Why Position Papers Matter
For a long time in the world of Model United Nations, positions papers have gotten a bad rap. They’re written in the last minute, provide little actual insight into an issue, and seem to be more of a bother than a valuable learning aid. However, used correctly, a position paper can be the most valuable pre-conference preparation a delegate can do. Position Papers should not be a mere “to do,” but rather a way to showcase your knowledge and outline your solution set.
Solution Set: A number of inter-connected ideas proposed to combat a global issue; because international and inter-governmental problems are complex, no one idea, or solution, can effectively address the concern, instead, a solution set should be developed.
The following tutorial will walk you through the steps of outlining, researching, and writing an effective and concise position paper. The tutorial is structures in a way that delegates of all levels will benefit. Steps will include term definitions, common mistakes and misconceptions, and action items to improve your skills.
Common Misconceptions about Position Papers
1.) “Position papers have to be more than 2 pages long”
Wrong! Unless a conference or simulation specifically sets length terms for paper submissions, please do not submit a paper longer than two pages per topic! Your chair or director must read through all of the papers submitted so please be kind to her eyes and brain. Being concise is an extremely valuable skill; start practicing. Furthermore, your paper should outline your solution, not be a novel detailing your draft resolution idea.
2.) “Position papers should only address my state’s history with the issue”
Not quite. Position papers should fully take into account a state’s experience, especially with the given topic; however, the most important part of a position paper is explaining your state’s proposed solution set.
3.) “I don’t have to cite my references” OR “Wikipedia is OK to use as a source for my position paper”
Double Wrong! Wikipedia is a great resource to use to get a general overview of a topic or state, but please do not cite it! Stop being lazy and go find a credible source with identifiable authorship to cite. And yes, you have to use proper citations in a position paper; which type is up to you and your teacher.
Find an old position paper that you’ve written. Do you break any of the common mistakes listed above?