Parliamentary procedure guide
What is Parliamentary procedure?
Parliamentary procedure derives from Robert’s Rules of Order and is the basis for maintaining order at Model United Nations simulations and conferences. While there is a standard order for parliamentary procedure, there may be different variations depending on the conference. All conferences should release personalized guides if their parliamentary procedure differs from the one below.
OPENING DEBATE: GETTING STARTED
At the designated start time for the committee session or when one third of the delegates are present in the room, a motion to open debate is in order. The chair will usually begin with a logistical briefing and conference announcements before asking if there are any points or motions on the floor. At this time, a delegate may motion to open debate. The motion to debate is automatically accepted and does not need to be voted on.
“(COUNTRY NAME) MOVES TO OPEN DEBATE.”
Once debate has been opened, the chair will take roll call. When called on by the chair, delegates will have the option to say present or present and voting. When a delegate is present, it allows the delegate to abstain when voting on amendments and draft resolutions, whereas being present and voting requires the delegate to vote either yes or no on all amendments and draft resolutions. Present and present and voting only pertain to voting procedures, procedural matters require every delegate to vote.
“THANK YOU, HONORABLE CHAIR, (COUNTRY NAME) IS PRESENT.”
“THANK YOU, HONORABLE CHAIR, (COUNTRY NAME) IS PRESENT AND VOTING.”
Following roll call, the chair will establish quorum. Quorum is the required number of delegates to be present to present motions and debate, the standard for quorum is one third of the committee. In addition to setting quorum, the chair will establish simple majority and super majority. Simple majority is fifty percent of the delegates present plus one and it is the number of delegates necessary to pass procedural matters. Super majority is two thirds of the delegates present and is required to close debate, pass unfriendly amendments, and pass draft resolutions.
Following roll call, the next motion that is in order is the motion to open the speaker’s list. The speaker’s list is formal debate conducted by the chair, delegates are selected in advance by raising their placard. Before the agenda has been set, the speaker’s list offers delegates a chance to speak in favor of a specific topic and express their interest in working with the committee.
“(COUNTRY NAME) MOVES TO OPEN THE SPEAKER’S LIST WITH A SPEAKING TIME OF X”
The length of the speaking time can be set at any length; however, the average speaking time is 45 seconds to a minute. When a delegate is finished with their speech and if time remains, the delegate must yield their remaining time. See the section below for the possible yields. The chair will usually accept six to seven speakers before taking additional points or motions. Once speaker’s list has been open, it will remain open for the duration of the simulation/conference and delegates may be (re)added by sending a note to the dais. The speaker’s list is returned to if all motions on the table fail.
Yields are only used during speaker’s list if the delegate has additional time remaining at the end of their speech. There are three options for yielding additional time:
The most common yield is yielding the additional time to the chair. When time is yielded to the chair it is absorbed.
“THANK YOU, (COUNTRY NAME) YIELDS THE TIME TO THE CHAIR.”
Time may also be yielded to questions. The delegate may yield to questions, in which the chair will then select another delegate to ask a question on the speech utilizing the time remaining.
“THANK YOU, (COUNTRY NAME) YIELDS THE TIME TO QUESTIONS.”
Time may also be yielded to another delegate. The delegate may yield their time to a specific delegate, in which the delegate will then have the remaining time to give a speech of their own utilizing the time remaining.
“THANK YOU, (COUNTRY NAME) YIELDS THE TIME TO THE DELEGATE OF (COUNTRY NAME).”
Points and motions
When the chair asks for point or motions, there are several options available to delegates. It is the decision of the delegate to decide the appropriate point/motion to make based on the current flow of debate.
There are four points that a delegate may make at any given time during the simulation/conference. Points are always addressed before motions.
A point of order is used when the delegate believes that the dais has made an error in parliamentary procedure. The point may interrupt a speaker. The chair will decide based on the point and the decision is considered ultimate and final.
“POINT OF ORDER, AN EXTENSION IS MORE DISRUPTIVE THAN AN UNMODERATED CAUCUS.”
A point of personal privilege is used when there is a personal obstacle to the delegates participation in debate. Examples would include the delegate not being able to hear the chair/fellow delegate or the room temperature. This point may not interrupt the speaker but may be made between speakers or when the chair asks for points or motions.
“POINT OF PERSONAL PRIVILEDGE, THE DELEGATE OF (COUNTRY NAME) CANNOT HEAR THE CHAIR.”
A point of information is used to provide additional information or to address a concern/question presented by a delegate following a speech. A point of information may not interrupt the speaker and may be brought to the attention of the chair when asking for speakers or points or motions.
“POINT OF INFORMATION, (COUNTRY NAME) WOULD LIKE TO CLARIFY…”
A point of inquiry is used to ask the chair a question regarding rules of procedure or the flow of debate. This point may only be brought to the floor when the chair asks for points or motions.
