Steps to Writing a Good Policy Paper

Sometimes, an organization or institution is given an opportunity or finds it necessary to articulate its ideas or stand regarding something through a policy or position paper, or more precisely a MUN Position Paper. Every topic contained in the paper is allocated a paragraph of its own meaning that each paragraph has a title. Knowledge of the technique for writing such a paper is vital if one is to be considered competent and convincing. Obviously, this implies that one must always focus on key issues and must be keen on the issues emerging from any negotiations.

This paper is about articulating on how a country’s future plans can be accomplished through the ideas presented in a policy paper.


This section entails a Statement of Intent that:

  •  Reveals skill in conducting extensive probes to unearth facts and constructing cases that are relevant to the target audience
  •  Establishes a need an impression to the target’s minds that will be exacting a response
  •  Arranges and orders facts and arguments to be presented
  •  Reiterates the expectation of professionalism and deep knowledge of the content shared
  •  Reveres the audience and demonstrates a sense of consideration and commitment to providing them with quality work that is relevant to the audience.

Objectives for Making Policy Papers

  1.  To show awareness of critical issues facing the organization
  2.  Sharing on an entity’s past acquaintance with the critical issues with the necessary evidence
  3.  State a set of arguments and action plans that the organization or state intends to enact in order to change the situation under consideration.

Since the policy paper is limited to a single page, one should try and limit each objective to a paragraph while ensuring a smooth and logical flow of argument through the paper. We’d like to introduce a model structure of the ideal paper below.

Structure of a Good Policy Paper

Policy papers are made out of extensive investigation and preparation for a Model UN conference. All one needs to do is comply with a model for preparing the paper that is supplied by the conference.

A Model UN Policy Paper Entails

  1.  A country’s perception of an issue or problem
  2.  A country’s acquaintance with the issues advanced
  3.  The intended resolution that you wish to pass

A) A Country’s Perception of The Issue or Problem

It’s critical to remember that a policy paper isn’t simply about stating a resolution, but it’s also about acquainting the audience to the matter since many may not be aware of it to detail.

Hence, a short recounting of details from the past to the members who are to discuss the resolution is necessary. State the critical issues shared broadly across states and demonstrate the urgency of meeting the challenges.

This entails a focusing on perceptions that the issues aren’t only relevant to your country, but that they are issues that are global and that other members need to support the resolution. “Angola is convinced that hunger is an issue that should not plague any country of the modern times. Yet, as per the year 2015, over 800 million people faced acute food shortage across the world. Consider also the more than 3 billion people who have to make do with less than 2 dollars and have to struggle for their meals. It goes without saying that access to water supply is linked to food security. How each of our countries is endowed with water resources varies from case to case. Countries like Canada or Switzerland may have greater access to this resource while others like Yemen of Sudan may have very little of it. Some countries are now advanced enough to do climate engineering through cloud-seeding. The National Center of Meteorology and Seismology (NCMS) attests that there has been an average of 13% increase in precipitation and a 32% increase in air purity. The People’s Republic of China and others like the United Arab Emirates have proven that this technology is effective. But then many other countries have no access to this vital technology and depend on multinational corporations that control patents and sales rights for the needed chemicals.”

B) A Country’s Acquaintance with the Issue

This entails an articulation of policies enacted in the past regarding the issues under consideration. Here one needs to outline the performance of these past resolutions.

In case the country has little experience with the issues, equivalent examples from other neighboring or similar countries should be used. One should also try to find out if their country has dealt with a similar problem that could be of relevance to the knowledge management of the present problem.

“Most of Angola’s past has been about contention regarding the access and use of the vast mineral resources around the country such as oil and precious metals and stones. We have a situation of poor people in a rich country. Our country ranks low in terms of human development and wealth. Across the rural areas which have more than 35% of the total population, almost 40% have no or little access to water resources. Infant mortality is high also high. To meet these challenges, our newly elected president has pledged to put a halt to nepotism and graft. The 38 years of misrule by the former president saw our public infrastructure crumble and vast amounts of money disappearing from our national treasury. Global trends in the oil market also left us in dire straits especially after the year 2014 when prices slumped. We’ve also experienced rainfall shortages averaging 0.1 mm of rain annually. A far cry to what is needed for a sustainable food supply.”

