PREPARING FOR MUNA
This page provides guidance to students in preparing for their MUNA experience. It is divided into three main parts:
- Understanding the resolution topics and your country’s position
- Understanding the basics of the United Nations General Assembly
- Understanding how to participate in the Winnipeg MUNA sessions
UNDERSTANDING THE RESOLUTION TOPICS AND YOUR COUNTRY’S POSITION
At a general level, delegates and counselors should first familiarize themselves with the country they will represent including its history, geography, people, economy, system of government, and international alignments for the topics they will be debating.
Participants should familiarize themselves with the current Resolutions for the Winnipeg MUNA before coming to the conference. Delegates and counsellors can familiarize themselves with topics specifically by reading the most current Secretary-General report and recent resolutions adopted on the agenda item.
A detailed understanding of how your country has intervened on these topics during the current and previous UN General Assembly (GA) Sessions is also critical to help inform the interactions that will take place between countries during MUNA. We recommend preparing a position paper for each of the resolution topics. Some useful websites for researching these aspects include:
Archive of UN General Assembly Resolutions: http://www.un.org/en/sections/documents/general-assembly-resolutions/index.html
UN Papersmart document management system:
Here you can search for country statements made in the various GA Committees of the General Assembly, including voting records. Searching can be done by country, Committee, agenda item, so it is a very helpful resource.
General Assembly Meetings Coverage and Press Releases:
Here you can search for summaries of the various GA Committee meetings relating to resolution topics, which includes statements made by countries.
Wherever possible, delegates and counsellors should read the statements of the political groups that countries they are representing belong to. These statements are also available on the UN Papersmart website.
UNDERSTANDING THE BASICS OF THE UNITED NATIONS AND ITS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
It is also vital that the history, objectives, operations, and achievements of the United Nations be thoroughly reviewed and understood. A successful learning experience at MUNA requires that participants have an appreciation of the role of the UN as an instrument of world peace and understanding. Some useful websites include:
The United Nations Model UN Guide:
Here you will find a comprehensive overview of how decisions are made in the General Assembly, including the structure of the UN and an overview of the skills for participating in a model UN (for model UN Assemblies in general, not specifically for the Winnipeg MUNA)
UN General Assembly Website:
Here you will find lots of information about the GA, including its current agenda topics, the Committees and their Bureaus, and the GA’s rules and procedures.
United Nations Association in Canada:
United Nations Association of the USA (UNA-USA):
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and sustainable development goals (SDGs): Adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, the 2030 Agenda and SDGs provide a shared blueprint for peace, prosperity, people, planet and partnerships.
UNDERSTANDING HOW TO PARTICIPATE IN THE VARIOUS WINNIPEG MUNA SESSIONS
A first essential step in understanding how to participate in the Winnipeg MUNA is to preview the current MUNA Agenda and to study the MUNA Structure and its Rules of Procedure. Specific guidance for participating in each MUNA session is provided below.
Three webinar training sessions will be hosted by the MUNA organizers in early April to help students and counsellors prepare, including for: (i) officers of the General Assembly (President, Vice-president, Secretary General, and Deputy Secretary General); (ii) officers of the Committee Bureaus (Chair, Vice-chair, Rapporteur) and the Committee Secretary; and (iii) country delegation teams. A procedures seminar is also held on the Thursday evening of MUNA during the ‘Orientation Session’ as a refresher course for information presented at each of the webinars.
Participating in the Opening Plenary Session of the General Assembly
Six country delegations are pre-assigned by the MUNA organizers to speak on each of the four resolution topics. The time limit for these speeches is 3 minutes. The two student delegates in a country team may share this speaking time. This is a unique opportunity for students to hone their public speaking skills. Notes are helpful to have on hand, but a good rule of thumb is for the delegate to know the material well enough so as to not simply read their notes. This takes practice. Please note that when speaking in the Assembly, delegates always address their remarks to the President (or if in Committee, the Chair), for example, by beginning their statement with “Mr. President” or “Madame President”. This should be used instead of “Honourable President” or “Honourable Chair” which are never used at the real the United Nations.
Consultation with other delegations using the Floor Pages:
The Winnipeg MUNA uses the services of ‘Floor Pages’ to deliver messages between delegations during MUNA sessions. Delegates may use these services to gain support from and build consensus with other delegations on amendments to the MUNA resolutions and for new resolutions that your country wishes to advance and table during the Closing Plenary Session of the General Assembly on Day 2 of MUNA. Pages cannot be used for personal messaging. Counsellors and students should refer to the proper conduct policy on the MUNA Rules and Procedures webpage.
