Closure of Debate (rule 7.3) and Consideration of Draft Items (rule 7.10),
  • Objections or reservations to the report shall be included in the text of the report, and
  • Objections to the report must be in writing and may be submitted before or after the final vote on the report, and
  • The default method of voting for reports shall be Adoption by Consensus (rule 5.3). If there is any objection, the Committee will proceed with a substantive vote, which requires a simple majority for passage.

4.3 Definition of Amendments. An amendment to a draft  report is a written proposal that adds to, deletes from, or revises any part of a draft proposal.

4.4 Amendments. All amendments must be signed by 15 percent of the delegations in attendance,

  • The final required number of sponsors will be determined by the Rules Committee at conference registration and announced at the opening of each committee session.

An amendment is submitted on an official amendment form to the Rapporteurs for approval.

Amendments will be approved if they are legible, organized in content and flow, and in the proper format,

  • Approved amendments will be assigned an identification letter by the Rapporteurs, and
  • Typographical errors in a report will be corrected by the Presidents and announced to the body.

One or more amendments may be considered on the floor at any given time (see also Closure of Debate (rule 7.3) and Consideration of Draft Items(rule 7.10)).

An amendment will be considered “friendly” if all sponsors of the draft report are also sponsors of the amendment. 

A friendly amendment becomes part of a draft proposal upon the announcement that it is accepted,

  • A dais member shall announce the acceptance of a friendly amendment on the first opportunity at which no speaker has the floor, and
  • Friendly amendments cannot be accepted after a vote has been taken on a contested amendment or after closure of debate on the report/resolution has been moved.

4.5 Definition of Executive Summaries. The reporting body must issue an Executive Summary of the finalized report which will briefly summarize the contents of the report.

4.6 Executive Summaries. Executive Summaries are discussed, drafted and accepted outside of formal Committee sessions (during a suspension of the meeting or consultative session),

  • The default method of accepting the Executive Summary is through an informal consensus of the committee during suspension or Consultative Session. If there is objection to consensus the committee will proceed with an informal vote which requires a simple majority for passage.
  • The final Executive Summary must be presented to the dais for inclusion with the Report and distribution to the Committee receiving the Report.

4.7 Withdrawal of Sponsorship. Sponsorship of a report or amendment may be withdrawn,

  • Sponsorship of a  report may not be withdrawn after a vote has been taken on a contested amendment,
  • If a draft report or amendment falls below the number of sponsors required for consideration, additional sponsors may be added to that proposal with the consent of the original sponsors, and
  • If a draft report or amendment falls below the required number of sponsors, it is automatically removed from consideration.

5.0 Voting

5.1 Voting Rights. Each Member State is accorded one vote in each Committee on which it is represented,

  • No representative or Delegation may cast a vote on behalf of another Member State.

5.2 Simple Majority. Unless otherwise specified in these rules, decisions in the Committee shall be made by a majority vote of those Members present and voting. If there is an equal division between yes and no votes, the motion fails.

5.3 Adoption by Consensus. The adoption of draft reports and amendments by consensus is desirable when it contributes to the effective and lasting settlement of differences, thus strengthening the authority of the United Nations,

  • Any representative may request the adoption of a draft report or by consensus at any time after closure of debate has passed,
  • For reports, the default method of voting is adoption by consensus,
  • The President then shall ask whether there is any objection to a consensus and then shall ask if any Member States wish to abstain from consensus,
  • Delegations abstaining from consensus will be officially recorded,
  • If there is no objection, the proposal is approved by consensus, and
  • If any representative objects to consensus, voting shall occur as otherwise stated in these rules.

5.4 Method of Voting. The Committee shall normally vote by a show of raised placards,

  • The President may grant a request by a delegation for a roll call vote on any substantive matter, and the President’s decision on such a request is not subject to appeal,
  • When applicable, roll shall be called in English alphabetical order beginning with a member selected at random by the President,
  • Representatives shall reply “yes,” “no,” “abstain,” or “abstain from the order of voting” and
  • A member may abstain from the order of voting once during a roll call; a second abstention from the order of voting will be recorded as an abstention.

5.5 Structure of Voting For Draft Reports. The Committee shall vote on any draft report items in the following manner. 

  • The body shall vote individually on each chapter and resolution to be included in the report. A vote in favor of the chapter or resolution shall be a vote in favor of  including that section or resolution in the final version of the report, and voting shall occur in the following order:
    • First, the body shall vote on any resolutions included in Chapter I (matters calling for action) of the report. The body will vote on each resolution in the reverse order in which they are introduced to the body. For each resolution, the body will vote on any amendments to that resolution in the reverse order in which they were introduced to the body.
    • Second, the body shall vote on its findings in Chapter II of the report. The body will vote on any amendments to this chapter in the reverse order in which they were introduced to the body.
    • Third, the body shall vote on any resolutions included in Chapter III (decisions adopted) of the report, in the same order identified above for resolutions included in Chapter I. 
    • Fourth, the body shall vote on the executive summary. The body will vote on any amendments to the executive summary in the reverse order in which they were introduced to the body. See rule 4.6 for voting on the Executive Summary.
    • After all sections of the draft report have been voted upon by the body, the remaining sections shall be compiled into the final draft version of the report, and the body shall vote on the report as a whole.
  • Each vote is entitled to the full rights and voting methods under Method of Voting (rule 5.4), including, but not limited to, division of the question, requests for roll call votes and adoption by consensus and the items enumerated in Conduct During Voting (rule 5.6).
  • The body may request, when a report has been passed,a representative from the Secretary General’s office or the Economic and Social Council plenary body to present their findings. The body may conduct this presentation orally in a structure and manner that the body determines is appropriate, and that conforms to the requirements of Diplomatic Courtesy (rule 2.2).

5.6 Conduct During Voting. Immediately prior to a vote, the President shall describe to the Committee the item to be voted on, and shall explain the consequences of a “yes” or a “no” vote. Voting shall begin upon the President’s declaration “we are now in voting procedure,” and end when the results of the vote are announced,

  • Following Closure of Debate, and prior to entering voting procedure, the President shall pause briefly to allow delegations the opportunity to make any relevant motions,
  • Relevant motions prior to a vote include Adoption by Consensus (rule 5.3), Suspension of the Meeting (rule 7.1), Adjournment of the Meeting (rule 7.2), Consultative Session (rule 7.5), or Division of the Question (rule 7.8), and
  • Relevant requests prior to a vote include Adoption by Consensus (rule 5.3), Request for a roll call vote (rule 5.4), and
  • Once in voting procedure, no representative shall interrupt the voting except on a Point of Order or Point of Information concerning the actual conduct of the vote.

5.7 Changes of Votes. At the end of a roll call vote, but before Rights of Explanation (rule 5.8) and the subsequent announcement of the vote, the President will ask for any vote changes. Any delegation that desires to change its recorded vote may do so at that time.

5.8 Rights of Explanation. Rights of Explanation are permitted on all substantive votes after voting. The President may limit time for Rights of Explanation.

6.0 Points of Procedure in Order of Priority

6.1 Point of Order. During the discussion of any matter, a representative may rise to a Point of Order if the representative believes that the Committee is proceeding in a manner contrary to these rules,

  • The representative must call out their point and will be recognized immediately by the President and the point ruled on,
  • A representative rising to a Point of Order may not speak substantively on any matter,
  • If a representative’s ability to participate in the Committee’s deliberations is impaired for any reason, the representative may rise to a Point of Order,
  • A Point of Order may interrupt a speaker, and
  • See also Speeches (rule 2.3).

6.2 Point of Information. A Point of Information is raised to the President if a representative wishes to obtain a clarification of procedure or a statement of the matters before the Committee,

  • The representative must call out their point to be recognized,
  • A Point of Information may not interrupt a speaker, and
  • See also Speeches (rule 2.3).

6.3 Point of Inquiry. During substantive debate, a representative may question a speaker by rising to a Point of Inquiry,

  • Questions must be directed through the President and may be made only after the delegation has concluded their remarks, but before the delegation has yielded the floor,
  • The representative must call out their point to be recognized,
  • A Point of Inquiry may not interrupt a speaker, and
  • See also Speeches (rule 2.3).

7.0 Procedural Motions in Order of Priority

7.1 Suspension of the Meeting. During the discussion of any matter, a representative may move to suspend the meeting. Suspending a meeting recesses it for the time specified in the motion,

  • This motion requires a second,
  • This motion is not debatable,
  • The President may request that the delegation making the motion modify the time of suspension,
  • If the motion passes, upon reconvening the Committee will continue its business from the point at which the suspension was moved.

7.2 Adjournment of the Meeting. The motion of adjournment means that all business of the Committee has been completed for the year, and that the Committee will not reconvene until the next annual session,

  • This motion requires a second,
  • This motion is not debatable,
  • The President may refuse to recognize a motion to adjourn the meeting if the Committee still has business before it, and
  • This decision is not appealable.

7.3 Closure of Debate. A representative may move to close debate on a draft report or amendment before the Committee at any time during the discussion of item. The effect of this motion, if passed, is to bring a draft report or amendment that is on the floor to a vote,

  • This motion requires a second,
  • Two delegations may speak against closure; the motion shall then be put to a vote,
  • Representatives should specify whether the motion for closure applies to an amendment or a draft report,
  • If closure passes on a draft report, all amendments on the floor will be voted on in the reverse order from which they were moved to the floor, and
  • After voting on all amendments is completed, the draft report shall be voted upon in accordance with these rules.

At the conclusion of voting procedure, the draft report or amendment being voted on is removed from consideration, regardless of whether the proposal passes or fails. Debate then continues on the current agenda topic.

7.4 Appealing a Decision of the President. Rulings of the President are appealable unless otherwise specified in these rules,

  • This motion requires a second,
  • Two delegations may speak in favor of the motion and two opposed; the motion shall then be put to a vote,
  • An appeal must be made immediately following the ruling in question,
  • This motion may be made by a delegation that has been recognized through a Point of Order,
  • The President shall put the question as follows: “Shall the decision of the President be upheld?” A “yes” vote supports the President’s decision; a “no” signifies objection,
  • The decision of the President shall be upheld by a tie, and
  • Rulings by the President on the following rules or motions are not appealable: Diplomatic Courtesy (rule 2.2), Right of Reply (rule 2.5), Dilatory Motions (rule 2.7), granting of a roll call vote (rule 5.4), Adjournment of the Meeting (rule 7.2), and any time a ruling by the President is a direct quotation from these Rules of Procedure.

7.5 Consultative Session. The Council may choose to suspend the rules and enter an informal, consultative session if the Members determine that this process will better facilitate the discussion of a particular issue,

  • The motion should specify a length of time and a moderator for the consultative session,
  • A moderator can be a representative or Secretariat Member,
  • This motion requires a second,
  • Two delegations may speak in favor of the motion and two opposed; the motion shall then be put to a vote
  • The Council will move immediately into a formal session at the conclusion of the consultative session, and
  • See also Consultative Session (rule 7.5).

7.6 Consideration of Agenda Topics. Agenda topics will be considered in the order in which they appear in the Issues at AMUN handbook, unless that order is altered by the passage of a motion for Consideration of Agenda Topics,

  • This motion requires a second, and
  • This motion is not debatable.

7.7 Limits on Debate. A motion to limit or extend the time allotted to each delegation, or limit the number of times each delegation can speak on a proposal, is in order at any time,

  • This motion requires a second,
  • Two delegations may speak in favor of the motion and two opposed; the motion shall then be put to a vote,
  • The time allotted for substantive speeches shall be no less than three minutes,
  • The time allotted for procedural speeches shall be no less than one minute,
  • This motion may limit the number of Points of Inquiry a speaker may accept to a minimum of one, and
  • A motion to limit the time of debate on an agenda topic, draft report, draft resolution, or amendment is also in order.

7.8 Division of the Question. A motion to divide the question, proposing that clauses of an amendment or paragraphs of a draft report be voted on separately, is in order at any time prior to entering voting procedure on the amendment, draft resolution,

  • This motion requires a second,
  • Two delegations may speak in favor of the motion and two opposed; the motion shall then be put to a vote,
  • After a motion for Division of the Question passes, no other motion for Division of the Question is in order on that amendment, draft resolution or draft report,
  • Those clauses or paragraphs of the amendment or report which are approved shall then be put to a vote as a whole, and
  • If division causes the draft or report to no longer be in the proper format (rules 4.1 and 4.3), the proposal as a whole is rejected.

7.9 Reconsideration of Proposals. A motion for Reconsideration of Proposals is in order on a report or amendment which has passed or failed when put to a final vote. The motion is also in order for proposals on which Adjournment of Debate has passed (rule 7.3),

  • This motion requires a second and a two-thirds majority vote for passage,
  • Two delegations may speak opposed to the motion, and
  • If the motion passes, the issue is brought back before the body for debate and may be voted on again.

7.10 Consideration of Draft Items. To bring a report or an amendment to the floor for discussion, a delegation must first be recognized by the President,

  • No second is required. Upon recognition of this motion by the President, the amendment will be under consideration by the body. Draft reports moved to the floor are subject to a vote by the body and must pass by a majority for consideration.
  • Only one draft report is allowed on the floor at any time; any number of amendments is allowed.
  • The Committee Secretariat will present the draft item to the body, and
  • The delegation moving consideration will be allowed to speak first on the item, if desired.

Economic and Social Council Short Form

Download a pdf version of these rules optimized for printing.

Rule Second? Debatable? Vote Required Description
6.1 Point of Order No No None Point out a misuse of the rules
6.2 Point of Information No No None Ask any question of the Chair, or gain a clarification
6.3 Point of Inquiry No No None Ask a question of a speaker at the end of their speech, prior to the Delegation’s yielding the floor
7.1 Suspension of the Meeting Yes No Simple Majority Recess the meeting for a specific period of time
7.2 Adjournment of the Meeting Yes No Simple Majority End the meeting for the year
7.3 Closure of Debate Yes 2 Con Simple Majority End debate on any proposal on the floor and bring it to an immediate vote
7.4 Appealing a Decision of the Special Rapporteur Yes 2 Pro
2 Con
Simple Majority Challenge a ruling made by the Chair
7.5 Consultative Session Yes 2 Pro
2 Con
Simple Majority Suspend rules and move to an informal debate session
7.6 Consideration of Agenda Topics Yes No Simple Majority Change the order in which agenda items are discussed
7.7 Limits on Debate Yes 2 Pro
2 Con
Simple Majority Impose (or repeal) a limit on the length of any form of debate
7.8 Division of the Question Yes 2 Pro
2 Con
Simple Majority Divide a draft resolution or amendment into two or more clauses, or divide a report into two or more paragraphs, each to be voted on separately after Closure of Debate
7.9 Reconsideration of Proposals Yes 2 Con 2 / 3 Majority Reconsider an item on which debate has been adjourned or upon which a vote has been taken
7.10 Consideration of Draft Items Yes Yes Simple Majority Bring a draft report or amendment to the floor for discussion

NOTE: Draft amendments require no speeches in favor or against and are automatically available on the floor once moved.

 

ECOSOC COMMISSION: Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)

The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) is one of five regional commissions of the Economic and Social Commission and represents countries in Africa. ECA supports the economic development of its Member States by reinforcing economic relationships among its members and other countries of the world. It does so by promoting developmental cooperative activities and projects of regional and subregional scope, bringing a regional perspective to global problems and translating global concerns at the regional and subregional levels. ECA also has as one of its primary objectives the promotion of the region’s social development.

Members

  • Algeria
  • Angola
  • Benin
  • Botswana
  • Burkina Faso
  • Burundi
  • Cabo Verde
  • Cameroon
  • Central African Republic
  • Chad
  • Comoros
  • Congo
  • Côte d’Ivoire
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Djibouti
  • Egypt
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Eritrea
  • Eswatini
  • Ethiopia
  • Gabon
  • Gambia
  • Ghana
  • Guinea
  • Guinea-Bissau
  • Kenya
  • Lesotho
  • Liberia
  • Libya
  • Madagascar
  • Malawi
  • Mali
  • Mauritania
  • Mauritius
  • Morocco
  • Mozambique
  • Namibia
  • Niger
  • Nigeria
  • Rwanda
  • Sao Tome and Principe
  • Senegal
  • Seychelles
  • Sierra Leone
  • Somalia
  • South Africa
  • South Sudan
  • Sudan
  • Togo
  • Tunisia
  • Uganda
  • United Republic of Tanzania
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

Women’s economic empowerment: boosting women’s entrepreneurship in Africa

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has been a driving force in addressing the gender disparities that persist across the African continent. With a commitment to promoting sustainable development and inclusive growth, the ECA recognizes the importance of women’s economic empowerment as a catalyst for achieving these goals. For years, women in Africa have faced barriers to accessing resources, education and opportunities, hindering their participation in economic activities and access to decent employment. The sizable informal economy in many African countries has created opportunities for entrepreneurship that are easier to access than in other regions, but many women-owned businesses face sexist and otherwise discriminatory practices that limit their ability to participate in the economy. The ECA’s efforts to boost women’s entrepreneurship seek to dismantle these barriers and unleash the untapped potential of women as key contributors to economic development.

