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Position Paper Research

Advisor Program 2015


Copyright © 2015 by Best Delegate

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Position Paper Research
Advisor Program 2015
© 2015 Best Delegate
Position Paper Research
Time 50 minutes for each section of a position paper (can also assign as
homework)
Materials ● Position paper research worksheet
● Topic background guide
● PowerPoint presentation or websites pulled up
Objectives Students learn how to research for each of the four sections of the
Position Paper.
Lead-in Research is the key college-level critical-thinking skill that will arm them
with arguments
Instruction Explain the purpose of a position paper:
● To help you understand your topic and country policy;
● To practice research and writing skills; and,
● Required by most MUN conferences.

The four sections of a position paper are:


● Background of Topic
● Past International Actions
● Country Policy
● Possible Solutions

In each section, walk the students through:


● Finding credible resources
● Defining key terms
● Answering key questions

Research Binder: Delegates can print out sources and compile into a physical
binder.

Optional: To help delegates gain a better understanding of their assigned


country’s geography, culture, politics, and economics, use the Country Profile
worksheet.

Assignment Have students share their answers from the worksheets with the class.

Evaluation Ensure that students have the correct answers for the questions in the
worksheet

Summary Research will help you feel prepared for MUN simulations.

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Evaluating Position Papers

Format and Language 1 2 3


• Paper contains a header and four sections (50%+ on Policy and Solutions)
• Grammar and punctuation is correctly used
• Tone sounds professional and diplomatic
• Works are cited and includes mostly primary and credible sources

Topic Background 1 2 3
• The topic is clearly defined and includes Who, What, When, and Where
• Relevant statistics and facts are included
• Root causes to the topic are explained (Why)
• Sub-issues to the main topic that need to be addressed are framed

Past International Action 1 2 3


• Explains key UN resolution, treaty, or convention on this topic
• UN programs and funds are mentioned for their implementation efforts
• UN reports or other official reports are mentioned for progress on actions
• Other international actors like regional groups or NGOs are mentioned

Country Policy 1 2 3
• Explains how the topic has impacted the country or how it is/can be
relevant
• Explains the country policy clearly (what country wants to do about topic)
• Includes supporting sources such as UN resolutions adopted, events
attended, voting records, speeches made, etc.
• Explains actions country has taken internationally or domestically
Possible Solutions 1 2 3
• Addresses different sub-issues to the topic
• Explains the strengths and weaknesses of the proposed solutions
• Frames major thematic or political/regional group tensions
• Solutions are consistent with country policy

Total Position Paper Score:

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How to Write a Position Paper

A position paper is a two-page document that describes your country’s position on the
topic and what you country wants to do about it. Writing a position paper is important
because it helps you understand what you need to say and do at an MUN conference. In
the process of writing the position paper, you will need to read through your research,
understand it, analyze it, and think critically about your country. You can take the
position paper with you to an MUN conference. It will help guide what to say in your
speeches and what you want to achieve in negotiations and resolutions.

You should write a position paper on each of your topics. A typical position paper
contains the following sections, each which should be 1-3 paragraphs long, and should
answer the following questions:

Topic Background

• What is the definition of the topic?


• Where does the topic take place? Who is involved?
• How many people does it affect? Where, and in what ways?
• When did this topic become an issue?

Past International Action

• What has the UN (e.g. your committee) tried to do on this topic?


• What are the most important resolutions and treaties on this topic?
• What are the two (or more) sides to this topic?

Country Policy

• How has this topic impacted your country?


• What has your country tried to do about this topic?
• What have your political leaders (your President, Prime Minister, or Foreign
Minister) said about this topic? (Use quotes)

Possible Solutions

• What is a possible solution that your country would support? Consider an


existing solution that could be expanded with more support or funding.
• How would this solution be funded?

