Position Papers are Essential to Successful Preparation
The position paper helps the delegates organize their ideas and share their country’s foreign policy with the rest of the committee.
The Position Paper is the climax of the preparation process for any Model United Nations conference, and represents the summarized, researched, and representative view of your state on the particular issues your council is addressing. Remember, the guidelines for position papers may differ depending on the council you are in: check your background guide and email your chair in order to confirm the specific parameters of your position paper.
The position papers submitted to conferences are formal, public statements of a delegation’s position on the topics under consideration in a particular committee. Position papers may serve as a starting point for negotiations and debate at the Conference. Well-crafted position papers can often take the place of formal opening speeches and allow Representatives to attend to the substantive work of their committees more quickly.
Ideally, position papers lay out a country’s position on an issue before the United Nations, focusing on what a specific delegation would like to address or accomplish at the UN, rather than describing a specific country’s experience with a certain issue.
New York paper needs to be a 2 page 10 point font single spaced position paper. St. Louis paper is to be one side of one sheet of 8½ by 11 inch paper and should include the position of the delegation on all of the designated topic areas of the committee or council.
NMUN NYC Outstanding Paper 2020 http://blogs.jccc.edu/mun/nmun-outstanding-paper-2020/
The Basic Structure
- One page, front and back, with one topic more or less filling up each side
- A header with the DELEGATE NAME(S), NATION, COUNCIL, AND SCHOOL
- Optional idea: Trying sprucing up your header with appropriate color, national flags and/or seals, watermarks, or other official looking edits – it shows your chair you worked hard and makes your position paper stand out.
- The topic name clearly stated
- Three paragraphs per topic:
- The first section should be an introduction to the topic from the perspective of your nation. What is the history of the issue according to your nation? Why is this issue important? This is the shortest and least important section of the position paper.
- The second section should be an analysis of the topic from your country’s perspective. What does your nation generally think about the issue? What are things that have worked in the past? What are things that have not worked? This is most likely the longest part of the position paper, extremely important, and the place where you will utilize most of your research.
- The third section should be a discussion of solutions your nation is proposing to solve the problem. What are these solutions? Why and how would they work? How will you solve any problems that might arise in implementing these solutions? This is where you can let your creativity and research combine, and begin formulating the kinds of proposals that will later come to fruition in your resolutions.
Remember to not use first person pronouns (I think, we feel, we believe) – instead, use the state name (Canada argues, the People’s Republic of China thinks)
Use the active, not the passive, voice
Provide a concise review of your country’s foreign policy and needs on the topic
Identify key Conventions, Treaties, Resolutions and other measures relevant to the topic
Serve as a blueprint for your use in formulating and negotiating workable draft resolutions to resolve the problem
An excellent position paper must contain:
past U.N. actions regarding the topic
suggestions for a plan of action in addressing the issue.
a clear statement of your country’s position on each topic and an indication of why your country takes this position in the context of what it has already done in relation to the topic
More on How to Write a Position Paper
Remember that your position paper is the first impression your chair will have of you, and it is a great way to help summarize your thoughts on the topics to be discussed. Therefore, go beyond your research when you are writing it.
(also known as expository or argumentative essays)
A position paper is a one page statement of a country’s policy on the topic under consideration by a committee and the rationale behind it. There are several reasons for position papers. Writing position papers serves to focus delegates’ thoughts on the topic areas. It also encourages all delegates to conduct research. At the conference, delegates should have copies of their own position papers in order to refer to them during debate. In addition, all of the delegates’ position papers are available at the conference so that other committee members can utilize them for reference. Having these papers available in committee assists delegates as they seek out nations with similar positions to theirs in order to form working blocs. The papers will also be of use when delegates attempt to write resolutions which deal with the points of major concern to the committee. Furthermore, access to the papers may allow them to clarify points made in delegates’ speeches.
A position paper must be written on each topic area in a committee. The content of the position paper should synthesize the information from the delegates’ own research with respect to the country’s position on the given issue. When writing their position papers, delegates should ask themselves two questions about the issues in the topic areas:
- What are the possible solutions to the problems in this area?
Next, delegates should have specific answers to their country’s position:
|What bloc, regional, or ethnic grouping is our country in?
|What is our country’s policy on the topic? Why?
|What issues in this area are particularly relevant to our country? How?
Aspects of a position paper:
|you are expressing your informed opinion about your countries position
|it is non-fiction
|it is aimed at shaping the reader’s attitude (click on “Bases for Argument” for help)
|it can be used to describe, narrate, inform and/or persuade
|it requires that you take a position based on a series of arguments
Position papers have three sections: Introduction and Body (3 topic areas). Read on to find out what each section should include. A model of the format is available for visual learners by clicking “Samples” below.
- “hook line” (a catchy first line that grabs the reader) utilized diplomatic language
|may be an anecdote, statistic, question, etc.
- explanation of issue
|why is this important
|your answer to the topics or your position on the issues
|this is the key to you whole paper, so make it good
- plan of development
|a one sentence outline of your subtopics (pieces of evidence) that you will be using to support your position
Consider using the following to improve your introduction:
|ask important questions that are related to your thesis
|give a startling fact or example that is related to your thesis
The body consists of three topics. You should have at least two paragraphs for each topic.
