Guide to Writing Resolutions

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Guide to Writing Resolutions

This guide is based on: Global Issues: A Primer for Model United Nations, Edited by Shreesh Juyal, Charlottetown, P.E.I.: Strathmor Publications, 1995.<ref>Global Issues: A Primer for Model United Nations, Edited by Shreesh Juyal, Charlottetown, P.E.I.: Strathmor Publications, 1995.</ref>


A resolution is a means of bringing pressure to bear upon Member States, or of expressing an opinion on a pressing matter, or of recommending that some action be taken by the United Nations or some other agency. Draft resolutions should not be introduced into formal session until they have been circulated among other delegates to incorporate different perspectives and to build support. It is desirable for draft resolutions to be sponsored by several states or by an entire bloc. The resolution should be clear, concise, and specific. The substance should be well researched and reflect the character and interests of the sponsoring nations. Sponsors should expect to introduce resolutions from the floor, and to make impromptu defenses of the document throughout the session.

Drafting Resolutions

United Nations Resolutions follow a common format. Each resolution has three parts: the heading, the (preamble) preambulatory clauses, and the operative clauses. The resolution is one long sentence with commas and semi-colons throughout the resolution, and a period only at the very end. A sample resolution is included so you can look for each specific part and understand the construction. Look at some of the criteria suggested for analyzing a resolution to see if your resolution reads the way you want.


The heading for all draft resolutions should read as follows:

  • Committee: name of the organ where it was introduced
  • Subject: the topic of the resolution
  • Sponsored by: list of sponsoring nations(s)
  • Signatories: list of nations which would like to see the topic discussed


The purpose of the preamble is to show that there is a problem that needs to be solved. This may also mean demonstrating that the problem is within the jurisdiction of the UN. These two purposes are fulfilled by referring to appropriate sections of the UN Charter, by citing precedents of UN action, or by citing previous resolutions or precedents of international law.

The preamble should also point out the key elements of the current problem by specifically referring to situations or incidents. Finally, the preamble may include altruistic appeals to the common sense or humanitarian instincts of members with reference to the Charter, Universal Declaration of Human Rights et cetera.

Preambulatory Clauses

Preambulatory clauses are statements, which explain the purpose of the resolution and support the intent of the operative clauses, which follow. The preamble defines the problem that the resolution is meant to solve (or at least address), and it sets the tone of the resolution.

Preambulatory Clause Examples
Affirming Expressing its appreciation Noting with deep concern
Alarmed by Expressing its satisfaction Noting further
Approving Fulfilling Noting with approval
Aware of Fully Aware Observing
Believing Further deploring Realizing
Bearing in mind Further recalling Reaffirming
Confident Guided by Recalling
Conscious of Having adopted Recognizing
Contemplating Having considered Seeking
Convinced Having considered further Taking into account
Declaring Having devoted attention Taking note
Deeply concerned Having examined Welcoming
Deeply convinced Having studied Deeply disturbed
Having heard Deeply regretting Having received
Desiring Keeping in mind Emphasizing
Noting with regret Expecting Noting with satisfaction

Operative Clauses

The solution in a resolution is presented in sequentially numbered operative clauses. These clauses may recommend, urge, condemn, encourage, or request certain actions, or state a favorable or unfavorable opinion regarding an existing situation. Each operative clause calls for a specific action. The action may be as vague as denunciation of a certain situation or a call for negotiations; or as specific as a call for a cease-fire or a monetary commitment for a particular project. Only Security Council resolutions may be binding upon Member States (i.e. may use condemn, and authorizes, etc). The General Assembly and its Main Committees can only make recommendations, yet these recommendations are the opinions of States or a bloc of States and therefore represent a palatable force in the international community.

Operative clauses are the guts of the resolution - they are the recommended actions of the body. They are fully debatable and amendable, and will more than likely go through a series of revisions before reaching final form. Operative clauses incite an action, condemn, recommend a shift in policy, et cetera.

Operative Clause Examples
Accepts Emphasizes Reaffirms
Affirms Encourages Recommends
Approves Endorses Reminds
Authorizes Expresses its appreciation Regrets
Calls Expresses its hope Requests
Calls upon Further invites Resolves
Condemns Further proclaims Solemnly affirms
Congratulates Further recommends Strongly condemns
Confirms Further reminds Supports
Considers Further requests Trusts
Declares accordingly Further resolves
Takes note of Deplores Have resolved
Urges Draws attention Notes
Designates Proclaims

Sample Resolution

General Assembly Plenary


Sponsors: United States, United Kingdom, Russian Federation, China

Signatories: Ecuador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama


The General Assembly,

Recalling its resolutions 44/124 A and B of 15 December 1989, 45/78 A and B of 12 December, 1990, 46I41 A and B of 6 December 1991 and 47/57 of 9 December 1992,

Taking into account the debates on this item held since its 38th session,

Conscious of the special significance of Antarctica to the international community in terms of international peace and security, the environment, its effects on global climate conditions, and scientific research on the depletion of the ozone layer,

Concerned over the environmental degradation of Antarctica and its impact on the global environment,

Concerned also that the Protocol of Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty adopted by the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Parties on 4 October 1991 does not provide for monitoring and implementation mechanisms to ensure compliance with the Protocol,

1. Calls for the establishment of an International Conservation Zone in Antarctica;

2. Declares that the United Nations, and not the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Parties, is the appropriate body to oversee the establishment of such a Zone;

3. Calls for the establishment, within the next two years, of a UN-sponsored research station in Antarctica; and

4. Calls upon all nations to recognize that Antarctica is the common heritage of all humanity, and to renounce all territorial claims to the continent and the continental shelf.

Analyzing Resolutions

The task of analyzing resolutions involves identifying first the topic, the sponsor(s), and the intent. Once these have been established, the resolution can be examined in greater detail for the specific actions proposed.

The tone of the resolution must be noted. Often this can be done on the basis of the language used. A mild, conciliatory resolution would be one, which called on parties to a dispute to seek a peaceful settlement, negotiations, et cetera, and perhaps made no reference to a specific outcome. A stronger resolution might take a clear stand in favor of one side by condemning one of the parties to a dispute and calling for unilateral action by that party. Some resolutions are vague; others are very specific calling for the withdrawal from occupied territory, appointing a mediator, et cetera.

Where a country is equivocal in its stand on a contentious issue, or on trying to protect certain interests, the precise wording of the resolution must be examined carefully. The references in the preamble should be checked. Recollection of a previous UN resolution or references to a particular principle, which the nation opposed, can be enough to kill potential support for the draft resolution unless the nation's position has changed.

If a nation supports the general thrust of the resolution, or thinks that it is in its interest to do so, but has reservations about certain sections, it might seek changes in the specific language to make the resolution more acceptable.

In general, the identity of the sponsor(s) would rarely be sufficient to kill potential support. Exceptions might be nations such as Iraq or Yugoslavia, who might be wise to refrain from being listed as the sponsors of a draft resolution even if they played a key role in drafting it. Sponsors of successful resolutions are most commonly neutral or middle-of-the-road states. It is important to consider whether the objectives and goals of the sponsoring state(s) are consonant with your own interests and goals.

The operative clauses should be analyzed for their workability. Is the proposed solution logical/feasible/workable/realistic? If the draft resolution establishes deadlines, is the time allotted sufficient? Is the proposal financially responsible given the UN's limited resources?