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Sample Position Paper

Committee: General Assembly 2nd Main Committee: Economic and Financial (ECOFIN)

Topic: Climate Change

Country: The State of Qatar

Topic Background

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 and
which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time
periods". Climatologists have noted that climate change may arise from either natural
causes, such as volcanic activity, or human causes, such as the burning of fossil fuels or
deforestation.

In recent years, a trend of industrialization in developing countries has seen the rise of
climate change largely attributed to human causes and its subsequent greenhouse
effects, or the warming of the Earth's surface and lower atmosphere caused by water
vapor, carbon dioxide, and other trace gases in the atmosphere. This increase in climate
change has also increased the total carbon footprint of the world, or total amount of
greenhouse gases that are emitted into the atmosphere each year by people and
industries.

The effects of increasing global warming on the world's populace is truly frightening. As
evidenced by a 2003 European heat wave that killed nearly 35,000 people in over five
countries, global warming may affect any number of people, anywhere and anytime. As
climate change has increasingly been linked to the melting of the polar ice caps,
powerful hurricanes, and drought, small island developing states (SIDS), such as
Samoa, are the countries most at risk from the climate change-induced rise in sea levels.
As SIDS are home to more than 63 million people in total, this concern is especially
prudent and sizeable in magnitude. While the rise of global temperatures by one degree
celsius occurred over the 20th century, temperature increases may hasten, sea levels will
rise, and adverse environmental impacts will increase if no global effort is made to
mitigate climate change.

Within climate change, countries must also address the more particular issues of
reducing industrial pollution and greenhouse gas emission, investing in renewable
energy sources, and determining whether or not developed nations should take the lead
in mitigation efforts.

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Past International Action

In 1992, 154 nations signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate
Change (UNFCCC), which marked the beginning of global efforts to mitigate climate
change. The UNFCCC impelled signatory governments to reduce greenhouse gas
emissions in order to "prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with Earth's
climate system". Contingent to this commitment were empirical measures of
greenhouse gas reduction.

In 1998, the Kyoto Protocol treaty was negotiated by several nations and pledged both
binding and non-binding targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions by 2010. The
lifetime of the Kyoto Protocol was extended in 2012 at the UN Doha Climate Change
Conference to 2020.

While the treaty requires developed nations to offset the pollution caused by developing
nations by pledging more efforts to climate change mitigation, the United States has
never formally ratified the Kyoto Protocol and Canada renounced the Protocol in 2011.

As "ensuring environmental sustainability" is one of the UN's eight Millennium


Development Goals (MDGs) set in 2000 to ideally be somewhat achieved by 2015,
nations have a pressing need to commit global efforts to mitigating both the causes and
effects of climate change.

Country Policy

The State of Qatar has based much of its energy and environmental policy on its vast
petroleum and natural gas reserves. Annually, Qatar's consumption of 189,700 bbl of
refined petroleum products per day and consumption of 19.53 billion cubic meters of
natural gas per day have yielded an annual amount of 64.46 metric tons of carbon
dioxide emissions.

While Qatar's thriving energy sector may be worrying to the global community, Qatar
notes that it has ratified the Kyoto Protocol, with the treaty having entered force on
April 11, 2005. In 2012, Qatar hosted the 18th session of the UN Climate Change
Conference, which successfully adopted the second commitment period of the Kyoto
Protocol, a move that participating parties have been working towards for seven years.

As per the conditions of the Kyoto Protocol, Qatar remains committed to global efforts
to mitigate climate change, particularly efforts that place more obligation in the hands of
wealthy, developed, and capable nations, such as those with binding targets, and urges
developed nations that have not yet signed the Kyoto Protocol to do so and make
steadfast efforts towards a global commitment.

Furthermore, with one of the highest rates of solar irradiation in the world, Qatar will
pursue investment in renewable energy sources, such as solar power, by utilizing the

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already thriving infrastructure brought by the State's vibrant petroleum and natural gas
industries.

Possible Solutions

The State of Qatar proposes a multi-step solution to mitigating climate change on both a
domestic and international level.

