“The floor is now open for amendments”. As soon as the dais uses this phrase, the room usually goes into a state of creative chaos. People running all over the place, trying to find signatories for small pieces of paper or rushing to the chairs in a rather anxious way. Here is our list of tips, so as to make the most out of them!
An amendment is an official request to modify the draft document that has been introduced. One can add, amend, and annul an operative clause of the draft paper.
Typical requirements of any amendment:
Timely submitted-the board will grand sufficient time to do so
Written in a proper hand writing-yes, most of the times the chairs do not have a steady internet connection and handing to them lots of papers with bad handwriting, doesn’t help, since they have to type it in the draft that is being projected. Best option, is a USB drive with the amendment/s clearly titled and easily accessible.
Have the necessary number of signatories- do not be afraid to ask the chair for the number needed, it’s a pity to have your amendment not accepted because of a requirement like that!
One amendment per paper- do not write multiple on the same one, typically is not accepted but practically as well creates a lot of difficulties.
No need to justify your amendment-simply write what you want to have achieved. For example:
Add a clause
Strike out a clause
Amend a clause
Add clause - insert text of your clause-
Strike out clause - insert number of the clause you want to delete
Amend clause –insert the modified version of the clause you want to have changed.
Note: NO AMENDMENTS FOR THE PREAMBULATORY CLAUSES.
How to choose what to amend?
As soon as the draft is introduced to the floor, you will notice that some particular clauses will generate discussion among countries with several opinions being proposed. Regardless of whether the clause under discussion affects your national policy, try to have an amendment where a balance will be sought.
Anything you believe is the same with your block’s draft or doesn’t make much sense, question it first in your speeches and then propose amendments. Do not try to propose amendments on the draft in total, it will only take time and most probably the chair won’t entertain it. Pay attention to your phrasing, you want your amendment to be clearly understood.
Ensure that you submit your amendment at least 5 minutes before the deadline expires; you want the chair to see it first! Unfortunately, most of the amendments are submitted literally the last minute of the deadline, therefore, the chairs do not have much time to read them through, thus endangering having your amendment rejected instead of accepted for consideration. In the type of (Traditional) Model UN conferences I am referring to, the chair, reads the amendments submitted and decides which ones will be considered for discussion.
How to gain supporters for my amendment?
Firstly, make sure that is an amendment of wide interest for the committee. Secondly, try to deliver a good supportive speech and it goes without saying that lobbying will help you a lot-i.e., vote/co-sign another’s amendment and they will return the favor.
In some conferences, after the introduction of an amendment, the chair asks the sponsor of the draft to call it friendly or not. If called friendly, then no debate will take place on it and will be automatically incorporated on the draft’s main body. If unfriendly (which in the majority of the conferences, is the common procedure to be followed) then it will be one speaker in favor, one against and then voting. Please note, that due to time constraints at that stage, the chairs may decide to modify the procedure to their convenience. Also, do not forget that if an amendment points out a grammatical/syntactical error, the chair passes it automatically.
Amendments to the second degree.
In some conferences, it is permitted to modify an amendment up to 2-3 times. Yes, this means that you have a clause modified and then, somebody decides to modify that clause again. When it happens, very few people are happy.
Verbal vs. written amendments.
There are certain conferences and certain procedures that allow amendments in a non written way. Instead, the chair asks for reactions on behalf of the committee and the delegates may voice their concerns-of course certain procedure is to be followed in that case as well, but for this article, we focused on the traditional way of Model UNing!
To conclude, listen to the needs of the committee, start drafting your amendments before the chair opens the floor for them, ensure that your handwriting is readable and enjoy it!