C) Proposing the Resolution

Enumerate the key ideas you propose as solutions that you’d like to be implemented during the model UN conference. This can only be done within the confines of the particular committee charged with the task or range of tasks.

It is possible to extend the number of committees in the case of required actions going beyond the mandate of the present committee. Thus, as long as it is shown to be relevant, more members from other committees can be involved.

At this juncture, one may commit to a single commitment or one may choose several causes of action or describe the upper and lower limits that prevent or preempt corrective action. Since one is proposing a direction of action, it’s unnecessary to commit doggedly to a cause. But it may be necessary to express the limits within you intend to work. This gives the impression that you are aware of the various possibilities available and are willing to commit to negotiation and thoughtful exchange of ideas.

“Nation states are obliged to adapt to changing technologies and use them to solve pressing needs. This is a fact reiterated by the United Nations in its development goals. In this case, Angola is pressing for rights to make replica chemicals that would be used for cloud harvesting and an easing of other legal and operational barriers presented by global biotech and chemical multinationals. The United Nations is charged with many pressing issues and given budget constraints that we are all aware of in this global organization; we deem it inappropriate to press it for any subsidies. Some of these global biotech companies are making huge profits that surpass most African state’s economies. Finally, we move that the United Nations avail relevant experts to provide technical assistance in actualizing this model so that at last our citizens can enjoy their rights and freedoms as accorded by a secure and sustainable food supply’.

D) Relevant Supplementary Details

There are instances when the policy paper has an extra paragraph enumerating details that explain and explore issues pertinent to the main proposition but which appear to be separate and independent. Case studies and other descriptive details supporting the foregoing paragraphs may also be included here. This paragraph needs to be cogent and lucid in thought and exhibit rigor that facilitates a deeper understanding of the case in question.

‘PReP’ a Recipe for Effective Policy Papers

‘PReP’ is an acronym for Position, Relation, extra & Proposal, that is an articulation for the vital components of a successful policy paper.

Position – Articulate the perspective you hold and share the understanding you have of this perspective. This is the initial paragraph.

Relation – For the second paragraph, state the context and associations that exist around the issue under consideration.

Extra – Normally the ‘extra’ is the 4th and last paragraph and may be omitted. It contains any additional details that you may believe is critical in aiding understanding but may not be easily connected to the other paragraphs.

Proposal – The 3rd paragraph is about articulating the exact measures that need to be taken in order to resolve the issue raised initially.

Using PReP

Quick Hint

The 3rd paragraph detailing the Proposal is an explication of the issue introduced in paragraph 1 and expanded on the 2nd paragraph that states the context and associations. This 2nd paragraph needs to show policy trends and performance with your country.

Illustration: Treating the Zika virus

Nation-state: Greece

There are times when a country may be disinterested in engaging in actions that don’t concern them directly and like in this instance, the model country, Greece may decide not to fund such initiatives related to remote dangers.

Place (structure1): Entails internal dynamics of how countries contribute to another country’s internal challenges.

Ties (structure 2): An explication of Greece’s shortage of finance plus a kind of diseases and challenges faced internally

Additional (Voluntary 4): Include information on probable challenges faced by Greece from her geographic neighbors that pose danger.

Suggestion (section 3): a passage of legislation that localizes infirmities through counting of the bodies not crossing thousands, to gain funds from the unions that are locally based.

Secondly, World Health Organization instead of all nations can channel funding to help with the cause as an idea.

Expert Advice

Every aspect and structure of the paper meant to relay a policy is not restricted in terms of the length. At times, the longest section may interchangeably be ‘the Stand’ part of the paper whiles on the other hand, those articulating the policies could appear as the longest sections. ‘But in all instances, the PReP model is certain to be upheld.

Exercise: Using the PReP to finish the Policy Paper

A policy paper is written after conducting a MUN Investigation. Then follow the PReP as simply as possible.

  •  Study & Order the Key Points

Using the MUN Investigation model is a model that one is expected to use and guide the mover and committee assigned to the task. This shouldn’t stop one from conducting their investigations, but should direct one on how to conduct the whole task.

