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Rules for simulating the United Nations crime prevention and criminal justice bodies

 

To make it easier for Model United Nations organizers to simulate one of the intergovernmental bodies highlighted in this Resource Guide, Education for Justice has drafted suggested rules for adaptation and inspiration.

These rules provide for a simplified version of how these bodies work. They can be used in simulations of any size and were created to allow for adaptation by the various formats used by Model United Nations conferences.

Some rules might not be applicable given the particular characteristics of Model United Nations events and because of timing and other variables that must be taken into consideration at the planning stage. With these factors in mind, the following rules are suggested to allow for a more accurate simulation, reflecting the actual proceedings at the United Nations.

Rule 1: Provisional agenda

The organizing committee or secretariat of the simulation shall draw up the provisional agenda for the session and submit it with related documentation. Such communication and transmission should take place well in advance, before the simulation begins.

Tip

The provisional agenda contains a list of issues or topics, general and/or particular, in the order in which they are going to be discussed, as well as the order of the session as a whole, including organizational matters that are not to be considered when simulating these bodies but are relevant in the actual meetings of the United Nations.

 

Rule 2: Bureau

Before the beginning of the simulation, the organizing committee or secretariat will choose members of the Bureau that will be in charge of the conduct of business and the application of these rules. The Bureau will be composed of a Chair (or President), a Vice-Chair (or Vice-President) and a Rapporteur.

The Chair (or President) is responsible for the procedural functions of the simulation and for ensuring that these functions are carried out in an efficient and smooth manner. The Vice-Chairs (or Vice-Presidents) assists in this regard. The Rapporteur maintains the list of speakers and the order of draft resolutions and amendments, verifies vote counts, takes the roll-call and performs and keeps track of other administrative duties as required.

Tip

The Bureau is usually called the "dais" in traditional Model United Nations conferences. It is usually composed of the more experienced students in such conferences. In the United Nations, the selection of the members of the Bureau is not made by the Secretariat. Moreover, in the congresses and the conferences, the head of the Bureau is called a President and, accordingly, Vice-Chairs are called Vice-Presidents. Organizers may choose to, and are encouraged to, use the denominations related to each particular body.

 

Rule 3: Adoption of the agenda

At the beginning of the simulation, the agenda for the session must be adopted, on the basis of the provisional agenda referred to in rule 1. During the session, the agenda may be revised by adding, deleting, deferring or amending items. Only important and urgent items shall be added to the agenda during the session.

Tip

In traditional Model United Nations conferences, the first part of the simulation usually involves a "motion to set the agenda", after which a debate occurs to propose and place agenda items.

 

Rule 4: Representation of States

Each State shall be represented by a delegation that consists of not more than two delegates who will speak and/or act on behalf of their country, reflecting their foreign policy. Members of the Bureau will not act as delegates of any State.

In the case of the Conference, States signatories of a Convention that are not yet parties (in the case of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime) or States parties (in the case of the United Nations Convention against Corruption), can participate in the Conference as observers, without the right to vote or to take part in the adoption of resolutions. They can also not draft or sponsor them. Seating arrangements should consider the nature of observer States and reflect the difference vis-à-vis other States.

Tip

In most conferences or simulations, observers are granted the same privileges of other States but do not have voting rights. In the actual meetings of the United Nations, observer States usually sit in the back of the room, in an area that is specifically for that purpose.

 

Rule 5: Other participants

Here, organizers may describe the rules applicable to other types of participants.

Representatives of organs or specialized agencies of the United Nations, other intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations holding consultative status with the Economic and Social Council can participate in the simulation as observers, without the right to vote or to take part in the adoption of resolutions. They can also not draft or sponsor them. Seating arrangements should consider the nature of this category of participants and the difference vis-a-vis other States such as observer States.

Tip

For the purpose of the simulation, this list of non-governmental organizations with consultative status might be useful for the organizing committee or secretariat. In the actual meetings of the United Nations, these participants usually sit at the back of the room, in an area specifically designated for that purpose.

 

Rule 6: Role of the Secretary-General and the Secretariat

The Secretary-General of the simulation shall act in this capacity in all meetings. She or he may designate a member of the Secretariat to act as his or her representative, will lead the conference staff and will be responsible for all the arrangements that may be necessary for the meetings.

