Position Papers

  • Many conferences require that each delegation submit a position paper—an essay detailing your country’s policies on the topics being discussed in your committee. Writing a position paper will help you organize your ideas so that you can share your country’s position with the rest of the committee. If you conduct extensive research, a position paper should be easy to write.

     

    Most conferences that require position papers ask for them about one month before the conference so that staff members can read them and get a feel for the direction debate will take. If the conference you are attending does not require a position paper, you should still consider writing one to help you organize your research and prepare your speeches. Many delegates use their position papers as their opening remarks.

     

    How to Write a Position Paper

    Writing a position paper might appear to be a daunting task, especially for new delegates. But with enough research, you will find that writing a position paper will be easy and useful.

    Many conferences will ask for specific details in a position paper, so be sure to include all the required information. Most conferences will provide delegates a background guide to the issue. Usually, the background guide will contain questions to consider. Make sure that your position paper answers these questions.   


      

    Position papers are usually one page in length. Your position paper should include a brief introduction followed by a comprehensive breakdown of your country's position on the topics that are being discussed by the committee. A good position paper will not only provide facts but also make proposals for resolutions.

    A good position paper will include:

    §         Paragraph 1:

    o       Citation from major documents such as the UN Charter and other treaties. (legal basis for the issue) If your committee is a non-UN committee then cite your country’s constitution or relevant legal document that relates specifically to the committee itself.

    o       Why this issue is important to this committee particularly and to the global community – this can include some examples or statistics if appropriate

    §         Paragraph 2

    o       How the issue affects your country;

    o       Your country’s policies with respect to the issue and your country’s justification for these policies;

    o       Quotes from your country’s leaders about the issue;   

    o       Statistics to back up your country’s position on the issue;

    o       Actions taken by your government with regard to the issue;

    o       Conventions and resolutions that your country has signed or ratified;

    o       UN actions that your country supported or opposed;

    §         Paragraph 3

    o       What your country believes should be done to address the issue (what actions would your country like the global community to take to address this issue);

    o       What your country would like to accomplish in the committee

    See the sample position paper on the following page to get an idea of the paragraph by paragraph break down of what you are suppose to write.

    Sample Position Paper:

    Sample Position Paper:

     

    Committee: United Nations General Assembly

    Topic: Millennium Development Goal

    Country: Mexico

    Delegate: Diane Li

               

                When the United Nations Development Programme was created, its main goals were to “partner with people at all levels of society” in order to “improve the quality of life for everyone”. The UNDP eventually introduced the Millennium Development in 2000, during the Millennium Summit. Collectively, 189 nations gathered together to “free people from extreme poverty and multiple deprivations” and this was known as the Millennium Declaration.[1] From this declaration, developed eight different goals that countries will collectively try to achieve by the year 2015. The MDGs promote global cooperation, where all nations are expected to report their country’s progress on each of the goals. With this information, a MDG report is released every single year in order to mark the progress of the global community as the 2015 deadline approaches. Mexico strongly supports the idea of MDGs for international progress.

    [The first paragraph of the position paper is the “legal basis” for the topic. It is suggested that you begin the position paper by citing the United Nations Charter or other important documents. This sets the legal tone for the rest of the paper. It is also important to mention certain facts/statistics that depict the importance of the issue. ]

                Although Mexico has the highest per capita income in Latin America, there are still numerous problems that plague the nation. There are still large gaps between the rich and poor, and the urban and rural areas. Further, there still needs to be continual progress on infrastructure in order to further advance the nation. When the MDGs were introduced in 2000, the new government in Mexico responded well to the demands of the United Nations. The government then created a national plan that would be effective from the years 2001-2006 and would assimilate the MDGs into the plan.[2] This plan was consolidated into four different pillars. These pillars of development were Inclusion, Sustainability, Compatibility and Regional Development. With these pillars, it has kept Mexico on track with the ideals of the MDGs. Even though there is a strategy to tackle the MDGs in Mexico, not all the MDGs goals are completed. Mexico has currently met the goals for providing universal primary education and reducing child mortality. Mexico on track to eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, promoting gender equality, combating HIV/AIDs and ensuring environmental suitability. In contrast, however, Mexico is falling behind on improving maternal health and developing a global partnership for development.

    [This paragraph is used to showcase your countries current achievements in addressing the topic. In order to properly do this you should know some basic background information about your countries policies. In order to find information about your countries current efforts visit your countries “Mission Website”. This can be done by going to www.un.org à Click Welcome à Click Member States à On the left side Click Homepages under New York à Find your country on the list!”]

                One of the flaws of the MDG goals is concentrating too largely on one goal. A large percentage of the funds for the MDGs is going towards eradicating poverty and providing for education. However, an important goal that is falling behind globally is improving maternal health. This is even projected in Mexico, because this is one of the only two goals that Mexico is falling behind on. Maternal health is important because a mother’s health affects the health and success of her child. It is important that if a mother chooses to have a child, that she can have one knowing that she can guarantee her own safety and that she will be alive to rear the child. Without improving the conditions during the pre-natal phase, pregnancy and post-partum, women will continue to die in order to have a child. In 2010, around 287,000 maternal deaths occurred worldwide. This number may be large, but not impossible to reduce. Mexico therefore requests that the MDG Achievement Fund concentrate on maternal health. Currently, the MDG Achievement Fund fails to even create a “programme area” for maternal health. Therefore, Mexico formally requests a “programme area” for maternal health and  separate funding for this. In addition, Mexico will begin to improve on conditions of hospitals to ensure that women have access to the facilities, by updating on equipment and providing more space for the maternal department.

     [This last paragraph is the most important. This paragraph states what your country wants to do to address the issue, it is your countries plan for the international community. If researched well the ideas presented in this paragraph will be the basis for a resolution. In this paragraph it is important  to think of creative and innovative solutions to complicated problems.]



    [1] “Millennium Development Goals.” UNDP. 20 February 2013. Web. 20 February 2013. < http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/mdgoverview.html>.

    [2]Millennium Development Goals.” Pan American Health Organization. 20 February 2013. 20 February 2013 < http://www.paho.org/english/mdg/cpo_mexico.asp>.



    Steps to write a Position Paper


    Position Paper Process

    1.      Start with the background guide (before you Google)

    a.       Make sure you fully understand the topic – what is the problem?

                                                                   i.      Details will help

    b.      What has been done so far?

                                                                   i.      Record specific actions – by countries, the UN, and NGOs)

    c.       What are suggested approaches? Bloc positions?

    2.      Start with paragraph 2: What is your country currently doing?

    a.       How are the involved internationally? Domestically? Specific programs?

    (+ the global community, i.e. the UN-specific resolutions)

    3.      Then paragraph 3: What do you want to have the global community do? And how will you pay for it?

    4.      Finally write paragraph 1: Legally justify the power your committee has to discuss this issue: i.e. quote a treaty document (i.e. the charter, UDHR etc) and explain how it links to the topic + why it is vital

    5.      Make sure that every suggestion in Paragraph 3 relates to something in Paragraph 1 and 2

    Remember your audience is the people in the committee so make yourself look good.