The United Nations has a history of championing gender equality and women’s rights, dating back to the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 and the establishment of the United Nations Decade for Women in 1975. This initiative laid the foundation for addressing gender disparities globally. Over time, the United Nations has adopted several resolutions that advance women’s economic empowerment. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, adopted by the General Assembly in 1979, emphasized equal opportunities for women in the field of employment. It calls for measures to ensure women’s right to work and promote their access to employment opportunities, vocational training and career advancement. The 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action further called for the advancement of women’s economic empowerment. In Africa, the United Nations’s commitment to women’s empowerment was reinforced through initiatives like the African Women’s Decade (2010-2020), which aimed to address enduring gender inequalities. These actions paved the way for the ECA’s more focused and targeted efforts in boosting women’s entrepreneurship in Africa.

ECA’s work on boosting women’s entrepreneurship aligns with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly Goal 5 (Gender Equality) and Goal 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth). This work involves collaborating with African governments, regional organizations and various stakeholders to design and implement policies that foster an enabling environment for women entrepreneurs, such as advocating for gender-responsive regulatory frameworks, promoting access to financial resources, and facilitating women’s participation in decision-making processes. The ECA also engages in capacity-building initiatives, providing women with the skills and knowledge needed to establish and manage successful businesses, and leverages digital technologies to empower women entrepreneurs, enabling them to tap into online markets and expand their reach. The last time ECA visited the matter in 2017, they released a report covering the above issues and also mentioning the critical importance of proper infrastructure, particularly electricity. Moreover, the Commission on the Status of Women also examined the issue of women’s economic empowerment in 2017 and issued a report focusing on the protection of particularly vulnerable groups of women and the need for legal systems to combat workplace discrimination against women.

Looking ahead, the United Nations and the ECA are poised to continue and expand their efforts to boost women’s entrepreneurship in Africa. The ECA has outlined a three-part approach to achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment in development programs: think tank function, operational assistance and convening activities. The ECA provides research and analysis to assist Member States in identifying, developing and implementing policy and program responses to gender inequalities and barriers to women’s empowerment. The Commission also provides operational assistance to help Member States uphold their gender equality commitments. Finally, the ECA hosts various summits and events to bring together representatives from government, academia, civil society and the private sector to discuss common challenges, explore policy options, foster partnerships, build regional consensus and mobilize action on regional and international agreements. Other organizations have also been active in this area, and a number of innovative solutions have been tried on a pilot scale to boost women’s economic empowerment in Africa, such as trade education programs for women and “husband schools” to enable men to take on more domestic tasks as their partners increase participation in the workforce.

Questions to consider from your country’s perspective:

  • How can access to finance and resources be improved? What strategies can increase women’s access to capital, land, technology and networks which are vital for their entrepreneurial success?
  • What role can education and skills development play? How can the international community enhance women’s access to quality education, vocational training and business development programs?
  • What long-term strategies are needed for sustainable impact? How can the international community integrate women’s economic empowerment into broader development agendas, ensuring continuity and sustainability beyond short-term projects?

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

Addressing poverty and vulnerability in Africa during the COVID-19 pandemic

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, 478 million people in Africa, approximately 36 percent of the continent’s population, lived in extreme global poverty—defined as those who live on less than $1.90 per day in 2011 purchasing power parity (PPP) terms. When the global pandemic hit in 2020, there were devastating health consequences from COVID-19 itself, but also severe social and economic changes that led to loss of jobs, income, and economic activity. The border shutdowns, decreased travel/tourism, falling demand for African goods, workplace restrictions and other indirect consequences from the virus hit those living just above the global poverty line especially hard, catapulting an estimated additional 55 million Africans into extreme poverty by 2021.

Poverty reduction efforts have been a key focus of the United Nations for many years prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. On October 17, 1987, hundreds of thousands gathered at the Trocadéro in Paris, where the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed in 1948, to proclaim that poverty was a violation of human rights. This was the first observance of International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, which the General Assembly officially designated as 17 October in 1992. In 1995, the World Summit for Social Development convened and decided upon a universal definition of poverty: “a condition characterized by severe deprivation of basic human needs, including food, safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, health, shelter, education and information” that is dependent on both income and access to social services.

Since then, various multilateral efforts have emphasized the importance of combating poverty, including the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development’s (UNRISD) flagship report Combating Poverty and Inequality (2010), which highlighted three key elements of economic development that aim to fuel poverty reduction: 1) the creation of jobs and income, 2) the advancement of social policies rooted in human rights; and 3) the protection of civic and political rights. A renewed commitment to end poverty in all of its forms everywhere was also highlighted in the first Sustainable Development Goal (SDG), which was established at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro in 2012. To tailor poverty reduction efforts to the needs of specific countries, Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs), supported by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), have been prepared by individual Member States to describe each country’s situation and make recommendations regarding macroeconomic, structural and social policies. The PRSPs allow for concessional lending through the World Bank and the IMF as well as debt relief under the enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Country Initiative (HIPC) Initiative. Although some Member States have experienced success through the PRSPs, a 2015 IMF working paper found that “PRSP implementation has neither reduced poverty headcount nor raised the income share of the poorest quintile in Sub-Saharan Africa.” A 2016 World Bank Report also found concerning results regarding poverty in Africa, stating that while the percentage of those living in extreme poverty has decreased since 1990, the number of poor has increased significantly, due to the rapid population growth across the continent. The report also urged States to consider non-monetary dimensions of poverty, stating that economic growth is critical but not sufficient for poverty reduction.

Despite past efforts affirming the importance of global poverty, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, it was projected that Africa would fail to meet SDG 1: end poverty in all its forms everywhere. As the devastating consequences of the pandemic arose, it became apparent that Africa was falling further and further behind in meeting this goal. In 2020, the United Nations published a policy brief on the impact of COVID-19 in Africa, in which they suggested that the continent needed a “comprehensive global response package” equivalent to more than $200 billion in order to adequately address rising poverty amongst the African peoples.

The post-pandemic increase in poverty levels prompted the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) to release a report in 2021 entitled “Addressing Poverty and Vulnerability in Africa during the COVID-19 Pandemic.” The report found that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic varied by country, with some Member States like Egypt, Mauritius and Seychelles experiencing lower poverty and vulnerability and others like Ethiopia and Nigeria being the top contributors to the new poor demographic. Low initial poverty and vulnerability, high capacity to generate new jobs, low youth and old-age dependency ratios, a highly educated labor force, and good internet infrastructure were protective factors during the pandemic, allowing for some Member States to be more resilient to economic shocks. While some Member States were able to achieve these protective factors, others saw vast increases in extreme poverty. This pattern was also highlighted in a 2021 report by the United Nations Development Programme’s Regional Bureau for Africa (UNDP RBA): Analysing Long-term Socio-economic Impacts of COVID-19 Across Diverse African Contexts. In this document, the UNDP RBA described how varying decreases in trade, foreign direct investment, remittances and foreign aid were seen from country to country, ultimately resulting in economic slowdowns at both household and country-wide levels throughout Africa. Countries that were defined as “more resilient” still suffered severe negative impacts from the pandemic, but were better able to prevent short-term harm from being compounded into long-term harm.

Thinking ahead to the future, especially in light of the recent affirmation by the General Assembly that extreme poverty is a violation of human dignity, as well as the 2030 SDG 1—eradicating extreme global poverty—several organizations have made recommendations for new ways to address poverty in Africa. One United Nations report recommends a focus on five other SDGs, namely universal education, gender equality, protection of life on land, protection of life in the water and building partnerships for development, to remove several barriers that have hindered poverty reduction even in countries with substantial economic growth. The salience of protecting life in water is supported by a recent Human Rights Council report connecting aquatic ecosystems to safe drinking water and poverty. With regard to trade, the African Union (AU)’s African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement—one of the flagship projects of the AU’s Agenda 2063:The Africa We Want—was postponed from its original start date in July 2020 to mid-2021 due to the pandemic. By bringing together the 55 countries of the African Union (AU) and eight (8) Regional Economic Communities (RECs), AfCFTA was projected to boost income by 450 billion dollars by 2035 and potentially lift 30 million people out of extreme poverty in Africa. While 54 African countries have signed this agreement, as of May 2023, little trade has been reported under AfCTFA as the agreement has yet to be ratified by several countries and others are still drafting legislation to best make use of the lowered barriers to intra-African trade.

Questions to consider from your country’s perspective:

  • How should states prioritize protecting vulnerable and marginalized groups from current and future economic shocks?
  • Is improving human rights and addressing inequality a prerequisite for poverty reduction in Africa?
  • How can Member States with high resilience to economic shocks support those without high resilience in Africa? What other factors should be considered to achieve high resiliency?

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

ECOSOC COMMISSION: Commission on Population and Development (CPD)

A functional commission of ECOSOC, the Commission on Population and Development (CPD) monitors and studies population trends and the interrelationship of those trends with development issues. Established in 1946 as the Population Commission and renamed in 1994, the CPD’s primary mandate from ECOSOC is the monitoring, analysis and follow-up of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD). CPD is composed of 47 Member States elected every four years by ECOSOC.

In its review of the Programme of Action of the ICPD, the CPD directly reviews policies and implementation of the Programme at local, national and international levels. CPD is also tasked with arranging studies about and advising ECOSOC concerning the following: integrating populations with development policies, strategies and other programs; providing population assistance to developing countries and those economies in transitions upon their request; or addressing other population or development questions that arise from United Nations organs.

Members

  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Belarus
  • Belgium
  • Botswana
  • Canada
  • Chad
  • China
  • Comoros
  • Costa Rica
  • Cuba
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Denmark
  • Dominican Republic
  • El Salvador
  • Ethiopia
  • Honduras
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Iran, Islamic Republic of
  • Israel
  • Jamaica
  • Japan
  • Kenya
  • Lebanon
  • Libya
  • Malaysia
  • Mauritania
  • Mexico
  • Morocco
  • Netherlands
  • Pakistan
  • Philippines
  • Portugal
  • Republic of Moldova
  • Russian Federation
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Somalia
  • Togo
  • Türkiye
  • Turkmenistan
  • Ukraine
  • United Kingdom
  • United States of America
  • Zambia

Sustainable cities, human mobility and international migration

Sustainable cities play a crucial role in managing and accommodating human mobility. As urbanization increases, cities become destinations for migrants and internally displaced persons seeking economic opportunities, better living conditions and access to social services. By 2030, the share of the population living in cities is expected to rise to 60 percent Simultaneously, human mobility—including international migration—has a significant impact on sustainable development. Migration patterns can be influenced by social, economic and environmental factors. By addressing the root causes of migration, such as poverty, inequality, lack of opportunities and climate disasters, sustainable development efforts can reduce the drivers of forced migration and displacement. Conversely, migration can also contribute to sustainable development bybringing in skills, knowledge and remittances that stimulate economic growth, create job opportunities and contribute to social development in both countries of origin and destination. Climate change is expected to displace over 200 million people by 2050. As the world continues to urbanize rapidly and face complex challenges caused by climate change,the United Nations has recognized the need for comprehensive and sustainable solutions to ensure the well-being and prosperity of both cities and individuals affected by migration and displacement.

In 1992 the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was established to address climate change and its impacts by providing a framework for global cooperation, policy development, and action to mitigate the effects of climate change. The UNFCCC recognized that climate change impacts, such as sea-level rise, extreme weather events and environmental degradation, affect human mobility. It acknowledged the need to address displacement and migration linked to climate change through appropriate adaptation and resilience measures. Under the purview of the UNFCCC, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol was established. It recontextualized sustainable development with a new emphasis on environmental sustainability in the face of global climate change. The 2015 Paris Climate Agreement took a similar approach. It supports initiatives that promote sustainable urban development, acknowledge the impacts of climate change on human mobility, and call for global cooperation to address these challenges. 

In 1994, the International Conference on Population and Development adopted the 20 Year Programme of Action with 179 signatories, which addressed a variety of topics related to people-centered development progress, including issues in achieving sustainable development and promoting the well-being of individuals and communities. The Programme recognized the likely shift of rural populations to urban areas as well as continued high levels of migration between countries  and the serious new challenges likely to face the world in the next twenty years. The Programme was extended indefinitely in 2010 and in 2014, the ICPD Beyond 2014 Global Review was conducted to assess progress made since its conception. The review highlighted the importance of addressing urbanization and migration within the context of sustainable development. The Nairobi Summit on ICPD25 was held in 2019 to commemorate the programme’s 25th anniversary. The summit reaffirmed the commitments made in 1994 and 2014 and acknowledged the need for urban planning that integrates migration and emphasized the importance of addressing the rights and needs of migrants in urban areas.

By 2015, all United Nations Member States adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Within this landmark document were 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to provide a framework for addressing various global challenges, including those related to migration and sustainable cities. SDG 11 specifically focused on making cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable, acknowledging the critical role of cities in managing human mobility. Other SDGs, such as SDG 1 (No Poverty), SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), and SDG 10 (Reduced Inequalities), also intersect with migration and sustainable cities, as they address issues of poverty, economic opportunities and social inclusion. 

In 2017, CPD adopted sustainable cities, human mobility and international migration as its annual theme for 2018. At the conference, the report of the Secretary-General recommended focusing on well-managed urbanization including providing access to safe water and sanitation, healthcare and housing for all people. The Secretary-General also recommended improving data collection on urbanization and the impact internal and international migration has on urban growth. However, the 2018 conference ended with no final declaration due to lack of consensus from Member States. Despite the lack of action from CPD, the United Nations adopted the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM). The GCM provides a comprehensive framework for future international cooperation on migration, addressing human rights, labor rights and the integration of migrants. It also recognizes the importance of sustainable urban development and the role of cities in supporting the well-being and inclusion of migrants. It emphasizes the need for inclusive urban planning, provision of services, housing and infrastructure to create cities that benefit both migrants and host communities. Several Member States have initiated efforts to implement the GCM at the national level, but as the GCM is a voluntary framework its implementation varies widely across Member States based on their individual priorities and capacities. The scope and progress of implementation will continue to be a challenge for Member States as the effects of climate change worsen and more people are displaced across the globe.

Sustainable cities, human mobility, and international migration are interrelated and mutually reinforcing and thus require a comprehensive and multilateral approach. Sustainable cities can enhance the integration and well-being of migrants, while effective urban planning and development can create favorable conditions for both residents and newcomers. The Natural Resource Defense Council recommends building infrastructure that encourages both the use of electronic transportation such as fleet vehicles and trains, but also creating spaces where biking and walking are both accessible, but also affordable options. The International Organization for Migration also recommends offering migrants opportunities to build innovative solutions and engaging within the industry to drive policy development in cities.

By approaching these areas through holistic strategies that recognize their interconnectedness, the United Nations can foster a more equitable and prosperous future for all.

Questions to consider from your country’s perspective:

  • How can the impacts of climate change on human mobility be effectively addressed, including planning for climate-induced displacement, supporting affected communities, and ensuring the protection and resilience of migrants in the face of environmental challenges?
  • In the context of international migration, how can Member States enhance cooperation and establish comprehensive frameworks that protect the rights of migrants, combat human trafficking and smuggling, and promote safe, orderly, and regular migration?
  • How can sustainable urban planning and development foster inclusive cities that accommodate the needs of both residents and migrants, ensuring equitable access to affordable housing, public services and employment opportunities?
  • What policies and measures can be implemented to address the challenges faced by migrants and internally displaced persons in urban areas, including ensuring their access to basic services, protection from discrimination, and opportunities for social integration?

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

Population, food security, nutrition and sustainable development

Food insecurity is an ongoing systemic issue that affects 720 to 811 million people. High costs and low affordability of nutritious food has resulted in over 3 billion people who are unable to afford to eat nutritiously. Despite progress being made in reducing the number of undernourished persons, economic slowdowns, armed conflicts and disease outbreaks have all contributed to the stall in global progress. With the global population expected to reach nearly 10 billion by 2050, current food systems will be unable to meet the nutritional needs of people as they are already vulnerable due to the pressure on natural resources, the ever-increasing aging population and the changing diets of people. Population, food security, nutrition and sustainable development are all interrelated as the United Nations grapples with reducing hunger, bearing in mind that any solutions should be sustainable in the long term.

