HSMUN: A Glossary

Over the course of preparing for and attending HSMUN, delegates will be regularly exposed to unfamiliar terms. We hope that this page can serve as your main reference for all HSMUN-speak. If we’ve missed a term, or our definitions are unclear, let us know at hsmun@ualberta.ca.

Abstention
Neither a yes nor a no vote. Abstentions are only permissible during non-procedural votes (i.e. all delegates must vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on procedural matters). Abstentions are not counted when determining the total number of voting members.

Adjournment of the session
All committee functions are suspended for the duration of the Conference. A Motion for adjournment requires a simple majority to pass.

Agenda topic
The topic being debated on the Secondary Speakers’ List, as determined by a vote on a motion raised from the Primary Speakers’ List. See also: Motion to set the agenda

Amendment
Any substantive change that adds to or modifies an operative clause of a draft resolution. See also: friendly amendment, hostile amendment

Attendance
A roll call of the member states, observers, and NGOs performed by the dais staff at the start of every session. Late delegations must send a note up to the dais to indicate their presence. Member states may be “present” or “present and voting”; observers and NGOs may only be “present”. No changes to the attendance record may occur after the committee has entered voting procedure.

Closure of debate
The committee exits the Secondary Speakers’ List and all substantive motions (amendments and draft resolutions) are brought to a vote. When a delegate Motions for closure of debate, the Chair will recognize two speakers opposed to the motion, which requires a two-thirds majority to pass. See also: Voting procedure

Committee
A collection of member states, observers, and NGOs appointed to discuss a specific set of issues that fall into the wider mandate of the UN. A full list of this year’s committees can be found here.

Chair
The chair leads the dais staff. Their primary duties are to call upon speakers on the Speakers’ Lists, to call upon speakers during moderated caucuses, to overrule dilatory motions, and to mediate personal conflicts between delegations.

Dais staff
The chair, Vice-Chair, and foreign policy advisor of a committee.

Vice-Chair
The Vice-Chair assists the chair in moderating the committee. Their primary duties are to add speakers to the Speakers’ Lists, to revise working papers for approval as draft resolutions, to serve as a resource (along with the Foreign Policy Advisor) for formulating working papers, and to support the chair in their responsibilities.

Division of the question
Separating a draft resolution into two or more parts and voting on those parts independently. A preamble cannot be divided. Delegates must Motion to divide after closure of debate; the chair will record all motions to divide and delegates will vote on them in order of most to least destructive.

Draft resolution
A set of recommendations aimed at addressing the topic at hand that has been approved by the Vice-Chair but has not yet been voted on by the committee.

Foreign Policy Advisor
A member of the dais staff who is the resident expert on the topics at hand. The Foreign Policy Advisor (FPA) is a willing and available resource for delegates who have questions about their foreign policy or general inquiries about the topic; the FPA also ensures that delegates act consistently with their state’s foreign policy objectives.

Friendly amendment
An amendment which has the support of all of the sponsors of a resolution. Once the Vice-Chair has established that all signatories approve of the amendment, it will be added to the draft resolution without a vote.

Heading
A standard set of text at the start of a draft resolution that outlines the resolution code (eg. Draft Resolution 1.0 refers to the first draft resolution approved that pertains to topic 1), the committee, subject, sponsors, and signatories. See here for more information about the structure of a working paper.

Hostile amendment
An amendment that does not have the support of all of the signatories of a resolution. To be present, a hostile amendment must have one-fifth of the delegates as signatories and approval by the Vice-Chair. Hostile amendments will be voted on after closure of debate in the order in which they were introduced.

Moderated caucus
A period of substantive debate on a specific issue. During a moderated caucus, the dais will temporarily disregard the speakers’ list and instead delegates shall indicate their desire to speak by raising their placards. See also: Motion for a moderated caucus

Motion for a moderated caucus

A delegate making a motion for a moderated caucus must specify the time limit of the caucus, the speaking time limit, and the topic of discussion. The Chair may rule this motion out of order and their ruling is not subject to appeal. This motion requires a simple majority to pass.

Motion for an unmoderated caucus
A delegate making a motion for an unmoderated caucus must specify the time limit of the caucus (not to exceed 20 minutes) and the topic of discussion. The Chair may rule this motion out of order and their ruling is not subject to appeal. This motion requires a simple majority to pass.

Motion to extend
A motion to extend a moderated or unmoderated caucus. This motion requires a simple majority to pass. The Chair may rule this motion out of order and their ruling is not subject to appeal.

Motion to set the agenda
A motion to set the agenda topic. This motion is raised from the Primary Speakers’ List, and requires two speakers for, two opposed, and a simple majority to pass. Once passed, the committee enters into the Secondary Speakers’ List.

Member State
A full member of a committee; member states may sponsor working papers and they have full voting rights.

Non-Governmental Organization (NGO)
A non-state delegation that maintains all of the same privileges awarded to an observer delegation.

