The passage of written resolutions is the ultimate aim of any committee, critical to advancing the cooperative goals set forth in verbal debate. Resolutions turn oral thoughts into written words, and just as parliamentary procedure guides debate, so too do resolutions have their own formal language. The language consists of two major types of clauses: preambulatory clauses and operative clauses.
Often referred to as “preambles” in short, perambulatory clauses should outline the history of the problem, show that the topic falls under the authority of the committee, and demonstrate that there is a need for a resolution, possibly referring to a previous UN resolution or other major international documents.
Common first words of preambulatory clauses include but are not limited to: affirming, bearing in mind, having studied, confident, declaring, fully alarmed, noting with regret, recalling. **See Rules of Procedure for full list.**
The portion of the resolution that contains proposed solutions to the problem is composed of a series of sequentially numbered operative clauses, subdivided into lettered sub-clauses if necessary. Each operative clause calls for a specific action. When drafting operative clauses, delegates should always keep the committee’s mandate in hand, so as not to draft a resolution that is beyond the competence of the committee (this can easily be found at the official site of the committee in question). Operative clauses begin with an active, present tense verb and are followed by a semi-colon. A period follows the final clause.
Common first words of of operative clauses include but are not limited to: accepts, emphasizes, supports, recommends, calls for, condemns, deplores, solemnly affirms. **See Rules of Procedure for full list.**
Sponsors and Signatories
A draft resolution must have the signatures of one fifth of the total members of the committee for it to be approved and introduced, of which at least two voting delegations must be designated as sponsors. Delegates may sign a draft resolution even if they do not support the document in question, as being a non-sponsor signatory for a draft resolution only indicates desire to discuss the draft resolution in question.
Undoubtedly the committee will require amendments be made to a draft resolution before enough votes can be garnered to see it passed. An amendment is a clarification or a change to a draft resolution that incorporates additional interests or concerns into a formally submitted draft resolution. There are two types of amendments, friendly and unfriendly. An amendment accepted by all of the original sponsors is deemed friendly, and then added to the draft resolution without a vote. If an amendment does not receive the approval of all the sponsors of the draft resolution, it is considered unfriendly. Unfriendly amendments must be submitted to the Chair with the appropriate number of signatories (1/5 of the committee). The unfriendly amendment will be voted on separately upon closure of debate. Please note that amendments that go against the intent and purpose of the resolution (at the discretion of the Chair) are not acceptable amendments.
Not All Resolutions Named Alike
Resolutions undergo three stages: when used simply as a mechanism for debate, they are called working papers. Working papers need not conform to proper resolution format, nor do they require sponsors or signatories. Upon being reworked into proper resolution format, gaining sponsors and signatories and being submitted to the dais, resolutions are referred to as draft resolutions. It is not until draft resolutions are passed by the committee that they can be called “resolutions.”
Concision is usually emphasized over breadth, but not at the expense of specificity. Keep in mind that resolutions seek to provide suggested actions to the international body (or bodies) in question, so be sure not to let the language interfere with clarity! Always ask yourself “what action is this suggesting?” Note that this is the bare minimum. Providing clear answers to questions such as – Why is this action being suggested? How and by when will it be carried out? Who will undertake it? Who will fund it? – will also help to gain other delegates’ understanding of and support for your resolution, and perhaps ultimately their votes!