Points and Motions

Points and Motions are the tools used in Model United Nations delegates use to communicate with their chairs and fellow delegates. It is the formal language to ask for things, clarify things and, when necessary, appeal them.

This article will give you some insider tips on how to use points and motions more effectively at Model UN conferences. At the end of the article will be a list of all points and motions.

9 Strategic Uses of Points and Motions


Model UN is not only about effective research, use of content, argumentation and lobbying. It is also about effective use of the rules of procedure to.

1. Give your block a chance to repeat a speech

Most Points of Personal Privilege are called within a few seconds of a speech starting. However, if used half way through a speech, this can give a member of your block the opportunity to repeat their speech, if a Point of Personal Privilege about lack of clarity or hearing can be justified.

2. Get in an extra word

Once the floor is opened to motions, a delegate can motion for a moderated caucus they know will not pass just to get an idea, in a single sentence, into the discussion without waiting for their turn on the speakers list.

3. Getting that longer speech

While occasionally your room will love you enough to pass a 5 minute moderated caucus with 5 minutes speakers time, often such motions won’t even get a second. However, motioning for a 10 minute moderated caucus with 2.5 minutes speaking time will often have a good chance of passing. After the first few hours, when fatigue sets in, might be a good time to strategically offer this motion.

4. At least something should pass!

Often chairs, and many delegates, want something to pass. This is the case for many even if it isn’t their resolution and especially true if everything seems like it’s going to fail. Some chairs might even also encourage the committee to re-vote to make sure something passes. The resolution to get a pity vote or be revoted is almost always the last one to be voted on. If you know your resolution has a majority you should be fine. In cases where there is no clear majority, motion to reorder the resolutions early in the voting procedure with yours towards the end. If you are too strong a member of your block see if someone less obvious can motion for the reordering.

5. Which question to vote on?

A more subtle way to get a specific clause to pass is to divide the question into three documents with pairings that lump important clauses with unimportant ones. This could result in all of them passing or the one without your clauses getting knocked out.

6. Surprise yield to the other block

One thing the blocks opposing your ideas rarely expect is to be yielded time from your side. If you yield the last 20 or so seconds to them it usually isn’t enough time for them to mount a sufficient response and can sometime unfocus them. They might even yield you time back.

7. Stay relevant through a strategic right of reply

If you want your point to stick, yourself to be mentioned more, put a sentence or two in your speech which insults another country in the room. Their right of reply will focus both on you, and often, on the point you are making, giving it more air time.

8. Is this how we we do that?

Instead of motioning to do a specific action, sometimes it is better to get the idea into everyone's head by asking a Point of Parliamentary Enquiry. This can also be a good tool to gauge where the room is. For example, asking the chair “Is now where we vote clause by clause?” and looking at the rooms reaction can show you where the room stands on this issue.

9. POI, why did you insult me?

Sometimes a country will say something insulting but a chair would not recognize it as right of reply worthy. If this is done during the general speakers list, after the speech as a Point of Information and, after being accepted, say the same things you would for a right of reply.


Full List of Points and Motions


The following list of points and motions are common in almost all Model United Nations conferences.

Motions​

  • Set Speakers Time -- A motion to change the default speakers time of the general speakers list.
  • Moderated Caucus - A less formal discussion where speakers a new speaker is chosen directly after the previous speaker finishes. It is usually on a more narrow topic (than the General Speakers List, which allows a delegate to speak about anything related to the topic at hand) and it takes a majority of votes to pass it. This motion requires specification of general time and speakers time.
  • Unmoderated Caucus - The ability to move freely around the room, speak to anyone and write resolutions. Usually the most effective time to lobby and build / maintain coalitions. This motion requires specification of general length of time.
  • Consultation of the whole - A motion for a moderated caucus style setting where the delegates manage themselves. Often a delete speaks and passes the right of speech to another delegate that they choose. This continues until time elapses. There is no time limit for any delegates speech. This motion requires specification of general length of time.
  • Vote by Acclamation - Offered by the chair, this motion means a motion offered by the chair passes as long as no delegate objects. If one delegate objects the motion need to be voted on by simple majority. Many conferences do not use this motion.
  • Appeal the Decision of the Chair - This motion is made when a delegate feels the chair has made an incorrect decision. This is similar to a point of order.
  • Introduce Draft Resolution - This needs to be done to officially discuss the draft by name and have it on the floor is closure of debate is motioned for.
  • Introduce Amendment - Said before you introduce an amendment. The procedure for this varies between conferences.
  • Close Debate - A motion for the committee to end debate and more into voting procedure.
  • Reorder Resolutions - A mother to put the resolutions in a order which is different from the one where the one introduced first is voted on first.
  • Divide the question - A motion to vote on a set of specifically chosen operative clauses separately from the entire resolution. This can be used to remove desired clauses for the purposes of only them passing or the rest of the resolution passing without them.
  • Vote clause by clause - A motion to vote on each clause of the resolution individually in numeric order. This is usually done with the purpose
  • Vote roll call - A Motion to have each country declare verbally if they are “For”, “Against”, “Pass” or “Abstain” (and add “With Rights”, which means they get to speak after the vote)
  • Suspend Meeting / Table Debate - Motion to put the session on hold, generally for lunch or coffee.
  • Adjourn Meeting - Motion to completely end the committee session until the next conference.

Other terms used in Model UN

  • Yield / Yielding time - Speaking time is practically a virtual currency in Model UN and very important. During the General Speakers List time can be yielded to other delegates or back to the chair.
  • Right of Reply - When insulted by another country a certain country can get a right of reply to refute what the insulting country says