Committee Dynamics


Debate

Every HMUN committee holds six sessions over the four days of the conference, each lasting three to five hours. Committee sessions are designed to keep the delegates engaged and thinking on their feet. The substantive aspects of the committee are coordinated by a committee director, while a moderator guides debate according to formal rules of parliamentary procedure. The delegates usually spend the first committee session setting the agenda by deciding which topic area to discuss first. Delegates then move into a mixture of formal debate and caucus aimed at formulating a resolution that addresses problems relating to the chosen topic areas. Formal debate provides delegates with the opportunity to address the entire committee in order to clarify their positions. During caucus, rules are suspended to allow for informal debate: delegates have the opportunity to share their ideas with other delegates so that ideas begin to coalesce outside of the constraints of parliamentary procedure. In debate, delegates are challenged to reach a consensus within the committee while accurately representing their countries’ policies.

Committee Topics and background guides

Every HMUN committee director spends the summer researching and compiling an extensive and comprehensive background guide on two topic areas. Background guides are the ideal starting point for delegate research, providing a detailed bibliography of further sources. However, additional, self-directed research is the cornerstone of the delegate experience. Delegates are encouraged and expected to conduct outside research to increase their participation in and enjoyment of committee. Background guides are made available online to students beginning around early December. For a fee, schools may request paper copies of the background guides. Prior to the position paper due date, HMUN releases updates on each of the topics to ensure the accuracy and timeliness of information. When your school receives its country assignment, you will also receive a brief description of the topics being discussed by each committee.

Working Papers and Resolutions

Working papers are used to collect and circulate delegate ideas. The ideas in a working paper are debated and eventually molded into formal documents written in the style of actual UN resolutions. After formal introduction in committee, resolutions are debated, amended, and voted on by the body. Passed resolutions represent hours of debate, negotiation, and compromise.

While it is satisfying to see the hard work of the committee culminate in a resolution, HMUN’s philosophy emphasizes the process of negotiation rather than the resolution itself. A committee must not necessarily pass a resolution to be considered a success. HMUN does not have official sponsors of resolutions and, in order to maximize the incentive for compromise, only one resolution on a given topic area can be passed.