Position Papers

Part IIIc. Position Papers

A position paper is a document outlining a country's policy on a topic or set of topics; this document is prepared by the delegate for each committee on that committee's topic(s) prior to the conference. It is generally between one and two pages in length (single-spaced) and is submitted by delegates to the conference by the conference's deadline (usually 2-4 weeks prior to the conference).

A sample position paper is in the box below for a committee with three topics (just cut the heading and text for topics 2 and/or 3 if you have less). You'll need to fill in the brackets with the listed items - more information on each of that is below the box. A position paper looks something like this:

Position Paper Format

Delegation From                                                           Represented By
[Your Country Name]                            [Your University Name]

Position Paper for [Full Committee Name]

[Introductory Paragraph]

I. [Topic 1 Title ]

[Topic 1 Text]

II. [Topic 2 Title]

[Topic 2 Text]

III. [Topic 3 Title]

[Topic 3 Text]

Your Country Name: Pretty-self explanatory - but use the full name. (Use "United States of America" instead of "United States," "The People's Republic of China" instead of "China," "Democratic People's Republic of Korea" instead of "North Korea," etc.)

Your University Name: Whatever the official name of your University is as related to the name of your MUN organization. "University of Washington," "Harvard University," "Lewis and Clark College," "Western Washington University," etc.

Full Committee Name: Again, use the full committee name. It's also good to parenthetically note the acronym, if any, for the committee. For example, "the General Assembly Plenary (GA)", or "the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)".

Introductory Paragraph: This is a paragraph that introduces the paper, stating that your country is happy/excited/pleased to be at the meeting of the committee, and listing the topics. (See samples for how to do this professionally.) Other things that can be noted here relate to your country's place in the organization (if the meetings of this committee take place in your country, you can say "welcomes the delegates of the ___"), and related organizations your country is a member of. This paragraph should be short, has very little overall meaning, and serves primarily to introduce and contextualize content in the later paragraphs.

Topic 1/2/3 Title: Use the full title from the conference website/background guide. So "The Situation in Afghanistan" or "Illicit Narcotic Trafficking," not just "Afghanistan" or "Drug Trafficking".

Topic 1/2/3 Text: (See "Position Paper Handout" for more details.)
The bulk of your content will go in the text under the header for each topic; here, you will outline your country's position on the topic as specifically and as positively (in terms of how your country looks) as possible. One easy way to organize the content is to put it into three paragraphs (per topic). The first paragraph usually outlines the problem as your country sees it. (This would include identifying causes, and the perspective is important.) The second paragraph can be used for a lot of things, but should include some previous actions that your country liked or didn't like, such as a regional solution that your country wants to scale upward and use worldwide or a failed proposal that should be brought back up. The third paragraph is the most important, because it should talk about what you want done. Take this from your research - what does your country want this committee to do on this topic today?

Remember that your paper should make your country look good, and never confess to a problem that your country's leadership hasn't confessed to. Also, be as specific as possible - when these papers are evaluated by conference staff, specificity is a universal positive in the eyes of the evaluators. Finally, cite documents and previous actions. It's one thing to talk about how the UN has "acted on proliferation of weapons of mass destruction", but when you write that "on April 28, 2004, the United Nations adopted S/Res/1540, which ..." it makes your paper that much better.

For an example of a position paper, please click the link below: