How to Debate Resolutions

by Ryan on December 7, 2007

Someone from the Netherlands e-mailed me in the middle of an MUN conference asking how to speak about committee resolutions and whether to take points of information. I tried e-mailing back but the return address would not work, so I’m just posting my response here. I also think other people might find it useful. And don’t hesitate to e-mail me yourself, either to ask a question or just let me know your thoughts about my website or MUN in general.

“Thank you for e-mailing me. What is your committee? And what does the resolution say? How long is it? Who are the sponsors? And are you speaking in favor or against it? Also, I believe that MUN in Europe is different than MUN in America, so I am not familiar with your rules of procedure.

Regardless, here are some basic tips for talking about your resolution:

1. State whether you are in favor or against the resolution.
2. In 1 sentence or 1 word, explain why you do or do not favor the resolution.
3. Pick 3 operative clauses to support your argument.
4. Encourage the committee to vote in favor or against the resolution.

For example: “The Netherlands favors this resolution because it is comprehensive. Look at clauses x, y, and z. [Explain what x, y, and z does] The resolution addresses all of the major points that were brought up in debate. We encourage the committee to vote in favor of the resolution.”

Another example: “The Netherlands is against this resolution because it is vague. Look at clauses x, y, and z. [Explain what x, y, and z fail to do] The resolution does nothing. We urge the committee to vote against the resolution.”

I am assuming that you don’t have a lot of time to talk about the resolution, so you need to focus your speech. Using 1 sentence and 3 operative clauses to describe the resolution makes it easier for the audience to remember what you’re saying.

If you have time remaining, I think it is a good idea to yield to points of information unless you have a very good reason not to; for example, you said something unpopular so delegates will use their questions to attack you. But if you wrote the resolution or are one of its primary sponsors, then you need to answer questions from the delegates. If you won’t defend your resolution, no one else will.

I am assuming you wrote the resolution or are one of its sponsors. In that case, I suggest answering as many points of resolution as you can until you run out of speaking time. If the chair allows you to select delegates, and if you are very confident in your resolution and your debating skills, then pick delegates who are sponsors on the opposing resolution. Expect them to attack your resolution, but use it to your advantage by arguing back. Sponsors on the opposing resolution will make criticisms in their own speeches and you will not have an opportunity to respond. So use your speaking time as an opportunity to address any concerns people might have.

But if you do think there are some weaknesses in your resolution, or if you are unsure of your debating skills, then select delegates who are not on either resolution, or could go either way. You want to convince the delegate that it is in their country’s policy to vote in favor of your resolution. You also want to convince them that none of your operative clauses are against their country’s policy. At the end, thank them for their question.

Regardless of who is asking the question, answer completely and politely; do not get defensive because that makes you look bad. And keep your responses short. You want to answer questions completely, but you also want to answer as many as possible.

I know that’s a lot of information, but I hope some of it helps. Please feel free to e-mail me in the future.

Good luck!”

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  • Aima malik

    you made my upcoming first ever MUN a lot less scary. thanks!

    • http://bestdelegate.com Ryan

      Glad to help! Good luck!

  • Fatimah AJ

    Tomorrow, we’re debating the resolutions in our mun and I think this technique is going to help a lot. It’s already helped write my speech. Thank you!

    • http://bestdelegate.com Ryan

      I’m glad this article helped! Feel free to share it with your MUN club. Good luck!

  • Avi

    Hey thanks! I was really scared for the debating for! But this really helps! Wish me luck for my MUN debate next week!

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  • Anonymous

    Excellent article.
    I attend to model UN in my country (Colombia, South America) since last year, this helped me a lot in my last model.
    Thank you very much.
    P.S.: How do I email you with my questions?

    • Anonymous

      Thank you for reading Best Delegate! I’m glad you found this article helpful. Feel free to email me at ryan@nullbestdelegate.com.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408895426 Tafari Duncan

    One question. You said the chair allows you to select delegates to debate your resolution? What do you mean and how would one do this?

    • http://bestdelegate.com Best Delegate

      Usually the sponsors of a resolution are required to go up together to read the operative clauses and then they can take questions from the rest of the committee. The chair still decides who to speak — the chair selects delegates who will debate your resolution by asking questions and the sponsors have to address those questions.

  • http://twitter.com/Chuppy7410 Yousef Hassan

    What do we say to the Chairs, when we finish debating the resolution?

    • http://www.facebook.com/ellen.perfect.7 Ellen Perfect

      Whether you are in formal caucus or making a speech, the simplest way to end your speech is “I yield my time to the chair”
      If you would like to close debate on the resolution, then a motion to move into voting block is in order.

  • Muskaan

    I have a question what should our opening speeches contain i am representing Qatar

    • http://bestdelegate.com/ Ryan Villanueva

      The purpose of an opening speech is to explain your country policy.

      Assuming 1-2 minute speech on just 1 topic:

      1) Open with a hook to grab the audience’s attention

      2) State your country policy in one sentence, then offer 2-3 reasons why your government has adopted this policy

      3) End with a call to action, offering 1 possible solution/action that committee can take to address your topic

  • Muskaan

    i guess we say “thank you” or “i acknowledge your prescence”

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