Rules of Procedure
- Course of debate
- Modes of address
- Points and motions
Where the Security Councils’ rules differ, a note in italics has been added.
Course of debate
1. The main submitter reads out the operative clauses only of his or her resolution.
The Security Council does not debate pre-written resolutions. A Security Council debate starts with a speech delivered by the President of the Security Council or by the Secretary General on why the issue to be debated is an important one.
Thereafter, the President will submit a ‘resolution’ that contains only one perambulatory clause which reads something like “Concerned with the issue of…”. During debate (which is always an open debate) delegates will try to add clauses to the resolution by submitting amendments.
2. The Chair then sets debating time and informs the forum whether it is an open or closed debate. Open debate means that any delegate may hold a speech. Closed debate can be either closed debate in favour or closed debate against the resolution. After the debating time has elapsed, the Chair repeats this process until the resolution is eventually being voted on.
The Security Council does not set a debate time on a resolution.
3. The main submitter then has the floor to explain the resolution. They should highlight the most important operative clauses and explain the ideas that the resolution contains.
4. When they have finished, they will be asked by the Chair whether they are open to any points of information. They can reply in one of three ways:
- “Any and all” (Opens themselves to an unlimited number of points of information. If a lot of points have been made the Chair may ask the question again to ensure that the delegate is still open to all points of information).
- “The delegate is open to two [or another number] points of information” (Opens themselves to a limited amount of points of information)
- “No”/”none” (Says that they are not open to any points of information)
If the delegate is open to points of information, the Chair will ask for delegates, who want to make points of information, after which delegates can put up their placard (but only after the Chair has finished their sentence). The Chair will select a delegate. The delegate then stands up and makes their point of information. The delegate should remain standing until the question has been fully answered.
A point of information is a question
to the delegate who has the floor and it should be short and to-the-point.
If the delegate that is being asked the question did not fully understand the question they may ask the Chair: “Could the delegate please [repeat]/[rephrase] their question?”
If the delegate asking the question, is not satisfied with the answer, they can ask the Chair for permission to ask a follow-up question, by saying “motion to follow up” or “permission to follow up?”. The Chair can decide whether to accept this request. If the Chair feels like there is no need for a follow-up question or when the delegate already asked a follow-up question, they may deny it.
5. After the points of information are exhausted, the Chair will ask the delegate to yield the floor back to the Chair. The delegate will answer with “I yield the floor back to the Chair” and they can then go back to their seat. This is the only instance where the delegate may refer to themselves as “I”. The Chair will then ask for delegates wishing to speak in favour or against the resolution after which the delegates can raise their placard. The chair will select a delegate, who will then speak on the resolution, after which points 4 and 5 are repeated.
After the first speech of the debate, given by the main submitter, the delegate also has an additional option to give the floor to another delegate, usually a co-submitter of the resolution. That delegate will take the floor and speak on the resolution, after which points 4 and 5 are repeated. However, the second delegate must yield the floor back to the Chair once he or she has finished.
6. When the Chair feels like the resolution has been debated on sufficiently or when a motion to move into voting procedure was successful, all delegates vote on the resolution. Delegates can vote in favour or against, or they can abstain.
In each committee there has to be a simple majority in order to let a resolution/amendment pass. A simple majority means that a resolution passes if there is at least one more vote in favour than there are votes against.
The Security Council does not require a simple majority; they require at least nine of the fifteen votes in favour. Also, a Security Council resolution/amendment always fails if there is at least one veto-vote. A veto-vote is a vote against by one of the permanent members. The permanent members are the United States of America, the United Kingdom, the Russian Federation, France and China. This does not mean that amendments/resolutions can only pass if all permanent members are in favour! It means that they can only pass if no permanent members are against. Therefore, in the Security Councils it is also allowed for permanent members to abstain from voting when voting on amendments. (Allowing other members to abstain is useless, of course, as it would make no difference in the voting results.)
Amendments are proposed changes to the resolution being debated. They may be submitted by delegates at any time during the debate using the delegates’ notepaper. Amendments can either delete, add or change an operative clause or sub-clause. Amendments can only be debated during open debate or closed debate against the resolution. An amendment can only refer to one clause. If a delegate feels the need to change the amendment that is being debated, he or she can propose an ‘amendment to the amendment’ (or amendment to the second degree), which will be debated just like the normal amendment (speeches followed by a voting procedure) after which the debate on the original amendment, be it with some changes, continues.
The Security Council also uses the amendment to the third degree, where other forums are limited to the amendment to the second degree.
If a delegate has submitted an amendment they should raise their placard when the Chair asks for delegates wishing to take the floor.
If the delegate is called upon, he or she will then take the floor. The delegate now has 2 options:
1. The delegate can present their amendment straight away by saying: “The delegate has submitted an amendment”.
2. However, the delegate can also choose to first speak on the resolution. He or she then first gives an opinion on a certain operative clause, followed by the sentence: "Therefore the delegate of … proposed an amendment."
