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The Model United Nations Chairing Guide

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The Model United Nations Chairing Guide essay

Being a Chair is such an exciting position to hold at a MUN because it requires you to take on responsibility, but also to think well on your feet and to respond immediately to a committee. In many ways, the Chair sets the tone of the committee, so it is important to set and maintain a tone that allows you to keep control of the delegates, but that is comfortable and fun for all involved. Every Chair has their own style and that is something that cannot be taught, however, the manner in which to Chair or the tone to set is something that is applicable to every Chair in every conference. Here are some guidelines:

1. Always begin more strictly. This shows the delegates you have authority and gains you respect. This is a key. If the delegates do not respect you it will be hard to keep control of them as the conference progresses.

2. Remain approachable, open and friendly throughout the conference. It is important that delegates know they can come to their Chairs if they have questions or problems. You must always be polite and attentive to delegates, as this also helps gain you respect. As the saying goes Treat others as you yourself would like to be treated. Treating delegates in the right way will make them more willing to comply with your authority.

3. Never publicly contradict a co-chair. As Chairs, you are a team, and to maintain your control you must seem united. Contradicting your co-Chair in front of the house is not only rude and undermining; it can also give the delegates the impression that you are not strong as a team and can lose your respect. If you feel your Co-Chair has done or said something wrong, quietly mention it to him/her and talk about it afterwards.

4. Never shout at the house/delegates. As a Chair, you must always remain calm and collected. Once you begin shouting you quickly lose respect and control of any situation.

5. Never ignore a point made by a delegate or dismiss a question or remark. Even if a comment is inappropriate, let the house know, but move on swiftly and do not pay too much attention to it. By ignoring or dismissing comments or questions you are not fulfilling your role as mentor to the delegates. As mentioned before, always remain approachable and friendly.

6. Always explain things fully and clearly. This ensures that all delegates are aware of what is happening. Even if it seems obvious to you, it may not be to them. If they ask a question and you answer, ask if they have understood or if there is anything further they wish to know. This avoids confusion or misunderstandings, which can breed resentment or anger towards you as a Chair.

7. Do not abuse your authority. It is tempting to want to use the privileges chairing encompasses. However, always remember the responsibilities you have. Abusing your authority can come off as arrogant and will not make delegates any more respectful or friendly towards you.

8. Never be afraid to admit mistakes. The term The Chair stands corrected is very useful! Do not try to overlook the mistakes you made or dismiss delegates that point these out. Recognize them, accept them and move on. Admitting your faults will show the delegates that you are fair and, after all, only human.

During Debate: Stock Phrases

Stock phrases are simple phrases or words that Chairs use to explain the procedures during the debate. These are very useful in all situations. Some example/important stock phrases can be seen below:

  • Could the house please come to order?
  • The next resolution to be debated will be on the question of…
  • Would the main-submitter please take the floor and read out the operative clauses?
  • The Chair sets the debate time at 40 minutes of open debate
  • The floor is now open
  • Are there any delegations wishing to take the floor?
  • you have been recognized
  • you have floor
  • The speaker will [please] refrain from using unparliamentary language
  • The speaker will [please] refrain from insulting other delegates
  • An amendment has been proposed by…This is in order. The chair will read it out
  • We will now move into voting procedures on the amendment
  • The speaker has opened himself to point of information. Are there any such points in the house?
  • Please rise and state your point
  • Please state your point in the form of a question
  • Please refrain from asking several questions at one point
  • Would the delegate please repeat/rephrase the question?
  • There will be no direct dialogue between delegates
  • I am sorry, but there is no more time for points of information. Could the speaker please yield the floor?
  • I am sorry, but in the interest of debate, could the delegate please yield the floor?
  • There has been a point of order in the house
  • Your point is well/not well taken
  • The chair stands corrected
  • There has been a point of personal privilege on the floor
  • Could the house please come to order and show the speaker the respect he/she/they deserve?
  • Debate time on this resolution has elapsed
  • We will now move into voting procedures on this resolution
  • Would the administrative staff please close/secure all the doors and take up their voting positions?
  • All those in favor of this resolution please raise your placards high
  • All those against…
  • All those abstaining…
  • By a vote of… in favor, against, with… abstentions, this resolution/amendment passes/fails
  • Clapping is (not) in order

Normally, a committee has two to three Chairs, among those Chairs every Chair is an expert on a certain topic. If a topic is being debated, the expert Chair is never chairing, he/she will have to focus on sorting out amendments and writing up a pick me list for the chairing chair. Other Chairs will focus on the person chairing and take care of his/her administrative work such as notes, talking to disruptive delegates etc.