Observer
A state or international body that may participate in committee negotiations but may not propose or vote on substantive matters. Observers may be signatories on resolutions but cannot sponsor resolutions. At HSMUN, observers are eligible for awards on the same basis as member states.

Operative clause
A clause that calls for a specific action that will address the issue at hand. See herefor more information about the structure of a working paper.

Point of order
A delegate may rise to a Point of Order to indicate an instance of improper parliamentary procedure. This point takes immediate precedence over all other Motions. A delegate making such a Motion may not speak on the substantive issue at hand, but must limit remarks to the precise procedural point in question. The Chair will rule on the validity of the Motion and will immediately decided whether it is in accordance with these Rules of Procedure. This decision cannot be appealed.

Point of parliamentary inquiry
A delegate may rise to a Point of Parliamentary Inquiry to ask the Chair a question pertaining to the Committee’s proceedings or status. The Chair shall answer the point before debate proceeds. A Point of Parliamentary Inquiry may never interrupt a speaker. Delegates with substantive questions (eg. foreign policy related) should not rise to the Point but should rather approach the Dais during unmoderated caucus or submit their question in writing during debate.

Point of personal privilege
Whenever a delegate experiences personal discomfort which impairs his/her ability to participate in the proceedings, he or she may rise to a Point of Personal Privilege to request that the discomfort be corrected. While such a Motion may interrupt a speaker, delegates must use this power with the utmost discretion. The Chair will then attempt to remedy the problem.

Position Paper
A roughly two-page paper written before the start of the conference that outlines a delegation’s background and policy objectives with respect to the topics at hand. See here for more details about how to write a position paper and when and where to send it in.

Preambular clause
A clause that provides historical background for the issue at hand, usually beginning with a participle. These clauses often cite previous UN resolutions, relevant sections of the UN charter, or other precedents of international law. See here for more information about the structure of a working paper.

Present
Delegates who are “present” during attendance will be included in the total committee membership count but reserve the right to abstain on substantive voting matters.

Present and voting
Delegates who are “present and voting” during attendance will be included in the total committee membership count but cannot abstain on substantive voting matters.

Primary Speakers’ List
The speakers’ list set at the start of the conference; delegates use the Primary Speakers’ List at the start of the conference to debate which topic to set, and return to the Primary Speakers’ List at the conclusion of voting procedure.

Procedural matter
A matter unrelated to the topic of debate; procedural matters include motions for moderated or unmoderated caucuses or motions to suspend or adjourn debate. See also: Substantive matter

Quorum
The minimum number of members necessary to conduct committee business. A quorum of 1/3 of present delegations is required in the room for all votes on substantive matters.

Roll call voting
A vote on a draft resolution or amendment by roll call. To enter into roll call voting, delegates must Motion to roll call vote. This motion requires a simple majority to pass.

Right of reply
Delegations believing their personal integrity has been insulted or defamed by a speaker may Motion for a Right of Reply immediately following the speaker’s remarks. The Chair’s decision to grant or deny the Right of Reply cannot be appealed. A Right of Reply to a Right of Reply is out of order.

Secondary Speakers’ List
The speakers’ list opened when the topic of debate has been set. The committee exits the Secondary Speakers’ List upon closure of debate and entry into voting procedure.

Signatory
A member state, observer, or NGO interested in bringing a working paper forward for consideration by the committee. Signatories often (but not necessarily) support the content of the paper, but were not necessarily instrumental in creating it and may ultimately disagree with its content. Signatories of a draft resolution may vote against that resolution.

Signatures
The total number of sponsors and signatories of a working paper. This number must total up to 20% of the membership in attendance at the start of the session.

Sponsor
A member state that has created the content of a working paper and who will be most responsible for seeing it through until it is voted on as a resolution. Sponsors of a working paper have the right to allow friendly amendments or to force a committee vote on an amendment. Sponsorship has no other advantages at the HSMUN and is not an awards criterion. Member States acting as sponsors of a working paper should be prepared to defend the draft resolution. Sponsors may not vote against their own resolution unless that resolution has been subject to a hostile amendment.

Suspension of the session
All committee functions are suspended until the next meeting of the committee. A Motion for suspension requires a simple majority to pass.

Substantive matter
A matter related to the topic of debate; substantive matters include votes on draft resolutions or amendments. See also: Procedural matter

Unmoderated caucus
Anytime at which the floor is open prior to closure of debate. Delegates may leave their seats or the room, typically with the objective of discussing working papers. See also: Motion for an unmoderated caucus

Voting procedure
Upon closure of debate or exhaustion of the Speakers’ List, committee moves immediately into voting procedure. No delegates are allowed in or out of the room. All hostile amendments and draft resolutions shall be voted on.

Voting with rights
A delegate who votes “yes with rights” or “no with rights” is awarded some time, at the discretion of the Chair, to explain their vote. Delegates who “pass” during the first round of roll-call voting cannot vote with rights.

Working paper
Any document that has not yet been approved by the Vice-Chair.

Yield
A delegate whose name is on the Speakers’ List may allocate their speaking time to another delegation, to questions, or to the chair. See here for more details about yields.

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