Following both options, the Chair will say, “That is in order”, after which the delegate will read out the amendment. The Chair will then set the debating time on the amendment, which does not count as time on the resolution. The delegate will then have the floor to make a speech about the amendment, after which points 4 and 5 (see above) will take place.
After the debating time for the amendment has elapsed, the voting procedure will take place. Delegates can only vote in favour or against an amendment. They cannot abstain. Following this, the debate on the resolution and the debating time on the resolution will commence.
The Permanent Members of the Security Council can abstain.
Delegates also have the option to propose a friendly amendment. This is a change to the amendment that is being debated. A friendly amendment can not
change the content/meaning of the amendment but can make it clearer for example. There is no debate on the friendly amendment. Instead, the friendly amendment can be either approved or denied by the submitter of the original amendment.
A friendly amendment can be submitted by either proposing it to that delegate in a point of information and asking for the delegate’s approval. The delegate can then either deny the proposal or accept it and ask the Chair to change it.
Or it can be proposed by sending a note with the proposed friendly amendment to the delegate. If they accept the friendly amendment, they can send a note to the Chair with the change they would like to make to their original amendment.
Modes of address
• When a delegate is going to give a speech, they must first address the house. This includes the Chairs or Presidents, the delegates and possibly the Administrative Staff, Press Team or other members present.
“Honourable Chairs, fellow delegates,…”
The Security Councils are not this formal and do not request delegates to begin each and every speech by formally addressing the house.
• A delegate must always speak in the 3rd
person singular or the 1st
person plural because they are representing a country or organisation
“Spain is against this resolution, because it feels that …”
“No, Italy does not agree with China’s proposal because …”
“We are of the opinion that …”
“Isn’t the honourable delegate aware of the fact that … ?”
The Security Councils officially have this rule too. However, the President will normally not apply it so strictly and they will often allow delegates to follow up each other without their interference.
Points and motions
During the debate, various points and motions can arise. These concern the flow of the debate or can draw attention to a particular problem. Most points and motions cannot interrupt the speaker.
If a delegate wishes to make a motion they should raise their placard and state it. It is up to the Chairs to accept or deny the motion. If other delegates agree with the motion they may shout “second!”. If not, they may shout “objection!”. One objection is often enough for the Chair to deny the motion. There can be no seconds or objections to points, only to motions.
Here are the main points and motions used during debate:
• Point of order
If a mistake is made during debate by either the Chair or a delegate concerning the course of debate or running of the committee, it is in order for a delegate to use this point.
• Point of information to the Chair
If something is unclear during debate, a delegate may direct a question to the Chair using this point.
• Point of parliamentary inquiry
If there is some sort of confusion during the debate concerning the rules of procedure, and a delegate is unsure of what to do next, he or she may use this point to ask the Chair a question.
• Point of personal privilege
This point is used to draw attention to either the discomfort of a delegate, or when a delegate is not able to hear what is being said. In the latter case, a delegate would say: “Point of personal privilege; could the delegate please speak up?”, after which the Chair asks the delegate: “Could the delegate please speak up?” The Chair may also ask this question to the delegate, when there is no point raised by another delegate.
This is the only point of personal privilege that may interrupt a speaker.
• Point of information
A point of information is a question
to the delegate who has the floor. Points of information always concern the resolution or the amendment being discussed. This point is explained in detail at point 4 (see above).
• Motion to move into voting procedures
This motion is used if a delegate feels that there is no more to say about the resolution being debated, however debating time has not elapsed yet.
• Motion to extend debating time
When debating time has elapsed, but a delegate feels that the resolution has not been debated long enough, this motion may be used.
• Motion to table the resolution
This motion can be used when delegates feel that it would be better to continue debate on a certain resolution at a later point in time. For example, delegates feel that they should do more research before they will be able to properly debate the issue at hand. Or, a resolution can be tabled in order for a committee to be able to go to lunch and continue afterwards or go home and continue the next day. Also, when the main submitter of a resolution has to leave because his or her presence at the Security Council is requested, this is a reason to table the resolution. To table the resolution simply means that the resolution will be put aside for the moment. There can also be a motion to un-table a resolution; obviously this motion is one that is used during a session but not during actual debate.
• Motion to split the house
This motion can be used after a voting procedure. If this motion is successful the resolution is being voted on again, but abstaining will no longer be an option, forcing delegates to pick a side.
During the debate delegates are allowed to pass around notes to communicate with each other. To prevent the fraud of notepaper every delegation brings its own official notepaper. It should have an official letterhead and logo that identifies the delegation's country or organisation. The delegates can write their notes on this notepaper which will be passed to whom it is addressed by the Administrative Staff. Delegates (exceptions can be made for Ambassadors) may not pass notes between committee rooms. Notes must be written in English and should concern the debate. Inappropriate notes will not be passed on by the Administrative Staff. A message to a member of the Executive Staff may be passed through a note. The Ad-Staff are to decide whether the note can be passed to the recipient. If the Ad-Staff believe the note violates one of the requirements it can either be thrown away, put in the gossip box or passed on to the Press Team that will publish it in the conference newspaper.