A Start-To-Finish Overview of Committee Sessions


Part IV a. A Start-To-Finish Overview of Committee Sessions

Upon entering your committee room, try to sit in a favorable spot. It may help to sit near delegations that you think you will be working with, in a spot where the dais will be able to see you when you raise your placard, or on the edges of rows so that you can easily make your way to the front of the room for formal speeches. 

Once committee session formally begins, the dais will introduce themselves and go over a few expectations for committee. Pay close attention to what they are saying to avoid any confusion later. After introductions, roll call will commence. You must answer ‘Present’ or ‘Present and Voting’. In short, ‘Present and Voting’ means that you must vote on the draft resolutions, whereas ‘Present’ means the ability to pass your vote, if you wish. If you want a detailed explanation between the two, consult Voting Bloc. If you show up after roll call, send a note to the dais indicating whether you are ‘present’ or ‘present and voting’.

After roll call, the dais will begin to open the primary speakers list. If you feel comfortable to speak at the start of the conference, raise your placard to be called on. These speeches usually do not last too long and consist of delegations saying that they are optimistic about working with the delegations present on the topics at hand or give their delegation’s preference on the agenda. After a few speeches, the dais will ask for points or motions and someone should move to “suspend the meeting” for anywhere between five to fifteen minutes. After hearing any other points or motions, the body will vote on the motions in the order of precedence (suspension of the meeting usually will take precedence here). If the body reaches a majority, a suspension of the meeting will occur, meaning that you should begin interacting with your fellow delegates about the order of the agenda. Know the order of the topics before the conference begins because most delegates refer to the topics by its number. If you forget, refer to the position paper which you wrote, check the conference pamphlet, check the front of the room if your dais has it displayed, or just ask the dais. You should know your delegations stance on the agenda prior to the conference along with some persuasive reasons why your delegation would feel that way. You will want to discuss the topic(s) your delegation feels most strongly about first because you may not be able to discuss every topic during the conference due to time constraints. If you are prepared, you will be able to build a reputation with your fellow delegates and chances are they will be more open to work with you/hear your ideas. 

Once the suspension of the meeting comes to an end, the dais will ask for points or motions and delegations will move to set the agenda. For example, the delegate representing Australia may say: “the Commonwealth of Australia moves to set the agenda to 3, 2, 1”. Several other agenda proposals will be made until they have been exhausted. The body will then vote on the points or motions in order of precedence until one of them reaches a majority. If no majority is reached, the dais will return back to the speakers list and the same process will happen again. Once a majority has been reached, the dais will open a secondary speakers list. It is important to note that speakers in the secondary speakers list will be talking about the topic that it is associated with it. If you go off track, the dais may stop you and remind you to stay on topic. Try to get on this speakers list as early as possible, especially at larger conferences. If you were on the primary speakers list, you still need to get your name on the secondary speakers list. Just because you are on the speakers list doesn't mean you will speak right away so don’t worry about that too much.  

After hearing a few speeches, the dais will ask for points or motions and someone will usually propose a suspension of the meeting for a longer period of time, typically 30 or more minutes. After hearing all points or motions, the body will again vote on them. If you enter a suspension of the meeting, use this time to interact with delegates that you could see yourself working with. Some good characteristics to look for include:
Their delegation shares similar views as your delegation on the topic
Their delegation is located in your region (this may be referred to as a regional bloc)
You are interested in the points they brought up in a speech
If you see any delegates sitting alone or not doing much, try to interact with them and get them to work with you.

How you go about this portion of the conference is ultimately up to you. If you feel like taking the initiative in proposing ideas, go for it. If you would rather play a supporting role and help other’s ideas take shape; that is also completely fine. 

At first, there will likely be several small groups working on fine tuning their ideas, but over time, the number of groups will decrease and the size of the groups will increase. Soon enough, draft resolutions, the formal write-up of your proposed ideas on the topic that will be sent to the dais, will begin to take shape. It is completely fine (and normal) to have multiple draft resolutions on the floor at the same time. Later in the conferences draft resolutions with similar ideas may merge. 

After a draft resolution is completed, it should be sent to the dais (normally with email through the form of a word document). You must then wait for edits from the dais. You will likely go through a few rounds of edits, so pay close attention to the dais’ comments and try to resolve the issues. If a draft resolution is approved, it will then become a resolution to be voted on later. More on that process in Voting Bloc. 

Voting bloc can be a little confusing, especially if it is your first conference. However, your dais will usually go over all the procedures in detail. In short, you will vote on all of the approved draft resolutions. If you’re looking for a more detailed explanation, refer to Voting Bloc.

Once all draft resolutions and amendments have been voted on, your committee will move on to the next topic on the agenda. It will practically be the same process as you went through for the first topic so try to implement anything you learned during the first topic in the second topic!