In 1945, the United Nations established the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) as a specialized agency dedicated to ending world hunger. FAO endeavored not only to promote scientific, technological, social and economic progress relating to food and nutrition, but also to improve the production, marketing and distribution of food to all peoples. By 1961, the United Nations recognized that developed countries were producing surplus food while developing countries were struggling to maintain adequate food supplies, but that there was not a system in place that effectively enabled bilateral and multilateral agreements for the purpose of distributing food among Member States. The United Nations established the World Food Programme which created procedures for Member States to request emergency food assistance. 

The United Nations reaffirmed its commitment to furthering Member States’ development through the International Development Strategy for the Second United Nations Development Decade in 1970. The strategic plan established goals for developing countries, including the development and production of high-protein foods in order to meet nutritional needs of their population, while also encouraging developed countries to expand genetic research to attain this goal. In accordance with the strategy, the United Nations established the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in 1976 in order to fund programs that sought to expand or improve food production systems in developing countries and improve the nutritional level of the poorest populations. Since 1978, IFAD has provided 23.2 billion US dollars in grants and low-interest loans to Member States.

In 1992, the United Nations held the International Conference on Nutrition, where it recognized that nutrition was a necessary precondition for the development of all societies. As a result of this conference, the United Nations adopted the Plan of Action for Nutrition to provide a technical framework to improve nutrition. The plan included several objectives ranging from continued access to safe, nutritious food for people to ensuring the development of programs and policies to improve food security for both current and future generations. 

As a new millennium began, the United Nations adopted the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which set targets to promote health while reducing poverty and hunger, among other goals, by 2015. MDG 1.C aimed at halving hunger from 1990 levels by 2015. By 2014, undernourishment decreased from 23.2 percent in 1990 to 12.9 percent in developing countries. As the initial time frame to achieve the MDGs came to an end, the United Nations introduced the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), an urgent call to action for both developed and developing countries to achieve peace and prosperity under a shared blueprint. Amongst these goals, SDG 2 sets out to end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture by 2030. Target indicators in achieving SDG 2 include ending malnutrition, increasing food production and developing infrastructure in rural areas to diversify plant and livestock products. 

For the 53rd session of the Commission on Population and Development (CPD), CPD designated Population, food security, nutrition and sustainable development as its special theme for the year. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the commission was unable to meet formally. However, the theme was used during CPD’s 54th session in 2021. The Secretary-General brought to Member States’ attention to the ways in which a lack of food security and poor nutrition can cause long term developmental delays and increase mortality rates from diseases. To remedy this, the Secretary-General recommended Member States take action to transform food and agriculture systems to make them more sustainable and create programmes that encourage both increased food security and nutrition. The Commission was able to come to consensus on a final declaration and encouraged Member States to find innovative ways to promote food security and nutrition while at the same time providing technical assistance to developing countries in order to improve the resilience of their agriculture programs.

Food security and nutrition are essential to ensure the equitable development of people globally. Without proper nutrition, people are unable to meet their dietary needs and therefore cannot live active, healthy lifes. One of the main challenges remaining is sustained access to food. One Planet Network recommends creating a Public Food Procurement (PFP) system that allows countries to decide what kinds of food to purchase and who to purchase food from while still fostering local employment and opportunities for domestic food production. The Union of Concerned Scientists also recommends engaging with more sustainable food production practices by diversifying farm landscapes by including uncultivated prairie strips, having multiple crops in the same field and closely integrating crop and livestock management. These practices encourage biodiversity and improve the overall health of the farm ecosystem at the same time encourages diverse diets for people. 

Questions to consider from your country’s perspective:

  • How can the United Nations harness programs like the International Fund for Agricultural Development to assist developing countries in improving their food security and food systems?
  • What actions can the United Nations take to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 2 by 2030? Are there steps Member States can take to make achieving this goal more likely?
  • Are there ways the United Nations can ensure programs like Public Food Procurement will be effective in ensuring developing countries receive adequate and nutritious food supplies?

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

Introduction to the Security Councils

The Security Council’s primary responsibility is maintaining international peace and security. The membership of the Security Council consists of fifteen Members, including five Permanent Members (China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States) and ten at-large Member States which the General Assembly elects for rotating two-year terms. A majority in the Security Council consists of nine Members voting “yes” (except in Historical Security Councils before 1965, where a majority consists of seven Members voting “yes”); however, a “no” vote by any of the Permanent Members has the effect of vetoing or blocking actions.

As the Security Council only meets to discuss topics concerning international peace and security, representatives of the Security Councils at AMUN (both Contemporary and Historical) should note that the agenda provided is only provisional and represents a fraction of the issues the Security Council discusses. Unlike other Committees and Councils at AMUN, the topics presented do not constitute a complete list of topics the Security Councils can discuss. Likewise, the inclusion of the topics presented does not guarantee or mandate that a listed topic will be formally discussed during the simulation. Any issue regarding international peace and security for that time may be brought before the Councils.

Therefore, representatives on the Contemporary Security Council must have a broad knowledge regarding current events in the international community. Periodicals and online sources are some of the best sources available for day-to-day updates. Recommended sources include: The New York Times, United Nations Chronicle, The Times of London, Al Jazeera, the Mail & Guardian, Foreign Policy and The Economist. The UN Wire is an excellent resource for timely information, and one good way for representatives to stay abreast of the most recent reports published by the Security Council and other relevant United Nations bodies.

Historical Security Council (HSC) representatives should approach their Council’s issues based on events up to the start date of the simulation and should do their research accordingly. This means using historical materials whenever possible. The world has changed dramatically over the years, but none of these changes will be evident within the chambers of the HSC. While histories of the subject will be fine for a general overview, representatives should peruse periodicals and other primary sources from three to five years before the year in question to most accurately reflect the worldview at that time. Periodicals contemporary to the period, which can be easily referenced in a Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature or the New York Times Index, will provide a much better historical perspective and feel for the times than later historical texts.

AMUN’s Security Council simulation philosophy

One of the core principles of AMUN is to mirror the practice and dynamics of the United Nations as much as possible. To that end, AMUN strives to create and conduct simulations that are a realistic representation of diplomacy at the United Nations and the broader international system. We believe this commitment furthers AMUN’s aims to create a fair and fun experience for all representatives and that it enhances the educational mission of the organization.

This commitment to realism is especially important in Security Councils where representatives respond to a simulated world that changes depending on the Council’s actions. Representatives are therefore asked to act within the realm of the possible.

Simulations Staff are always available to consult with representatives as they work through their diplomatic options. Representatives are encouraged to seek out Simulations Staff to act in the home office capacity when they need to supplement their research on a situation. Simulation Staff wear many hats, including acting as an in-house resource for representatives about their countries and the topics at hand.

All actions (as opposed to statements) proposed by Council Members must be approved by AMUN’s Simulations Staff, who are charged with managing each simulation’s timeline and alternate reality. As a rule, the Simulations Staff will give representatives a wide latitude in decision making. However, the Simulations Staff may deny a certain action if it falls outside of the bounds of reality or would negatively impact the realism of the simulation for all participants.

For every issue before the Council, each Member is faced with a variety of options of how to react and what policy line to take. A realistic simulation will consider only those options that would have reasonably been on the table for a State at a particular moment in time. In other words, there will always be options States do not consider or dismiss out of hand because they have limited capabilities or due to historical, cultural or political constraints; in a realistic simulation, these options are not appropriate. These unrealistic approaches will not be permitted at AMUN.

This commitment to realism does not mean that simulations have a set trajectory they must follow. In the Historical Security Councils there will certainly be many deviations from historical timelines, and re-thinking the way diplomacy played out in the past is encouraged. The same is encouraged in the Contemporary Security Council. As situations change, so do the options and attitudes of the Council Members and other countries. There are near-infinite possibilities within the bounds of realism, and our Simulation Staff will help representatives work through their options.

Declarative Statements and Operational Decisions

Security Council Members are able to make declarative statements and operational decisions that will affect the course of the simulation; this ability to change reality makes these simulations different from other simulations at AMUN. Council representatives must actively bring their State’s policies and capabilities into the simulation. Representatives are welcome and encouraged to make declarative statements—including real or implied threats and deals—that do not carry operational implications outside of the United Nations; however, representatives must always consult with the Simulation Staff before making any operational decisions.

Operational decisions include any actions that would have a real-world effect outside of the United Nations, including, for example, the announcement of movements of, or actions by, national military forces. In these cases, the Simulations Staff act as the home office or government of the involved Member States(s).

Parties to the Dispute

Sometimes other States and organizations will be involved in the deliberations of the Council as Parties to the Dispute. Delegations representing these States, if present at AMUN, will be asked to participate in deliberations by the Council. If they are not present, or cannot provide a representative to address the Council, a member of the AMUN Secretariat will represent them as necessary. It is customary for the Council to request the presence of relevant Member States during discussion of a topic relevant to that State’s interests, however it is not required. Any State mentioned in the background research for a specific Security Council has the potential to be called as a Party to the Dispute in the Council as well as any State related to a topic relevant to international peace and security. The Secretariat will notify in advance States likely to be asked to appear before one of the Security Councils. Those delegations should have one or more representatives prepared to come before the Council at any time. Because these States will not be involved in all issues, the representative(s) responsible for the Party to the Dispute must be assigned to another Committee, preferably with a second representative who can cover that Committee while they are away. A floating Permanent Representative would also be ideal for this assignment.

Roleplaying in Historical Security Councils

AMUN’s HSCs are unique not only in their topics, but also in their treatment of those topics. History and time are the HSC’s media, and they are flexible. History will be as it was written until the moment the Council convenes; the start date for the historical simulations is provided later in this chapter. From the start date forward what transpires will be dependent upon both Council Members’ actions and Simulation Staff decisions. Council Members are encouraged to exercise free will based on the range of all the choices within their national character, upon the capabilities of their governments and within the bounds of realistic diplomacy.

Effective roleplaying for an HSC Member State will not just be a routine replay of national decisions as they evolved in that year. Indeed, the problems of the era may not transpire as they once did, and this will force active evaluations—and reevaluations—of national policies. Thus, it cannot be said that the policy course a government took in that year will necessarily be the wisest. Even were circumstances the same, it is not a sure thing that any given government would do things exactly the same way given a second opportunity to look at events. History is replete with the musings of foreign ministers and heads of state pining for second chances.

HSC simulations will follow a flexible timeline based on events as they occurred and as modified by the representatives’ policy decisions in the Council. The Secretariat will be responsible for tracking the simulation and keeping it as realistic as possible. In maintaining realism representatives must remember that they are roleplaying the individual assigned as their State’s representative to the United Nations. They may have access to the up-to-the-minute policy decisions of their States, or they may be relatively in the dark on their State’s moment-to-moment actions in the world.

Open Agenda

A unique feature of each Security Council simulation at AMUN is the Council’s ability to set its own agenda. The situations outlined in the council-specific topic briefs on the following pages are only a few of those facing the world at the time and each Security Council can discuss any topic that the body wishes. For the Contemporary Security Council this includes any real-world event up until the day the simulation convenes. For the Historical Security Councils, representatives should have a working knowledge of the events prior to and including the start date for their respective simulation. For the Historical Security Council of 2003, the start date is 23 January 1993.

For the time periods in question, open issues could include any active United Nations peacekeeping operations, the work of any United Nations body active at the time, and any social or economic issue of the day. It is strongly recommended that all representatives be well versed on current and historical global events relevant to their simulation.

Other Aspects to Consider

  • Council Representatives must actively bring their country’s policies and capabilities into the simulation when discussing problems and issues before the Council.
  • Representatives should consider the cost of involvement by the United Nations. An increase in costs often causes the Security Council to re-prioritize its efforts.
  • Sovereignty and the role of the Council and the United Nations are also key points to consider. While state governments often do not want international meddling in what they feel are national policies or disputes, this in no way lessens the responsibility of Council Members to make the effort and find ways to actively involve themselves in crisis solutions. This task must, however, be accomplished without violating the bounds of the Member States’ national characters.

Background Research

The following sections offer brief synopsis of the main international situations facing the Security Council. For the Contemporary Security Council these briefs are current as of summer 2023. Information for the Historical Security Council covers information available up until the respective start dates of the simulation. AMUN recommends that representatives have a solid foundational knowledge of the background of major international issues. The topics laid out in this handbook are provided as a starting point for further research.

Security Council Rules of Procedure

1.0 Administrative

1.1 The Secretariat. The Secretariat consists of the volunteer staff members of American Model United Nations (AMUN).

1.2 Rules Committee. The President of the General Assembly, the Director of Rules and Procedures, the Director of Security Council Procedures and one other person as appointed by the Secretary-General shall compose the membership of the Rules Committee.

1.3 Credentials. All questions concerning the validity of representative credentials shall be submitted in writing to the Secretariat,

  • The Secretariat has sole authority to create and distribute credentials,
  • The Secretariat has sole authority to decide all questions concerning credentials, and
  • Representatives must display approved credentials at all times while on the Conference premises.

1.4 Quorum. A quorum is made up of all Member States; to begin a Council session, all Members must be present,

  • The Secretariat reserves the right to adjust quorum as it deems necessary.

1.5 Security Council Officers. The Secretariat shall appoint the Presidents and Vice Presidents of the Security Council and shall select any other positions necessary to help conduct the sessions of the Council.

1.6 General Authority of the Security Council President. In addition to exercising such authority as conferred upon the President elsewhere in these rules, the President shall:

  • Declare the opening and closing of each session,
  • Ensure the observance of the rules,
  • Facilitate the discussions of the Council and accord the right to speak,
  • Advise the Council on methods of procedure that will enable the body to accomplish its goals, 
  • Rule on points and motions and, subject to these rulings, have complete control of the proceedings of the Council and the maintenance of order at its meetings, and
  • During the course of the session, the President may propose Suspension of the Meeting (rule 7.1), Adjournment of the Meeting (rule 7.2), Closure of Debate (rule 7.5), Consultative Session (rule 7.7), and Limits on Debate (rule 7.11). The President is under the direct authority of the Rules Committee and may be directed to inform the Council on matters of procedure if such action is deemed necessary by the Rules Committee.

1.7 Absence of Council President. If the Council President should find it necessary to be absent during any part of a Council session, the President shall designate an individual, normally the Vice President, to chair the Council session with the same authority.

1.8 Attendance at Security Council Sessions. Each Security Council Member delegation assumes the responsibility to have a minimum of one accredited representative at each Council session.

1.9 Emergency Council Sessions. Emergency Security Council Sessions may be called by the Secretariat at any time international conflicts require immediate Council attention, as established in the Charter of the United Nations.

1.10 Provisional Agenda. The Secretariat shall distribute a provisional agenda to all delegations prior to the start of the Conference,

  • This agenda in no way limits the Council’s topics,
  • This agenda in no way confirms the inclusion of topics during the Council’s deliberations, and
  • The provisional agenda does not constitute a default agenda for the Council.

1.11 Daily Order of Consideration of Agenda Topics. The Council will establish the daily order of consideration of agenda topics at the start of each daily session. Once established, this will become the working agenda for the duration of that day,

  • Agenda topics will be discussed in the order in which they appear on the working agenda (rule 7.10), and
  • A delegation wishing to change this order may move to add an agenda topic (rule 7.8) and change the order of consideration of the working agenda (rule 7.9).

1.12 Participation by Non-Council Member States and International Organizations. When an issue before the Security Council involves a non-Council United Nations Member State or Observer, the Council may request that the delegation be represented during Council sessions in which the issue is being discussed,

  • To do this a Council Member must move that the Member or Observer be brought as a Party to the Dispute (rule 7.15),
  • A non-Council United Nations Member or Observer that has been requested to attend Council sessions will usually be given debating privileges, allowing the delegation to be recognized by the President during debate,
  • A non-Council United Nations Member State or Observer may submit draft resolutions or amendments, but may not move these to the floor or vote at any time, and
  • A non-Council Member requested to attend a Council session, but not given debating privileges, will be subject to a question and answer period.

When discussing any issue, if the Security Council finds it necessary to have a representative of a non-United Nations Member State, an international organization or any other persons it considers competent for the purpose present, the Council may request one by means of Party to the Dispute (rule 7.15). A representative will be made available to the Council in a timely fashion,

  • These representatives may not be given debating privileges, but will be subject to a question and answer period, and
  • The Secretariat will assume full responsibility to certify representatives’ credentials prior to their appearance before the Council.

Due to technical and logistical limitations the Contemporary Security Council will not be able to declare an “open meeting” during any virtual session.

1.13 Security Council Priority Relating to Issues Concerning the Maintenance of International Peace and Security. The Security Council, as established in the United Nations Charter, shall have priority over the General Assembly on issues that pertain to the maintenance of international peace and security,

  • Issues of this type, while under discussion in the Security Council, shall be seized from General Assembly action,
  • General Assembly draft resolutions that deal with a seized issue may be discussed and amended, but no final vote on the draft resolution may be taken, and
  • Accordingly, any General Assembly draft resolution pertaining to a seized issue may be discussed and amended but cannot be put to a final vote in the General Assembly until the Security Council has completed its deliberations on the issue.

