The purpose of this article is to help you understand the principles and process of writing an outcome document at a Model UN.
What is a resolution?
Resolution is the outcome document of an MUN session, and it can take different names in the United Nations system. It is basically a legal document which is either a consultative (e.g. General Assembly committees, ECOSOC) or legally binding (e.g. Security Council) in its force. Therefore it is known as Decision, Report or just plain Resolution (depending on the committee of your choice). That document is a product of the negotiation process between the Member States, and is written as a single sentence divided into multiple sections, separated by interpunction marks, semicolons, commas and a full stop. Here is an example of a UN resolution.
Who writes a resolution?
The states authoring a resolution are usually called “sponsors”, and they have a leading role in driving the effort in the process of resolution writing. Depending on the committee, there may be several opposing negotiating blocs, but it is important to work towards getting as much sponsors (countries who are the chief architects of the draft resolution) and co-sponsors (countries supporting the draft resolution). If you are working on a General Assembly resolution, you and your allies may want to ensure a simple majority to support the document, while in the Security Council the resolution cannot pass without the consent of all five permanent Member States and a qualified majority.
How is a resolution written and adopted?
The participating delegations discuss on a matter, formulate their positions and negotiate the major provisions into informal documents, often called “working papers”, which may lead to the resolution later. Those working papers are then circulated among the delegations and are negotiated in moderated or unmoderated caucuses. Once those papers get some reasonable support and have chances to be a backbone or part of the outcome document, they are turned into draft resolutions. Draft resolution is a document prepared in accordance with UN practices (document formatting, language, etc.) and is formally submitted to the chairboard, which then introduces it to the committee as an official proposal. Multiple drafts are may be subject to further negotiation and amendments before they are considered by the chairboard to be put to the vote. Resolutions are adopted by various types of majority vote, depending on the committee.
Elements of a UN resolution
A resolution consists of a heading, preambulatory clauses and operative clauses.
The heading is usually composed of the committee name, official resolution number, and other specific information (depending on the committee, see examples).
The preambulatory part contains words which are italicized and written using gerund. Those clauses call upon previous UN resolutions, locate the situation in a certain context, and are separated by semicolons.
The operative part contains specific verbs and phrases which call for a specific course of action. Those clauses are numbered, italicized and separated by commas. The document ends with a full stop.
Below are listed of some preambulatory and operative phrases commonly used in (M)UN resolutions.
However, the language and phrases used in respective UN committees may somewhat differ, so you are advised to take a look at their outcome documents (i.e. ECOSOC, Security Council, UNESCO WHC, etc.).