How to Write a Resolution

A United Nations Resolution is the formal document produced and adopted by various UN bodies. In Model UN, it is a summary of the document that contains all the clauses written by the delegates during the simulation to be voted on at the end.

What is a Model United Nations resolution?

  • The goal of the round
  • A consensus to improve upon the status quo
  • The result of diplomacy, ingenuity and effective compromise

A Resolution Must

  • Solve the problem (in an effective manner)
  • Which suits our country's goals
  • Have a majority to pass it
  • When planning a resolution try to make it fit the MUN Triangle

When preparing clauses, usually during unmoderated caucuses, it is of critical importance that your policies solve the problem (or perpetuate it), are unique yet simple enough to understand and can get a majority and fit your countries views and interests.

What is in a resolution?

  • Perambulatory clauses Why we’re doing it
  • Operative clauses What we’re going to do

Perambulatory Clauses – Why We Do It

Types of Perambulatory clauses

  • Information about the specific case
  • Relevant rights and justifications
  • Citations affirming relevant treaties
  • Precedents from similar situations, statements from officials and other

I’d like to point out that there are other types of clauses that fit into the preambs section but they will almost always fit into one of the above mentioned categories.

Examples of types of perambulatory clauses

1. Information on the specific case

Underscoring its deep concerns on the prevalence of impunity, on the daily assassinations, on the restrictions on enjoyment of the freedom of expression, including for members of the press, and on the continued worsening of the humanitarian situation, marked by the more than 200,000 Burundian citizens seeking refuge in neighbouring countries,

2. Relevant rights and justifications

Bearing in mind the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and the primary responsibility of the Security Council under the Charter for the maintenance of international peace and security,

3. Citations affirming relevant treaties

Recognizing the Potsdam Declaration which stated that Japanese sovereignty be limited to the islands of Honshu, Kyushu, Hokkaido, and Shikoku,

Reaffirming its commitment to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, the need for all States Party to that Treaty to comply fully with their obligations, and recalling the right of States Party, in conformity with Articles I and II of that Treaty, to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination,

4. Precedents from similar situations, statements from officials and other

Recalling its resolutions 1261 (1999) of 25 August 1999, 1265 (1999) of 17 September 1999, 1296 (2000) of 19 April 2000 and 1314 (2000) of 11 August 2000, as well as relevant statements of its President, and recalling also the statement of its President to the press on the occasion of the United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace (International Women’s Day) of 8 March 2000 (SC/6816),

Welcoming the visit recently undertaken by the representative of the Mediator in Dakar for consultations with the Government of Senegal,

Operative Clauses – What We Will Do

The operative clause is your policy / call to action. Sometimes it is changed to compromise with another player/s. Sometimes it is stronger than you need it to be for the sake of a compromise which will get you a watered down version, which is really what you want, onto the final resolution. What is clear is that this operative clauses should be justified by the preambs and be connected to the ideas and view of the world that you have been describing and supporting in your speeches since the simulation started and are now written in a practical form of orders ready to be carried out by bureaucrats.

It is important that operative clauses have no adjectives and follow the following guidelines

  • An Operative clause is an instruction
  • It is sent to a bureaucratic office to be carried out by people who are paid to follow instructions
  • They are NOT paid to think about why, or care (that’s what preambles are for)
  • As such...

Operative clauses must be:

  • Clear
  • Concise (as much as possible)
  • Committing
  • Practical
  • With no emotional or descriptive language

Examples:


Encourages all parties to armed conflict to comply strictly with the obligations applicable to them under international law relevant to the protection of civilians, including those who are youth, including the obligations applicable to them under the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the Additional Protocols thereto of 1977;

Operative clauses exist in their own right and should not be dependent on other clauses. If a clause need further explanation if can be divided into sub clauses, as can be seen below.

Calls on all relevant actors, including when negotiating and implementing peace agreements, to take into account, as appropriate, the participation and views of youth, recognising that their marginalisation is detrimental to building sustainable peace in all societies, including, inter alias, such specific aspects as:
(a) The needs of youth during repatriation and resettlement and for rehabilitation, reintegration and post-conflict reconstruction;
(b) Measures that support local youth peace initiatives and indigenous processes for conflict resolution, and that involve youth in the implementation mechanisms of peace agreements;
(c) Measures to empower youth in peace-building and conflict resolution;


Clauses can be amended, struck out and new ones added in between other clauses. For this reason a clause needs to be able to stand alone.Looking back up, some of the examples given were from real UN resolutions and some from Model UN resolutions. While not always intuitive in structure, this form of writing can be duplicated into clear operative clauses.