If no resolution has been adopted, the Security Council will be considered to have completed its deliberations on a seized issue once that agenda topic is no longer under discussion. The Council may declare itself actively seized on a topic by stating this in a resolution; this seizure will prevent the General Assembly from taking action until a two-hour time period has elapsed. General Assembly representatives will be kept informed by the Secretary-General of any seized issues.

2.0 General Rules

2.1 Statements by the Secretariat. The Secretary-General or any member of the Secretariat may make verbal or written statements to the Security Council at any time.

2.2 Diplomatic Courtesy. All participants in the AMUN Conference must accord Diplomatic Courtesy to all credentialed representatives, Secretariat Members, Faculty Advisors and Observers at all times,

  • Representatives who persist in obvious attempts to disrupt the session shall be subject to expulsion from the Council by the President,
  • The Secretariat reserves the right to expel any representative or delegation from the Conference, and
  • This decision is not appealable.

2.3 Speeches. No representative may address the Council without obtaining the permission of the President,

  • Delegations, not representatives, are recognized to speak; more than one representative from the same delegation may speak when the delegation is recognized,
  • Speakers must keep their remarks germane to the subject under discussion,
  • A time limit may be established for speeches (rule 7.11),
  • Representatives, at the conclusion of a substantive speech, will be allowed, if they are willing, to answer questions concerning their speech,
  • A delegation that desires to ask a question of the speaker should signify by raising a Point of Inquiry (rule 6.3),
  • All questions and replies are made through the President,
  • A speaker who desires to make a motion may do so after speaking and accepting points of inquiry, but prior to yielding the floor, and
  • By making a motion the speaker yields the floor.

2.4 Recognition of Speakers. Delegations wishing to speak on an item before the body will signify by raising their placards (or the virtual equivalent as directed by the President),

  • The exception to this rule occurs on any Point of Order (rule 6.1), Information (rule 6.2), or Inquiry (rule 6.3), at which time a representative should indicate their motion to the President in the manner directed by the President.
  • Points will be recognized in the order of their priority,
  • Motions may not be made from Points of Order (rule 6.1), Information (rule 6.2) or Inquiry (rule 6.3), except
    • A motion to Appeal the Decision of the President (rule 7.6), may be made when recognized for a Point of Order.
  • The President shall recognize speakers in a fair and orderly manner, and
  • Speakers’ lists will not be used, except during an open meeting (rule 1.12).

2.5 Right of Reply. The President may accord a Right of Reply to any representative if a speech by another representative contains unusual or extraordinary language clearly insulting to personal or national dignity,

  • Requests for a Right of Reply shall be made in writing to the President,
  • Requests shall contain the specific language which was found to be insulting to personal or national dignity,
  • The President may limit the time for reply,
  • There shall be no reply to a reply, and
  • This decision is not appealable.

2.6 Withdrawal of Motions. A motion may be withdrawn by its proposer at any time before voting on it has begun,

  • A withdrawn motion may be reintroduced by any other delegation.

2.7 Dilatory Motions. The President may rule out of order any motion repeating or closely approximating a recent previous motion on which the Council has already rendered an opinion,

  • This decision is not appealable.

2.8 Open Debate on Motions. Representatives wishing to speak to a motion may do so for any motions which are subject to open debate,

  • The President shall declare the opening and closing of debate on motions,
  • Points of Inquiry are not in order during this debate,
  • Motions of higher priority than the one being debated may be made from the floor during open debate,
  • The President will declare debate closed when no other delegation signifies its desire to speak,
  • Closure of open debate may not be moved by a delegation from the floor, and
  • The body will move to an immediate vote on the motion following the President’s declaration of closure.

2.9 Consultative Session. The Council may choose to suspend its formal rules and enter an informal consultative session moderated by the Council President if the Members determine that this process will better facilitate the discussion of a particular issue,

  • The Council will move immediately into a formal session once the time period or topic set for the Consultative Session has expired (rule 7.7).

3.0 Rules That Relate to the Rules

3.1 Rule Priority and Procedure. The rules contained in this handbook are the official rules of procedure of American Model United Nations and will be used for all Council sessions. These rules take precedence over any other set of rules.

3.2 Precedence of Rules. Proceedings in the Security Council of AMUN shall be conducted under the following precedence of rules

  1. AMUN Rules of Procedure,
  2. AMUN Security Council Order of Precedence of the Rules Short Form,
  3. Rulings by the Rules Committee,
  4. Historical usage of the AMUN Rules of Procedure,
  5. Historical usage of the United Nations Rules of Procedure,
  6. The Charter of the United Nations.

3.3 The Order of Precedence of Motions. The order of precedence of motions is listed in order of priority in both the Security Council Precedence Short Form and in these rules under Section 7, “Motions in Order of Priority.” 

3.4 Rule Changes. The Rules Committee reserves the right to make changes to these rules at any time. Should a change occur, it will be communicated to the representatives in a timely manner.

3.5 Rule Priority and Procedure. The rules contained in this handbook are the official rules of procedure of AMUN and will be used for all Council sessions. These rules take precedence over any other set of rules.

3.6 Precedence of Rules. Proceedings in the Security Council of AMUN shall be conducted under the following precedence of rules:

  1. AMUN Rules of Procedure,
  2. AMUN Security Council Order of Precedence of the Rules Short Form (see page 40),
  3. Rulings by the Rules Committee,
  4. Historical usage of the AMUN Rules of Procedure,
  5. Historical usage of the United Nations Rules of Procedure,
  6. The Charter of the United Nations.

3.7 The Order of Precedence of Motions. The order of precedence of motions is listed in order of priority in both the Security Council Precedence of the Rules Short Form and in these rules under Section 7, Motions in Order of Priority. These motions, in the order given, have precedence over all other proposals or motions before the Security Council.

3.8 Rule Changes. The Rules Committee reserves the right to make changes to these rules at any time. Should a change occur, it will be communicated to the representatives in a timely manner.

4.0 Draft Resolutions, Amendments & Statements

4.1 Definition of Draft Resolutions. A draft resolution is a written proposal consisting of at least one preambular and one operative clause.

4.2 Draft Resolutions. Draft resolutions may be submitted to the Security Council President/Vice President for approval at any time during the Conference,

  • For a draft resolution to be considered it must be organized in content and flow, in the proper format and approved by the Council Dais, 
  • Approved resolutions will be assigned an identifying number by the Vice President,
  • After acceptance, draft resolutions shall be processed in the order in which they are received and distributed to all delegations as soon as feasible,

A draft resolution that has been distributed may be proposed when the Council considers the agenda topic that is the subject of the draft resolution,

  • Only one draft resolution may be considered at any time during formal debate,
  • Once a draft resolution is on the floor for discussion, additional sponsors may only be added to that draft resolution with the consent of the original sponsor(s),
  • Once a vote has been taken on a contested amendment to a draft resolution, no additional sponsors may be added, and
  • Friendly amendments (rule 4.4) do not limit the addition of sponsors as noted above,
  • See also Closure of Debate on an Agenda Topic (rule 7.4), Closure of Debate (rule 7.5), and Consideration of Amendments (rule 7.14).

4.3 Definition of Amendments. An amendment to a draft resolution is a written proposal that adds to, deletes from, or revises any part of a draft resolution.

4.4 Amendments. All amendments must be submitted on an official amendment form to the President/Vice President for approval,

  • For an amendment to be considered it must be organized in content and flow, be in the proper format, and be approved by the Council Dais,
  • Approved amendments will be assigned an identification letter by the Vice President, and
  • Typographical errors in a draft resolution will be corrected by the Council Secretariat and announced to the body.

One or more amendments may be considered on the floor at any given time (see also Closure of Debate on an Agenda Topic (rule 7.4), Closure of Debate (rule 7.5), and Consideration of Amendments (rule 7.14)).

An amendment will be considered “friendly” if all sponsors of the draft resolution are also sponsors of the amendment,

  • A friendly amendment becomes part of a draft resolution upon the announcement that it is accepted by the dais,
    • No vote is required to add a friendly amendment to a draft resolution.
  • The President shall announce the acceptance of a friendly amendment on the first opportunity at which no speaker has the floor, and
  • Friendly amendments cannot be accepted after a vote has been taken on a contested amendment or after closure of debate on the resolution has been moved.

4.5 Withdrawal of Sponsorship. Sponsorship of a resolution or amendment may be withdrawn at any time before entering into voting procedure on the item,

  • Sponsorship of a resolution may not be withdrawn after a vote has been taken on a contested amendment,
  • If a draft resolution or amendment has all sponsorship withdrawn, any delegation may take up sponsorship of that draft resolution or amendment by informing the President,
  • If all sponsors withdraw from a draft resolution or amendment, it is automatically removed from consideration.

4.6 Definition of Presidential Statements. The Security Council may choose to issue a Presidential Statement on issues which do not warrant a resolution. This statement is formally issued by the President of the Council, but is drafted by the body, or its designees.

4.7 Presidential Statements. Presidential Statements are discussed, drafted and accepted in informal debate or outside of a formal Council session,

  • This statement must be accepted by a consensus of the Council during a Consultative Session (rule 7.7),
  • As this type of statement does not represent a formal decision of the Council, no formal vote is recorded on a Presidential Statement, and
  • Unlike resolutions, Presidential Statements are not binding on Member States.
  • A Presidential Statement may be submitted to the Security Council President/Vice President for approval at any time during the Conference,
  • For a Presidential Statement to be considered it must be organized in content and flow, be in the proper format, and be approved by the Council Secretariat.

5.0 Voting

5.1 Voting Rights. Each Security Council Member is accorded one vote,

  • No delegation may cast a vote on behalf of another Member State.

5.2 Votes Required for Passage. Unless otherwise specified in these rules or by the Rules Committee, decisions in the Council require nine affirmative votes for passage,

  • Historical Security Councils occurring prior to 1966, consisting of eleven members, require seven affirmative votes for passage of decisions.

5.3 Adoption by Consensus. The adoption of amendments and draft resolutions by consensus is desirable when it contributes to the effective and lasting settlement of differences, thus strengthening the authority of the United Nations,

  • Any representative may request the adoption of an amendment or draft resolution by consensus at any time after closure of debate has passed,
  • The President shall then ask whether there is any objection to consensus,
  • The President shall then ask whether there are any delegations wishing to abstain from consensus,
  • If there is no objection, the proposal is approved by consensus, and
  • If any representative objects to consensus, voting shall occur as otherwise stated in these rules.

5.4 Method of Voting. The Council shall normally vote on motions by a show of raised placards or other method as indicated by the President,

  • The votes of Council Members on all substantive matters shall be officially recorded, and all substantive matters are subject to the Consent of the Permanent Members, regardless of the means by which they are voted upon (rule 5.8),
  • Any delegation may request a roll call vote on substantive matters, unless adopted by consensus; this request shall then automatically be granted by the President,
  • When applicable, roll shall be called in English alphabetical order beginning with a Member selected at random by the Vice President,
  • Representatives shall respond with “yes,” “no,” “abstain” or “abstain from the order,”
  • A Member may abstain from the order of voting once during a roll call; a second abstention from the order of voting will be recorded as an abstention.

5.5 Conduct During Voting. Immediately prior to a vote, the President shall describe to the Council the proposal to be voted on and shall explain the consequences of a “yes” or a “no” vote. Voting shall begin upon the President’s declaration, “we are now in voting procedure,” and end when the results of the vote are announced,

  • Following Closure of Debate, and prior to entering voting procedure, the President shall pause briefly to allow delegations the opportunity to make any relevant motions,
  • Relevant motions prior to a vote include Adoption by Consensus (rule 5.3) Suspension of the Meeting (rule 7.1), Adjournment of the Meeting (rule 7.2), Enter Consultative Session (rule 7.7) and Division of the Question (rule 7.12), and
  • Once in voting procedure, no representative shall interrupt the voting except on a Point of Order or Point of Information concerning the actual conduct of the vote.

5.6 Changes of Votes. At the end of roll call, but before Rights of Explanation (rule 5.7) are granted and the subsequent announcement of the vote, the Vice President will ask for any vote changes. Any delegation that desires to change its recorded vote may do so at that time.

5.7 Rights of Explanation. Rights of Explanation are permitted on all substantive votes after voting. The President may limit the time for Rights of Explanation.

5.8 Consent of the Five Permanent Members. As established in the Charter of the United Nations, each of the five Permanent Members (China, France, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States) shall have the right to veto any substantive matter which comes to a vote before the Security Council,

  • A substantive matter which has a majority of votes in favor but receives a “no” by any Permanent Member fails due to lack of consent of the Permanent Members.

6.0 Points of Procedure in Order of Priority

6.1 Point of Order. During the discussion of any matter, a representative may rise to a Point of Order if the representative believes that the Council is proceeding in a manner contrary to these rules,

  • The representative must identify their point in the method indicated by the President and will be recognized immediately by the President and the point ruled on,
  • A representative rising to a Point of Order may not speak substantively on any matter,
  • If a representative’s ability to participate in the Council’s deliberations is impaired for any reason, the representative may rise to a Point of Order,
  • A Point of Order may interrupt a speaker, and
  • See also Speeches (rule 2.3).

6.2 Point of Information. A Point of Information is raised to the President if a representative wishes to obtain a clarification of procedure or a statement of the matters before the Council,

  • The representative must identify their point in the method indicated by the President,
  • A Point of Information may not interrupt a speaker, and
  • See also Speeches (rule 2.3).

6.3 Point of Inquiry. During substantive debate, a representative may question a speaker by rising to a Point of Inquiry,

  • Questions must be directed through the President and may be made only after the speaker has concluded his/her remarks, but before he/she has yielded the floor,
  • The representative must identify their point in the method indicated by the President,
  • A Point of Inquiry may not interrupt a speaker, and
  • See also Speeches (rule 2.3).

7.0 Motions in Order of Priority

7.1 Suspension of the Meeting. During the discussion of any matter, a representative may move to suspend the meeting. Suspending a meeting recesses it for the time specified in the motion,

  • The motion is not debatable,
  • The President may request that the delegation making the motion modify the time of suspension,
  • If the motion passes, upon reconvening the Council will continue its business from the point at which suspension was moved, unless otherwise stated in these rules.

7.2 Adjournment of the Meeting. The motion of adjournment of the meeting means that all business of the Council has been completed, and that the Council will not reconvene until the next annual session,

  • The motion is not debatable,
  • The President may refuse to recognize a motion to adjourn the meeting if the Council still has business before it,
  • This decision is not appealable.

7.3 Adjournment of Debate. During the discussion of any draft resolution, amendment or agenda topic before the Council, a representative may move for adjournment of debate.

  • This motion is subject to open debate. Upon closure of the open debate period, the motion shall be put to a vote,
  • Adjournment of debate on a draft resolution or amendment has the effect of removing that item from consideration and allows the committee to move on to another draft resolution or amendment,
  • An adjourned draft resolution can be resubmitted to the floor by any delegation, at the discretion of the President as to the dilatory nature of such a motion,
  • Adjourning debate on an agenda topic has the effect of postponing debate on the topic and allowing the Council to move on to consideration of other topics or issues, and
  • The Council may return to discussion of an agenda topic by changing the order of consideration of the working agenda (Rule 7.9).

7.4 Closure of Debate on an Agenda Topic. A representative may move to close debate on an agenda topic at any time during the discussion of that topic. The effect of this motion, if passed, is to bring the draft resolution that is on the floor to a vote,

  • This motion is subject to open debate. Upon closure of the open debate period, the motion shall then be put to a vote, and
  • If no draft resolution is on the floor, the effect of this motion is to end debate on this topic, removing it from the working agenda and moving to the next topic on the working agenda.

7.5 Closure of Debate. A representative may move to close debate on a draft resolution or amendment at any time during the discussion of that item. The effect of this motion is to bring the issue under discussion to an immediate vote,

  • This motion is subject to open debate. Upon closure of the open debate period, the motion shall then be put to a vote,
  • Representatives should specify whether the motion for closure applies to an amendment or a draft resolution,
  • If closure passes on a draft resolution or agenda topic, all amendments on the floor will be voted upon in the reverse order from which they were moved to the floor,  and
  • After voting on all amendments is completed, the draft resolution as amended, shall be voted upon in accordance with these rules.

At the conclusion of voting procedure, the draft resolution or amendment being voted on is removed from consideration, regardless of whether it passes or fails. Debate then continues on the current topic.