The Secretary-General may make written or oral statements concerning any question and may call the attention of the delegates and meet privately with the Bureau to revise the proper application of these rules and/or to review the course of the debate. The Secretariat will distribute, publish and circulate as appropriate, preferably using electronic tools, every document required. It may perform other duties that may be required before and during the meetings.

Tip

The Secretary-General shall not directly guide the discussions but is entitled to provide some direction and guidance to participant delegates, whenever needed.

 

Rule 7: Public meetings

Unless it is decided otherwise and except in the case of consultations, the meetings of the simulation shall be held in public, which means anyone is able to observe the proceedings, depending on the seating capacity of the location or room where such meetings take place.

Tip

The public nature of the meetings implies that any member of the organizing committee or secretariat can be present, as well as members of the media and the general public. Recordings of the proceedings are also allowed during public meetings.

 

Rule 8: Quorum

A simple majority of the delegates shall constitute a quorum or the minimum number of delegates that need to be present to begin the session.

Tip

In some traditional Model United Nations conferences, in order to at least proceed with the debate, only a quarter of the delegates is needed to have a quorum.

 

Rule 9: General powers of the Chair (or President)

The Chair (or President) shall declare the opening and closing of each meeting, direct the discussions, ensure observance of these rules, grant the right to speak, put questions to the vote and announce decisions.

The Chair (or President), subject to these rules, shall have complete control over the proceedings and over the maintenance of order at the meetings. She or he shall rule on points of order. She or he may propose the closure of the list of speakers, a limitation on the time to be allowed to speakers and on the number of times the delegate of each State may speak on an item, the adjournment or closure of the debate, and the suspension or adjournment of a meeting.

Tip

This is not an exhaustive list of powers since others might be applicable given the nature of the meetings, at the discretion of the organizing committee or secretariat.

 

Rule 10: Points of order

During the discussion of any matter, a delegate may at any time raise a point of order to indicate an improper procedure or the incorrect application of these rules. It cannot be used for factual errors or for any other purpose. This point shall be decided immediately by the Chair (or President) in accordance with these rules. A delegate may appeal against the ruling of the Chair (or President). A delegate may not, in raising a point of order, speak on the substance of the matter under discussion.

Tip

For instance, a point of order could be raised if a delegate is speaking about an issue or topic not currently under discussion. As one of the main differences vis-a-vis traditional Model United Nations conferences, in the actual meetings of the United Nations there are no "points of personal privilege" or "points of parliamentary inquiry".

 

Rule 11: Speeches

No one may address the Congress, Commission or Conference without having previously obtained the permission of the Chair (or President).

List of speakers

A list of speakers shall be made with the order of speakers. The Chair (or President) shall prepare this list and call upon speakers in the order in which they signal their desire to speak by raising their country name plates or placing them vertically, or submitting a proper request in writing to the Bureau.

Purpose of the speeches

The debate shall be confined to the issue or question before the Congress, Commission or Conference, and the Chair (or President) must call a speaker to order if the remarks are not relevant to the subject under discussion.

Delivering the speeches

Speeches can be made either seated or standing, depending on the preference of the Chair (or President). Speeches cannot reflect personal or private ideas, views or opinions but need to be in line with the position of the State in question.

Speaking time

The time allocated to speakers (and the number of times a delegate of each State may speak on any question) may be limited. Interventions on procedural questions shall not exceed one minute or, ideally, 30 seconds. When debate is limited and a speaker exceeds the allotted time, the Chair (or President) shall call the delegate to order without delay.

Tip

In many of the meetings of the United Nations and in some traditional Model United Nations conferences, the list of speakers is shown on a screen along with a timer. Usually there is a default speaking time but this is at the discretion of the organizing committee or secretariat, depending on the nature, length and complexity of the simulation. Delegates may also be entitled to propose a limit to the length of speeches.

 

Rule 12: Closing of the list of speakers

During the course of a debate the Chair (or President) may announce the list of speakers and, with the consent of the Congress, Commission or Conference, declare the list closed. When there are no more speakers, the Chair (or President) shall encourage further debate or declare the deliberations closed.