- First & strongest argument/piece of evidence/subtopic
|first sentence = topic sentence, where you state your argument
|then specific details/evidence to support argument
- Second & second best argument
- Third & weakest argument
* ( A ) ABOUT POSITION PAPERS
To qualify to attend a conference with Model UN, you will need to write a Position Paper. This is the first and most relevant thing for you to do when you start Model United Nations before moving on to learn about rules and procedures and traveling. The Position Paper is the culmination of any Model United Nations conference preparation process, and it reflects your state’s concise, researched, and represented perspective on the specific problems your council is addressing. In general, the paper will acknowledge the issue of the topic and its effect(s), then describe what your country has done to address the situation. The end generally declares what your objective or expectation is for the conference.
Remember that position paper requirements may change depending on the conference and the committee you are in — review your background guide and email your officers or Dr. Wright to confirm the exact restrictions of your position paper if you are unsure, but read this email first.
- A. Find your assigned committee and topics:
(St. Louis) Mid-West Model United Nations Conference | Johnson County Community College Model United Nations (jccc.edu)
2. (NYC) National Model United Nations Conference New York City | Johnson County Community College Model United Nations (jccc.edu)B. Information on your topic that will get you started:
1. (St. Louis) Committee Materials – MMUN
- (NYC) Committee Materials (nmun.org)C. Information on position paper guidelines:
- (St. Louis) Position Papers – MMUN
- (NYC) Position Papers (nmun.org)
Short video on things to research and put into your position paper:
* ( B ) PREAMBULAR AND OPERATIVE CLAUSES
Clause: A legal document’s portion, phrase, paragraph, or segment. AKA: An isolated sentence of the document.
Preamble clauses highlight why the committee is taking action on a certain issue. It should emphasize the pertinent facts you discover throughout your study, such as previous United Nations resolutions, your country’s previous activities on the topic, and so forth. Operative clauses are action-oriented and provide actionable solutions to the situations presented in the perambulatory clauses.
As you research your topics, once you have established an understanding concept or identified the exact main issues in regard to the position of your country, your main goal becomes promoting the desired outcome of solutions as your country would like to see happen. These solutions are expressed as Resolutions in the United Nations where countries write out clauses that identify an issue and the solution for that particular context, one clause at a time. However, preambular and operative clauses can be used to help structure and write your Position Paper as well.
You can find a list of all the Preamble and Operative clauses here:
* ( C ) HOW TO WRITE A PAPER
For an example, we will create a fake topic and outline it below. You can also refer to the advice found above in the section A links.
Remember that a Position Paper represents the perspective and interests of the country policy position so when addressing a topic and not what you personally believe to be right or wrong or true or false. However, and only for this example, we will create the paper from a countries perceive the topic. The information input below will be the information you find in your research based on what your nation’s policy is on your own topic.
TOPIC: Closing the Education Gap and Promoting Quality Education
The first step will be to begin to research the topic. Below is an outline (as a State / Nation) finds relevant based on studying the topic. You will want to have a general understanding of the topic as well as identify the issues (preambular) your state/nation has with the matter and potential solutions to those issues (operative).
Study: The Education Gap is also recognized as the “Achievement Gap.”
Study: Represents disparity between minorities and disadvantaged students to their counterparts, such as blacks compared to whites educationally.
Study: The UN passed a resolution on education called GA/RES/123.
Issue 1: Limited Family Resources for Minorities Reduce Enrollment.
Issue 2: The Cost of Tuition is High in General.
Issue 3: Career Candidate Competition or Low Career Opportunities Discourages Education (aka: high competition after graduation).
Solution 1: Students can take some online classes to better manage and balance their education and personal matters and standards,
Solution 2: Students should consider attending a local Community College for its reduced cost and more awareness should be made about the benefits of Community Colleges.
Solution 3: Students should join programs like Model United Nations to get relevant skills to be ahead of the competition and be better prepared overall.
Objective: Promote community based learning opportunities with extracurricular and online initiatives.
Reason: Cheaper education opportunities will reduce the Education Gap by giving more opportunities for people to start their education.
Now we need to take the outline and write it as a position paper. We will use the above along with preambular and operative words to write a simple, but actual paper below. Preambular will be in bold and underlined (preambular) and operative will be italicized and underlined (operative). The preamble and operative words come directly from the list in the link from Section B.
TOPIC A: CLOSING THE EDUCATION GAP AND PROMOTING QUALITY EDUCATION
Mindful of the various challenges facing the international community in addressing the situation of closing the education gap and promoting a quality education, we recognize that much work is needed. Observing that limited family resources can be a barrier in the opportunity to get an education, the delegation of Andrew emphasizes that online classes may be an accessible medium capable of addressing aspects of this limitation. Guided by United Nations Resolution GA/RES/123, Andrew takes note of its own success with using online resources and strongly encourages others to consider its potential. Noting with deep concern that the cost of tuition exists as a universal challenge for those behind in the education gap, we draw the attention of the committee to the more cost effective model of Community Colleges. Having studied the costs of a degree from various institutions, we confirm to the committee that Community Colleges are always cheaper and reiterates that community based learning gives the best financial opportunity for those limited by finance or other resources. Bearing in mind that graduates still face competition for employment afterward, we stress the need for candidates to be unique and stand out beyond their degree. Having examined our options, our administration has joined Model United Nations and notes with satisfaction the transitional skills promoted by this partnership. Encouraged by our own success, we argue that cheaper and localized education opportunities will reduce the education gap and calls upon all present Member States of the committee to promote community based learning and extracurricular initiatives to close the Achievement Gap.