7.6 Appealing a Decision of the President. Rulings of the President are appealable unless otherwise specified in these rules,

  • This motion is subject to open debate. Upon closure of the open debate period, the motion shall then be put to a vote,
  • An appeal must be made immediately following the ruling in question,
  • This motion may be made by a delegation that has been recognized through a Point of Order,
  • The President shall put the question as follows: “Shall the decision of the President be upheld?” A “yes” vote supports the President’s decision; a “no” vote signifies objection,
  • The decision of the President shall be upheld by a tie, and
  • Rulings by the President on the following rules or motions are not appealable: Diplomatic Courtesy (rule 2.2), Right of Reply (rule 2.5), Dilatory Motions (rule 2.7), granting of a roll call vote (rule 5.4), Adjournment of the Meeting (rule 7.2), and any time a ruling by the President is a direct quotation from these Rules of Procedure.

7.7 Consultative Session. A motion to enter consultative session is in order at any time,

  • The motion should specify a length of time or topic for the consultative session,
  • This can be set to a specific time, or based on the discussion of a specific amendment, draft resolution or agenda topic (rule 2.9), and
  • This motion is subject to open debate. Upon closure of the open debate period, the motion shall then be put to a vote.

7.8 Add an Agenda Topic. A motion to add an agenda topic to the working agenda is in order during any Council session,

  • This motion is subject to open debate. Upon closure of the open debate period, the motion shall then be put to a vote, 
  • For the purposes of virtual conferences, the agenda topics available to the body may be limited by the Simulation Staff, and
  • Once an issue is added as an agenda topic, it is placed as the last topic on the working agenda.

7.9 Change the Order of Consideration of the Working Agenda. A motion to change the order of consideration of topics on the working agenda is in order during any formal session. The effect of this motion is to change the order in which agenda topics are to be discussed by the Council,

  • This motion is subject to open debate. Upon closure of the open debate period, the motion shall then be put to a vote, and
  • The delegation making this motion must state, in the motion, the new order in which the agenda topics are to be considered.

7.10 Set Working Agenda. At the start of each daily session the Security Council shall establish a working agenda (rule 1.11). A delegation may move to set the working agenda,

  • This motion is subject to open debate. Upon closure of the open debate period, the motion shall then be put to a vote,
  • The motion must include the order in which agenda topics are to be considered, and
  • A working agenda does not have to contain all agenda topics.

7.11 Limits on Debate. A motion to limit or extend the time allotted to each delegation, or limit the number of times each delegation can speak on any matter, is in order at any time,

  • This motion is subject to open debate. Upon closure of the open debate period, the motion shall then be put to a vote,
  • The time allotted for speakers on amendments, draft resolutions and agenda topics shall be no less than three minutes,
  • The time allotted for non-substantive speeches shall be no less than one minute,
  • This motion may limit the number of Points of Inquiry a speaker may accept to a minimum of one, and
  • A motion to limit the time of debate on an agenda topic, draft resolution, or amendment is also in order.

7.12 Division of the Question. A motion to divide the question, proposing that clauses of an amendment or draft resolution be voted on separately, is in order at any time prior to entering voting procedure on the amendment or draft resolution,

  • This motion is subject to open debate. Upon closure of the open debate period, the motion shall then be put to a vote,
  • No debate or vote is necessary if the sponsor(s) of the draft resolution does not object to the division,
  • If a vote has previously been taken on a contested amendment to the draft resolution, any Council Member may object to division and require a vote,
  • After a motion for Division of the Question passes, no other motion for Division of the Question is in order on that amendment or draft resolution,
  • Those clauses of the amendment or draft resolution which are approved shall then be put to a vote as a whole, and
  • If division causes a draft resolution to no longer be in proper format (rule 4.1), the proposal as a whole is rejected.

7.13 Consideration of Draft Resolutions. A draft resolution may be moved to the floor by any delegation that receives recognition by the President,

  • This motion is not debatable,
  • Only one draft resolution may be on the floor at any time, and
  • The delegation moving consideration will be allowed to speak first on the draft resolution, if desired.

7.14 Consideration of Amendments. To bring an amendment to the floor for discussion, a delegation must first be recognized by the President,

  • This motion is not debatable,
  • The Vice President will present the amendment to the body, and
  • The delegation moving consideration will be allowed to speak first on the amendment, if desired.

7.15 Party to the Dispute. When the Security Council discusses a topic/issue that involves a nation or international organization not represented on the Council, it may request a representative by moving for a Party to the Dispute,

  • This motion is subject to open debate. Upon closure of the open debate period, the motion shall then be put to a vote,
  • The motion must state the United Nations Member State(s), Observer(s) or organization(s) whose representative is desired and the length of time requested and, if a Member State or Observer, whether debating privileges are to be granted,
  • If debating privileges are not granted, a formal “question and answer” period shall be instituted by the President, for the purposes of questioning the representative on the issue(s) at hand,
  • Due to technical and logistical limitations the Contemporary Security Council will not be able to declare an “open meeting” during any virtual session, and
  • See also Participation by Non-Council Member States and International Organizations (rule 1.12).

Security Council Rules Short Form

Download a PDF version of these rules optimized for printing.

Rule Debatable? Vote Required Description
6.1 Point of Order No None Point out a misuse of the rules
6.2 Point of Information No None Ask any question of the President, or gain a clarification
6.3 Point of Inquiry No None Ask a question of a speaker at the end of their  speech, prior to the Delegation’s yielding the floor
7.1 Suspension of the Meeting No Majority Recess the meeting for a specific period of time
7.2 Adjournment of the Meeting No Majority End the meeting for the year
7.3 Adjournment of Debate Yes Majority Remove from consideration any substantive issue open to debate without a vote on the content of that proposal
7.4 Closure of Debate on an Agenda Topic Yes Majority End debate on an agenda topic, bringing any draft resolution and amendments on the floor to an immediate vote
7.5 Closure of Debate Yes Majority End debate on any substantive issue open to debate and bring it to an immediate vote
7.6 Appealing a Decision of the President Yes Majority Challenge a ruling made by the President
7.7 Consultative Session Yes Majority Suspend rules and move to an informal debate session
7.8 Add an Agenda Topic Yes Majority Add an agenda topic to the working agenda
7.9 Change the Order of Consideration of the Working Agenda Yes Majority Change the order in which agenda items are set on the working agenda
7.10 Set Working Agenda Yes Majority Set the daily order for the working agenda
7.11 Limits on Debate Yes Majority Impose (or repeal) a limit on the length of debate
7.12 Division of the Question Yes Majority Divide a draft resolution or amendment into two or more clauses, each to be voted on separately after Closure of Debate
7.13 Consideration of Draft Resolutions No None Bring a draft resolution to the floor for discussion
7.14 Consideration of Amendments No None Bring an amendment to the floor for discussion
7.15 Party to the Dispute Yes Majority Request a non-Security Council member be invited to the session

Notes:

  1. A majority in the Security Council shall always be 9 votes.
  2. Historical Security Councils set before 1965 will require a 7 vote majority for passage.
  3. Any motion may be seconded, but no seconds are required in the Security Council.

 

The Security Council

Membership of the Security Council

  • Albania 
  • Brazil 
  • China
  • Ecuador 
  • France
  • Gabon 
  • Ghana 
  • Japan 
  • Malta 
  • Mozambique 
  • Russian Federation
  • Switzerland 
  • United Arab Emirates 
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

Introduction

The topics covered in this chapter are a guide to help direct your research on your State’s positions. Updates on likely topics for the Contemporary Security Council will be posted online throughout the fall. These updates will be available on the AMUN website and the AMUN Accords. The Contemporary Security Council topics below are current as of 1 July 2023 and may not include all topics that the Council might discuss at Conference. With the ever-changing nature of international peace and security, what is important to the Council may change between now and the start of Conference.

For each topic area, representatives should consider the following questions to help them in gaining a better understanding of the issues at hand, particularly from their country’s perspective:

  • How did this situation begin?
  • Who are involved in the situation and what are their concerns?
  • How have similar situations or conflicts been peacefully resolved?
  • What roles can the United Nations take in the situation? What roles should the United Nations take in the situation?
    If there are non-state actors involved in a conflict, are there any States supporting them? If so, which ones?

Maintenance of peace and security of Ukraine

From 2007 to 2011, the European Union (EU) and Ukraine negotiated a comprehensive free trade agreement. The agreement was widely popular with Ukrainian citizens but became politically problematic when Vladamir Putin, president of the Russian Federation, announced his opposition on the grounds that the trade agreement was a threat to Russia. Political pressure from Russia mounted until Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych abruptly abandoned the trade deal in November 2013. In response protests known as the Maiden Revolution erupted across Ukraine. Protests continued for months and involved increasingly violent clashes between protesters and security forces, the eventual formation of an interim government, and the formal ouster of Yanukovych and his exile to Russia on 22 February 2014. 

Protests against the new interim government began the next day in Sevastopol, the largest city in Crimea. The Crimea region is 90 percent ethnically Russian, and a majority of its citizens backed Yanukovych and his pro-Russian policies. Protests continued throughout the week and on 27 February, unmarked forces began occupying key government buildings in Crimea. Under occupation, the Crimean parliament voted in an emergency session to form a new regional government around the Russian Unity party. Russia has since confirmed the unmarked forces were from its own Black Sea Fleet, which is headquartered in Sevastopol by treaty. With the Russian Unity party in power, Russia formally incorporated the southern peninsula of Crimea on 18 March 2014. 

Also in March, separatists in the eastern region of the Donbas on the Russian border, including the major cities of Donetsk and Luhansk, seized control of the regions from the national government. The Ukrainian army attempted to retake control, but suffered a crippling defeat in the battle of Ilovaisk on 2 September 2014. The Minsk Protocol signed on 5 September 2014 and the Minsk II signed on 12 February 2015 established a tenuous cease-fire between Ukraine and the separatists groups in the self-governing regions of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and the Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR). The agreements also restored national border security and maintenance to the Ukrainian government resulting in a period of relative stability and peace from 2015 to 2020. 

On 14 September 2020, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy approved a national security strategy that involved increasing partnership with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) with the eventual aim to gain membership. The approved strategy was followed by a year of increasing tensions between Ukraine, Russia and NATO members, with Russia declaring that such an alliance posed a national security threatLimited skirmishes between Ukrainian and Russian forces throughout the year. By November 2021, the international community reported a renewed build up of Russian forces on the Ukrainian eastern border. After Ukraine rejected Russia’s proposal to abandon pursuing NATO partnership on 17 December 2021, Russian troops also began to consolidate in Belarus on Ukraine’s northern border, while fighting began to escalate in DPR and LPR regions.  On 24 February 2022, minutes after Russian President Vladimir Putin declared a “special military operation” seeking the “demilitarization and denazification” of Ukraine, Russia invaded Ukraine from the north (Belarus), east (Donbas) and south (Crimea). 

Since the initial invasion, Russia has abandoned its push to take Kyiv from Belarus in the north and Ukraine has been able to hold Odesa and Mykolaiv in the south, retaining critical access to the Black Sea. Russian forces remain consolidated in the east and southeast regions. Ukraine launched a counter-offensive in June 2023, and fighting has primarily occurred around the city of Bakhmut, on the western border of the DPR region. Russian missiles and drone strikes continue throughout Ukraine, while Ukrainian drones have hit targets in Crimea, on its borders with Russia and in Moscow.

Since the initial invasion, Russia has abandoned its push to take Kyiv from Belarus in the north and Ukraine has been able to hold Odesa and Mykolaiv in the south, retaining critical access to the Black Sea. Russian forces remain consolidated in the east and southeast regions. Ukraine launched a counter-offensive in June 2023, and fighting has primarily occurred around the city of Bakhmut, on the western border of the DPR region. Russian missiles and drone strikes continue throughout Ukraine, while Ukrainian drones have hit targets in Crimea, on its borders with Russia and in Moscow. 

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

The Situation in the South China Sea

Since the 1970s, China, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam have pressed competing territorial claims on islands and waters in the South China Sea, with China pressing the most expansive claims. Although the islands themselves—principally the Spratly and Paracel Islands and the Scarborough Shoal—are small and largely uninhabited, it is believed the region has substantial oil and natural gas reserves, along with productive fishing areas and heavily used shipping lanes. In 2002, China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which includes those countries with competing territorial claims in the South China Sea, signed the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea. In the Declaration, the parties pledged to abide by the United Nations Charter and international laws to promote peace and stability in the region.

In 2013, the Philippines began international arbitration proceedings against China regarding the status of islands in the South China Sea, claiming China unlawfully interfered inside the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone. In 2016, the arbitration court ruled in favor of the Philippines. However, the Chinese government declined to acknowledge the ruling and continued to press its territorial claims in the South China Sea, known as the “Nine-Dash Line” citing historic rights to the area. In 2014, Vietnam and China filed complaints with the United Nations Secretary-General over planned Chinese offshore oil drilling near the disputed Paracel Islands. China and Vietnam accused the other of aggressive actions, including claims of attempted ship ramming. Regional concern was also raised that China was dredging near the islands to create outposts and, potentially, military bases. Regional negotiations on the topic are stalled, as ASEAN is divided and China has signaled its preference for bilateral negotiations with individual countries.

On 9 August 2021, the Security Council held a meeting to discuss maritime security. In the meeting, Vietnam raised the topic of the South China Sea. Vietnam pledged to continue working with ASEAN and China to fully implement the 2002 Declaration, while also asking the Security Council to make important and concrete contributions to enhancing maritime security. China and the United States accused each other of increasing tensions in the South China Sea. The United States claimed it was promoting stability in the region in the face of illegal actions from China. China denied the accusations, claiming the United States was the biggest threat to the stability of the region as China was already working with ASEAN countries on implementing the 2002 Declaration.

In February 2023, the Philippines and the United States signed an agreement that would allow the United States to increase its military presence in the Philippines, followed by the largest joint military exercise to date in April. This was widely seen as a measure to increase United States presence in the region amidst increasing tensions. In March, the Chinese government threatened “serious consequences,” saying it would take “all necessary measures” to ensure Chinese security after the United States sailed a warship near the disputed Paracel Islands, in what the United States described as a “freedom of navigation operation.” In April, shortly before the joint American-Philippine military exercises were held, the Philippine government claimed a Chinese coast guard ship blocked them from visiting a disputed island and nearly causing a collision. On May 14, the Philippine government announced it placed navigation buoys in the disputed Spratly Islands to assert its claim over the area. 

Bibliography

United Nations Documents 

The Situation in Nagorno-Karabakh

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, conflict broke out between the former Soviet republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Although Nagorno-Karabakh was officially part of Azerbaijan, it was largely populated by ethnic Armenians whose regional parliament voted to become part of Armenia. The first war ended when a Russian-brokered ceasefire was agreed to in 1994. The terms of the ceasefire saw Nagorno-Karabakh remain part of Azerbaijan but governed as a separatist republic backed by the Armenian government. The final status of Nagorno-Karabakh was unresolved, and periodic clashes continued between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces.

In September 2020, renewed conflict broke out over Nagorno-Karabakh. The conflict, widely seen as an Armenian defeat, resulted in  Azerbaijani forces gaining control over large areas of Nagorno-Karabakh from Armenian forces. In November of 2020, Russia managed to broker a ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Under the terms of the ceasefire, Azerbaijan held on to the territory it took in the war, and Armenian forces would withdraw from the region. A joint Russian-Turkish independent peacekeeping force of approximately 2,000 soldiers would be deployed to Nagorno-Karabakh to monitor the ceasefire and guard the “Lachin corridor” which links the regional capital of Stepanakert (known in Azerbaijan as Khankendi) to Armenia

Despite the presence of the Russian and Turkish peacekeeping force, there have been sporadic skirmishes and violence between Armenian and Azerbaijani backed paramilitaries in Nagorno-Karabakh, particularly over the Lachin corridor. The skirmishes threatened to return to open warfare in September 2022, with Armenian and Azerbaijani forces exchanging heavy artillery fire before agreeing to de-escalate the situation.

In December 2022, Azerbaijani protestors imposed what Armenia describes as a “blockade” on the Armenian inhabited regions of Nagorno-Karabakh and the capital of Stepanakert by cutting off the flow of people and supplies through the Lachin corridor. Armenia claims this is creating shortages of food and medicine. Azerbaijan disputed Armenia’s characterization of the situation as a blockade, stating the movement of people and supplies remained unchanged provided Armenians traveling into the region submit to inspection of their vehicles for weapons. The Azerbaijani government stated the protestors are concerned about illegal mining carried out in Armenian-controlled parts of Nagorno-Karabakh that are stealing from Azerbaijani land. The Armenian government claimed the inspections are an attempt by Azerbaijan to set up border checkpoints. The Russian-Turkish peacekeeping force in the Lachin corridor have not taken measures to disperse the protestors.

