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Country and Position Paper

During this week you will learn about how to write your country and position paper (assessment task 2).

This assessment tasks for combines (a) policy analysis (of the issue being simulated), (b) analysis of your country, and (c) taking that policy analysis and applying it to your country – a briefing paper. The role and purpose of each tasks as well as what you should cover is described by section below.

The paper should be professionally formatted and it should be written more for a professional audience than an academic one.

  • Write concisely and clearly and use heading, sub-headings, dot points and images, graphs, tables, etc. as appropriate.
  • Keep the paper focused - MUN topics are large but you need a comprehensive but targetted argument within the limited space.
  • Ensure it is evidence-based - you need to convince policy-makers and analysts of the validity of your paper.
  • References should be kept to a minimum and be done in Harvard (author, date) style, but include a full bibliography at the conclusion of the paper.

Part A: Issue Analysis

Suggested maximum word count 1000 words The issue analysis should be written more in the style of a policy brief. These are also written for a non-academic audience and focus on diagnosing a particular situation. In many cases a policy brief will also propose recommendations, but your policy brief does not need to do this as this is done in the Country Position Paper. Your Issue Analysis should cover the following:

  • Topic – brief statement of the issue being examined
  • Background:
    • What is the context of the issue/problem – this could be historical, geographical, social, economic, military, etc.
    • Why is it a problem or issue? What is the extent of the problem or issue? Give quantitative and/or qualitative evidence to support your analysis. Why has the issue come into focus now?
    • Who are the key stakeholders? What is their position?
      • Remember your job is to filter through the reams of information on behalf of a (busy) senior decision-maker, so keep this succinct, clear and precise.
  • Existing actions and policy:
    • What is being already being done in terms of programs or actions?
    • Are there existing UN resolutions?
  • Issues
    • What are the major issues etc. that would need to be addressed by policy or programs?
    • What has existing research found on these issue and what do they report as possible solutions?
  • Conclusion
    • What are some of the potential complications to finding a way forward?

Example Briefing Papers You can find good quality briefing papers (as well as policy papers, reports and other publications on the websites of the following think tanks and research intsitutes:

Part B: Country Paper

Suggested maximum word count 250 words

This section is a very brief summary of the key things you have learned about your country. Focus on analysing the most important factors for your country in the MUN simulation. The section will have all the information you will need to have learned about your country. As Al-Nawaz Jiwa outlines in his guide to research, position papers and writing resolutions for MUNs, your country research needs to be broad, it:

should encompass the economic and political systems of the country, the history and culture of the society, the demographics of the society, the geography of the country, the international and regional associations the country belongs to, and the country’s current domestic situation. Specifically, you should look for statistics that can be used to provide a general understanding as to how the country works, where the government’s power is derived from, and what role the nation plays with its regional and global community. When researching pay particular attention to measures such as GNP, foreign debt, political philosophy, type of government, internal language and religious boundaries, population density, division of the workforce, and various geographic regions. All of these factors combine to define the unique nature of the country you will representing, and will become particularly useful in the formulation of a foreign policy pertaining to the topic areas.

Al-Nawaz Jiwa, "Battlefield Earth" (Vancouver Model United Nations), available from:, p.4.

The country’s military capability and trade profile are also very important factor in foreign policy considerations. Don’t forget to look at your country’s official foreign policy (see notes for sources on Week 4 Country Research) and research who your country’s allies are and which countries they have tensions in their relationship with (opponents).

Your purpose in this section is to highlight key issues about your country (use images, graphs and tables – bonus marks if you create your own graphs/tables from the data sources listed under Week 4) – AND to analyse the key drivers and motivators of your country relevant to the topic being debated.

Part C: Country Position Paper

Suggested maximum word count 750 words

This section of the assessment task brings together the analysis of the issue in part A with your country analysis in part B to provide a Country Position Paper. In other words, you now need to approach the topic from the perspective of the country you’re representing in the MUN.

Your analysis should cover include the headings below but the questions under each section are intended as a guide only. What you include will depend on the topic being researched.

  • Executive Summary: outline the issue being discussed, its significance to your country and your policy directions.
    • Most policy briefs, especially longer ones, are front-loaded - the conclusions are in the executive summary. This is a 1-2 page summary of the issue and core recommendations. For the MUN report, keep this section short - one paragraph.
  • Background: this is normally where you would provide key background on the topic – given the assessment task already has general background in Part A, focus this section on background on the topic specifically related to your state's pre-existing policies on the topic. Include engagement with the UN on the issue.
    • Keep this section short - just a few dot points.
  • Issues
    • What are the key elements/issues that need to be addressed by a resolution?
    • Which of the key issues are most relevant to your country? This may be for reasons of security, economics, politics, humanitarian concerns or because it might support or challenge key principles supported by the state, e.g. non-intervention in the affairs of sovereign states). You can also note issues that are not important.
    • What are the options for addressing the issue (action and inaction)? You should aim to provide at least three issues to focus on or courses of action. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each option?
  • Recommendations
    • What is the recommendation about what approach should be taken at the UN to this problem?
    • What are the implications for your country of different likely outcomes?
  • Negotiating Strategy: who are your likely allies and opponents in the debate and what resources can you use to influence other states?

This section draws on Tsai, P., 2006, Guidelines for Writing a Briefing Paper (John Hopkins University) unfortunately no longer on the internet.

If you want more:

Part D: Bibliography

As noted above in Author, date style.

Format for the Online Posting

You should post a summary of the key issues for your country on the group Facebook site at least 24 hours before the first simulation. Focus on what key issues you would like to see the debate address.