Summit of the Americas: Rules and Procedures
How the Summit of the Americas Competition Works
Before the Conference Begins
- The Summit is divided into five committees, which can vary from year to year, but always include a General Committee, which is made up solely of head delegates, who emulate their respective country's head of state during the competition. These committees are assigned agenda topics, which form the framework of debate.
- Teams "early register" and are placed into a random drawing for country assignments. The country they are assigned is the country they must represent during the competition.
- Teams then recruit, during summer and early fall (or register, if it is conducted as a for-credit class) from 5 to 9 students to form a team. Each committee must have a minimum of one delegate, while the four committees that are not the General Committee may have up to two delegates each.
- Delegates (especially new delegates) are encouraged to attend the optional Parliamentary Procedures Workshop, a training workshop held about six weeks before the conference. This workshop is designed to help students master parliamentary debate procedures and resolution writing skills.
The Written Work
- Delegates are responsible for drafting, together, a "position paper" that outlines their country's political position and history with regard to the agenda topics for the year. This is usually due about a month before the competition.
- Individual delegates must each write a proposed resolution on behalf of their country. This resolution is a proposal for the OAS to do something to address the topic assigned to that delegate. There are two topics per committee--delegations sending two delegates to a committee can divide by assigning the resolution for topic A to one delegate, and the resolution for topic B to the other. Delegations sending one delegate in the committee may choose which topic to write a resolution for, or the delegate may write one for both. All registered delegates must submit a resolution in order to be eligible for awards. Resolutions are usually due about ten days before the competition.
- Resolutions are reviewed for formatting and for substance, and are either accepted for inclusion on the conference agenda, or sent back for corrections. Students may win awards for quality written work and research.
- Resolutions accepted for debate are posted online, along with the position papers. This allows other teams to review what is being submitted and prepare for debate.
During the Conference
- On the first night of competition, delegates bring a hard copy of their resolutions. They must find five other delegations willing to support their proposal. These delegations must then sign the resolution as a promise to vote in its favor.
- For the remainder of the conference, delegates are divided into their committees and debate proposed resolutions using the parliamentary procedures outlined in the Rules of Procedure.
- For delegates in the budgetary committee, the committee is first asked to craft a joint declaration together, outlining the budgetary priorities and funding cuts for the next year. Afterwards, the committee utilizes this joint declaration as a framework from which to debate the funding approval for resolutions passed in other committees during the previous model. Because this requires a knowledge of all submitted resolutions from a delegation, the budget delegate is not required to submit a resolution. Instead, he/she submits a "budgetary statement," which is an explanation of the country's stance toward the funding (or denial of funding) for each agenda topic. Budgetary delegates use their statements and the newly passed joint declaration to defend their country's resolutions (which have been assigned to them, about a month before the competition), and get them approved for funding. The budgetary committee is limited on the amount of resolutions from other committees it is allowed to fund.
- All delegates are faced with a crisis scenario at the close of the first full day of debate. This crisis is based on an actual historical political crisis event in the Western Hemisphere or a hypothetical event created by the student secretariat staff. Delegations may be asked to continue representing their current government (thus putting a modern interpretation on a historical crisis), or represent the government in power during the crisis (to reenact the event itself). Delegations must then meet and develop a strategy for addressing the issue, and head delegates then debate in committee, crafting a joint declaration together, by consensus, to deal with the issue.
Awards and Recognition
- At the close of the competition, delegates are recognized by the Judging Committee for outstanding research and writing, outstanding debate and oral skills, and outstanding leadership. Teams are recognized for overall abilities. Most importantly, teams are awarded for their ability to understand and champion their own country's agenda through the competition.
- Individual delegates also have the opportunity to be recognized through awards voted on by their peer delegates, or through election to one of the available officer positions.
- At the end of the conference (usually a week or two afterwards), the Judging Committee provides each delegation with detailed evaluations of their performance, with the goal of providing quality academic feedback to the faculty advisor and the team to use in coming years.