The Security Council held a session in December 2022 on the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, but declined to issue a statement on the matter. In February 2023, the International Court of Justice issued a provisional order for Azerbaijan to take all measures at its disposal to ensure the unimpeded movement along the Lachin corridor

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

The Situation in Mali

Since independence from France in 1960, relations between the Malian government in the south and the nomadic Tuareg in the north have been tense, characterized by rebellion and violent repression. In early 2012, Tuareg fighters backed by Libya, known as the MNLA, took control of the north of the country as the president of Mali was overthrown in a coup. In the ensuing power vacuum, MNLA territory was taken over by various Islamist and Jihadist movements. In December 2012, the Security Council passed Resolution 2085 backing an African Union support mission to Mali. The situation became more dangerous, and later in December 2012, at the request of the Malian government, French troops were dispatched to Mali to oust the Islamic militants. In April 2013, the Security Council passed Resolution 2100, establishing a peacekeeping mission in Mali—the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, known by its French acronym, MINUSMA.

The mandate for MINUSMA covered the stabilization of population centers, reestablishment of State authority, assistance for the government’s transition to a more democratic rule through the use of political dialogue and the electoral process, civilian and UN personnel protection, protection of human rights, humanitarian assistance, cultural preservation, and transitional justice mechanisms. Progress has been made towards the government transition to host free and fair elections. There have been different conflict management tools implemented in central Mali to initiate the peace and reconciliation process. The UN has continued to monitor and document violence and other human rights abuses against civilians. The transitional government of Mali has vehemently denied all such allegations. 

Throughout the next eight years, there were numerous rounds of peace negotiations with subsequent violations and continued acts of violence. In 2021, a coup d’état overthrew the Mali government. The new leaders of Mali clashed with the international community over holding elections and how to handle Islamic militants. This led to a push by Mali for the French to withdraw their troops, instead favoring Russian-aligned support, specifically from the Russian mercenaries of the Wagner Group. The French withdrew their troops in August of 2022. The Wagner Group has since been assisting the Malian government. Western countries have voiced their concern over the involvement of the Wagner Group due to reports of human rights abuses committed by the Group in Ukraine and other parts of Africa. 

In the Secretary-General’s report from 1 June 2023, they note the targeting of peacekeepers by militant groups and an increase in violence in the area. They also note that the increase in violence in the Gao and Menaka regions is mostly due to activities from the Islamic State (IS), whereas in central Mali, the increase is due to activity from Jama’a Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin, a Mali-based al-Qaeda affiliated terror group. The humanitarian situation is considered alarming with an estimated 8.8 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. On 16 June 2023, Mali’s delegate to the United Nations addressed the Security Council, noting the failure of MINUSMA, and requested the withdrawal of all involved. MINUSMA was up for renewal at the end of June 2023; however, the mandate was terminated with Security Council Resolution 2690 on 30 June 2023, with the process of withdrawal to be completed by December 2023.

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

The Historical Security Council of 2003

Membership of the Historical Security Council of 2003

  • Angola
  • Bulgaria
  • Cameroon
  • Chile
  • China
  • France
  • Germany
  • Guinea
  • Mexico
  • Pakistan
  • Russian Federation
  • Spain
  • Syrian Arab Republic
  • United Kingdom
  • United States.

Introduction

The Historical Security Council (HSC) of 2003 will simulate events beginning on 20 January 2003. Foremost on the minds of the Council Members is determining whether Iraq is complying fully with Security Council mandates. The breakdown in peace and security in many African countries and the continuing Israeli-Palestinian peace process also hold the Council’s attention. In addition, the Council continues to monitor Afghanistan’s recovery and political reorganization. 

The brief synopsis presented here offers introductory coverage of prominent international issues that can direct representatives’ continued research and preparation.

For each topic area, representatives should consider the following questions, which should assist them in gaining a better understanding of the issues at hand, particularly from their country’s perspective:

  • How did this conflict begin?
  • Who are involved in the situation and what are their concerns?
  • How have similar situations or conflicts been peacefully resolved?
  • What roles can the United Nations take in the situation? What roles should the United Nations take in the situation?

The Situation in Iraq and Kuwait

The Security Council passed numerous resolutions in response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait that began on 6 August 1990. Among those, Resolution 661 imposed strict sanctions by restricting foreign financial assistance to Iraq to those solely for humanitarian and medical purposes. Once a ceasefire was declared on 28 February 1991, Resolution 687 decided that Iraq would unconditionally agree to the destruction or disarmament of its chemical, biological and ballistic weapons. Resolution 687 also allowed for a commission of inspectors to ensure compliance. The Security Council also established the United Nations Iraq-Kuwait Observer Mission in April 1991, which periodically submits reports to the Security Council.

Despite the military defeat suffered in the Persian Gulf War, Saddam Hussein remained in power. President Hussein initially complied with Security Council demands. Subsequent United Nations weapons inspections, though, uncovered weapons and technology in Iraq that had been banned by Security Council resolutions in the early 1990s. The Security Council imposed sanctions designed to prevent Iraq from redeveloping or strengthening its military and weapons capabilities while maintaining aid for Iraqi citizens, helping them with their basic needs through Resolution 986, known as the Oil-for-Food program. The purpose of the Oil-for-Food program was to prevent a severe humanitarian crisis and serve as a temporary measure of humanitarian needs until Iraq complied with all previous resolutions’ requirements. Iraq initially rejected Resolution 986, stating that it violated its sovereignty, but the first shipments of food arrived in 1997. In response to Iraq’s repeated refusal to allow weapons inspections, in 1998, the United States bombed several Iraqi military installations. Sanctions have not been effective in degrading Iraq’s military capacity and rather have had a much more direct effect on the Iraqi population. In the autumn of 2002, international pressure on Iraq to allow the return of inspectors intensified. In a statement to the General Assembly on 12 September 2002, U.S. President George W. Bush demanded the disarmament of Iraq, accusing Iraq of harboring and supporting Al-Qaeda terrorists and weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). In light of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attack on the United States, President Bush stated that the issue of disarming Iraq had become extremely urgent. On 16 September, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iraq, Naji Sabri, wrote to the Security Council accepting the return of inspectors without conditions, satisfying a long-standing demand by the Council that Iraq accept the unconditional return of weapons inspectors. However, even after this statement, Iraq continued to forbid inspectors to enter the country. The Security Council passed Resolution 1441 in late 2002 demanding that Iraq allow weapons inspectors and comply with all previous resolutions. As of 27 November 2002, inspections have resumed in Iraq with a full assessment expected to be presented on 27 January 2003. 

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

The Situation in Democratic Republic of the Congo

The Democratic Republic of the Congo has suffered from decades of political instability and violence. Conflict over control of resource-rich regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been exacerbated by wars in neighboring nations; large numbers of Hutus fled the 1994 Rwandan genocide into the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which was then known as Zaire. Fighting broke out in 1996, primarily between forces led by prominent Tutsi General Laurent Kabila and Congolese President Mobutu Sese Seko. With assistance from Rwanda and Uganda, Kabila’s forces regained control over the government in Kinshasa in 1997 and renamed the county the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

In 1998, Rally for Congolese Democracy (RCD) launched a rebellion against the Kabila government. The Kabila government found support from Angola, Chad, Namibia and Zimbabwe, but the RCD was able to hold Kivu and other eastern areas with Rwandan and Ugandan support. Internal conflict however soon led the RCDto split into different factions. The Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement, signed in 1999 by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola, Namibia, Rwanda, Uganda and Zimbabwe, attempted to bring stability to the region. However, continued fighting between different factions of rebel groups resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians from both the direct violence and the collateral disease and starvation. 

The Security Council authorized the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), a peacekeeping force of 5,500 troops and 500 observers, to monitor the Lusaka Ceasefire as well as humanitarian conditions, human rights, child protection and medical support issues. In February 2000, MONUC’s size and mandate were further expanded to over 5,000 military personnel, and in June 2002 MONUC’s mandate was extended to run through June 2003. MONUC’s work has been largely unfulfilled in much of the country, as the United Nations forces have met significant resistance from rebel groups and have been unable to deploy to many areas. Additionally, United Nations Member States have not contributed enough support to reach the full authorized strength of MONUC (5,537 troops, including observers). 

The continued rebel activity in many rural areas, along with the presence of some foreign troops from neighboring Uganda and Rwanda, has kept the situation contentious. Reports of human rights violations in the eastern part of the country, including the systematic rape of women and girls, mass killings and the destruction of property are also still a grave concern to the international community. Humanitarian groups estimate that, since 1999, the war has caused an estimated two million deaths through combat, malnutrition and disease. Despite numerous Security Council resolutions, violence based on nationality, ethnicity and access to valuable regional resources, and the resulting unchecked number of civilian deaths, continue. 

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

The Situation in West Africa

Several West African nations are currently embroiled in interconnected conflicts. Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia are both undergoing active conflicts, while Sierra Leone has only recently seen the end of conflict and continues to recover.

Sierra Leone was in a state of civil war between the government and the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) from 1991 until 2002. Since 1999, United Nations peacekeepers have been involved in the conflict. More than 10,000 peacekeepers remain present as part of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), helping maintain security and overseeing the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former rebels. Foday Sankoh, the RUF leader, is currently awaiting trial for war crimes before the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

The conflict in Liberia began in 1989, when Charles Taylor and the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) invaded from neighboring Côte d’Ivoire to overthrow President Samuel Doe. Liberia split along ethnic lines, and civil war erupted. A series of negotiated settlements resulted in elections being held in 1997, which Taylor won amid widespread reports of voter intimidation. In 1999, Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) began a campaign against Taylor’s government, with support from neighboring Guinea. As the fighting amplifies in the present day, the international community faces a full-blown humanitarian crisis.

In July 2000, the Security Council passed Resolution 1306, creating a panel of experts to study the export of illegal diamonds and the funding of the illegal arms trade between Liberia and Sierra Leone. The panel’s report found overwhelming evidence that Liberia was actively supporting the RUF in order to destabilize the government of Sierra Leone and acquire diamonds for export. The Security Council passed Resolution 1343 enacting a new arms embargo. On 19 September 2002, simultaneous attacks were conducted by rebel forces in most major cities of Côte d’Ivoire. Fighting continues to intensify.

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

The Situation in Middle East, including the Palestinian question

The First Intifada, a Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, began in 1987 and ended in 1993, brought the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians back to the attention of the international community. On 28 September 2000, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon visited the Haram al-Sharif, also known as the Temple Mount, and made remarks which offended many Palestinians, resulting in protests. The protests and subsequent Israeli response quickly turned into a Second Intifada. Since September 2000, more than 1,800 Palestinians have been killed; on the Israeli side, more than 600 people have been killed. Responding to the violence, the Security Council passed Resolution 1322 in October 2000, which not only condemned acts of violence, particularly those against Palestinians, but also called for a resumption of negotiations between Israel and Palestine on a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

In March 2002, a suicide bombing struck a large Passover Seder in the city of Netanya, killing 30 and injuring 140 people. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack. In response, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) launched Operation Defensive Shield. The IDF launched incursions into the six largest cities in the West Bank, temporarily reoccupying areas that had been ceded to Palestinian control. The operation lasted just over a month and resulted in the deaths of  497 Palestinians, with another 1,447 wounded; 30 Israeli soldiers were also killed.  Most notably, the Israeli incursion into the Jenin refugee camp led to allegations of human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law. Throughout the past year, the number of Palestinian terrorist attacks has increased, particularly suicide bombings targeting Israeli civilians. In June, Israel began construction of a security barrier along the boundary between the West Bank and Israel proper.

The conflict has led the international community and the Security Council to renew their calls for Israelis and Palestinians to ensure the safety of civilians and work towards a political settlement. Since January 2002, four new resolutions have been adopted by the Security Council on this situation. The United Nations, the United States, the Russian Federation and the European Union came together to form a new coordinating mechanism for international peace efforts known as “the Quartet.” The Quartet’s proposed “Roadmap for Peace” is still in the draft stage. There is growing concern for the escalating violence and the declining humanitarian situation. 

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

The Situation in Afghanistan

The Soviet intervention in Afghanistan in 1979 resulted in nearly a decade of conflict, fueled by the geopolitical maneuvering of the Cold War. The withdrawal of the Soviet forces in 1989 led to civil war in Afghanistan, leaving millions of Afghan refugees in neighboring countries. Due to the instability, refugee crisis and development issues, the Secretary-General established the United Nations Special Mission to Afghanistan in December 1993. However, fighting continued in Afghanistan during the mid-1990s, driven by ethnic divisions. Following the 1998 terrorist bombings of United States embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the Security Council passed Resolution 1193, which reiterated concerns about the continued and growing presence of terrorists in Afghanistan’s territory and condemned terrorist attacks on United Nations personnel in Taliban-held areas of Afghanistan. In Resolution 1214, the Security Council demanded that the Taliban stop providing sanctuary and training for international terrorists and their organizations and that all Afghan factions cooperate in bringing indicted terrorists to justice. By the late 1990s and into 2000, the Security Council expressed grave concern at the seriously deteriorating humanitarian situation and deplored the worsening human rights situation, including forced displacements of civilian populations, summary executions, abuse and arbitrary detention of civilians, violence against women and girls, and indiscriminate bombing.

Reaffirming its commitment to the sovereignty and independence of the Afghan people and recognizing their humanitarian needs, the Security Council passed Resolution 1333, which called for multilateral peace negotiations and a broad-based, multi-ethnic representative Afghan government while imposing unilateral sanctions on the Taliban. The Resolution also requested the formation of a special committee by the Secretary-General to monitor the sanction.

In a report released 6 December 2001, the Secretary-General concluded the combination of drought, conflict, human rights abuses, as well as the deteriorating operating environment of aid agencies, had deepened Afghanistan’s humanitarian crisis during the reporting period. In 2002, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimated that there were approximately 3.5 million Afghan refugees. It is the hope of the UNHCR that refugees can return to Afghanistan as soon as the security issue stabilizes.

The United States invaded Afghanistan on 7 October 2001 to overthrow the Taliban regime for providing safe harbor to Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. Al-Qaeda, led by bin Laden, was responsible for the 11 September 2001 attacks in the United States. After the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001, the United Nations facilitated the Bonn Agreement, which established a six-month Afghan Interim Authority (AIA), led by Hamid Karzai, and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to aid the AIA. The ISAF’s primary objective was to enable the Afghan government to provide effective security across the country and develop new Afghan security forces to ensure Afghanistan would never again become a safe haven for terrorists. On 27 November 2002, the Council adopted Resolution 1444, extending the mandate of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) until 20 December 2003. 

After the AIA mandate expired, an emergency Loya Jirga (Grand Council) met and formed the Transitional Administration (TA), also led by Hamid Karzai as Interim President.

Despite these developments, internal security and conflict between the Taliban and Al-Qaeda continued. In 2002, the Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism, Abdul Rahman, and Vice President Haji Abdul Qadir were assassinated in separate incidents. As a result of the Vice President’s assassination, United States personnel took over security responsibilities for President Karzai. 

Nonetheless, maintaining security inside of Afghanistan remains a significant challenge. Although initial financial support for the security and humanitarian efforts in Afghanistan was strong, international financial support has declined. Without adequate long-term funding, the success of the political and humanitarian efforts are compromised.

Bibliography

United Nations Documents

Additional Web Resources

United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan. http://unama.unmissions.org/.

The International Press Delegation

The International Press Delegation (IPD) is a unique simulation that allows students to fill the role of reporters as they work to produce AMUN’s Conference newspaper, the AMUN Chronicle, and keep participants informed about the functions of the United Nations.

While at AMUN, the International Press Delegation is reflective of the work of hundreds of reporters from news agencies around the world. Even though IPD does not exist at the United Nations in New York, reporters there still cover the work of the organization—publishing essays, opinion pieces, articles and videos on the debates and activities of the United Nations—to share with audiences around the world. By doing so, the members of the International Press Corps assist the United Nations in fulfilling one of its fundamental objectives: the dissemination of information about the United Nations and world events to all people.

Recognizing the critical role the press plays at the United Nations, AMUN’s IPD simulation has two major goals:

  • To keep all AMUN participants informed about newsworthy events from each simulation with social media and a high-quality newspaper (the AMUN Chronicle) each day of Conference.
  • To provide representatives the opportunity to present their country’s positions through press releases and press conferences and to gain familiarity with the challenges of strategic communications.

AMUN Secretariat Members will serve in the following roles:

  • The Director of the International Press Delegation, who is responsible for overseeing all IPD activities and for the content of the published AMUN Chronicle.
  • The Publisher, who is responsible for uploading the content for the AMUN Chronicle.
  • The Editors, who are responsible for advising reporters on article content, grammar and structure.

What do IPD Reporters do?

