This January, I had been given the incredible chance to enact as a part of the dais at the Hohenheim Castle Model United Nations (HCMUN) simulation. Having participated at National Model United Nations (NMUN) in New York City two years prior, I was very excited to help the simulation with the current delegation. To prepare for the role as chair, I got back to the material I also used as a delegate, yet there are some other things to consider as well.
The first step to preparing for whatever role you have at your next MUN simulation is having a look at which guidelines your simulation will follow. Hence, the website for all MUN simulations might be your first address to look up. For example, the HCMUN simulation is oriented towards the NMUN New York guidelines, which are followed as closely as possible. So, of course, you and your fellow delegates or dais members would want to take a look at these guidelines first.
There you can find the two main resources I will talk about in detail: The official NMUN Rules of Procedure and Delegate Preparation Guide. Even though the latter addresses the delegates, it is a key resource for your preparation as a dais as well, as the guide explains general preparation for the conference as well as all processes. The material found on the website are, by the way, also a great resource to get a good idea of how the real United Nations committees and conferences work.
The Rules of Procedure
…and what to take away from them for your role as dais.
While preparing for a MUN conference as delegate, it is helpful to go through the rules of procedure to gain general knowledge about the procedure during a simulation. However, as a dais, you might want to pay close attention to the details, e.g. the simulation scripts. If your simulation is handled in a very official manner, the rules of procedure also offer a handbook on how to handle any rule, which the dais may consult during procedural inconsistencies or if a complicated dispute should come up.
Throughout the guide, there are bits and pieces of important information to keep in mind during the whole simulation, e.g. that the delegates should speak as member states or observers, and not as individuals. The document also provides the short form of the NMUN rules of procedure, meaning a list of all the motions and how to handle them. (Another tipp for preparing as a delegate is to write down the right wording on how to bring forward the motion.)
The Delegate Preparation Guide
…and how it helps you understand the needs of the delegates in your simulation.
As the preparation guide includes a glossary of terms relevant at a MUN conference or simulation, you as a dais may see that the delegates, especially during rehearsals, might ask about these specific terms. The guide includes all the information a delegate needs to know about the conference and simulation as a whole, as well as the mindset behind it. As a dais, you should enable the co-operation aspired by the underlying mindset as well, e.g. by appreciating colleagual behaviour.
Most of the sections are just as helpful for your preparation as dais, as they are for preparing as delegate. If one of your tasks is, for example, to also support the delegates with their working papers and (draft) resolutions, make sure to look up the constructions given for resolutions at your MUN simulation. Should amendments be allowed at your simulation, it is very helpful to refresh on the procedure and contents.
While going through the rules of procedure and the delegate preparation guide, keep in mind that however good the delegates prepare themselves, they will probably still have procedural questions on how to apply the information they have read beforehand.
Hands-on preparaion for the Dais Team
Here’s what you will want to do when you prepare for your role as dais at an upcoming simulation with your dais team members:
- assign the roles to the dais members
- set up a timeline to structure the simulation
- align the roles assigned to the timeline
- talk through the rules of procedure and the simulation script
- refresh your knowledge of the motions allowed at your simulation and how to handle them
- set rules how to support and help the delegates
- set rules how to co-operate and arrange communication within the dais team.
You probably want to assign the roles to the dais members first, so that everyone will know what they need to do throughout the planning of the upcoming simulation. There are the director, the chair and the rapporteur. If necessary, also asign members of the dais to support the delegates with the working papers, draft resolutions and resolutions during the simulation.
A Committee Chair works with their Director and Assistant Director to assist with procedural and administrative tasks, and helps ensure that their committee operates in a smooth and efficient manner.
Giving a quick overview on what every member of the dais stands for, at our simulation, the director was the dais member who led the whole simulation and was the first spokesperson. The director sets the frame for the simulation by voicing the introduction, most of the explainatory information, and the closure of the simulation in the end. Meanwhile, the chair is the dais member who leads through the discussions during formal caucus. The chair organises the order of the formal caucus and addresses the motions on the flor. Last but not least, the rapporteur is supposed to directly help the chair and/or director with the paperwork, e.g. calling out the member states during roll call and counting the member states’ responses during role call or voting procedure.
