How to Write a Position Paper

Certain program organs within the Model United Nations will require delegates to write a Position Paper. A Position Paper is a one-page statement of a country’s policy on topic area on the committee’s agenda.

Format Guidelines:

  • Paper should contain the country’s position, as well as possible remedies for the problem

  • Papers should be no more than one page, double-spaced per topic

  • Bring papers to the MUN Summit in Los Angeles

A position paper should include:

  1. A one-sentence introduction with history of your country’s involvement and/or interest in the topic. (Ex: Norway has actively participated in UN peacekeeping for several decades including operations in ___ and ___ with ___# of troops)

  2. Discussion of your country’s current policies on the topic.(Ex: Norway takes an active interest in achieving peace in the Middle East and has been fundamental in the signing of the Oslo Accords. Norway is in a unique position as a mediator because it has a clear understanding of Palestinian demands and a working relationship with the PLO, but the Norwegian people also have considerable interest in and support for Israel as a nation.

  3. Policy proposals - list potential solutions to the problems posed in the topic area that your country might be willing to support.(Ex: Norway is willing to cooperate with other members of the international community that are interested in providing a peacekeeping force for Jerusalem in accordance with Security Council resolution 255. In addition, we would support further resolutions ensuring Israeli compliance with the Peace Accords).

Key questions and structure:

1. State why the problem is important. Who should care about it? Why is it on the UN’s agenda?

2. What work has been done already to address this issue? What UN agencies deal with it? You can frame these in terms of an assessment - the agencies are “effective”, “successful”, “overburdened” etc. What conventions, conferences, meetings, etc have been held? What documents have come out of these meetings? Resolutions, treaties, conventions? Frame these in terms of our countries support (or rejection) of these efforts.

3. Link your country to the work that has been done. Have they contributed funds? Sponsored/attended conferences? Signed treaties? Have they taken notable steps domestically to address this issue?

4. Propose some specific steps to resolve the problem. These may not be directly linked to your country’s position, but should not be contradictory to your interests. Focus can be on multilateral steps, or on regional organizations, or on pursuing domestic/national legislation that will address the problem.

Tips on How to Write a Position Paper

  • Avoid use of “flowery” language. Try to state what you want to say as succinctly and clearly as possible. Diplomats can be round-about and vague, but position papers should not be.

  • Writing in the present tense is better than past perfect. Ex: “Finland supports the UN’s efforts to ____” NOT “Finland has supported the UN ____” (the exception is when you are actually referring to specific events in the past. “Finland has supported historical peacekeeping efforts by contributing over 2,000 troops throughout the Cold War”).

  • Avoid too much use of first person pronouns (I, We). Refer to your position by country name. “Germany believes...”, “Germany supports...”

  • Avoid superlatives: greatest, best, most, very, extremely. These tend to sound like exaggerations.

  • Frequently used terms: international community, global community, member states, mechanisms, guidelines, implementation, conventions, treaties, resolutions, conferences, multilateral, bilateral, national.

  • Some commonly used verbs: affirms, endeavors, recognizes, allocates, acknowledges, encourages, believes, hopes, recommends, urges, considers, addresses, emphasizes, advocates

SAMPLE:

Country: France

France believes the work of the Plenary Committee is [adjective] for addressing [issue(s)].

I. Topic I

This is a serious problem that affects the world [how specifically?].

France has supported the work that has been done in the past through [ ____ agencies, organizations, international conferences (dates) ]. France has ratified the _____ [treaty, convention]. France has taken steps domestically to address this issue by [ passing specific domestic legislation].

France recommends that the following steps be taken to resolve/address this problem: First ____. Second, ____. Finally, ____. [three proposals for action are plenty].


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