Participants will be issued specific press credentials that will identify them as IPD reporters to the AMUN Secretariat and representatives. Each IPD reporter will be assigned to at least one beat, which is a specific simulation (e.g., Security Council, ICJ, General Assembly Third Committee) that they will have primary responsibility for reporting on throughout the Conference. Reporters are assigned to beats to ensure consistent and thorough reporting of how each committee functions. All IPD reporters will submit content covering their assigned beats for each issue of the AMUN Chronicle.

Reporter content will include a short ticker story for their beat and a committee feature (100-125 words) or a general feature (200 words). Reporters will create their own content, review their peer’s content and assist with the production of the paper as needed. Additionally, reporters will be assigned to cover press conferences and other Conference events, such as interviews with guest speakers.

Ticker stories will offer brief coverage of high-level events in a simulation. Each simulation should have a ticker story in every edition of the AMUN Chronicle. Tickers should be no more than 50 words and must be tightly constructed and edited to briefly convey the main point. A ticker story for General Assembly Second Committee might read as follows:

Although GA 2nd continues debate concerning revised guidelines for alleviating sovereign debt crises, several representatives from Latin America seek more impactful regulation to mitigate capital flows to violent extremists.

General features will cover the primary, newsworthy events that occurred on a reporter’s beat. When drafting features, reporters should investigate the motivations for and representatives involved in the notable event. By conducting thorough interviews and seeking accurate primary and secondary sources, features can clarify the various activities of the United Nations. Reporters are advised to build in-depth relationships with representatives on their beat. Reporters should strive to feature two to three quotations from different representatives. To assist in planning and drafting articles, fellow reporters and editors will provide feedback on reporters’ content.

The content of each edition of the AMUN Chronicle is set in a budget meeting that reporters attend in their assigned work space. At each budget meeting, in consultation with IPD Secretariat staff, reporters assess the type and length of article(s) they will draft for the next edition of the AMUN Chronicle. Reporters’ content will be published to all participants at Conference; therefore accurate reporting is critical to ensure unbiased information is disseminated.

Joining the International Press Delegation

Any interested student can join the IPD. However, IPD reporters cannot also be members of their school’s delegation(s). In other words, participation in the IPD as a reporter is a mutually exclusive, duration-of-the-Conference assignment. Up to two students from any school may become IPD reporters. Students from schools that are not sending a delegation to AMUN are also welcome to apply to participate in the IPD. Students not attending with a school delegation must pay only the AMUN delegate fee.

Due to the resource-intensive and specialized nature of this simulation, AMUN will generally accept up to 14 IPD reporters. Positions will go to applicants on a first-come, first-served basis. The application is available on the AMUN website; please contact the AMUN Executive Office (mail@amun.org) for more information. For the best chance of being accepted as a reporter, apply by mid-October.

IPD will also accept qualified applications to fill one position as a photojournalist. This position will be evaluated based on the applicant’s background and experience in photography. Applicants may apply for a reporter position as well as the photojournalist position.

Connect with IPD at Conference

All AMUN representatives and delegations are encouraged to explore the news-coverage possibilities offered by the IPD. In particular, representatives should get to know the reporter(s) covering their simulations, make themselves available for interviews and provide background information when it is requested or when it is in their country’s interest to seek press coverage. Also, representatives and delegations are strongly encouraged to call press conferences and to submit press releases, personal ads and letters to the editor.

Press conferences allow representatives a chance to give an oral statement and to answer questions from reporters and other conference participants. Representatives request press conferences using the IPD Request Form. They are asked to provide three specific pieces of information: (1) the requested time for the press conference, (2) the first and last names and countries of the participating representatives and (3) the topic(s) that will be discussed. Representatives have a maximum of 15 minutes to complete the press conference, including the optional question-and-answer session. Time slots are made available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Press Releases are official statements from a Representative’s country that explain a country’s stance on one of the topics under debate at AMUN. Press releases are a maximum of 150 words. Press releases must be typed and submitted to IPD@amun.org. Press releases are edited by IPD Secretariat members for content and clarity.

Letters to the Editor may be submitted by any attendee and can be on any topic germane to the Conference. Letters to the editor are limited to 250 words. Letters to the editor must be typed and submitted to IPD@amun.org.

The decision to include material submitted to the IPD office in the AMUN Chronicle is left to the discretion of the Director of the IPD and the AMUN Executive Committee. AMUN Secretariat will screen and edit all content submitted to the IPD for clarity and adherence to rules for diplomatic courtesy.

International Court of Justice

The International Court of Justice (ICJ), sometimes referred to as the World Court, is the primary judicial organ of the United Nations. It sits in The Hague, Netherlands and is composed of fifteen independent Justices from around the world. The ICJ is the only court in the world with general and near-universal jurisdiction; countries may bring cases before the Court even without becoming United Nations Member States, as long as both countries have consented to be subject to the Court’s jurisdiction. It may entertain any question of international law, subject to the provisions of its founding statutes.

The Court’s role is to examine international law and to settle legal disputes submitted to it by states. It also dispenses advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorized United Nations organs and specialized agencies. Since 1946, the Court has heard more than 160 cases, including more than 25 advisory proceedings. ICJ opinions, unlike most national legal systems, do not create binding legal requirements on other United Nations Member States, and cases are generally treated independently of one another.

The Justices are nominated by regional groups and elected by the General Assembly and Security Council for nine-year terms. Justices must receive a majority vote in each body to be named to the Court, and one third of the Court is elected every three years. When a state is party to a case before the ICJ, it enjoys the right to appoint an ad hoc justice. The ad hoc Justice does not need to be from that State. The ad hoc Justice enjoys the same privileges and responsibilities as the other Justices, but his or her obligation is limited to proceedings in that case.

Unlike most other international organizations, the members of the Court are not representatives of governments; they are independent judges whose first duty is to exercise their powers impartially and conscientiously in the Court.

Proceedings before the Court can last for years, involving complex issues of international law as well as difficult political questions. The States party to the case submit pleadings, or memorials, in writing along with extensive records supporting their cases. The States also participate in oral arguments, which allow States to explore the case and respond to questions from the Justices. The Justices deliberate in private, then read the judgment in an open forum.

Common Types of Cases

The Court hears two types of cases. First, there are contentious cases between two States where there is a legal dispute and the States parties are bound to the Court’s decision. States may institute proceedings by mutual agreement or by unilateral application against a respondent State. This is different from the International Criminal Court, which hears cases against individuals for crimes such as genocide.

Many of the Court’s cases—historical and contemporary—are border or territorial disputes, where two States agree to let the ICJ decide where the border should be. Other cases are highly charged and quite political in nature. While the Court hears only legal questions, it is rare that the interpretation and application of the law operates entirely outside of the realm of political discourse, and in the international arena, this is especially true.

Second, the Court can issue advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by other agencies, such as the Security Council or the General Assembly. This opportunity is open to the five major organs of the United Nations and 16 other specialized agencies. Unlike the rulings in contentious cases, advisory opinions are not binding on the parties that request the opinion; the organization is under no legal obligation to follow the Court’s recommendation. The Court requests written and oral proceedings for the case, although these processes may be truncated when compared to the process used for contentious cases.

Structure of the AMUN ICJ

In keeping with AMUN’s philosophy of simulating United Nations bodies as closely as possible, the AMUN ICJ closely resembles the ICJ in the Hague. The ICJ at AMUN is composed of student Justices who hear oral arguments, deliberate on the cases before them and collaboratively develop opinions of the Court. Students also participate as Advocates, presenting their case first in a written memorial and then in oral arguments, where they present their case in person and respond to questions from the Justices.

AMUN Registrars assist the Justices with any additional legal research the body may require and help facilitate the work of the Court through each of the three cases. Secretariat responsibilities also include researching cases for inclusion on the Court’s docket, preparing case briefs used as preparatory materials, memorials submitted to the Court, assisting in the preparation of the Court’s docket and providing any other assistance needed by ICJ Justices and Advocates.

The cases preselected by the AMUN Secretariat form the Court’s docket. This year the Court is deliberating three cases:

  • Passage through the Great Belt (Finland v. Denmark)
  • Advisory Opinion: Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons (Italy, Marshall Islands, Netherlands, Qatar)
  • Kasikili/Sedudu Island (Botswana/Namibia)

Additionally, the General Assembly or the Security Council may submit a request to the Court for an Advisory Opinion on a topic of international law. The Secretary-General, with the advice of the Director of the ICJ, will decide whether to include additional cases on the Court’s docket. The Court is in session to hear arguments and develop opinions throughout the Conference.

The Justices should expect to spend the first session setting the docket, electing officers, determining the final procedures of the Court and reviewing the substantive issues in each case before the Court. The rest of Conference will be spent hearing cases, deliberating and rendering opinions on those cases.

Although the Secretariat strives to give the Justices as much freedom as possible in setting the docket, some restraints do exist in the interest of promoting a fair and equal experience for the advocates as well as the Justices. All advocates will receive an equal amount of time in the docket to present their arguments, respond to questioning and for deliberation among the Justices. Although advocates will not know the order of the cases and arguments prior to the first evening of the simulation, the Secretariat, in conjunction with the Justices, will strive to communicate the order as soon as it is set to the advocates. The docket is also published in the AMUN Chronicle. After the docket is set, the Court elects a President and Vice President by secret ballot. Their duties are to moderate and time the oral arguments and facilitate the closed deliberations.

Joining the International Court of Justice

Permanent Justices

Justice positions are assigned by application on a first-come, first-served basis until the fifteen seats on the Court are filled. It is not a requirement for Justices to be a member of a delegation. Permanent Justices are full time Conference assignments, and representatives serving as Justices shall not be assigned to another simulation.

Ad Hoc Justice Application and Role at Conference

States involved in a case before the Court are strongly encouraged to place an Ad Hoc Justice on the Court if they do not already have a Permanent Justice. States wishing to do this may do so in two ways: (1) they may apply to be a permanent Justice (see above); or (2) they may appoint an ad hoc Justice. Ad hoc Justices sit on the Court only for the case in which their country is involved and must be assigned to another simulation. If States wish to appoint an ad hoc justice they must contact the Secretary-General and the Director of the International Court of Justice by 1 October by e-mailing icj@amun.org. Ad hoc Justices should, whenever possible, be paired with another representative in committee, so the State is fully represented in the committee while the ad hoc Justice participates in the Court’s proceedings.

Advocates

Advocate positions are not full-time Conference assignments. ICJ Advocates are assigned as members of the delegations who have cases before the court. Generally, Advocates should expect to spend two to three hours presenting their case and hearing the Court’s opinion during the Conference. Advocates must also serve as representatives in another AMUN simulation or as a delegation’s permanent representative. ICJ Advocate teams are limited to two people. ICJ Advocates should, whenever possible, be paired with another representative in committee, so the State is fully represented in the committee while the Advocate participates in the Court’s proceedings.

Preparation

Preparing as a Justice

Familiarizing yourself with the information provided in this handbook and on AMUN’s website is a key starting point to your preparations. Justices should familiarize themselves with the factual and legal disputes at hand, as well as the international treaties involved. Another helpful resource is previous ICJ opinions that are similar. While reading opinions, note the tone and style used by the Justices. Pay special attention to the way the Court addresses questions of jurisdiction; often this is the crux of the winning argument for the Court. Memorials written by the Advocates will be made available on the AMUN website in November as soon as memorials from all sides of a case are received by AMUN staff. Reviewing these resources is key to a successful experience.

Each Justice, while independent, will still have a roleplaying function. ICJ Justices retain their citizenship with the state their school represents at the Conference. Justices not affiliated with a delegation will be assigned citizenship with a state; while ICJ Justices are supposed to be independent advocates for the law, they often come to the Court with inherent biases based on their home country’s history, culture, religion and laws. Similar to the ICJ in The Hague, a Justice’s citizenship is important as it can sometimes cause a Justice to favor or side with the position advocated by their country of origin when that State comes before the Court.

All Justices will be expected to hear arguments and question the Advocates in all cases on the docket. Any Justice not present during the Court’s Oral Arguments may not participate in the subsequent deliberations and opinion writing for that case. After each case is argued, the Justices retire behind closed doors to deliberate and to draft the opinion of the Court. As per Article 25, paragraph 3, of the Statute of the Court, 60% of all Justices who were present for oral arguments shall suffice as quorum for deliberations. This number may be adjusted by the Director of the International Court of Justice as appropriate to facilitate the simulation. Justices discuss the case in depth, pulling from their research prior to the Conference, the Advocates’ memorials and the points raised during oral argument. If the Justices require any additional information, they are welcome to request that from the Registrars. Justices collaborate to write a majority opinion and as many concurring and dissenting opinions as the body requires. Justices use their persuasive writing and speaking skills to sway additional Justices to their position throughout the drafting process.

Preparing as an Advocate

Advocates’ opportunity to present their case is twofold: written memorials and oral arguments. Advocates must thoroughly understand the legal principles that support, and those that oppose, their position, and be able to articulate them in the face of strict scrutiny from the Justices. The research and creation of an Advocate’s Memorial is one of the most important parts of preparation for an Advocate’s at-Conference role. Time spent thoroughly researching the Advocate’s State’s positions and arguments provides Advocates with the vital information necessary to respond to questions at Conference and helps them effectively craft a memorial to present their arguments to the court before the Conference.

Prior to oral arguments, Advocates have the opportunity to consult with an ICJ Registrar about their oral argument. To take advantage of the opportunity, Advocates should attend the Advocate meeting on the first evening of the Conference, where the Registrars will share information about the simulation timeline and give Advocates the opportunity to set up a practice session.

Written Memorials

ICJ memorials should contain:

  • Jurisdictional statement and arguments (outlining whether your country recognizes the Court’s jurisdiction in this case)
  • Statement of facts (what are the relevant facts in the case?)
  • Statement of law (what treaties, customs or laws apply?)
  • Argument section (detailing how the law and facts apply to the merits of the case – how do the laws and facts support your case?)
  • Summary and prayer for relief (what do you want the Court to do?)

The Court does not require these sections to be in any particular order, although they are typically laid out in the order shown. As you draft your memorial, think carefully about how best to use these sections to your advantage to advocate your position.

The party bringing the case is called the Applicant. The defendant is called the Respondent. In an Advisory Opinion, each country is known as a Party. Due to time constraints, all Parties in any AMUN ICJ case must prepare their memorials without seeing the memorial of their opponent. However, each side should anticipate and seek to counter the arguments opposing Advocates might make. All memorials must be submitted by 25 October to the AMUN Secretariat at icj@amun.org.

Oral Arguments

Oral arguments provide Advocates with an opportunity to explain to the Justices the factual and legal merits of their case. In adversarial cases, the Applicant will argue first. The Respondent will then have the same amount of time to reply. Finally, the Applicant will have the opportunity to present a brief rebuttal. In Advisory Opinion cases, each Party will have a set amount of time to present their argument to the Court and for rebuttal, the order for which will be determined by the Justices on the first evening. Advocates presenting amicus curiae arguments will then be accorded no more than five minutes each to speak. The Justices will create the docket and define the amount of time for oral arguments. Advocates, with the exception of amicus curiae, should prepare between 10 to 20 minutes for arguments. The oral argument is not simply an opportunity to give a prepared speech; Justices often interject with multiple questions throughout the presentation. At least the first five minutes of each Advocate’s presentation will be uninterrupted, to allow each side the opportunity to freely present the key issues of their arguments. After the initial five minutes, the Advocates may continue with their presentations, but the Justices may also interject and question the Advocates on the merits of their case. Therefore, Advocates must be prepared to both answer questions and defend their positions. The following steps should be taken to prepare for oral arguments:

  1. Identify the critical issues in the case. You should try to have at least three main points to your argument.
  2. Develop a theme which incorporates your best arguments on the critical issues. Keep it simple. Remember, the best arguments are structured around a story that has a unified theme, which explains why your country has been wronged, and what the Court can do to provide a fair and just solution.
  3. Prepare an outline. The outline should include your theme, your best arguments on the critical issues, your responses to your opponent’s best arguments and ideas about answers to any other questions you think the Justices might ask. Try to make your memorial and oral argument outline consistent, so the first issue addressed in the memorial is the first issue addressed in the oral argument.
  4. Practice, practice, practice! There is no substitute for practicing oral arguments: your presentation is likely to be smoother and more persuasive. Have your Faculty Advisor or other students fire questions at you. Learn to field those questions and then transition back to the point you were making prior to the question.
  5. Learn proper courtroom demeanor. Remember to be polite and deferential to the Justices at all times. While argument is the method, persuasion is the goal.

Though each Advocate will have more than five minutes to present oral arguments, keep in mind that only the first five minutes of the presentations will be uninterrupted. Focus on the main points and key issues during the first five minutes. AMUN suggests that you follow a pyramid format; present the crux of the argument first and then use the remainder of the allotted time to expand on those issues in a more thorough and complete manner. This format can also allow for a quick means of referencing issues during the remaining period of presentation and questions. It is also wise to conclude the presentation by again summing up the key points.

