Writing a Position Paper

The Position Paper is the climax of the preparation process for any Model United Nations conference, representing the summarized, researched and representative view of your state on the particular issues your council is addressing. Remember, the guidelines for position papers may differ depending on the council you are in: check your background guide and email your chair in order to confirm the specific parameters of your position paper. Position Papers are due before the first committee session on Thursday. Any delegate without a Position Paper will be ineligible for awards, so remember to bring a hard copy to the first session on Thursday.

The Basic Structure

  • One page, front and back, with one topic more or less filling up each side
  • A header with the DELEGATE NAME(S), NATION, COUNCIL, AND SCHOOL
  • Optional idea: Try sprucing up your header with appropriate color, national flags and/or seals, watermarks, or other official looking edits – it shows your chair you worked hard and makes your position paper stand out.
  • The topic name clearly stated
  • Three paragraphs per topic:
  • The first paragraph should be an introduction to the topic from the perspective of your nation. What is the history of the issue according to your nation? Why is this issue important? This is the shortest and least important section of the position paper.
  • The second paragraph should be an analysis of the topic from your country’s perspective. What does your nation generally think about the issue? What are things that have worked in the past? What are things that have not worked? This is most likely the longest part of the position paper, extremely important, and the place where you will utilize most of your research.
  • The third paragraph should be a discussion of solutions your nation is proposing to solve the problem. What are these solutions? Why and how would they work? How will you solve any problems that might arise in implementing these solutions? This is where you can let your creativity and research combine, and begin formulating the kinds of proposals that will later come to fruition in your resolutions.
  • Remember to cite any opinions that are not your own or facts that are not common knowledge. If you have any references to cite, they should be entered as footnotes at the bottom of the page and in a bibliography at the end of the paper.

Helpful Hints

  • Remember to not use first person pronouns (I think, we feel) – instead, use the state name (the United States thinks; the People’s Republic of China)
  • Use the active, not the passive, voice
  • Avoid flowery language
  • Remember that your position paper is the first impression your chair will have of you, making it a great way to help summarize your thoughts on the topics to be discussed. Therefore, go beyond your research when you are writing it.

Sample Position Paper

The following is a resolution that was written by Michael Lopesciolo, Co-Chair of the Weimar National Assembly, as the Russian Federation in the UNEP (the header is not shown). Notice the three-paragraph structure, the clear language, and the reasonable yet creative solutions put forth. Used with permission.

Topic 1: Overuse and Exhaustion of Fossil Fuels

The problems of instability in fossil fuel markets and exhaustion of fossil fuel resources are apparent to nearly any global citizen. As inexpensive, accessible energy is the lifeblood of any modern economy, the United Nations has turned its attention to this issue on many occasions, through countless agencies and policy goals, ranging from the famous Kyoto Protocol to heavy emphasis placed on development of sustainable infrastructure whenever applicable.

Internationally, Russia contains the largest supply of natural gas, second largest supply of coal, and eighth largest supply of oil, making this issue of central importance to all facets of Russian society.1 Still, Russia’s Duma plans to invest in a variety of alternative energy programs on the regional level, and the opening of Monowei Energy, dedicated to taking advantage of Russia’s large wind energy potential, marks the beginning of an era in terms of energy resources in Russia.2 Additionally, Russian scientists recently confirmed that fossil fuels can be synthesized relatively quickly, countering common knowledge that fossil fuels are strictly finite and opening up vast new technological potential.3

With this in mind, Russia approaches this UNEP meeting with caution, fearing that Western powers looking to diminish Russian influence will frame hydrocarbons as rapidly vanishing, forcing the entire focus onto certain alternative sources. While countries that have suitable resources for these sources may logically seek funding, attempting to shove these ideas down the collective throats of the international community will not be tolerated. Especially in these economic times, premature efforts to minimize hydrocarbon usage are financially impractical and potentially extremely harmful. While some research and funding should obviously be placed towards these sources, the reality of the matter is that existing energy resources are plentiful, and focusing on improving the technology in use will be vastly more practical for years to come.

1 United States of America. Department of Energy. Energy Information Administration. Web. 22 Jan. 2010. .

2 Kireeva, Anna. “Regional Governments and Private Businesses in Russia are Aiming For Wind Energy.” Bellona. 14 Sept. 2009. Web. 22 Jan. 2010. .

3 Kolesniko, Anton, Vladimir Kutcherov, and Alexander Goncharov. “Methane-Derived Hydrocarbons Produced Under Upper-Crust Mantle Conditions.” Nature Geoscience 2 (2009): 566-70. 26 July 2009. Web. 22 Jan. 2010.

Topic 2: Effects of Climate Change on the Water Crisis

In recent years, freshwater scarcity has risen from a niche environmental problem to a pressing global issue. No longer a concern solely for countries that lack proper piping, droughts in the American South and Australia and ongoing crises in the cities of Eastern Russia have brought this problem to the first world. This problem, which already faces upwards pressure from naturally rising population, will only be augmented by global warming, making it urgent for UNEP to discuss.

Water is of central importance to Russia’s economy, as Russia contains the world’s second largest freshwater deposits, after Brazil.4 Still, despite Russia’s natural advantages, overall water quality and shortages have been problematic, with deteriorating infrastructure and severe shortages in Vladivostok earlier in the decade.5 Recognizing these distribution problems, Russia has recently allotted an additional US$20 billion to maintaining and improving Russian water infrastructure in both the hydroelectric and plumbing sectors, the first step in a large-scale overhaul.6 Regionally, Russia has invested in a massive canal that will help divert Siberian river water to parched Central Asian nations, reducing transport costs and helping these countries solve their water problems.7

Moving globally, Russia views several actions as central to this predicament. Water is a resource, the same way that oil is, and needs to be treated as such if the global water industry is to improve. The lack of a water market has hindered innovation and expansion, leading to unnecessary costs and inefficient distribution. Moreover, the privatization of water services – backed by government assistance – within individual countries would help solve these problems as well. Further Russian policies can be applied internationally as well. Lastly, while Russia acknowledges climate change’s role in this process, this meeting must not devolve into another Copenhagen, but instead be focused on water itself, if these problems are to be solved.

4 Putin, Vladimir. “Excerpts from a Speech at a Meeting of the State Council Presidium on Water Resources and the Development of Water Management in Russia.” Russia. 3 Sept. 2003. Speech.

5 “Water crisis in Russian Far East.” BBC News. 3 Sept. 2003. Web. 23 Jan. 2010. .

6 Ivanova, Nadya. “Russia Plans Water Infrastructure Overhaul.” Circle of Blue. WaterNews, 21 Aug. 2009. Web. 23 Jan. 2010. .

7 Blagov, Sergei. “Russian Water on Troubled Soils.” Global Policy Forum. 18 Dec. 2002. Web. 23 Jan. 2010.