Tip

It is the responsibility of the Chair (or President) to encourage participation by all delegates. Accordingly, all delegates should speak at least once.

 

Rule 13: Right of reply

The right of reply shall be accorded by the Chair (or President) to the delegate of any State who requests it either in writing or with his or her country name plate, when his or her personal or national integrity has been affected or was insulted by another delegate.

Delegates should attempt, in exercising this right, to be as brief as possible and preferably to deliver their statements at the end of the meeting at which this right is requested.

Tip

Usually the use of this right of reply is restricted to very serious offences or inappropriate comments made by a delegate regarding another one or his or her country or political leadership of it.

 

Rule 14: Motions

Motions are specific actions requested by delegates to direct the debate in a certain direction or, more broadly, for the Congress, Commission or Conference to do something. The motions shall have precedence in the following order: (a) to suspend the meeting; (b) to adjourn the meeting; (c) to adjourn the debate on the item under discussion; and (d) to close the debate on the item under discussion.

Suspension of the meeting

During the discussion of an agenda item, a delegate may at any time request the suspension of the debate to proceed to consultations as per rule 16. The request shall include the purpose for and the length of the suspension. The request is not debatable and must be put immediately for consideration to the delegates.

Tip

In some of the traditional Model United Nations conferences, this implies a call for a "moderated caucus" or an "unmoderated caucus", both of which do not exist in the meetings of the United Nations.

  

Adjournment of the meeting

During the discussion of an agenda item, a delegate may at any time request the adjournment of the meeting for the purpose of resuming such meeting at the time proposed by the Chair (or President) or arranged by the organizing committee or secretariat of the simulation. It can also be used at the end of the simulation when the proceedings are over.

Tip

This could be used, for instance, to proceed to lunch or for any other activity proposed by the organizing committee or secretariat.          

 

Adjournment of the debate

A delegate may also at any time request the adjournment of the debate on the item under discussion. If granted, deliberations on that item cannot take place during a specified period of time. The request is not debatable and must be put immediately for consideration to the delegates.

Tip

In this case, it is understood that the debate on the item under discussion is not exhausted but, instead, can later be resumed, for instance after the consideration of another item.          

 

Closure of the debate

The closure of debate on the item under discussion means that no further deliberation can be made on this item at any time. A delegate may at any time request this closure, whether or not another delegate has signalled her or his wish to speak. The request is not debatable and must be put immediately to the delegates for consideration.

Tip

In this case, it is understood that the debate on the item has been exhausted and cannot be resumed.                                                      

 

Rule 15: Consultations

If the debate has been suspended as per rule 14.1, consultations among States can take place. During consultations, the application of these rules of procedure shall be suspended but proper decorum must be present at all times.

Decorum implies the use of diplomatic language and an adequate tone, respect among delegates and the order of the session. If such decorum is missing, the Chair (or President) may call the delegates to order. Consultations must be held in private as per rule 7 and can be either formal or informal, the latter being used mostly for line-by-line review, as per rule 18.1.

Tip

One of the purposes of consultations could be the drafting of a resolution or a substantive discussion that cannot take place during the formal debate. Whenever possible during the simulation, these consultations should take place first and foremost within regional, political and collaborative blocs or groups of countries that already exist in the United Nations (such as the G77 and China).

Following common practice and to ensure proper negotiation, consultations must be held away from public attention, and delegates, if they wish to do so, may appoint among them someone to chair the discussions. Consultations are similar to the concept of caucuses, which are prominently used in most of the traditional Model United Nations conferences, when they are considered as a brief recess from formal proceedings so that delegates can work, in the case of an unmoderated caucus, together in small groups.

 

Rule 16: Draft resolutions

Draft resolutions shall normally be submitted in writing to the Chair (or President) and should be the result of the discussions during the simulations. Pre-drafted resolutions can be prohibited. The submission will take place once the debate and the consultations have been exhausted.

Format

Draft resolutions must contain the formal standard structure of these documents, which takes the form of preambulatory and operative clauses or paragraphs.

Sponsorship

A draft resolution must be sponsored by at least one State and may be co-sponsored by up to three States. A proposal may be withdrawn by its sponsor(s) at any time before action on such proposal has commenced.