Try to anticipate questions the Justices might ask and develop answers. Do not write out answers verbatim. Do, however, write out catch phrases or legal terms you will want to remember precisely. Simple, concise answers that repeatedly stress the same points are persuasive and will be remembered by the Justices. Oral arguments will involve extemporaneous speaking and responses, not the presentation of a memorized speech.

Outline the specific names of conventions, treaties and cases in your memorial and your outline. Your oral argument requires these citations to maintain your credibility with the Justices, and articulate the reasons your side of the case is stronger.

Note: Remember that the AMUN ICJ is a simulation. No one expects participants, who are not lawyers or Justices, to make presentations, decisions or render opinions with the same level of sophistication as actual ICJ Justices or Advocates. The participants’ job is to gain a basic understanding of what considerations are taken into account when presenting or presiding over a case and to prepare to argue their cases before the Court.

Passage through the Great Belt (Finland v. Denmark)

This is a historical case. In accordance with AMUN rules and procedures, please note that the historical timeline for this case will stop on 1 June 1992. Any and all updates to this case after that date will not be relevant to the AMUN simulation nor considered in hearing the case.

The Great Belt (Storebælt) is a strait of water that passes through Danish territory and is one of the few passages between the Baltic Sea and the North Sea. The strait allows for direct passage from the Baltic Sea to the North Sea and the international waters beyond. As the largest of these passages, it is an important shipping route for the region and allows Finland to engage in international transport and shipping. The strait also is one of the deepest of the Danish straits, and it is ideal for larger cargo vessels and oil rigs. The Kingdom of Denmark has proposed the construction of a bridge over the strait that would connect the Eastern Danish island of Zealand with the Western Danish island of Funen to facilitate simpler trade and commerce within the country. This bridge would be built to a height of 65 meters and would effectively prohibit the movement of larger ships through the strait, particularly the larger drill ships and oil rigs that pass through the strait on behalf of the Republic of Finland.

In accordance with Article 40(1) of the Statute of the International Court of Justice (Statute) and Articles 38 and 40 of the Rules of Court, the Republic of Finland filed an Application Instituting Proceedings against the Kingdom of Denmark in the International Court of Justice (Court) on 17 May 1991 objecting to Denmark’s planned construction of a bridge over the Great Belt. Additionally, Finland submitted a Request for the Indication of Provisional Measures (Request) to the Court on 22 May 1991 asking for provisional measures that would preserve Finland’s right to the “continued passage of ships, including drill ships and oil rigs coming to or from Finnish ports and shipyards, through the strait of the Great Belt between the Baltic and the North Sea.” These provisional measures would require Denmark to halt construction of the bridge over the Great Belt as well as any action that might “prejudice the outcome” of the Court proceedings until the decision of the Court has been issued. The Kingdom of Denmark responded in June 1991 with Written Observations relating to Finland’s Request. These observations outlined the details of the Great Belt Project, the law surrounding the requested provisional measures, and maps of the construction projects, water depths, and territorial boundaries around the Great Belt. 

The Republic of Finland and the Kingdom of Denmark mutually accept the Court’s jurisdiction in the initial Application by Finland and in the Written Observations by Denmark to the Court; therefore jurisdiction is not at issue for the Court for the purposes of this matter.

Historically, the Kingdom of Denmark had charged for ships passing through their waterways. Those dues were abolished by the 1857 Treaty of Copenhagen on the Abolition of the Sound Dues, and the straits of Denmark were labeled as international waterways. A century after the Treaty of Copenhagen, the Geneva Convention on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone entered into force on 10 September 1964, establishing the rights of a State in relation to its territorial sea. More specifically, Article 16, Paragraph 4 of this Convention does not allow for a State to suspend innocent use of straits used for international passage between high seas. 

The Republic of Finland relies heavily on the Great Belt for its maritime shipping industry, including movement of oil rigs and drill ships, for which other passages between the Baltic Sea and the North Sea are inadequate. Finland asserts there is no explicit international law that permits Denmark to erect a barrier to prevent ships with a height of 65 meters or more from passing through the strait. Finland acknowledges that Denmark has a territorial right to improve its sovereign waterways, but argues that this right is limited by other States’ right to free passage through the Strait. Finland requests that the Court declare they have a right to free passage through the Great Belt and that the construction of the bridge proposed by Denmark violates this right. 

The Kingdom of Denmark asserts that the proposed bridge will be of a sufficient height to allow for the average use of most nautical vessels, which would not prevent free innocent passage entirely. Additionally, Denmark argues that the purpose of this bridge is to connect two portions of the country of Denmark, facilitating the ease of transportation between the two land masses. Denmark claims that this bridge will not substantially impede other States’ right to free passage because there are alternate options, such as the Little Belt. Denmark posits that State sovereignty must be respected in any case when the rights of States are considered in relation to others’ rights in international law as demonstrated in the case of the S.S. Lotus in 1927. The Court must consider the extent of a State’s sovereignty in comparison to another State’s right of innocent passage under Article 16 of the Convention on the Territorial Sea and Contiguous Zone. In determining this, the Court must decide whether there is a right of free passage for all ships or whether passage is limited to a particular designation of ships. Furthermore, the Court must determine whether construction of the bridge as proposed by Denmark would be compatible with that passage.

Questions to consider:

  1. How does the Court balance the right to navigate international waters with the right of State sovereignty over its territorial waters?
  2. What obligations does a State have to observe in preserving the rights of another State traveling through their territorial waters?
  3. Does a State’s intent in use of international waters affect what rights are afforded to it?

Bibliography

Advisory Opinion: Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons (Italy, Marshall Islands, Netherlands, Qatar)

This is a historical case. In accordance with AMUN rules and procedures, please note that the historical timeline for this case will stop on 8 July 1996. Any and all updates to this case after that date will not be relevant to the AMUN simulation nor considered in hearing the case. 

At its 15 December 1994 meeting, the United Nations General Assembly (GA) adopted resolution A/RES/49/75. Section K of the resolution “urgently” requested the International Court of Justice (Court or ICJ) issue an advisory opinion on the legality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons. This request was communicated to the Registry of the Court in a 19 December 1994 letter, and formally filed on 6 January 1995. The GA requested the Court answer: “Is the threat or use of nuclear weapons in any circumstance permitted under international law?”

Before the Court can respond to the question posed, it must first determine whether it has the jurisdiction to issue an advisory opinion on this matter. Initially, the Court had delayed any action when a similar question was asked of it by the World Health Organization (WHO) on 3 September 1993 due to serious concerns about whether the WHO had standing to request an advisory opinion of the Court. Opponents to a finding of jurisdiction argue that, as the General Assembly does not otherwise have the authority to create or enforce a ban on nuclear weapons, the body may have acted outside of its competency in referring a question “unrelated to its work” to the Court.

Proponents of jurisdiction argue that the question is one of a legal nature and therefore able to be heard, as the authority to ask “any legal question” of the Court is provided to the General Assembly by virtue of the Charter of The United Nations (Charter) and the authority of the Court to issue an advisory opinion on a legal question is provided by Article 65(1) of the Statute of the International Court of Justice (Statute).

Further, even if the Court finds a jurisdictional basis on which to consider the case, the Court must weigh whether it should issue an opinion on this complex and controversial topic of international peace and security, or whether it should exercise the latitude provided to it in the Statute of the Court (Statute) to render no opinion. Those arguing against jurisdiction, or at least against consideration, contend that the question is not only abstract and nonspecific, but also one of a moral and/or political nature, rendering the matter squarely outside of the Court’s competency.

Should the Court decide to render an opinion on this case, the Court must consider conventional and customary international law, as well as widely-ratified legal cornerstones like the Charter, the Fourth Geneva Convention’s provisions regarding the treatment and prevention of indiscriminate attacks on civilians, and the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and its foundational discussions. Such tenets of international law may provide conflicting starting points for this question’s consideration, and the Court should investigate whether legal obligations vary depending on the actor’s intention. For instance, while Article 2(4) of the Charter explicitly forbids “the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state,” Article 51 of the Charter protects against impediments to the “inherent right of individual or collective self defense… until the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to maintain international peace and security.” The Court may consider whether the proliferation of nuclear weapons may be allowable under these provisions for self defense, or whether these actions pose an inherent threat to the territorial integrity or political independence of a state or the humanitarian wellbeing of civilians worldwide.

Examining the impacts and applications of earlier non-proliferation and disarmament agreements such as the Partial Test Ban Treaty (PTBT), Outer Space Treaty of 1967 and the NPT may shed light on the international community’s legal foundations for attempts to eliminate the threat or use of nuclear weapons. The PTBT was a paramount example of cooperative attempts to gain assurance of international peace and humanitarian safety during the height of the Cold War, and entered into force in late 1963 as an agreement ratified by the United Kingdom, United States, the USSR and 126 States Parties. The PTBT followed decades of atmospheric, underground and oceanic testing of radioactive materials and sought to address growing international concern about the wide-reaching environmental and physical health effects of radioactive testing by reaching an ultimately comprehensive test ban. The treaty explains that its “principal aim [was] the speediest possible achievement of an agreement on general and complete disarmament under strict international control.” However, as not all newly-nuclearizing states at the time were party to this treaty, proliferation continued, and testing resumed even by ratifying states in an effort to protect their own national security interests.

The Outer Space Treaty was established by the General Assembly in 1967 in an effort to prohibit the militarization of and nuclear testing within outer space, as well as the installation of military equipment or weapons of mass destruction on any celestial body. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty entered into force in 1970 and was extended indefinitely in 1995 to address imbalances of power between nuclear and non-nuclear States Parties. The NPT resolved that non-nuclear-capable States Parties must not nuclearize, and that nuclear-capable States Parties must peacefully share their civilian nuclear capabilities with other states for the betterment of scientific advancement. The NPT represents the most major and effective effort to date to protect against the proliferation of nuclear weapons, encompassing almost all United Nations Member States as States Parties to the treaty. The PTBT, Outer Space Treaty and the NPT, in conjunction with the UN Charter, form the legal foundation of international regulation for nuclear weapons and must be carefully considered in any assessment of the legality of the use of nuclear weapons.

Through all of its considerations, the Court must bear in mind the obligations outlined in the Charter and apply these accordingly. First, the Court should examine whether any tenets of international law outline any circumstances in which the threat or use of nuclear weapons is either allowed or prohibited. The Court may also consider the situations in which the threat or use of nuclear weapons may occur (from deterrence to preemptive, first-strike capability) and weigh how the provisions for self defense delineated in the Charter, as well as other protections of customary international law, interact with efforts aimed at protecting humanitarian interests like the Geneva Conventions or non-proliferation agreements. Additionally, the Court may choose to consider whether any international obligations to disarmament exist

Questions to consider:

  1. How does the Court establish jurisdiction to render an opinion on this case? If the Court finds it has jurisdiction to issue an advisory opinion on this matter, should the Court exercise its latitude to decline to do so? 
  2. Are there any circumstances in which the use, or threat of use (deterrence), of nuclear weapons is allowable under international law? If so, which are these circumstances?
  3. Does the interpretation of “use” or “threat of use” versus “possession,” or any potential demarcations between these terms, have any bearing on legal applications found to be relevant by the Court?

Bibliography

Kasikili/Sedudu Island (Botswana/Namibia)

This is a historical case. In accordance with AMUN rules and procedures, please note that the historical timeline for this case will stop on 15 February 1999. Any and all updates to this case after that date will not be relevant to the AMUN simulation nor considered in hearing the case.

The Chobe River delineates a portion of the border between the Caprivi Strip of Namibia to the north and Botswana to the south. The Chobe is home to a small island, about 1.5 square miles in size, referred to as Kasikili by Namibia and Sedudu Island by Botswana. The Chobe River, and specifically the island, is a popular tourist destination. Both Botswana and Namibia claim ownership of the island, giving rise to this dispute. 

The original claims to the island stem from a Special Agreement between the United Kingdom and Germany. The United Kingdom wanted to protect the south-north trade in the southwest of Africa, and Germany wanted the United Kingdom to recognize its access to the Zambezi river via the Caprivi Strip. Germany already had a large claim to Southwest Africa. The two countries worked out the Anglo-German Agreement of 1890 (Treaty) as a solution. This Treaty established their spheres of influence in Africa, determining inter alia the boundaries for Germany and the United Kingdom in Southwest Africa.

The British mandate ended in 1966 and the United Nations Council for Southwest Africa, later renamed the United Nations Council for Namibia, gave Namibia the authority to administer the Caprivi Strip. Botswana originally was the Bechuanaland Protectorate. In 1966, it gained independence and became known as Botswana. After their independence, Namibia and Botswana began disputing the island’s boundary and legal status. It is not disputed that the river is the border between these two countries; the dispute surrounds which leg of the river constitutes the border, as the river divides into two channels around the island, which is a popular tourist destination. The Namibian side, north of the island, contains the Caprivi Strip, named after the German chancellor when the Anglo-German Agreement of 1890 was signed. That strip is also within the floodplain of the Zambezi River.

Initially, the parties looked to the Treaty, which described the spheres of influence for the two countries. Debate over the contents and intention of the Treaty in its authentic text resulted in further deadlock as to who had authority over the island. The heads of each State agreed to refer the dispute to a Joint Team of Technical Experts composed of three experts delegated by each State. The team was tasked with determining the boundary between the countries at the site of the island and the island’s legal status. After conducting surveys and holding many discussions, they were unable to reach a conclusion. Instead, they recommended the parties submit the dispute to the Court for a peaceful settlement. Botswana and Namibia submitted a Special Agreement concerning a dispute over the boundary of the Chobe River and the legal status of the Kasikili/Sedudu Island to the International Court of Justice (Court) on 15 February 1996. Each party was allowed to file Memorial, Counter-Memorial, and Replies in anticipation of the litigation.

Botswana argues that the border between the countries follows the main channel of the river and that the northern channel meets internationally-accepted standards as the main channel; as a result, the island, which lies south of the main channel, is on the Botswanan side of the border. Botswana relies on the fact that the soundings of the northern channel are deeper than the southern channel. Additionally, Botswana argues that a number of factors should be considered when identifying the thalweg: which has the greatest depth and width, bed profile configuration, navigability, the greater flow of water, the greater flow velocity, and the greater volume? Finally, Botswana argues that the Northern Channel has twice as much flow as the Southern Channel. To support this argument, Botswana cites the Southern Channel’s low flow regime and its water levels during drought years.

Namibia, on the other hand, argues that the main channel must be identified before the parties can determine the Tthalweg. Namibia bases this argument on their interpretation of the German statement “im thalweg des hauptlaufes,” (the center runs through the main channel) arguing that the Hauptlauf, or main channel, must be identified before the Thalweg. In determining which channel is the main channel, Namibia argues that the largest proportion of the annual flow of the river should be the deciding factor. Additionally, it states that the greatest width, depth, and river use should be considered in making the main channel determination. Namibia argues that the shallowest point is what should be considered, not the mean. It then concludes that any differences between the points of the two rivers are minute. Finally, for flow, Namibia argues that the Southern Channel carries practically all of the flow and that the Northern Channel contains almost no longitudinal flow. Instead, Namibia argues the Northern Channel is just a relict channel of the Zambezi floodplain. 

Alternatively, Namibia posits that the Masubia people of Caprivi controlled and used the island, and that Botswana knew that and did nothing about it for almost a century. These points all relate to Namibia’s alternative argument of acquisition by prescription.

The International Court of Justice must determine: how to ascertain the boundary for the Chobe River, if the Northern or Southern Channel is the correct boundary for the Chobe River, and whether Botswana or Namibia retains the legal claim to Kasikili/Sedudu Island. To resolve those issues, the Court should consult the aforementioned 1890 Treaty, applicable rules and principles of international law, and the 1969 Vienna Convention. Though not controlling, the Court may also consider various maps dating to the time of the original division, figures and surveys.

Questions to consider:

  1. Considering the 1890 Agreement and the Vienna Convention, is the Thalweg, or the main channel, the first determination the Court must make to determine the island’s boundary and legal status, and what is the difference in putting the main channel or the Tthalweg first?
  2. Should the Court determine that metrics such as depth and flow are relevant to its determinations, how will the Court reconcile the inconsistent and contradictory surveys and maps developed throughout years of shifting power? How does the determination of a shallow or mean baseline affect that analysis?
  3. Can an argument for acquisition by prescription be considered in the International Court of Justice, and if it can, how does putting forward that argument impact the strength or relevance of Namibia’s other argument?

Bibliography

Support AMUN to accelerate the development of future leaders

AMUN is a non-profit that continues to grow with the help from people like you!
DONATE