How to Write a Position Paper Part 2: Past International Action

by Xinrui Xue on March 7, 2016

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 second section of a position paper–Past International Action. This is where you write about the most important actions that the international community has taken on the topic.

Research past actions of the UN, NGOs, and individual countries.
To get a complete understanding of previous actions taken by the international community, you should look at various actors and perspectives. Resolutions, initiatives, and statements, and other actions from the United Nations are essential for this section of your position paper. Choose the most important UN documents and/or events to summarize. NGOs and countries are also key players in international issues, so make sure to include actions by those groups as well. If there are differing views on a topic, include actions taken by both sides.

Analyze the outcome of past actions.
This is an oft-forgotten part of the Past International Action section, but it can elevate the quality of your position paper immensely. After you have decided which important past actions from the UN, NGOs, and individual countries to include, you should also discuss what impact these actions had. Analyze the effectiveness of a particular action, and why the outcome was that way. Doing this for every international action you include will make this section more cohesive and prevent from seeming like a list. Moreover, analyzing past actions can help you recognize what to include in your solutions later on.

Use credible sources.
Reputable sources are always important, especially for a research-heavy section like Past International Action. Information on past UN actions should come from UN sites, which have resolution databases, speech transcripts, and other resources that you can utilize. NGOs and countries also have their own websites, which should be your first choice when writing about their past actions.

“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!”

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