  •  Know Your Stand

Establish the matters and how considerably it affects your country. Likely, this could eventually be the part or the section that speaks of ‘Relations’ in your work. A good place to check among others is in the decisions arrived at during the conventions by the UN plus other relevant resolutions.

  •  Select Vital Points

• Try and focus only on the most pertinent and relevant points coming out of the investigation/research.

• One should present their case such that the audience is convinced that there are other details known that haven’t been mentioned. This works to increase the amount of attention and interaction.

  •  Generate Answers

Try to find creative ideas and resolutions addressing issues highlighted. The solutions must be feasible, but in addition to that, it’s important to realize that there may be deviations emanating on stated procedures due to negotiation and good response by those in the committees.

Kinds of Policy Papers

  •  Policy Papers assigned to the chairperson for reading
  •  Policy Papers assigned to the Delegates for reading
  •  Policy Papers assigned to the All members for reading
  •  Policy Papers assigned to No one to read

“All have a something to relay plus a creation to trade. Therefore, understand your customers before you engage them” – April Sims

Not all Model UN conferences demand policy papers. But if they do, then know that it’s important to bear in mind what this audience is as you start your work.

Policy Papers Readable by Chairperson

Quite often, an article and the content of it are at the disposal of a chairperson, but he or she cannot let any other person to access its content in terms of reading it. At that juncture, one ought to remain bold, explicit plus forceful in their presentation. This is because with only a chairperson having access to the article, there is less need for keeping negotiation options wide like especially with the multitude readers at bay.

These kinds of papers provide nice conditions for transparency and accountability albeit the fact that the motivations behind the policy may be hidden. Again, freedom is granted for the article creator to bother him or herself with the task of condensing the entire details prior to sessions of speech delivery.

Policy Article Assigned to Representatives for Reading

Such a situation warrants each delegate prospect to of reading a policy paper presented by a party apart from the chairperson. This often happens in big meetings where there are over 204 representatives. Normally, submission deadlines happen in the evening preceding the gathering.

Articles written aim at nothing else other than to convince the representatives attending the assembly. Therefore, one should endeavor to emphasize on the relevance of the issue at hand and even offer enough background information that will enable some of the delegates who may be ignorant of the facts to come up to speed. The intentions of the paper should focus more on framing and recruiting support than for articulating policy.

Policy Article Assigned to all the Members for Reading

These are perhaps the most difficult to create. The idea is to make the Chair have a perspective that appears to be customized for them. And on the other hand, the paper should make the delegates feel that they are the principal recipients. This may be a difficult task and the best bet is that one can write for the delegates in mind first and hope that the chairs will be able to understand like they’d be hoped to do.

In case the paper is to be presented to more than 100 delegates, it’s important to ensure that the paper has policy aspects in it since one may not have much time in the case of delivering a speech.

Policy Articles that No One Will Read

Not all papers are to be read at the Model UN conference. These are mainly given for the diplomacy award.

Some hints that your policy paper is unlikely to be read are:

  •  When there is no requirement for the Chair to give feedback
  •  Submissions of the paper are made on the eve of the conference

Mistakes to Keep Away From

Here are some blunders you may make:

Inconsistent Details

One may be in a context in which their country has no defined position regarding an issue or there has been a recent positional change. An illustration could emerge out of a new administration with a new ideology deciding to resolve issues differently from the previous administration. The new administration may specify in rhetoric a different tack from established policy in the assembly.

  •  In such a case one should select the position with the highest amount of researched details. Scarcity of Detail
  •  This happens in cases where the country has little interest in an issue being tabled before the committee. This may cause little investigation and thus end up with a scarcity of detail. Such a situation calls for creativity. You can search for similar cases in your country and use analogical reasoning to craft a position.
  •  In case there’s need to present a position on minorities, the best thing is to do some research on the minorities in your country and figure out if a position can be derived from the details found.