First, highly developed nations must ratify and commit to obligations under the Kyoto
Protocol, and in doing so, alleviate the economic strain on less developed nations in
spearheading mitigation efforts.

Second, nations must increase and standardize cap and trade efforts amongst industrial
polluters so as to fall within Kyoto global carbon emissions goals and must prioritize
these efforts over carbon taxes.

Finally, the State of Qatar, along with other signatories of the Kyoto Protocol, shall
generate up to 20% of its energy from renewable solar sources by 2024 in partnership
with energy corporations like Chevron and local energy firms like GreenGulf in order to
establish a permanent energy infrastructure that avoids increasing global emissions.

Funding for pollution mitigation efforts will first come from highly developed nations,
such as the United States and Canada. Other funding may come from World Bank loans
and partnerships with corporations to less developed nations such as Qatar.

Sources

• http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-05-14/qatar-climate-change-
negotiations-may-spur-gulf-effort-ngo-says.html
• http://unfccc.int/meetings/doha_nov_2012/meeting/6815.php
• http://www.ifpinfo.com/asa/asa-news.php?news_id=2451
• http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/policy/wesp/wesp_current/2012coun
try_class.pdf
• http://unfccc.int/kyoto_protocol/status_of_ratification/items/2613.php
• https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/qa.html
• http://www.gulf-times.com/opinion/189/details/391615/climate-change-threat-
to-infrastructures-in-qatar
• http://www.theguardian.com/environment/shortcuts/2012/nov/28/doha-
strange-place-climate-change-conference
• http://www.kyotoprotocol.com/
• http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/convkp/kpeng.pdf
• http://unfccc.int/files/documentation/text/html/list_search.php?%20zwhat=ke
ywords&val=&valan=a&anf=0&id=10

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Topic Background

Step 1: Find Credible Sources

Visit Google.com and search for the following terms:


• [topic]
• [topic] united nations
• site:un.org topic

What are the best sources you found? Rate their credibility below from 1-5.

Source Credible?

Step 2: Define Key Terms

Based on the background guide and the sources you found, define the key terms below.

Are there other key terms you found or didn’t understand? Write them in the blank
spaces and define them.

Key Term Definition

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© 2015 Best Delegate
Step 3: Answer Key Questions

Answer the questions below. You will use these to responses to write a position paper.

Define the topic and provide examples.

Who is affected by this topic? Where do they live? How many people?

What is the history of the topic? What are its causes?

Critical Thinking: Can the topic be divided into smaller problems? Based on your
research so far, what are the top 3 problems that need to be solved? Describe each
problem in detail below.

Problem Description
1.

2.

3.

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© 2015 Best Delegate
Past International Action

Step 1: Find Credible Sources

What are the best sources you found? Rate their credibility below from 1-5.

Source Credible?

Step 2: Define Key Terms

Based on the background guide and the sources you found, define the key terms below.

Are there other key terms you found or didn’t understand? Write them in the blank
spaces and define them.

Key Term Definition

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Step 3: Answer Key Questions

Answer the questions below. You will use these to responses to write a position paper.

What has the UN said about this topic? Find a quote from a UN official.

“ ”

What has the UN already done about this topic? Identify specific events, resolutions,
programs, and reports.

Events

Resolutions

Programs

Reports

Critical Thinking: What is the UN’s plan for addressing this topic in the future? Does it
have a clear plan?

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What’s the difference between the UN and NGOs? What are specific examples of NGOs
addressing the topic? Describe at least 3.

NGO Name Description


1.

2.

3.

Critical Thinking: Go back to the Topic Background worksheets and look at your
response to the “Critical Thinking” question. What were the top 3 problems you
identified? What have the UN and NGOs been doing about those specific problems?

Problem Past UN Action Past NGO Action


1.

2.

3.

