I. Introduction: Describe the problem and make it vivid for the reader. Your introduction should:
- Make the reader interested in this issue.
- Convince the reader that this is an important issue.
- Explain your point of view.
Introduction Ideas: unusual fact or statistic, intriguing statement, anecdote, example, question, historical background, story, typical scenario, conversation, interesting quotation, vivid description, a list, explaining a process, an analogy, frame story (part of story in the intro and the rest of the story in the conclusion).
Claim Sentence: Generally, the introduction will end with your claim or thesis (sometimes this will be the opening sentence, or you may put a question which is not fully answered until the conclusion). You may phrase this as a question or a statement.
II. Body: The body will focus on one particular sort of claim: fact, definition, value, cause or policy. Your claim is what you want your audience to believe and it should be stated in one sentence. The claim can be placed in different points in the paper but is usually at the end of the intro or the first sentence of the body.
1. Sub-claims: Your sub-claims should be three or more reasons why the reader should believe your claim. They should be supported using your sources. Be sure to use author tags and parenthetical citation in the correct format.
2. Warrants/Backing (evidence to support warrants): Warrants are why you believe this claim to be true. Telling your warrants and backing them up is optional. The reason you would do so is to draw your reader into common ground with you. It is especially useful to do if you are appealing to a reader who holds a very different position from you on this issue, particularly on policy claims. (Examples: on the issue of abortion, both sides agree that reducing the number of abortions is desirable; on the issue of war, everyone agrees that the goal is to allow citizens to raise their families in peace). A discussion of warrants can be put in the intro, before or after the sub-claims or as part of the appeal in the conclusion.
3. Rebuttal: The rebuttal is a discussion of other positions on this issue and explaining why your position is better. Again, you may use sources to support your position and you may also use qualifiers (sometimes, if, most of the time) to narrow your claim and encourage the audience to agree with you.
III. Conclusion: Conclusions can use some of the same techniques that you use in your introduction. Be sure your conclusion is linked to your introduction. Do not just repeat the claim, but draw a conclusion which urges the reader to believe it or do something about it. Ways to conclude:
- Make a final appeal to the reader and tell them what you want them to think or do.
- Depending on your topic, you may want to make an appeal to logic, emotion or authority
- Return to the intro and finish the frame story, or revise the story or description or conversation to show how things would be better if your proposal/claim is adopted.
- If you haven’t done so in the body, you can sometimes use a countering of other positions in the conclusion. Explain why your position is better.
- If you started with a question, you may save your final claim thesis for the end.
A position paper is a document describing a topic, your country’s position, and possible solutions. It is important to write a position paper for each of your topics because it will help you gain insight on the issue and prepare you for the MUN conference. Writing a good position paper not only requires research skills, but also involves the ability to critically analyze the information you gather through your research.
A typical position paper is 1-2 pages long and contains the following sections, which should each be 1-3 paragraphs long: Topic Background, Past International Action, Country Policy, and Possible Solutions. In this article, we will be discussing how to write the first section of a position paper–the topic background. This is the introductory section of your position paper, where you give a brief overview of the topic and why it is important.
Define the topic.
Knowing the definition to the topic you’re writing about is essential, and it is a good way to start your research. After you know the short, general definition of your topic, you should try to gather details about the issue. Read articles, reports, background guides, and other sources to get a comprehensive view of the topic.
For example, the topic of climate change is defined as “ a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere” by the United Nations. After finding this, you can now use the aforementioned sources to develop your research.
Identify key terms and answer key questions.
As you move further along in your research, you should get an idea of what key terms are related to the topic. Asking yourself “Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How?” can help identify important terms and help you come up with questions for your research. By analyzing these key terms and questions, you can find sub-issues that will narrow down the topic and make it easier to write the topic background.
Using the example of climate change again, some key terms could be “greenhouse gases” and “emissions”. You can pose questions such as “How are emissions causing climate changes, and who is responsible?”, which you can find the answer to through research. By using key terms and questions, you have now made your research more precise.
Use credible sources.
It is extremely important to get all of your topic background information from credible sources. This research will be the basis for your position paper and what you say in committee, so the information you gather must be factual and relevant. What are some credible sources? Since you’re doing Model UN, the most credible source is, of course, the United Nations! Other than that, news agencies, scholarly articles, and state government websites can also be reputable. Refrain from citing Wikipedia or the conference background guide, although these may be good starting points for information.
By following these tips, writing the topic background for your position paper will be easier and more effective. Stay tuned for articles on how to write the Past International Action, Country Policy, and Possible Solutions sections of your position paper!
“Want to learn more tips on how to participate in Model UN? Check out the Model United Nations Institute Diplomat Program– hosted across the United States every summer!”
Tagged as: delegate strategy, how to write a position paper, position paper, topic background, Writing