Setting up the timeline
As a next step, the dais team can set up the timeline. Having in mind when the lunch break and end of the day will be, try to come up with a timeline for the simulation day. For example, we set deadlines for when the agenda should be set and the working papers and later the draft resolutions sent. In case you’re allowing amendments, set a deadline as well. Most importantly, set a starting time for when your voting procedure will begin. At our simulation, we calculated between 1,5 and 2 hours for the voting procedure alone.
When your timeline is done, you can align the assigned dais roles to the time frames. For example, there have been four people splitting up the work of the chair and rapporteur between them, therefore we had two people as dais and rapporteur in the morning and two in the afternoon. The two person team also swapped roles once. We also arranged who would do the voting procedure.
Preparing the Rules of Procedure and the simulation script
Next, we talked through the rules of procedure and the simulation script according to the roles assigned. The script is a key resource to get to know the right wording for the formal caucus and addressing the motions on the floor. As mentioned above, you can find the right way to handle the formal caucus in the rules of procedure, i.e. how to do a roll call, set the agenda, adjourn or close the debate, handle the voting procedure, and lastly adjourn the meeting.
Especially knowing the script for voting procedure is key to leading through it, because if you’re in chair position for the first time, chances are voting procedure won’t be as easy-going and fluent as you have seen with more experienced chairs. The script handles many possibilities how the simulation can move along, e.g. from motions to adjourn or close the debate, to adopting by acclamation or roll call, and even the division of the question or handling of amendments (if allowed). Luckily, the chair is always able to consult the director and the rapporteur for help!
Refreshing knowledge about the Motions
Having a look at the rules of procedure, also learn again the motions (motions or ‘points’) if you do no longer know them by heart from your simulation(s) as delegate. As a dais member, you will have to know which votes to take on which motions as good as the delegates, if not better. It is never superfluous to learn again about the division of the question, as this motion is complicated enough to likely puzzle anyone who hasn’t heard about it in a while.
Speaking of which, also agree upon which motions to allow during the simulation in the dais team beforehand. During HCMUN as a rehearsal simulation, ‘points of information’ have been allowed as well. For any simulation it is vital to have agreed upon whether or not to allow the division of the question, voting by roll call, or introducing amendments. You can also set rules for the ‘point of order’ or ‘appeal of the chair’, e.g. having to write a note to the dais first. Rules like these will help you to better justify the decisions made by the chair. This leads to the next point, speaking about how to handle communication with the delegates during the simulation.
Setting rules on how to support the Delegates
As mentioned before, there should be a team of dais members or simulation helpers to support the delegates with their working papers, draft resolutions, and resolutions. Enable easy communication by setting up an e-mail-address for handing in the paperwork. Make sure to research the committee topics yourself beforehand!
Moreover, it is helpful for the delegates if the dais is present during informal caucus, so that they may approach you for support. Especially during rehearsals, delegates might have more questions, or ask procedural or content-related questions when raising a point of information.
Not only from delegate to delegate, but also between dais and delegates, the simulation should be oriented towards co-operation and mutual support and empowerment. Everyone should be able to not only gain content-related or operational knowledge, yet also to grow one’s self-confidence and self-efficacy. Having a broader look at MUN simulations, it is a key aspect to grow together, as a group.
Setting rules on how to communicate inside the Dais team
Last but not least, the dais team can set rules for communicating with each other to make the simulation more fluent and ordered. For example, as a chair, you will rely on the director to be the key spokesperson to address when you have a question yourself. You should, however, also include the rapporteur in your decisions or procedural agreements. Together with assigning the timeline, it will help you throughout the simulation.
How to apply as Dais
There are no universal rules on how to apply as dais for an upcoming simulation. You will have to research the simulation you want to participate in, and follow the instructions given by the organisers. However, it is appreciated if you have been at a MUN simulation or conference as a delegate already.
Therefore, if there are any further tipps that should be added to this guide, feel free to let me know in the comments! All the tipps have been derived from my personal experience and are not supposed to be seen as unviersal rules. I hope you’ll find them helpful nonetheless, adding these insights to your own skills!