Circulation

Proposals will be circulated among members of the Congress, Commission or Conference in the form of printed copies or using other methods as appropriate. After submission and circulation, proposals will be put to discussion and consideration.

Consideration

If two or more draft resolutions relate to the same question, they shall be considered or voted on in the order in which they were submitted. However, the Bureau will encourage delegates to present only one draft resolution. The Congress, Commission or Conference may, after the consideration of a draft resolution, decide whether to consider or vote on the next proposal.

Tip

In some intergovernmental bodies, draft resolutions are submitted some months prior to the session. This is the case for instance in the case of the Congress, for which such drafts must be submitted four months in advance.

 

Rule 17: Amendments

An amendment is a proposal that does no more than add to, change, delete from or revise part of a draft resolution. When two or more amendments are moved to a proposal, the amendment furthest removed in substance from the original draft resolution shall be considered or voted on first and so on, until all the amendments have been considered or voted on.

Where, however, the adoption of one amendment necessarily implies the rejection of another amendment, the latter shall not be put to consideration or voted on. If one or more amendments are adopted, the amended draft resolution shall then be considered or voted on.

Tip

The proposed amendments should specify in detail which part of the draft resolution is being modified. In traditional Model United Nations conferences, the terms "friendly amendment" and "unfriendly amendment" are used.

 

Rule 18: Consensus

Consensus should be the first option to adopt a motion or resolution and States shall make every effort to reach consensus when adopting resolutions or decisions. When no State requests a vote, the Congress, Commission or Conference may adopt proposals or motions without a vote, if no objection is heard or seen on the proposals or motions.

Line-by-line review

An important element of reaching consensus is the process in which draft resolutions are edited in a line-by-line review. The individual chairing consultations will ask for objections and specific changes from the delegates.

This implies that when every line or paragraph in the draft resolution is read aloud, delegates are asked if there are any reactions or recommendations to be made. Suggestions are written down and, if needed, later discussed in the "informal" consultations as per rule 15. This takes place as many times as required to reach consensus.

Tip

Most resolutions in the intergovernmental bodies of the United Nations are adopted by consensus. This is a recommendation made by the General Assembly. In the Vienna-based bodies, the process is called the "Vienna consensus".

Line-by-line review takes place in informal consultations (such as the Committee of the Whole in the Conference of the States Parties) and not in the plenary. In the final plenary, the Chair (or President) could use this formula or a variant of it:

"I understand/shall take it that the States have agreed to adopt this draft resolution. Are there any objections? Seeing none, it is so decided".

More information on line-by-line review can be found in the drafting section of the Guide to the Model United Nations produced by the United Nations Secretariat.

 

Rule 19: Voting process

If consensus cannot be reached, a voting process takes place. Each State in the simulation shall have one vote.

Procedure

Voting will take place by show of hands or country name plates, as instructed by the Chair (or President). After the commencement of voting has been announced, no delegate may interrupt the voting except on a point of order in connection with the actual voting procedure.

Roll-call vote

A delegate may request a roll-call, which if granted by the Chair (or President), shall be taken in the alphabetical order of the names of States represented, in the working language of the simulation. If this is the case, the Rapporteur will read aloud the names of each State. When a delegate's State is named, she or he will respond yes, no or abstain.

Division of proposals

Parts of a draft resolution shall be voted on separately if a delegate requests it. The parts that have been approved shall be put to the consideration of States as a whole.

Required majority

When voting on procedural questions, decisions shall be made by a simple majority of the delegates present and voting. When voting on substantive questions such as on draft resolutions, decisions shall be made by a simple or qualified majority of the delegates present and voting, as accorded by the organizing committee or secretariat of the simulation.

Explanation of votes

If there is a voting procedure, up to two delegations may make brief statements consisting solely of an explanation of their votes after the voting has been completed.

Tip

In most of the meetings of the United Nations in which there is a voting procedure, except in the case of the Security Council, every State has access to an electronic voting system with coloured buttons (green, red and yellow) that is used to record and show the vote of every State present, whether it is a yes", "no" or "abstain".

The system is activated at the precise time of the voting procedure and is locked after a short period. At that time, a screen shows the outcome of the voting procedure.

 

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