Know the rules of procedure for the General Assembly and its Committees:
Refer to the MUNA Rules and Procedures webpage. Note that a delegation’s ‘Right of Reply’ may be exercised during this Opening Plenary Session, but at the discretion of the President of the GA given the time limitations of the Winnipeg MUNA. Any delegate exercising their Right of Reply must wait until the end of the assigned Speakers List to do so.
Participating in the Formal Committee Meetings – (Day 1)
Finding your Committee:
There are two separate formal Committee Meetings. The GA’s First Committee meets in the main Assembly Hall (same room as the General Assembly) and considers Resolutions #1 and #2. In a separate room (the Great Hall) the Second & Third Committees meet together to consider Resolutions #3 and #4. One person from each delegation should participate in each room. For participants of past Winnipeg MUNAs, this session proceeds in a similar manner to previous years.
Taking Action: Introduction of resolution
The first order of business for the afternoon formal Committee meetings on Day 1 is to introduce the resolutions. The main sponsor of the resolution will then be asked to introduce it. The main sponsor introduces a resolution by simply explaining why they think it is important for the Committee to vote in favor of the resolution. In addition, the sponsor should choose a few highlights from the resolution that he/she feels captures the most important elements of the resolution. This is all that is needed to introduce a resolution. The sponsor does not need to read the resolution.
Taking Action: Consideration of amendments
The second order of business is to consider amendments proposed to Resolutions #1 (by the First Committee) and Resolution #3 (by the Second & Third Committee). These resolutions have been pre-drafted by the MUNA organizers. This part of the MUNA simulation begins with the basic premise that informal consultations on the pre-drafted Resolutions #1 and #3 have not achieved consensus to date, and therefore, amendments are now being tabled during the formal meeting of the Committee to take action on the resolutions.
Amendments to Resolutions #1 and #3 can be submitted by email to the Committee Bureau at firstname.lastname@example.org up until 12:30 pm on Day 1. Amendments must be submitted using the template form provided (available starting in April from http://tinyurl.com/munawinnipeg in the ‘templates’ folder). Note that each amendment must have a main sponsor (i.e., the country submitting the amendment) and at least one co-sponsor. This is to help ensure collaboration with like-minded country delegations during the simulation (note that this is not a requirement of the real General Assembly). Submitted amendments can be viewed online during MUNA at http://tinyurl.com/munawinnipeg (double Click on the current MUNA year and then select the Day 1 – Committee Meeting Files, and then either the 1st or 2nd/3rd Committee).
The Committee Chair will consider the submitted amendments in the order they were received and within the time available for the session. The sponsor of the amendment will be allotted 2 minutes to introduce it to the Committee. The Chair will then ask if any delegates would like to reply to the amendment. Two replies will be heard, one for and one against (2 minutes each). The Chair will then put the amendment to a vote.
After the amendments have all been considered, the Chair will take action on the entire resolution by putting it to a vote. Before doing so the Chair will ask which delegates would like to be added to the sponsor list for the resolution. Sponsoring means that your country supports the text of the resolution.
The Chair will then ask if any non-sponsors wish to give an ‘explanation of vote’. Non-sponsors will be allotted 2 minutes to make their statement. The number of non-sponsors granted speaking time will be determined by the Chair based on the time available.
It should be noted that a delegation that explains its vote in the Committee, cannot do so again in the Closing Plenary Session of the General Assembly (exceptions are made for a country that was pre-assigned this role in the Closing Plenary of the GA).
Know the rules of procedure for the General Assembly and its Committees:
Refer to the MUNA Rules and Procedures webpage. In particular, take note of the rules and procedures related to taking action and voting on amendments.
Participating in the Informal Consultations (Day 1)
After the Committees have considered, debated, voted on amendments and adopted Resolutions #1 and #3 by a vote, the Chair will adjourn the formal committee meeting and Informal Consultations will begin on Resolutions #2 and #4. In this part the formal rules and procedures are suspended. For participants of past MUNAs, this session is new and is designed to give students more experience in the consensus-building process and to work in smaller group settings.
The preambular section of these resolutions have been pre-drafted by the MUNA organizers, while the operative section is left blank except for an outline. This part of the simulation begins with the basic premise that informal consultations have already occurred on the preambular section of these two resolutions and only the drafting of the operative sections remain. The Committee Vice-chair will facilitate the Informal Consultations.
Participating in Part I of the Informal Consultations – Breakout Groups to draft operative paragraphs:
The Vice-chair will divide delegates into five groups, each taking a space in a dedicated part of the Committee room. These groups, and the countries included in each, are listed on Resolutions #2 and #4 under the operative section of the resolutions.
