Position Paper

The most common definition for a position paper is a statement of your assigned country’s (or intergovernmental organization or non-governmental organization’s) views on the matter to be discussed. While this definition may not be incorrect, it is rather vague and incomplete. Thus it is necessary to clarify exactly what this document (of usually one page per topic in length) entails.

First of all, it is very important to offer a brief history of the matter regarding your country, explaining how it has been affected by the issue. You must then state your country’s policies, as well as its justifications for them, followed by the actions that have been taken so far, including the signature and ratification of treaties and conventions and involvement in UN (or other organization’s) initiatives. A good position paper preferably contains statistics and other more specific data to better illustrate the actions your country has been undertaking. You should conclude your position paper with ideas and concrete proposals, making sure that they address the points raised in the section “Questions to Ponder” (or its equivalent) of the study guides.

You must also pay attention to the presentation of your position paper. Instead of using the country’s flag in the header (a mistake even more experienced delegates often incur in), opt for your country’s official seal whenever possible. This obviously excludes committees in which the delegate acts in his or her personal capacity, such as the International Law Commission. In these cases, no national symbols are to be used.

Try to stick to the recommended length. If your position paper is too short, it will most likely fail to tackle all the points it should. If it is excessively long, you will probably either repeat yourself or offer more information than necessary—which is rarely beneficial when it comes to negotiation—and most delegates will not read it to its entirety.

Finally, the language used in a position paper is also of utmost importance. As with any official document, it must be simple, clear, objective and concise, and always written in the third person. Nevertheless, it is vital to remember that, as official documents, position papers provide the public stance adopted by the country. They must never be confused with an exposition of national interests regarding the topic. Therefore, you can and should make use of vagueness and ambiguity whenever your country’s situation regarding the issue calls for it. This is also an extremely valuable tool for the simulation itself, as your real intentions become less evident and you become freer to negotiate and make compromises when necessary, thus increasing your chances of achieving your country’s true objectives.

And, of course, always respect the deadlines! Handing in a position paper late will reflect badly all the hard work you have done. Position papers must be submitted to the Directors of your committee following the guidelines you will receive per email prior to the UFRGSMUN conference. Moreover, although not mandatory, delegates are advised to hand over a copy of their position papers to their committee Directors in the first session of the committee.

 

Bellow, you can find a sample Position Paper (a PDF viewer is needed to open the file):
Sample Position Paper