“POINT OF INQUIRY, WOULD A MOTION FOR AN UNMODERATED CAUCUS BE ACCEPTED BY THE CHAIR AT THIS TIME.”
In addition to the motions already addressed in the guide, there are additional motions that are imperative to the flow of debate. Motions are taken after points have been addressed and voted on in order of most disruptive.
MOTIONS IN ORDER OF MOST DISRUPTIVE
Motion to Close Debate
Motion to Suspend Debate
Motion to Enter Voting Procedure
Motion to Introduce Draft Resolutions
Motion for an Authors Panel
Motion for an Extension
Motion for an Unmoderated Caucus
Motion for a Moderated Caucus
Motion for a Moderated Caucus. This is one of the more common motions made by delegates. A moderated caucus is debate moderated by the chair. Delegates will select a length for the moderated caucus as well as the speaking time and topic for the caucus. If there is more than one motion for a moderated caucus, the one with the longest length will be considered the most disruptive. If the length is the same for multiple moderated caucuses, the moderated caucus with the most speakers will be considered most disruptive. Once a motion for the moderated caucus has been passed, the chair will then ask, “all those wishing to speak” and delegates will be selected by raising their placard.
“(COUNTRY NAME) MOVES FOR A SIX MINUTE MODERATED CAUCUS WITH A 45 SECOND SPEAKING TIME FOR THE PURPOSE OF…”
Motion for an Unmoderated Caucus. An unmoderated caucus allows delegates to move from their seats and engage in informal discussions. Delegates utilize this time to form blocs and to begin working on working papers.
“(COUNTRY NAME) MOVES FOR A 10 MINUTE UNMODERATED CAUCUS.”
Motion for an Extension. A motion for an extension is in order following the completion of a moderated or unmoderated caucus. The moderated or unmoderated caucus can only be extended one time and the time of the extension may not exceed more than half of the original time.
“(COUNTRY NAME) MOTIONS FOR A FIVE-MINUTE EXTENSION OF THE PREVIOUS MODERATED CAUCUS.”
Motion to Introduce Draft Resolutions. Once the chair has accepted a working paper it becomes a draft resolution. Once there is a draft resolution on the floor, delegates may motion to introduce the draft resolution. Once the draft resolution has been introduced delegates may make amendments and motions regarding the draft resolution.
“(COUNTRY NAME) MOVES TO INTRODUCE ALL DRAFT RESOLUTIONS ON THE FLOOR.”
Motion for an Authors Panel. Once draft resolutions have been introduced, delegates may motion to hold an authors panel on specific draft resolutions. Authors panels allow a select number of sponsors to address the committee, explain the draft resolution, and answer questions regarding the draft resolution for a short period of time. The chair moderates the authors panel.
“(COUNTRY NAME) MOVES TO HOLD AN AUTHORS PANEL FOR THE DURATION OF 10 MINUTES ON DRAFT RESOLUTION X."
Closing debate: voting procedure
Before the committee can enter voting procedure on the draft resolutions, there must be a motion to close debate. A motion to close debate requires two speakers for and against, as well as a super majority vote to pass. Once debate has been closed on the topic, it cannot be reopened.
“(COUNTRY NAME)” MOVES TO CLOSE DEBATE.”
Once debate has been closed, the committee can now proceed with voting on the draft resolutions on the floor. When in voting procedure, no one may enter or exit the room. Motions for voting procedure will be accepted to decide the order that amendments and draft resolutions will be voted on, as well as the voting method. Amendments will be voted on before the draft resolution that they pertain to. There are two types of amendments:
Friendly amendments: are accepted by all sponsors of the draft resolution and are immediately accepted as changes to the draft resolution. These do not require a vote.
Unfriendly amendments: are not accepted by all sponsors of the paper and require two thirds of the committee to pass before the changes can be made to the draft resolution.
There are three voting methods available for delegates to motion for when in voting procedure:
Placard Vote. A placard vote is the standard and assumed voting method for all amendments and draft resolutions unless motioned otherwise. This voting method does not require a motion. The chair will ask all those in favor, all those against, all those abstaining, and delegates will indicate their vote by raising their placard.
“(COUNTRY NAME) MOVES TO VOTE ON DRAFT RESOLUTION X.X.”
Acclamation. When a motion to vote by acclamation has been made, the chair will ask if there is any opposition to the amendment/draft resolution being voted on. If there is opposition, the chair will conduct a roll call vote. If there is no opposition the amendment.
“(COUNTRY NAME) MOVES TO VOTE ON DRAFT RESOLUTION X.X BY ACCLAMATION.”
Roll Call. When a motion for roll call vote has been made, no other motions regarding the method of voting may be made. The chair will go through the list of delegates present in the committee room and ask for their vote.
“(COUNTRY NAME) MOVES TO VOTE ON DRAFT RESOLUTION X.X BY ROLL CALL.”