Resolutions are the primary tools of discussion in the United Nations. They form the basis for all UN debate, bringing one or several issues to the floor in a form that Representatives can discuss, amend, and reject or ratify as circumstances dictate.
Resolutions usually state a policy that the UN will undertake, but they also may be in the form of treaties, conventions, and declarations in some bodies. They range from very general to very specific in content. Depending on the body involved, they may call for or suggest a course of action, condemn an action, and require action or sanctions on the part of the member states. The General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council may only call for or suggest actions. It should be noted that nobody other than the Security Council may require action or sanctions from member states. In some cases, final conventions and treaties may also require action, but this would only be on the part of the signatory nations.
Amendments to resolutions are the means by which resolutions may be altered by the body involved. Amendments would create additions, deletions, or changes to a resolution in order to increase its acceptability to all nations involved. Amendments are usually needed for a body to move toward a consensus on a resolution.
Draft resolutions are not eligible for discussion on the floor until they receive the support and sponsorship of at least 5 delegations in the committee. Additional sponsors to a resolution can be added at any time. Once a resolution is under discussion by a body, additional sponsors may only be added with the consent of the resolution's original sponsors.
To facilitate the process of discussing, combining and changing resolutions to determine which one should be brought to the floor for discussion, a motion for a caucus at the beginning of the session. It is recommended that Representatives use this time to caucus on the resolutions before the body in an attempt to reach consensus on which resolution(s) should be addressed. This session will be Representatives' first opportunity to formally enter the UN political process of working with others in an attempt to build consensus.
The process of utilizing "draft resolutions" and requiring more than one sponsoring delegation is intended to replicate the United Nations practice of gaining support for resolutions before they are discussed in Committee or Council. Further, it should push delegations away from looking at a proposal as "my resolution" and toward working with others to gain a consensus opinion on the topics being discussed.
To this end, representatives will need to work together and doubtless combine clauses from a number of draft resolutions or subsequent proposals by other member states at the conference. Representatives are strongly encouraged to undertake this process before a resolution comes to the floor. As in the real UN, building support for one resolution that encompasses the entire topic will be a much better use of the representatives time than trying to work on multiple resolutions, many of which will overlap. Thus we suggest that representatives do not contend over which resolution will come to the floor, but rather caucus and compromise to determine how best to combine resolutions into a coherent, whole product that all nations can accept, either through friendly amendments or through the drafting of a new "omnibus" resolution.
After a draft resolution receives the requisite 5 sponsors, it must be brought to the Council Chair for approval. The Chair will then announce the resolution as available for discussion on the floor.
Points to Consider When Writing
The following list includes important points to consider when writing a resolution, either in advance or for submission at the Conference. This is by no means an exclusive list but should provide a good starting point to make your resolutions as realistic as possible. Points to consider include:
- In the preambulatory clauses, describe the recent history of the situation and the issue as it currently exists;
- Reference past United Nations actions, when available;
- Reference previous United Nations resolutions passed on the topic, when available;
- In the operative clauses, include actions which will solve the problem, not just make a statement;
- Don't be blatantly political in the content of the resolution -- this may damage efforts to reach a consensus on the issue;
- Take into account the points of view of other nations whenever possible;
- Write the resolution from your country's side of the "international" or "United Nations" perspective, not just from your country's individual point of view;
- Refer issues which need further discussion to appropriate, existing bodies;
- Don't create new Committees/Commissions/Working Groups/etc. without considering funding for these groups, or if other, similar bodies already exist;
- Always consider previous UN resolutions on the topic -- don't duplicate what other resolutions have done without referencing the appropriate sources.
Each draft resolution should be written as a single sentence, with commas and semicolons separating the various parts (see "Sample Resolution" for specifics). In drafting the "heading" of resolutions, Representatives should state their country name, the name of the Committee/Council to which it will be presented, and the topic of the resolution at the top of the document. Please note that resolutions must use the names of the Committee/Council and topic.
Following the "heading" section, resolutions are split into preambulatory and operative (sometimes called activating) clauses. Preambulatory clauses are listed first, and they are used to justify action, denote past authorizations and precedents for action, and/or denote the purpose of an action. Operative clauses are the statement of policy in a resolution. They are numbered, beginning with a verb to denote an action (or suggested action), and each clause usually addresses no more than one specific aspect of the action to be taken.
Draft Resolution Format
The standard format is as follows:
- Single spaced throughout resolution, with double spacing between clauses,
- Clauses must begin with proper introductory words/phrases, in capital letters,
- Each preambulatory clause ends with a comma,
- Each operative clause ends with a semi-colon,
- Each operative clause must be numbered and indented,
- The final operative clause ends with a period,
- Keeping in mind
- Alarmed by
- Noting with regret
- Noting with satisfaction
- Aware of
- Fully aware
- Noting with deep concern
- Fully alarmed
- Noting with approval
- Bearing in mind
- Fully believing
- Further deploring
- Guided by
- Having adopted
- Deeply concerned
- Having considered
- Deeply convinced
- Having examined
- Deeply disturbed
- Having studied
- Taking into consideration
- Deeply regretting
- Having heard
- Viewing with appreciation
- Having received
- Expresses its appreciation
- Calls upon
- Expresses its hope
- Further invites
- Further proclaims
- Solemnly affirms
- Further reminds
- Strongly condemns
- Further recommends
- Declares accordingly
- Further resolves
- Takes note of
- Further requests
- Draws the attention
- Have resolved
Please note: the sample resolution presented below is shown for formatting purposes only. It is intentionally simplistic and is not meant to represent the content of an actual draft resolution.
- SUBJECT OF RESOLUTION: Refraining from the Use of Force in International Relations
- SUBMITTED TO: The Security Council
- SUBMITTED BY: (Your Country)
- THE SECURITY COUNCIL
- RECOGNIZING that the use of force in international relations cannot be condoned,
- AFFIRMING the principals of the UN Charter in regards to the non-usage of force in international relations,
- SEEKING solutions to international problems without the use of force,
- DEEPLY CONCERNED that some nations still consider the use of force acceptable,
- REQUESTS all nations to refrain from the use of force in international relations;
- SUPPORTS the use of the various United Nations bodies for the settlement of international disputes;
- CONGRATULATES all nations which choose to resolve their disputes in a peaceful fashion;
- URGES the Secretary-General to use "good offices" to help parties resolve their conflict without recourse to use of force.
Rm. 352, Anne Belk Hall
Department of Government and Justice Studies