Therefore, to sum up, the roles of the Chairs during the debate is the following:

  1. Chair 1 focuses on the procedural part of the debate.
  2. Chair 2 (Expert Chair) focuses on the Pick me list and assist Chair 1.
  3. Chair 3 deals with administrative note responding or other tasks as assigned.

In committees where there are 2 chairs, Chair 2(Expert Chair) will write a Pick Me list as well as administrative duties.

This list will help the 1st Chair to pick certain delegates, which he/she should or should not pick. The 2nd Chair will base this list on the amendments; how well they are formulated and to what extent they fit the issue debated and the previous behavior of the delegates in the house.

Chairing Scenarios:

  • A Chair is sick
  • The Chair makes a mistake
  • A question that you cannot answer
  • A declaration of war
  • Maintaining silence
  • Receiving criticism
  • Dealing with disruptive Delegates

During all these scenarios the most important thing is to stay calm and professional, it takes a lot of responsibility to be a Chair, however after a conference you feel extremely proud and it is definitely worth it.

A Chair is sick. This can happen during the conference, but also before the conference. The most important thing is that you will inform your MUN director and your Co-Chairs but also the Executive Team. The Executive Team will then find a replacement and will let you and your Co-Chairs know. If this happens before the conference, you must also send all your research material to your replacement, so that a smooth transaction can take place.

The Chair makes a mistake. If you make a mistake, the easiest way is to say you are wrong, therefore just admit it. You should just say “The chair stands corrected”.

A question you cannot answer. If a question is being asked by a delegate that you cannot answer, you can always look it up. Ask a Chair who is not chairing at that moment to go to a computer room and to look up the answer to the question. This is the easiest way to continue the debate and to answer the question.

A declaration of war. Declarations of war are absolutely out of order. Make this clear to the entire committee, but do not award it with too much attention and continue with the debate.

You can say order in the house numerous times, however, sometimes this simply does not work, especially at the end of the day, when delegates get tired or if you are chairing a big committee. It is important to listen to the delegates to understand why they are being so rowdy, in order to understand the best way of keeping them calm.

When you call for order, do not proceed before there is order, wait a few seconds.

There are a few things you should not do under these circumstances:

  • Don’t keep saying that they need to be quiet, then it is better to have a recess/wait until there is silence.
  • Don’t expect there to be complete silence, only mention it if the murmur bothers the speaker.
  • Don’t lose your temper and do not raise your voice. Never yell, react aggressively or annoyed at delegates; stay calm, and warn them of consequences that may arise from their behavior.
  • Don’t suspend note passing if it is not the source of the commotion.

Also, bear the following in mind:

  • Start with a rather serious chairing style to set the right debating tone. This will also help you establish authority. If everything runs well then you may choose to loosen up.
  • Be polite, friendly, helpful, serious, clear, co-operative, committed, involved, unbiased, fair and diplomatic at all times. This way you earn the respect of the delegates.
  • Recognize delegates from all over the room, especially delegates in the back corners of the room and the first few rows of the room.
  • Be consistent during the debate with your style, policies, and implantations of the Rules of Procedure.
  • Move your ego to the back. Never speak condescendingly or arrogantly towards a delegate.

The idea of having a mutiny amongst the delegates, or notes threatening to impeach the Chair does seem quite daunting, but the most important thing is to stay in control and stay calm. Do not pay too much attention to it, as that way you will give it importance. Remind the house that they are not being constructive and that it is not relevant to the debate. Just say something along the lines of Thank you for your point, but it is hardly relevant to the debate. It is important that you all try to focus on a constructive debate. Should there be a motion to remove the Chair, ask your Co-Chair to state that this is out of order.

Chairs will occasionally have to deal with disruptive delegates, who are usually simply seeking attention. Chairs should not take their remarks or behaviour as a personal insult but deal with them quietly and calmly. Chairs should react when the general conduct of a delegate is inappropriate to the conference and shows a lack of respect or politeness or if a delegate voices an opinion. In both cases, the following steps can be taken.

Take them aside privately, explain the situation, and ask them nicely to stop their current behavior. Try to do this privately without making it public in front of the whole forum. If the delegate continues to disrupt the forum, inform the Secretariat about this Delegate. They will then deal with those delegates. In extreme cases, the Secretariat may decide to confiscate the badge and remove the delegate from the forum and conference. MUN directors should also be informed about this.

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The Model United Nations Chairing Guide. (2019, March 12). GradesFixer. Retrieved November 29, 2022, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-model-united-nations-chairing-guide/
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