Unanswered Questions

  •  All statements must have an objective and should lead to the next assertion.
  •  Find all details from your point that are not in congruence with the task highlighting the policy. If one is found, seek ways of modifying them to fit just as the rest of the task in the paper.
  •  Other details at times are best given in the form of a speech excluded from the task detailing the policies.

Tough Assertions Are Not Robust Reasons

  •  One may conclude a paper using forceful language, but the effectiveness of the paper depends much on the cogency and quality of the arguments presented in the paper.
  •  Contrary-wise, there isn’t an implication to the effect that the summation of the task should never be crafted well. A convention article, on the other hand, should have certain standards to qualify for a presentation.
  •  “An introduction is designed to pique, a major presentation to convince, and the summary a culmination of an impressive journey.”
  •  The simplicity of presentation is essential. One should briefly state a case and show in the most succinct terms how they propose to resolve the challenges by engaging the empathy and support of others.

Policy Paper Design

Paper designs and plans vary with context and at times one may not even have a clear format to follow. This should be no excuse for shoddy work.

Some risks going with a poorly written paper are:

  •  One ends up looking like a trifler
  •  The details of the paper become unintelligible
  •  The audience can get easily distracted

There are cases in which the convener of an assembly can supply a designed template for you to fill in the policy presentation, in some others one may be supplied with a sample to copy or even a set of instructions to follow for your paper.

The aim of the policy paper is to notify and elicit a targeted response from the members of a committee. This means that it has to be read and appreciated. This implies that one should take great pains to ensure that the correct standards are met so that the work can get to the target level.

Samples of Policy Paper Guidelines

Policy Paper Guideline 1

Prepare the policy paper for factoring the UN Model for 2032 in a manner such as:

  •  Such an article ought to be less than 2 pages
  •  Ensure the margin range is 1-inch margin
  •  All text needs to in Times New Roman, size 12
  •  The structure is such that the contents justified with the left and right margins straight
  •  A country doing the presentation plus the targeted committee ought to be clearly explicated
  •  Main issues under discussion forms the headers
  •  Avoid using any symbols the assembly doesn’t approve of
  •  The submission format of the article ought to be in PDF

Policy Paper Guideline 2

The assembly invites policy papers outlining a country’s position and policy intentions regarding any issues to be presented in the coming conference. Respective chairs will provide feedback in two weeks. Meanwhile, we consider the waiting period sufficient for you to identify the nature and quantity of other countries supporting your cause.

We recommend that the paper be one page long and on A4 paper size.

An Illustration of a Formatted Policy Paper

As Angola, we believe that no citizen of any of our countries should suffer from hunger and malnourishment. But the figures speak otherwise as close to 800 Million people lack access to the sustainable food supply. This figure is exacerbated by the vast masses who can’t afford a livelihood of over $3 per day. It is inevitable that food security is accompanied by freshwater resources. While some nation-states may have ample water supply, others have much harder times. The solution to this uneven distribution of capacity is weather control through cloud- seeding. While some countries may be enjoying the advantages of this technology, like in the case of The National Center of Meteorology and Seismology (NCMS) reporting a rise in precipitation of around 12% and an increase in air cleanliness by over 30% in China; other countries lag behind because they can hardly pay the multi-national organizations that have monopoly over the production and supply of the needed chemicals.

Steps to Attaining an Award Winning Policy Paper

What differentiates a normal from an award-winning policy paper?

A chair of a committee will show appreciation to presenters who show foresight and are skilled enough to direct a presentation to its desired conclusions. There are many other variables considered in the awarding of winning presentations like conduct and negotiation skill. But that aside, the policy paper will often be the main contributor to any decisions made by the chair on who has won top honors.

One must always have a judgment that offers creative responses to the challenges at hand and must follow the presentation guidelines provided. The presentation needs to be as brief and precise as possible. One should avoid being non-committal and instead one should form strategic alliances with countries of similar persuasion than remain out in the cold. Check on other important details related to this in ‘Research’ and ‘How to Represent Your Country’ presentations.

Leading Policy Paper Approaches

The I and C Plan

Stick to an ‘Investigate’ and ‘Create’ strategy and ensure that most of your statements either refer to investigative details or the provision of creative solutions.

