MUN Position papers
Position Papers are important to any MUN experience and as a delegate, you’ll eventually need to write one. But making your Position Paper isn’t just about the writing, before you start, you should understand some of the basics of your topic and have a plan in mind. This means that you have some preliminary solutions and an understanding of what your objectives for the committee will be. In the long run, this will make the Position Paper process easier and will help you to create a better product. Today, we’re going to show you exactly what you need to start off your next Position Paper.
This article will go over the essentials of Position Paper writing, starting with what they are and how they work. After, we’ll walk you through some basics of research and teach you how to get GROOVY with your solution forming process.
Note: If you’ve already read your background guide and have some solutions in mind, feel free to skip to our writing guide here.
What is a Position Paper?
In any MUN committee, there’s a problem that you’re meant to solve – a Position Paper is an essay that presents your delegation’s assessment of the situation and how to fix it.
A Position Paper is meant to accomplish two key goals:
- Summarize the relevant aspects of your topic
- Introduce your solutions
Your paper should highlight how the topic is relevant to your delegation, your proposed solutions and why they’re best.
Doing this properly requires that you go through a process of research and problem-solving. These steps help you to find key information that helps to create something more substantive.
Crisis Committee Position Papers –
Position Paper requirements may also apply to delegates in Crisis committees. However, in these situations, the process can be a bit different. Since delegates aren’t normally representing a country, the background research can be less intensive. Rather, the Position Paper will be more action-based and may include a discussion of Crisis arc plans.
For Ad-hoc committees, Position Papers aren’t required since delegates don’t yet know the committee topic or their character.
Why does a Position Paper matter?
Along with Resolutions, the Position Paper is going to be one of the most important documents for your conference. The research process gives you a chance to learn about your topic and to start building up plans. The general paper requirements help to provide a skeleton to structure your ideas in a meaningful way. This can also help you to see how your delegation is related to the topic. The Problem-solving phase helps you to consider solutions before your conference. In some cases, there are awards for the best-written Position Papers. At times, a Position Paper can act as a tiebreaker with awards between two evenly matched delegates.
For the chair, reading Position Papers can help them to see how Delegates want to approach the committee topic. This can help them to do a better job at moderating the flow of debate over the course of the conference – they can suggest topics for debate and keep the discussion moving. A Position Paper can also prove which Delegate came up with a certain idea. This helps people get the credit they deserve.
Example Position Paper
Before we get into the specifics, here’s what your Position Paper might end up looking like:
Position Paper requirements
Before you even start writing, it’s important to verify your conference requirements. Position Papers can vary significantly between conferences and you want to make sure that you’re adhering to the appropriate specifications. Sometimes, a conference will have very specific instructions for what to include. In other cases, the provisions might be more general. At times, you’ll have to write a very comprehensive essay and other conferences may only need a short Position Paper.
The Position Paper process
Next, we want to show you what the entire Position Paper-making process can look like.
It’s always best to start working on your Position Paper a few weeks before your conference. This can give you the time to find the right angle for your solutions and consider your end result. On top of this, in many cases you may be learning about an unfamiliar topic and adjusting can take time.
If you’re a more experienced delegate, you might be able to streamline this process. Despite this, it’s always better to get started a bit early.
1 – Reading the Background Guide
Working with the Background guide should always be the first step of any conference prep process. It’s basically a handbook written by your dais to help you understand what to expect in your committee. The Chair will always include the pertinent information for your conference and will give valuable starting points for your research. A Dais will always appreciate a delegate that goes through their guide and takes advantage of the guidance that it provides.
A Background guide can be structured in many different ways, but it will always include vital information. This might include a section that highlights questions to consider, describes notable past actions, or provides background information on relevant actors. These sections can help you understand what your priorities should be. It’s important to look at these details from the perspective of the state that you’re representing. Take note of anything that might be useful, and figure out the key areas for further research.
2 – Research
While the Background guide provides information on the committee topic. It’s important to figure out how these details apply to your country. The research stage requires that you build a general picture of your country in the context of the topic you’re dealing with.
What to Research
|Economics||What is the GDP of your state? what are your most important industries? Understanding basic financial statistics can help you understand your state’s priorities.|
|Blocs||What other countries are next to you and what is your relationship with them? What blocs has your state historically been a part of? This can help you find other states to work with on resolutions.|
|Strengths||What helps the reputation of your state and creates a positive first impression?|
|Weaknesses||What doesn’t help the reputation of your state and creates a negative first impression?|
|Geography||It’s always good to have an understanding of the basic geography of your state – where your largest cities are, where most of your citizens live and what the general landscape of your state looks like.|
|History||Some basic history can help provide more perspective on current issues. It’s not necessary to be an expert but some knowledge can provide helpful context.|
|Other||Look up any other important concepts that were brought up in the background guide and other information that you think might be useful.|
As you can see, the research phase is all about building up a general picture of the place you’re representing. You want to be able to quickly answer basic questions and have a broad picture of the way your state functions. Spending more time on the research phase can help you come up with better solutions.
Here are a few resources that you can use to start your next Position Paper Coming Soon!
Bringing your research together – figuring out what matters
By now, you’re up to speed with your committee topic and have a good idea of how your state functions. Now that you’re here, you need to figure out what information is going to be the most important. But how do you know what you’re going to use? There are two things that you can do. First, you need to keep any information that helps to back up your position. But you shouldn’t really start getting rid of any information until you’ve started thinking about solutions. So the next thing to do is start problem-solving. After, you can go back to your research notes and make sure that you’ve kept all of the relevant statistics and facts.
3 – Problem-Solving
Next, you need to think about how you will solve your committee topic – What are your core ideas going to be? and how will you get states to agree with your proposals?