Each breakout group will have a student delegate assigned as a facilitator (identified in the operative section of the corresponding Resolution). Formal speeches are not received in these small group discussions, but rather delegates work together informally to draft up to two operative statements for the resolution for the sub-topic assigned to the group (identified in the operative section of the corresponding Resolution). The facilitator will let you know how much time you have to draft your paragraphs.
To participate effectively in the breakout groups for drafting the operative paragraphs, it will be important to have already researched past examples of operative paragraphs from the real General Assembly resolutions that relate to the sub-topic your group has been assigned.
Participating in Part II of the Informal Consultations – Review of operative paragraphs and debate on amendments
Over the nutrition break the Committee Secretary will compile all the operative statements prepared by the breakout groups and will present them together on the screen and make them available electronically. All delegates will then be given time to individually review all the paragraphs so they can decide if they want to sponsor the resolution (this means to support the resolution, not to speak). The Vice-chair facilitator will then ask which delegates wish to sponsor the resolution.
The Vice-chair will then facilitate an informal line-by-line review of each operative statement. The purpose of this review is to give the non-sponsors an opportunity to propose changes to any part of the text. During this part of the simulation, delegates participate as individual countries but can stay seated in their groups to make it easier to caucus if they want to. During the line-by-line review only non-sponsors are allowed to make comments, ask questions and suggest amendments.
Once amendments have been orally submitted, delegates will debate each amendment, facilitated by the Vice-Chair.
During the debate of amendments, sponsors can caucus separately on one side of the room to discuss further changes they may want to make in the text. If all the sponsors agree to make any changes to the resolution, they must inform the Committee Secretary so that these changes can be reviewed by the non-sponsors (the non-sponsors can propose further amendments to the new text if they so wish).
It is important to understand that during the informal consultation process, the sponsors are the gatekeepers of what goes in the resolution. No changes can be made to the text without the sponsors approving it. If they fail to come to agreement on a change that the non-sponsors wish to make, the facilitator can assist in getting the sponsors and non-sponsors to show some flexibility in their positions. If consensus cannot be reached after these efforts, one or more non-sponsors can request that the resolution be put to a vote in the final formal meeting. When this happens, the sponsors lose control over their resolution because the non-sponsors can also put their amendments to a vote in the final formal meeting and have the Committee decide what goes into the resolution. This helps to incentivize the sponsors to make compromises during informal consultations.
When agreement is reached on whether to accept, withdraw or revise the wording of every amendment that has been proposed, then consensus has been achieved and there is no need to take a vote. The purpose of the consensus-building process is to give the delegates an opportunity to work together to find common ground to ensure that most, if not all, of the Member States will implement the recommendations put forth in a resolution. If consensus cannot be reached, one of the non-sponsors can request that the resolution be put to a vote in the final formal Committee meeting.
To participate effectively in this line-by-line review and negotiation of amendments, it will be important to have already researched examples of operative statements from the real General Assembly resolutions that relate to the operative sub-topics assigned to the other groups the delegate was not part of, including your country’s position on those statements.
Sponsoring the Resolution:
Before concluding the Informal Consultations, delegations should notify the committee Secretary via a Floor Page if they would like to be added as a sponsor of the draft Resolution.
Know the rules of procedure for the General Assembly and its Committees:
Refer to the MUNA Rules and Procedures webpage. With the rules of procedure suspended during Informal Consultations, pay special attention to proper and acceptable conduct as noted at the bottom of the Rules and Procedures page.
Guidance on the Consensus Approach:
The Model UN Guide provides guidance on the consensus approach that will be very helpful to delegates, noting for instance the following:
“…consensus is reached when all Member States have agreed to adopt the text of a draft resolution without taking a vote. However, reaching consensus is not the same thing as being unanimous. It is important to note that consensus does not mean that all Member States agree on every word or even every paragraph in the draft resolution. Member States can agree to adopt a draft resolution without a vote but still have reservations about certain parts of the resolution. The important point is that there is nothing in the resolution that is so disagreeable to any Member State that they feel it must be put to a vote.
When Member States have reservations on elements of a draft resolution that they have agreed to adopt by consensus, those who are not sponsors of the resolution have the opportunity to explain their position either before action is taken or after action is taken on the resolution. When Member States know that their reservations can be included in the public record of a Committee’s deliberations on an agenda item, it sometimes makes it easier to agree to consensus.”
For more information and guidance on informal consultations and consensus building, refer to:
Participating in the Formal Committee Meetings on Day 2
Your committee will meet again first thing in the morning of Day 2 to conclude the Informal Consultations on Resolutions #2 and #4 if necessary. Once the Informal Consultations have concluded, your Committee will reconvene under its formal rules of procedure and the direction of the Committee Chair.
Participating in the Introduction of Resolution #2 or Resolution #4:
The Committee Chair will ask the main sponsor of the resolution to introduce it to the Committee. If consensus is reached on Day 1, the main sponsor should thank the Committee for their hard work and for working together in the spirit of consensus. Then the sponsor should choose a few highlights from the resolution that he/she feels captures the most important elements of the resolution. This is all that is needed to introduce a resolution. At the real UN, the sponsor does not read the resolution when introducing it. Delegates should refrain from doing this.
After the resolution is introduced, the Chair will give any non-sponsors who may have reservations to explain their position before action is taken on the resolution. Non-sponsors will be allotted 2 minutes to make their statement.
After the explanation of positions have been completed, the Chair will ask if any delegations wish to be added to the list of sponsors. Then the Chair will note that it is the wish of the Committee that the Resolution be adopted without a vote and will ask the Committee if there are any objections. If no objections are noted, the Chair will note that the Resolution has been so decided. The number of non-sponsors granted speaking time will be determined by the Chair based on the time available.
If consensus is not reached, the main sponsor should explain why they think it is important for the Committee to vote in favor of the resolution when introducing the resolution and should choose a few highlights from the resolution that he/she feels captures the most important elements of the resolution.
The Chair will then allow any non-sponsors who wish to introduce one or more amendments and put them to a vote. The Committee Chair will then call on any non-sponsors that wish to give an ‘explanation of vote’. Non-sponsors will be allotted 2 minutes to make their statement.
It should be noted that a delegation which makes an explanation of position or vote in the Committee, cannot do so again in the Closing Session of the General Assembly (exceptions made for countries pre-assigned such a role in the Closing Session).
After the explanation of votes have been completed, the Chair will conduct a vote on the resolution. If a simple majority of the delegates vote in favor of the resolution, it is adopted.
Participating in the Closing Plenary Session of the General Assembly (Day 2)
After the resolutions are adopted in Committee, they must be adopted a second time by the GA Plenary before they are considered an official resolution. The first order of business of the Closing Plenary is for the Committee Rapporteurs to deliver a report on the work done in their respective Committees and to recommend that the resolution be adopted by the Plenary.
Delegations pre-assigned by the MUNA organizers will deliver the explanation of vote or position (a mix of sponsors and non-sponsors) before the President of the GA takes action on the resolution. In the real UN, only non-sponsors that chose not to explain their position or vote are allowed to make a statement in the Closing Plenary. Delegates should remember to address the President when speaking to the General Assembly.
Right of Reply:
A delegation’s ‘Right of Reply’ may be exercised during this session, but at the discretion of the Chair given the time limitations of the Winnipeg MUNA.
Adopting a resolution without a vote or by voting:
It is the practice of the UN that if a resolution was adopted by consensus in Committee, it is adopted by consensus in the GA Plenary. If a vote was conducted in Committee on a resolution, a vote will also be conducted in the GA Plenary.
Know the rules of procedure for the General Assembly and its Committees:
Refer to the MUNA Rules and Procedures webpage. This includes proper and acceptable conduct as noted at the bottom of the Rules and Procedures page.
Tabling New Resolutions (serious and fun)
Delegations may wish to table new resolutions, both serious and fun, during the Closing Plenary Session of the GA. New resolutions can be submitted by email during MUNA to the President of the General Assembly up until 1:30pm on Day 2. Emails should be directed to email@example.com using the template form available at http://tinyurl.com/munawinnipeg (available in April). Submitted resolutions must be co-sponsored by at least two other countries (note that in the real UN, any Member State can submit a resolution without a co-sponsor. Requiring co-sponsors at the Winnipeg MUNA is to encourage interaction among delegates during the simulation). As a reminder to delegates, the more you consult with other country delegates during MUNA on your new resolution, the better chance it can be passed in this Closing Plenary Session.
Guidance on the form and syntax of General Assembly resolutions is available at: https://outreach.un.org/mun/content/drafting-resolutions
After the draft new resolution has been presented by its sponsor, the President of the GA will call on delegations that wish to propose amendments to the new resolutions, and these amendments will be put to a vote. Before putting the entire resolution to a vote, the President of the GA will call on non-sponsors of the resolution who wish to deliver an ‘explanation of vote’ to the Assembly.
The President of the GA will then proceed to close this session of the assembly. Before doing so, the Deputy Secretary General will deliver a closing statement (note that this is not done in the real UN General Assembly but is part of the Winnipeg MUNA simulation).