Chairing a Conference

Chairperson of the First Committee at 2011 GMUN Conference Chairperson of the First Committee at 2011 GMUN Conference


Chairmanship is the art of managing meetings. The Chairman of GA Committee is its presiding officer, the individual who has accepted responsibility for ensuring that the debate within a Committee is orderly and that it takes all necessary decisions as outlined in its Programme of Work.

The Chairman is almost never alone. He/she is supported, in varying degrees, by all delegations as well as by the secretariat. But he/she carries primary responsibility for the conduct of business in a Committee.

At the UN there are several presiding officers of formal meetings: the PGA or Vice-Presidents who preside over Plenary meetings of the GA and the Chairmen of subsidiary bodies (committees, working groups, etc). In addition, there are Chairmen of various political groups, who usually also act as a spokesperson for their group and lead sponsors, who act as conveners and spokespeople for a group of co-sponsors.

Of these individuals only the presiding officers of the GA Plenary meetings and those of its subsidiary bodies (i.e. committees, working groups, expert groups etc) are part of the formal structure of the conference. The other chairmen, although outside the formal structure, nevertheless play important roles in its work.

How chairmen are chosen in a MUN Conference is set out in the Step-by-Step Organization of the GA.

General Considerations and Denationalization

The formal and procedural roles and responsibilities of a presiding officer, like the PGA or Chair of a GA Committee, are to ensure that the business of the Plenary/Committee meetings is conducted in an orderly and efficient manner and in accordance with the Rules of Procedure. Because the presiding officers represent all Member States, they cannot simultaneously represent one of the participating delegations.  Read more about General Considerations and Denationalization here.

The Chairman's Activities in Guiding the Work of the Conference

Another essential role of chairmen is to ensure that the conference conducts its business in the manner he/she deems appropriate, in the light of the Rules of Procedure and his/her understanding of the mandate and the wishes of the conference. Read more about the Chairman's Activities in Guiding the Work of the Conference here.

Procedural Roles of the Chairman: A Step-by-Step

The Chairman is responsible for many duties including allocation of work and time management, keeping the debate orderly and decision-making, among others. Read more about the Procedural Roles of the Chairman: A Step-by-Step here.

Substantive Role of the Chair

One important task of the Chairman is to make sure the Committee achieves the substantive outcome set out in its Programme of Work. Read more about the Substantive Role of the Chair here.