Pushers and Leaders, Part 2: How to Veto the Power Delegate in your Resolution Bloc

by KFC on December 16, 2008

One of the best ways to handle a power delegate during an unmoderated caucus is to diplomatically “moderate” the unmoderated caucus bloc and force the power delegate to listen rather than speak. Assuming that you have established yourself as the respectful and respected caucus bloc leader and are able to empower the rest of the bloc to participate with you, this technique may force the power delegate to seek another caucus bloc because he/she might not be able to dominate the discussion and take leadership in the resolution-writing process.

However, the power delegate may decide to join the caucus bloc that you are leading anyway and become a sponsor. This can become a problem if the power delegate continually attempts to assert control of the bloc and ownership of the resolution; the power delegate wants to be seen as the leader of the bloc. What often transpires next is that after some back-and-forth debate over wording between you and the power delegate in order to exercise ownership over different clauses, the bloc will generally come to an agreement on a draft resolution and submit it. Then, in order to gain additional ownership of the draft resolution, the power delegate will insert a bunch of operatives that he/she had been withholding or had overheard in committee, and having been exhausted from the debate earlier or believing that these amendments will gain votes, the rest of the bloc will just go along with it and sign onto them as friendly amendments. The bloc (and you) will increasingly lose control as your agreement becomes more of a formality than a negotiation in the power delegate’s rise in ownership of the draft resolution.

The best delegate though, knows how to turn a rule into a strategy. The rule is, in order for an amendment to be considered friendly, all sponsors must agree. Conversely (and this is often left unexplained), it also means that if any one sponsor disagrees, the amendment becomes unfriendly and is subject to voting by the committee, which is a situation the power delegate would rather not face due to the potential for rejection. Therefore, at any point, you can disagree and essentially veto the power delegate from asserting control over your draft resolution. If your disagreement is considerate to your loyal bloc allies and principled (on policy), you will have striped the power delegate of his/her source of power, the agreeing but exhausted group of sponsors.

This technique can be especially devasting to a power delegate who is trying to push you or an ally off formal caucus representation. Power delegates from opposing blocs may decide to merge resolutions to not only make it seem as if they were strong negotiators who could command a majority vote to pass resolutions, but to also push off the weaker formal caucus members (assuming only a limited number of sponsors can present during formal caucus) and prevent them from gaining ownership, visibility, and perhaps points. In fact, if your caucus bloc is small and contains a power delegate, it will most likely be “swallowed” by the bigger bloc when the two draft resolutions merge; the bigger bloc will insist that they deserve a higher proportion of representation leaving your original bloc with only one representative… yes the power delegate who the other bloc believes is your bloc’s leader.

But a merger is essentially a gigantic amendment to the draft resolution, so in order for draft resolutions to be merged, all sponsors on both sides must agree. Again, this is where you can decide to disagree, effectively vetoing the merger. This sends a message to the supposed power brokers that any decisions to merge will have to go through you. Be persistent and do not fold under peer pressure, assuming again that your disagreement is considerate to your loyal bloc allies and principled (on policy). Your loyal bloc allies will see right through the power delegates’ attempt to use the bloc for his/her own gain and will respect you for standing up to him/her.

One word of caution though: make sure you understand the conference’s philosophy. A Model UN conference that favors principled negotiation will most likely have chairs that look down upon this strategy because they would rather see a delegate navigate the compromise process and merge his/her resolutions rather than respect that delegate for leading a particular bloc or authoring many good ideas. In other words, saying “no” to a seemingly agreeable idea is seen as undiplomatic, whereas in other conferences, saying “no” is a strategy and a leader’s right. (You can tell if a conference philosophy is the latter when multiple blocs have essentially the same ideas and decide to pass each others’ resolutions rather than merge).

Vetoing a power delegate’s amendment or desire to complete a backdoor merge is a very simple technique, but I rarely see delegates using it. As a sponsor, you always have the right to say “no” to changes and additions to a resolution that you helped author. Don’t allow the power delegate to take that authorship away from you.

  • http://twitter.com/cmark4ster Colin Mark

    Hi Best Delegate,

    This is an interesting idea, but it only applies to conferences that don’t distinguish between working papers and resolutions. In certain conferences, once a working paper has been presented, the working paper’s sponsors immediately lose ownership of it, and any delegates can draw from the working paper when creating draft resolutions. Ultimately, this rule minimizes the efficacy of the “friendly amendment veto,” because the merger you would be trying to stop would not be a friendly amendment at all, but a change of format from working paper to draft resolution. Still, even in this exception case, opposing the power delegate could keep you in control of the bloc the merger is attempting to swallow, even if it doesn’t stop the merger. In fact, the merger in this scenario would essentially just take the power delegate our of your bloc, although the merged resolution will have all of your ideas in it where you can’t take credit for them.

    Otherwise, very insightful article!

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