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© 2015 Best Delegate
Country Policy

Step 1: Find Credible Sources

Visit Google.com and search for the following terms, using your country name:
• [country] [topic]
• [country] [topic] ministry of foreign affairs
• site:un.org [country] [topic]

What are the best sources you found? Rate their credibility below from 1-5.

Source Credible?

Step 2: Define Key Terms

Based on the background guide and the sources you found, define the key terms below.

Are there other key terms you found or didn’t understand? Write them in the blank
spaces and define them.

Key Term Definition

Step 3: Answer Key Questions


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Answer the questions below. You will use these to responses to write a position paper.

What has your government said about the topic? Find an official quote.

“ ”

Is your country impacted by the topic? Explain how.

What is your government doing about the topic? Is your government working with the
UN and NGOs to address the topic?

Possible Solutions: In Topic Background and Past International Action worksheets,


what were the top 3 problems you identified? What is your country doing about these
problems?

Problem Action
1.

2.

3.

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Possible Solutions

Use all of your research and the worksheets you’ve completed to develop solutions to the
topic.

In Topic Background, Past International Action, and Country Policy, you identified
problems that are part of the topic.

In the tables below, identify a problem, propose a solution, and answer key questions
about your solution.

Key Problem #1: What is the problem you are trying to address? Describe it in detail
here.

Possible Solution: What is the solution you would propose? Make sure your
government would support your solution.

Impact: Whom does your Action: Who is responsible Funding: Who is funding
solution impact? Where do for delivering or enforcing your solution? How much
they live? How will you your solution? What are funding is required? Will
know whether your solution their targets and timelines? funding partners receive
is working? What happens if those reports on whether your
targets are not met? solution is working?

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Key Problem #2

Possible Solution

Impact Action Funding

Key Problem #3

Possible Solution

Impact Action Funding

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Country Profile
Answer the questions below. Start by visiting the CIA World Factbook page for your
assigned country.
What region of the world is your
country located in?
Physical How big is your country in square
Geography miles?
Who are your country’s neighbors?
How many people live in your
country?
What is your country’s ethnic
Cultural composition?
Geography What are your country’s official
languages?
How do you say “Hello” in your
country?
What is your country’s official
name?
When was your country founded?
What type of government does your
country have?
What is your country’s capital?
Political
Who is your country’s leader?
Geography
How many people serve in your
country’s military?
Who are your country’s allies?

Who are your country’s enemies?


Which UN Regional Group is your
country part of?
What is your country’s total gross
domestic product (GDP)?
Economic What are some of your country’s
Geography natural resources?
What is your country’s currency?

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“15 Things to Have in Your Research Binder”

After reading your topic background guides,


your objective is to gain a better
understanding of the topic, your country’s
policy on the topic, and what your country
wants to do about the topic. You’re going to
dive into many different websites and
research sources. You need a way to organize
all your sources or else you will lose track of
your research. One of the best ways to
organize your research is to create a research
binder.

You should have one research binder that includes sources for each of your topics. For
each topic, you can organize your binder into 4 sections:

• Topic Background: This section should include your background guide and
other sources that describe your topic in general, including Wikipedia pages,
news articles, and reports produced by the United Nations and other
organizations.

• Past International Action: This section should include information on your


committee and what it has already done about the topic. This section should also
include primary sources, such as resolutions, treaties/conventions (a convention
is a type of treaty), and international policies and campaigns (like the Millennium
Development Goals), as well as other important sources that describe how the
UN is trying to address the topic.

• Country Policy: This section should include sources about your country (such
as the CIA World Factbook) and your country’s position on the topic. This can
include speeches made by your political leaders and papers produced by your
government.

• Possible Solutions: This section should include sources on what the UN


should be doing to address the topic. This can include recommendations by UN
bodies, experts (like professors), and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Having a well-organized binder will make it easier for you to understand your research
and write a position paper.

