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Research and preparation

I. How to write a resolution

What is a resolution?

Being a simulation of the United Nations, the outcome of the conference for each MOSTIMUN committee will be the same as it would for a UN conference. The goal is to find solutions to contemporary problems and verbalize these in resolutions. A resolution is the formal format for a UN decision, recommendation or request.

A resolution will therefore reflect the points agreed upon by a majority of the country representatives in a committee. In order to reach this majority it is clear that delegates will have to debate their different opinions and will have to compromise until they find a solution most representatives can agree upon. The goal at MOSTIMUN is to have one resolution on each topic on the agenda.


Draft resolutions

Before a resolution is adopted by an official vote, it is referred to as a draft-resolution. Such a draft resolution can be a combined effort, written by several countries with similar interests or could even be brought into the debate by one representative. A draft-resolution can provide a good basis to start the discussion and lobbying on the topics on the agenda, which will shape the final resolution. It can (and will) change substantially before it will be voted upon, which should be taken into consideration before rejecting a proposal. A draft resolution has no minimum or maximum length, but does need to adhere to some formalities that are found in the Rules of Procedure.


Introducing a draft resolution

Before a resolution can be discussed, it needs two sponsors and several signatories. Sponsors are often the writers of the draft resolution or delegates that agree with its contents. A Signatory does not necessarily have to support the resolution, but does want to see it discussed in the committee. One quarter of the committee must either be sponsor or signatory to the draft resolution. This means that in a committee of twenty delegates a total of 5 sponsors and signatories are needed. With a minimum of 2 sponsors the drafter will thus need to find at least 3 signatories.

Having obtained sufficient support, the draft resolution must be submitted to the chairperson to be approved by the secretariat. The secretariat gives the resolution a number and distributes it, after which the resolution can be introduced to the committee.

When the floor is open, one of the sponsors may now request to introduce the draft resolution, after which that delegate reads out the operative paragraphs. At this time other delegates can ask questions concerning technicalities and grammar. No debate or questions on the content is to take place at this time. Any apparent spelling or grammatical errors can also be pointed out and will be changed without a vote. A draft resolution is now properly introduced and can be discussed in the formal debate. N.B: A draft resolution cannot be referred to or discussed before it has been formally introduced.


The format of a resolution

A (draft) resolution consists of 3 parts: The header, preambulatory paragraphs and operative paragraphs. The header has to contain the committee name, the agenda topic it discusses, the sponsors and the document code. The latter is added by the secretariat.

A resolution, like many political documents, reads as one long sentence, stating who makes the decision, the reasons for the decision, and the decision itself (Committee A, because of B, takes action C).


Preambulatory paragraphs

The preambulatory paragraphs of a resolution state the reasons, considerations and background of the solution. It is used to refer to previous resolutions or other official documents that deal with the topic and to set out the considerations made to come to the decision in the operative paragraphs.

Preambulatory paragraphs always start with present of perfect participles (recalling, stressing, convinced, determined etc.) or with adjectives (aware of, alarmed by etc.) The first word(s) are underlined and indented and the paragraph ends with a comma (,).

Once a draft resolution has been introduced perambulatory paragraphs cannot be amended.


Operative paragraphs

The operative paragraphs of the resolution specify the actions, requests or recommendations the committee agreed upon. Every paragraph deals with one specific part of the solution, so they should be as short and concise as possible as well as executable and rational.

Operative paragraphs start with a verb in the present tense, third person (decides, requests, calls upon etc.), some are accompanied by an adverb (strongly, deeply, further etc.). Again the first words are underlined. The paragraphs are numbered and end with a semicolon (;) except for the last paragraph that ends with a full stop (.).

The operative paragraphs are numbered. They can also contain sub-points, which have an extra indent and are numbers with lower-case letters. Following the one-sentence structure, the sub-points are a logical continuation of the paragraph they fall under. They end with a comma (,) except for the last one, that ends with a semi-colon (;).


Things to think of when writing a resolution

When writing a resolution, some things must be kept in mind. The resolution must not only be correct grammar – and format-wise, but it must also be an effective decision, attending to a certain issue. It cannot discuss more than one problem and must be executable and realistic.

The first thing to keep in mind is the competence of the forum that is to pass the resolution. The Security Council for example is the only body that can decide to use military force. It is up to the representatives to familiarize themselves with the competence of their committee and stay within them.

The powers of UN bodies (again with the exception of the SC) are not binding upon members states, but does not mean that a resolution is futile. They are generally respected because they represent what comes closest to the opinion of the international community.

When writing a resolution it is important to explore all the possibilities for a solution to the topic under discussion. Although delegates represent countries, and resolutions generally address member states, these are not the only entities that can be called upon. There are several levels on which a problem can be addressed:

· The international community: a resolution can call for a conference, suggest treaties or call upon organizations such as the World Bank, WTO etc.;

· The United Nations: a resolution can request another UN body to put something on their agenda, allocate funds, create working groups or sub-committees;

· Regional organizations: some actions are better taken at a less centralized level. A resolution can suggest, welcome, recommend etc. international organizations such as the European Union, the African Union, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and many more to take action;

· Individual countries: A resolution can of course address an individual country to do or refrain from doing something;

· Non Governmental Organizations: NGO’s are specialized organizations on certain issues. It is not uncommon for a resolution to ask an NGO to be involved in certain matters, assist with their knowledge or carry out certain tasks that fall within their area of specialty.

· Your forum: many forums have different competences, most of which can be found in the UN Charter. Examples are budget changes, creating sub-committees, asking the International Court of Justice for an Advisory Opinion, requesting the Secretary-General to address certain issues etc.