First, make sure that your solutions align with your internal policy, a Chair will always appreciate a delegate who understands their state policy and works to carry that out.
From your research, you may already have a basic idea of the types of solutions that your state wants to advocate. But no matter what your plan is – always make sure that you stay GROOVY.
|Grounded||Don’t go overboard with your solutions, make sure they are realistic and make sense considering your committee topic.|
|Researched||Make sure you can provide statistics and facts that help to back up your ideas.|
|Original||Try something different, don’t just copy all of the same ideas that have already been used.|
|Open||You want to be able to coordinate with other delegates in your committee, think about how other delegates would be able to integrate with your plans.|
|Varied||Have a few plans as a backup, you never know what might happen in your committee.|
|Yourself||Always prioritize your delegation and its policies. Make sure that your solutions are something that your state would support.|
Any solution that follows these 6 objectives will be something that will not only get the attention of the dais and of other delegates in your committee. But it should be difficult for anybody to try and tear it down. But how do you get to this point with your solutions?
Worked Example – Iceland and Ocean Conservation
Here’s an example of what your problem-solving path might look like, from finding the most important parts of your background guide to conducting your own research.
A Quick Exercise
Think about the solutions that were proposed by the Delegates from Iceland. Are they realistic enough and do they make sense considering the research provided? How would you improve them to make them even better?
4 – Writing
Now, you’re finally ready to put your Position Paper together! After taking care to assemble your research and solutions, it’s best to keep the structure of your Position Paper as simple as possible. Your goal is to help the Chair to get a basic idea of where you stand on the topic as quickly as possible.
In general, you want to split up your paper between CONTEXT and SOLUTIONS, the context helps to explain why your solutions are needed, why they’ll be effective and how you believe they’ll influence the situation. Solutions can also include basic ideas that can also be introduced in an opening speech.
The Key Sections
State Position – Help the reader understand your opinion on your committee topic as efficiently as possible. You should bring your reader up to speed on why they should care about the matter at hand and why your position is the most rational. You can do this through a general discussion of your state’s opinions on the topic at hand. It can include an overview of why this subject is significant backed up with vital pieces of information and key statistics.
State Role – How is your state related to the committee topic? Have they made any attempts at solving the problem? If so, how successful have you been?
Note: If your state has no relation to the topic, you can use this section to talk about what you think your state would do or just skip straight to a discussion on Past-actions.
Past Actions – Here, you can start discussing any significant past attempts at solving your committee topic (If there have been any). This might include any UN operations or declarations, it could also include actions by other states to solve the problem. Sometimes, you can comment on how effective you think these approaches were and if they still serve as a useful guide to help solve the problem. Some Position Papers may rely more significantly on discussions of past actions than others.
Solutions – Considering all of this information, how do you believe the committee should move forward? Give a basic outline of some of your plans and explain why they’re the best next steps to take. If you’d like, you can also explain how you see your delegation working with other delegates and why it might also be of benefit to them.
Sources – Give links to the sources you used to write your article. Each conference will have different sourcing requirements so make sure you follow their guides appropriately!
What makes a great Position Paper?
Every committee, state, and conference that you go to is going to be very different and there’s a number of different requirements to be aware of. You can’t really have an established ‘recipe’ for how to structure any Position Paper. But any great Position Paper will have a few things in common:
- Show an Understanding of the matter at hand
- Are carefully Researched
- Have the GROOVY-est solutions
- Concisely deal with the problem at hand without too many unnecessary digressions.
Some things to avoid
No clear position – Your Position Paper should help your reader to understand… your position. So for this reason you shouldn’t hold back too much on your delegation’s opinion about the topic. Your goal is to make sure the person reading your paper knows where you stand. Clarity is your friend. If your state has no real opinion on the topic, you can make some of your own decisions on how you’d like to act, as long as you can still back it up.
Not enough facts – The Position Paper is your chance to show off a little bit. Demonstrate how much you know and that you’re invested in finding a solution to the committee topic.
Unnecessary language – It’s easy to go overboard with the official language. Unfortunately, it’s something that just doesn’t help and can make your opinion more difficult to understand.
Fake facts – Unless you’re dealing with a topic that doesn’t have any statistics or research, you want to make sure that you’re not just making something up to back up your claims.
A quick recap – some things to remember
A Position Paper is an essay that presents your delegation’s assessment of a situation and how to fix it.
Your paper is meant to Summarize relevant aspects of your topic and Introduce your Solutions.
A Position Paper can help you to structure your thoughts about the committee topic in a meaningful way. For example, you can learn key facts about your topic and start figuring out solutions before your conference starts.
There might also be awards for high-quality Position Papers.
To write the best Position Paper possible, make sure you go through the following steps:
Your Position Paper should include each of the following sections –
1 – State Position – Quickly explain your overall position to the reader.
2 – State Role – Explain if/how your delegation is involved with the topic.
3 – Past Actions – Highlight any significant actions and where you stand on their efficacy.
4 – Solutions – Outline your plans and explain why they’re the best steps to take.
The Best Position Papers:
1 – Show an Understanding of the matter at hand
2 – Are Carefully Researched
3 – Have the GROOVY-est solutions
4 – Concisely deal with the problem at hand.
Some important things to make sure you avoid in your next Position Paper are:
1 – Having no clear position
2 – Not backing your ideas up with research
3 – Using unnecessarily official language
4 – Make up facts
For best results, you should start working on your Position Paper at least a month before your conference starts.
Hopefully, you now understand some of the essentials of Position Paper writing and are ready to take on your next conference!
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to let us know and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible!
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