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Model Un Position Paper

Pitfalls to Avoid

Potential issues you may run into:

Conflicting information

  • You may run into a situation where your country does not have a clear policy towards a topic, or they have recently changed policy. For example, with the election in the US and the change from one ideology to another, their rhetoric towards the Iran Nuclear issue changed almost overnight. It would be tempting to follow the words of the leaders in a case like this, but pay attention to actual actions. Nothing has changed.
  • When faced with conflicting positions from your country, choose one and stick with it. Use the position that you can find the most research on.

Lack of information

  • Sometimes you will be stuck with a topic or committee that your country has little to no interest in. This will cause a lack of information to work with. For example, if you are in UNESCO and the topic is oil drilling in Ecuador’s rainforest, you may find that Malawi has not put out any statement on the issue. Don’t despair.
  • In a situation like this, when your country has no position on a topic, you have to get creative. Find similar issues that affect your country and extrapolate that to the current topic. For the Ecuador example, Malawi can use their position of environmental issues in their own country and throughout the continent as a guide as to how they would respond.
  • If you find yourself on a topic with indigenous people’s rights, but your country does not have a strong position, find out if there are indigenous groups in that country. Do they treat them well or poorly? Both will give you a direction to take with your Position Paper.

Loose Ends

  • There shouldn’t be a single sentence that has no purpose. Each fact or statement should support the identity you are constructing.
  • If you feel a fact or statement that doesn’t seem to have a place, must be in the PP, think about why. If it is so vital that it fits into the first, second, or sometimes the third paragraph. If it does not, perhaps it can be replaced with one which does.
  • The information can be used later – this fact or statement can be important and be saved for a later speech. However, the position paper needs to be a self-supporting document and just because it is important doesn’t mean it has to go here.

Strong Words ≠ Strong Conclusion

  • You want to end every Position Paper on a strong note, but you do not want to have a conclusion that is overwhelming or concrete. Remember, you will not have many pages, usually, one to get your country’s position across. The Chair is not judging your Position Paper on how well you close, they are judging it based on your understanding of the issues and the solutions you bring to the table.
  • That being said, it helps to close the paper well. There is an old saying about writing an essay that can apply to a Position Paper as well:
  • “Your introduction tells them they will be intrigued. The body is the meat of the argument. The conclusion reminds them that they were impressed.”
  • How do we apply this to a Position Paper? In the beginning, you frame the problem, not wasting your time giving a detailed research paper. The bulk of the paper is letting the Chair know that you understand your country’s relationship to the topic and your proposed solutions. Your conclusion is going to close briefly with a strong, concluding remark. BRIEFLY is the key word here.