The right of reply is a special rule of procedure for it allows a delegate to interrupt a speaker, and rightly so.
Rationale behind such comportment lies in the fact that this right is invoked if and only if a delegate feels that her/his personal or national integrity has been insulted in another delegate's speech.
Image: Wikimedia Commons
Step 1. Raise right of reply
There are two ways MUNs go about this step.
- Some MUNs require a written note to the Chair in order for the right to be invoked.
- Most of MUNs, however, recognize the delegate who had raised his placard.
Step 2. Granting the right
The President/Chairperson decides whether or not to grant the right of reply.
- If the right isn't granted, President's/Chairperson's decision is final and not open to appeal.
- If the right is granted, it shall not be exercised until the conclusion of the speech presently being made.
Image: Wikimedia Commons
Step 3. Reply
Most of the delegates new to MUN, approach the right of reply as if they were "telling on someone" - speaker made a horrible mistake and it should be brought to dais' attention. Though it is in some simplifying way true, right of reply is so much more.
It is one country's opportunity to reiterate its position on a certain issue and influence the rest of the committee.
For that reason, delegate should use the time wisely to prepare a compelling reply that will strike the chord with his fellow colleagues.
- First and foremost, delegate should clarify which statement in particular provoked him to speak in exercise of the right to reply.
- Afterwards, he should present his country's stance on the issue at hand and prepare the ground for the closing.
- Finale serves to lay the foundation for country's future stand and endeavors in relations to the topic discussed.
Now that we have covered the structure, here are the next 2 equally important considerations:
- Tone of voice
- Time limit
Tone has to correspond to the severity of the previous speaker's omission (see the difference in tone between Indonesian and Pakistani delegate below).
Though UN limit is in general between 6 and 10 minutes, due to MUN's condensed nature, time for the right of reply at most conference usually do not exceed 1 minute. Now, it goes without saying that crafting a great reply in these conditions is a bit of an art, but stay assured - practice makes perfect. And having a draft doesn't hurt either ;)
Image: Wikimedia Commons
Step 4. After reply
There is no "after reply". There is no reply on one delegate's exercised right of reply.
If any delegate tries to pull that one off, he can kiss his Best Delegate award goodbye.
Vigilant & Knowledgable makes Best Delegate
It almost never happens that one delegate offends other delegate on a personal level. Like in the UN reality, omissions are usually factual and invisible to amateur's eye. That's why you should have your facts in check and your eyes wide open. Having dais react on your behalf should not be on your agenda.
See how it's really done
Consult transcripts of your committee's sessions and see if your country has ever exercised the right of reply (if yes, make sure you find out why, when and how).
Here is how Indonesia and Pakistan exercised their right of reply during the latest GA Plenary
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Indonesia said his Government rejected the statement concerning the so-called “issue of West Papua” made by the Prime Minister of Vanuatu on 28 September. Such statements reflected an “unfortunate lack of understanding” of basic facts on the historical role of the United Nations and the principled position of the international community at large, as well as the current actual developments in the provinces of Papua and West Papua in Indonesia.
Indonesia for its part would not be distracted by such inclinations, and continued with its development efforts in the provinces through the implementation of the special autonomy, he said. It would persevere in the promotion of friendly relations with the Government and people of Vanuatu based on the relevant principles.
The representative of Pakistan said that, on 27 September, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh had used the General Assembly forum to make references to Pakistan that were not supported by facts. He was deeply dismayed by the statement because Pakistan and Bangladesh were brotherly countries, and at one point, they were the citizens of one country. Even today, there was warmth and goodwill between the peoples, and multiple channels of communication were open between the two Governments. Bangladesh’s statement had contained a misrepresentation of facts. Raising an issue that had little relevance in contemporary relations was counterproductive. Despite that, the Government and the people of Pakistan would work to strengthen friendly ties with their counterparts in Bangladesh.
Cover Photo: Inquirer.net