Position Paper Outline
Researching and writing a position paper go hand-in-hand. While researching will give you an extensive amount of information, it is through the position paper that you will clearly communicate your country’s policy and your ideas for solution-building. The goal of your position paper should be to condense all the information you have gathered through research into a succinct and informative form.
To assist you further, here are explanations of the sections of a position paper that will give you an idea of what makes for good substantive content. These guidelines are meant to guide your research so it can be structured in a clear manner that builds upon each previous section to further inform your country’s policy. Your committee’s topic synopsis is a great place to begin understanding your topic, but do not cite the topic synopsis for information; your research should extend far beyond the synopsis.
Past & Current International Action
Briefly cover any international efforts to confront the issue in question, both past and present. It helps to focus more on solutions that remain relevant and continue to affect the issue, rather than explaining outdated solutions that have since become irrelevant.
Though some of these solutions are typically covered in the general topic synopsis provided by the chairs, we encourage delegates to delve into proposed solutions in greater depth as well as look at solutions beyond those in the topic synopsis. This not only guides your research, but will also help you to see how your own nation-state’s policies correlate with the efforts of its allies and the committee at large. Feel free to explore solutions outside of the jurisdiction of the United Nations or your committee, as long as they remain within the broader scope of international or multilateral action (i.e. between multiple actors).
Quotes and references look great, however, be sure to add the analysis of them as well. Simply dropping quotes or resolutions into your paper will not be as helpful as if you analyze what is being proposed and extracting the policies or ideas you think are important for considering. If your nation-state has not played a role in addressing the issue, try to explain why, understanding the underlying rationale for their inaction will help guide future policy within your committees.
After looking at the international community’s general stance and position towards the topic, this section should focus specifically on your country and their experience with the issue. You should explain your country’s general attitudes towards the topic and what actions they have taken concerning the topic, both domestically and externally.
This may include positive behavior such as ratifying treaties, enacting policies, or making statements of support. You may also choose to examine negative forms of behavior such as ignoring international scrutiny over controversial policies, or prioritizing economic development over ethical issues. You can also look up your country’s past voting records on various UN resolutions, and through their past actions you will be able to get an idea of how your country feels on certain issues.
Clearly every country has a different course of action, and what matters is not the multitude of actions your country has undertaken concerning the topic but critically analyzing your country’s policy towards the issue and understanding motivations behind it.
This section may seem the most difficult part of the position paper, but it helps to consider the different solutions you have available before coming to conference so you are prepared for debate. Your goal in this section is to propose a course of action that your country wishes the UN or your committee and other international actors to initiate to resolve or alleviate the problem. While you may have many great ideas for how to resolve the issues, remember to always stay in policy; make sure that any ideas you include correlate with your country’s perspectives and values.
Questions to Consider
For the last section, your chairs have provided you with several key questions to focus on at the end of the topic synopsis. You are expected to pick TWO of the questions to answer, be sure to clearly identify which question you are answering and answer no more than TWO.
These questions are intended to inspire further research and thinking on the topic, mirroring practical and ethical dilemmas that plague decision making on an international level. Your goal is to answer your question of choice analytically, taking into account the varied arguments and perspectives that define the issue at hand. It helps to look at both sides of one issue and address the counter arguments, even if you don’t agree with it. Please refrain from simply restating information from previous sections, or giving pure opinion. As stated above, your responses should reflect additional research on your country’s perspective.