Additional Resolutions Related Rules

  • Not all resolutions have perambulatory clauses (clarify with type of committee)
  • Some committees can also write directives (shorter “emergency” operative clauses)
  • Many committees HAVE NO EXECUTIVE POWER and thus can’t commit to actions. These committees can only recommend in their resolutions
  • Some committees have a very specific purpose and their resolutions are written accordingly

Who is on the resolution?

A science of sponsors and signatories

In reality

  • Sponsors – Write some ideas, probably supports some of what is on the paper
  • Signatories – Want to see discussed

In model UN - (generally)

  • Sponsors – Write the ideas, strongly supports the draft resolution
  • Signatories – In favor, have ideas represented

When to sponsor, be a signatory, non-aligned or vote against?

In DISEC at ScotMUN there was a limit on sponsors. To stay relevant a delegate needed to stay part of the 4 sponsors. This was difficult as every merger knocked two off each side. As a chair, one method I have used to see who was actually involved in the process, and understood the content, was limiting the number of delegates who could take part in a panel of authors. I ask only 3-4 to come up to present the resolution and whoever the delegates chose between themselves almost always knew best.
Delegating at HNMUN, a few years prior, I saw many of the same countries signed on all of the resolutions. It seemed that they did not care who they voted for as long as they were on a draft. Later, as a chair, I remembered this and it was the country's only on one-two documents that we took seriously. Committing to a specific document and understanding its content was the measure for who was unique and influential, both when I delegated at ScotMUN and HNMUN and when I chaired WorldMUN and many other large committees.

You don’t have to be a sponsor everywhere all the time. Ideally you will be the center of your block because you found a good clash, have a good idea and can lead the mix of different policies with your most relevant and reality changing one.

Be strategic. You can be sponsor on one and a signatory on the other. You can also be on two and vote against a third. (How to be central while voting against can be seen in article “Losing Gloriously”)

Overall, make sure to always be part of the writing – even if not the main or most central writer if you aren’t part of the paper you’re letting someone else manage the content and control the order and how it’s written.

  1. Good chairs will notice if you aren’t writing and that others have a better grasp of the ideas on the resolution
  2. Good chairs will also notice if someone is too controlling of the resolution and not letting other collaborate to maintain position. In such cases, one cannot count of the chairs to give you credit if you let someone who is bullying maintain control.

SUGGESTION #1

If someone is too controlling on the draft resolution, you are likely not the only one who is disenfranchised. Find a few of them, work on your own clauses and if you come with a sufficiently sized voting block you will have more bargaining power in the later discussion than if you let someone else write everything. If delegates stood around and let the writer dictate everything I would say they deserve to have someone else take or marginalize their ideas.

The key is to remember that resolution writing isn’t scary. It can seem so at first but it is really taking the CIA concept and turning it into legal jargon with a perambulatory or operative phrase at the beginning of the sentence. Once the idea is in writing the debate continues and you continue to fight to get your idea passed with a majority.

SUGGESTION #2

Before a conference, take a step beyond reading previous resolutions as written in the research section. Try to write out a few clauses of your own. I’m not saying bring pre-written clauses. I personally think it bad form and many conferences don’t allow it.

Also, unless you’re a diplomatic genius, it’s likely that the pre prepared clauses, if not vague, are not exactly going to fit the debate and discussion in the room. When you write clauses at home, with relevant preambs and in succession, you will have a base that when the resolution writing part starts you will be able to adapt your ideas to the debate in the room. Once you have experience writing this stage will likely not be necessary but until that point it’s a good way to break the ice and get over your fear of writing.

Conclusion

How to write a resolution for model UN is a critical part of guiding your idea from opening speech to a successfully voted on resolution. The clauses are the policy you speak in written form.

In a nutshell

  • Perambulatory clauses – Why we’re doing it
  • Operative clauses – What we’re going to do

Clauses should be written:

  • ​Without emotion
  • Straight forward instructions (to be carried out by bureaucrats)
  • Preferably with little wiggle room (unless that is the goal)

Especially for good rooms, make sure your operative clauses are backed by preambs.