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To help you get started with your research binder, here is a list of different sources and
websites that you should visit:

Topic Background and Past International Actions

• Background Guide. Either you, another delegate, or your chair will inevitably
refer to something written in the committee’s background guide during a
conference. Also, what your chair has written about is what he’ll focus on in
committee. Use that knowledge to craft speeches and operative clauses that grab
the chair’s attention.

• Wikipedia. Information on your country’s history and its recent controversies.


There should be articles on your topic, too. Wikipedia might not be edited as
rigorously as a print publication, but you are not writing an academic research
paper – you’re attending a Model UN conference. Just take note of any potential
issues that are listed at the topic of Wikipedia pages, e.g. “This article needs
additional citations for verification.”

• News Articles. You want to know the latest news on your topics, as well as your
own country. The simplest way to do this is to run searches on Yahoo! News and
Google News, and print out the headlines. BBC Online also features easy-to-use
timelines and profiles on your issues and country. Large publications like the
New York Times and Wall Street Journal also have in-depth coverage on their
websites.

• Your committee’s actual UN website. The goal of a committee is to pass a


resolution, which depends on what a committee can and cannot do. You want to
understand your committee’s mandate (why it was created), powers (what it can
do), organization (how it fits into the UN and the larger international
community), and membership (who’s in it).

• The UN Charter. If you are in a GA, ECOSOC, or Security Council committee,


then the source of your committee’s power is the UN Charter. If you are in a
regional organization like NATO or OAS, then you are still affected by the
Charter, particularly Chapter VII on international security and Chapter VIII on
regional arrangements.

• Resolutions, Treaties, and Conventions: Before you can do anything on the


topic, you need to know what’s already been done. You can find past resolutions
through the UN documentation center, although it can be difficult to navigate.
Once you’ve found the latest resolution, the preambulatory clauses should direct
you to other resolutions. The most relevant piece of international law on your
topic might not be a past resolution, but instead a treaty or convention.

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Country Policy and Possible Solutions

• CIA World Factbook. Every MUNers go-to source for essential information on
their country. You want to know your country’s location, neighbors, population
size, type of government, type of economy, trade partners, and the international
organizations it’s a part of. Not knowing this information as your country’s
representative can be potentially embarrassing.

• Speeches and Press Releases. These are the ways that policy-makers set
policy. Be sure to use speeches and press releases from people in the executive
branch of your country’s current government (President, Prime Minister, Foreign
Minister / Secretary of State, Ambassadors). Legislators and judges may say
something different, but as a representative of your country, you work for the
Head of State / Head of Government. Start with the website for your country’s
Ministry of Foreign Affairs / Department of State.

• Voting Record. Actions speak louder than words. If your country’s leaders have
not clearly articulated a policy on your topic, then you can infer it from how your
country has voted on past resolutions, treaties, and conventions (or whether they
were even present). Note that recent speeches may indicate a change in policy
away from however your country has voted in the past, especially if your
government has changed administrations. Nonetheless, you still want to know
how your country’s past actions on the topic, for your own knowledge, and in case
anyone asks.

• UN Reports: Many times, the United Nations has produced reports on what
they believe needs to be done next on the topic. They may be referred to as a
report of the Secretary-General, recommendations by a high-level panel, or an
outcome document of a conference.

• Think Tanks. Organizations like RAND are paid to come up with solutions to
the topics you discuss in Model UN. Think tank publications have more depth
and evidence than an opinion article, but they’re typically not as dense as an
academic paper. They might also be pushing a certain agenda, so be aware of
that. Otherwise, they are a great starting point for proposing potential solutions.

• Your Ideas. Include in your binder your position papers, working papers, notes,
thoughts, as well as blank lined paper – Don’t rely on a conference to bring
enough paper for draft resolutions and note passing. You can do all the research
you want, and you can be really fast and efficient at it, but none of that matters
until you boil down what you’ve read into ideas that you can explain in your own
words.

Source: http://bestdelegate.com/mun-research-made-easy-15-things-every-delegate-
should-have-in-their-research-binder/

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