Part of the responsibility of MUN delegates is to produce position papers on specific issues. This wiki article is a guide to how to go about producing one of the position papers.
What are position papers?
A position paper presents an arguable opinion about an issue. The goal of a position paper is to convince the audience that your opinion is valid and worth listening to. Ideas that you are considering need to be carefully examined in choosing a topic, developing your argument, and organizing your paper. It is very important to ensure that you are addressing all sides of the issue and presenting it in a manner that is easy for your audience to understand. Your job is to take one side of the argument and persuade your audience that you have well-founded knowledge of the topic being presented. It is important to support your argument with evidence to ensure the validity of your claims, as well as to address the counterclaims to show that you are well informed about both sides.
How do I write one?
To take a side on a subject, you should first establish the arguability of a topic that interests you. Ask yourself the following questions to ensure that you will be able to present a strong argument:
- Is it a real issue, with genuine controversy and uncertainty?
- Can you distinctly identify two positions?
- Are you personally interested in advocating one of these positions?
- Is the issue narrow enough to be manageable?
- Analyzing an Issue and Developing an Argument
Once your topic is selected, you should do some research on the subject matter. While you may already have an opinion on your topic and an idea about which side of the argument you want to take, you need to ensure that your position is well supported. Listing out the pro and con sides of the topic will help you examine your ability to support your counterclaims, along with a list of supporting evidence for both sides. Supporting evidence includes the following:
Factual Knowledge - Information that is verifiable and agreed upon by almost everyone.
Statistical Inferences - Interpretation and examples of an accumulation of facts.
Informed Opinion - Opinion developed through research and/or expertise of the claim.
Personal Testimony - Personal experience related by a knowledgeable party.
Once you have made your pro and con lists, compare the information side by side. Considering your audience, as well as your own viewpoint, choose the position you will take.
In considering the audience, ask yourself the following questions:
- Who is your audience?
- What do they believe?
- Where do they stand on the issue?
- How are their interests involved?
- What evidence is likely to be effective with them?
- In determining your viewpoint, ask yourself the following:
- Is your topic interesting?
- Can you manage the material within the specifications set by the instructor?
- Does your topic assert something specific and propose a plan of action?
- Do you have enough material to support your opinion?
Your introduction should lead up to a thesis that organizes the rest of your paper. There are three advantages to leading with the thesis:
- The audience knows where you stand.
- The thesis is located in the two strongest places, first and last.
- It is the most common form of academic argument used.
DIRECTIONS FOR BIG 5 NATIONS AND GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Directions: Each representative is required to pick two separate topics and write a position paper for each topic (2 papers total). Each position paper must respond to the following questions:
- What are current problems related to this topic in the world? Please identify at least two.
- What has caused these problems to exist in the world? Please identify at least two causes for each problem.
- What has the United Nations done in attempting to resolve those problems?
- What is the position of your country on those problems?
- What is the possible position of other countries in your committee on those problems? Consider at least two other countries.
- How should the United Nations resolve those problems? Make sure that your solution(s) is/are consistent with your country’s position.
As a member of a Big 5 nation, you are required to submit a resolution at credentialing in addition to the 2 position papers.
As a member of the General Assembly, you are required to write a position paper on your General Assembly topic listed below, as well as a topic of your choice.
If you are an Ambassador in the General Assembly from a Big 5 Nation, you are required to write a position paper on your General Assembly topic listed below, as well as another position paper on a topic of your choice, and a resolution.
What should I write one on?
Security Council Topics
- Creation of Rapid Deployment Forces
- Expansion of the Security Council
- Democratic Republic of Congo
Global Security Topics
- Weapons of Mass Destruction (including chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons)
- Ethnic and Religious Conflicts
Global Economics Topics
- Free Trade
- Multinational Corporations
Human Rights Topics
- Rights of Refugees
- Rights of Women
- Rights of Children
Enviromental Issues Topics
- Climate Change
- Air Pollution
Health and Human Services Topics
- World Hunger
- Diseases of Poverty
Why should I do this?
Well, first of all, writing a position paper requires lots of research (relax, not that much); this will help a representative better understand their country's position. And, we'll be injecting some life into the MUN
Sample Position Paper
Topic: Violence against Women Country: The Kingdom of Denmark Delegate: Spider-man
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” Although this doctrine was adopted in 1948, the world has fallen quite short of this goal. Violence against women pervades all states and it is the duty of the international community to ensure that all persons are afforded equality and respect. Despite cooperative efforts at combating gross human rights abuses, such as the adoption of the Declarationon the Elimination of Violence against Women, the United Nations has not been able to alleviate the injustice women worldwide experience daily. The Kingdom of Denmark believes that in order to end violence against women, nations must look to empower women in all aspects of society. This includes promoting equal gender roles in government, civil society, education and business. However, Denmark also recognizes the need to combat human rights abuses against women as they occur, and no nation is immune to gender violence.
In 2002, the Danish Government launched an extensive action plan to combat domestic violence against women. The plan includes measures to help treat abused women, identify and prosecute the perpetrators, and incorporate professional medical and psychological staff into the rehabilitation process. The action plan currently reaches out to both governmental and nongovernmental groups on the local level throughout the nation.
The Danish Centre for Human Rights in Copenhagen, Denmark’s foremost national human rights institution, also promotes and protects human rights. Based on the Centre’s research, Denmark’s parliament can promote human rights-based legislation and education/awareness programs throughout the nation. The Centre also addresses the UN Commission on Human Rights annually regarding human rights developments in Denmark and internationally. Denmark has no record of committing major human rights violations, most importantly any targeted at women. In its 2003 Annual Report, Amnesty International also found no human rights violations against Danish women.
Women are invaluable to Denmark’s society and have achieved significant economic and social gains in the 20th century. Currently, 75 percent of medical students in Denmark are women.
Denmark is confident that this Commission can bring about an end to violence against women without compromising the sovereignty of member states. Education remains perhaps the most useful tool in protecting victims of gender-based violence. Governments, UN agencies, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) can plan a coordinated campaign that educates national populations on the various ways women are violently targeted. Similarly, harmful traditions, such as honor killings and female genital mutilation, must be stopped by reforming traditional views of women in society. Children of both sexes need to be taught at an early age to value the rights of women in order to prevent such violence in their generation.
Another way to stop gender violence would be to reproach member states that consistently violate treaties such as the Convention on Political Rights of Women (1952), the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979), and the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women (1993). Although this Committee cannot impose sanctions, it can pass resolutions verbally condemning states that commit human rights violations. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights can also meet with representatives of governments that violate the above treaties to discuss possible solutions.
In order to prevent gender violence, nations must work together to build a culture of support, equality and community. As such, the Kingdom of Denmark looks forward to offering its support, in whatever form possible, to nations firmly committed to ending violence against women in all its forms.
Previously Submitted Papers
- Position Paper - Nuclear Proliferation
- A position paper on Capital Punishment
- Position Paper on Natural Disasters and Their Effects
- Position Paper: Development in Afghanistan
- Security Council expansion Position Paper
- Position papers discussion
- Position Paper - On the Representation of the Commonwealth within the MUN