Support Detail with Evidence and Drop Names

The use of figures and time recollections are indicators of investigations done. The impression is greater when some of the details supplied aren’t easily accessible. These are especially needed in the first two paragraphs of the paper. Again, one should take pains that they are presenting a cogent and lucid argument over a relevant issue. Such an approach is certain to have a laudable effect on the audience to a level that one can be in contention for top honors.

Offer Creative Responses and Novel Perspectives

  •  Familiarity breeds contempt. This means that if you make a presentation that is pretty much the same as the many other presentations made, then it’s probable that it will receive little attention, and a small mistake may turn the whole tide against you. Thus, one should try to be as novel and creative as possible so that one may get the adequate attention needed to push the paper forward.

Of course, the solutions must also be feasible and practicable.

  •  One may use creative tactics with solutions that may appear odd but practicable.
  •  One can introduce a radical and perhaps unpopular remedy in the hope of getting a milder and intended result in a context where there are competing interests. For instance, Alexander

Hamilton promoted an idea that was deemed too radical during the making of the US constitution that the intended policy known as the ‘Virginian plan’ was considered desirable even though it was earlier deemed to be too radical.

  •  The above plan worked because it had the capacity to change areas of focus and shift ‘anchor points’ to the desired levels.
  •  The same technique can be applied in the making of policy papers and to the same effect.

Stick to the Guidelines

Ignore writing guidelines at your own risk. The idea is simple; those who don’t stick to conventions offer others an excuse for not only being indifferent to what is presented but also for a disqualification. One should avoid being alienated in a conference and being perceived a misfit and probably as incompetent.

Brief and Professional

Avoid expressions without purpose or that are unnecessary. One should aspire to state the matter without waste of words and thought.

It is advisable that one opens a policy paper with modesty and precision. This allows one to keep an even keel and present arguments logically. Then organize your logic to make it compact and get to the main objective with the greatest economy.

Things Sought By Chairs

A Model UN conference Secretariat specifies standards that every chair needs to consider when considering policy papers. This is because of the gravity and implications of the task which few of us can dispute to be of vital importance. The Chair must be aware of the importance of the task of writing the study guide and of steering a consideration to the final stage of resolution and carry him/herself accordingly.

While the guidelines offered by the secretariat may be clear, exhaustive and uniform, there are instances when the Chair improvises to resolve outstanding issues that may prevent a proper implementation of tasks. A clear comprehension of the factors to be studied is facilitated when we consider a sample set of directives given to chairs by an Under-secretary General of the UN.

Dear Chairs,

Our attention is to relay to all relevant delegates Policy paper guidelines for their consideration and adoption. It is probable that some of the delegates may receive their guidelines a bit late like in the coming three days, but the bulk of them should have received their guidelines by the end of this week. Each delegate is expected to submit his/her paper via email between the 21st and the 28th of March. Care should be taken that all policy papers submitted in the postulated time receive a response. Policy papers received after the deadline may not be considered if proper reason or justification isn’t provided. In the case of admitting late submissions, we direct that those papers received after the deadline NOT to be considered for any honors and awards.

Ensure that each policy paper is clear on the main issue to be considered and that the countries state their acquaintance with the issue from the past and that they state clearly any solutions and policies that would be effective in resolving any pending issues.

Feedback provided for any policy papers presented within time should get a brief response that among other things commending the writers and highlighting any deficiencies that their work may have presented. You should also endeavor to provide a brief response to the argument presented. Areas needing changes should also be pointed out, and the respective delegates afforded the opportunity to send amended policy papers. We hope that this will help to prepare the delegates appropriately and offer the diligent members to deliver papers of the ideal or better quality. You are all encouraged to ask for further details regarding your handling of the papers and delegates in the case of any difficulties. Please contact me at any time before the start of the conference if possible or the earliest and practicable moment.

Please ensure that any interested delegates who may not be cognizant of our policy paper standards get proper guidance from your offices to ensure that all or most papers are of the proper standard.

Yours Truly,

MUN Undersecretary

Since not all MUN assemblies provide such guidelines and that in fact, different models will come up with different standards, it is often upon the various chairs to figure out the best guidelines to give in order to attain their objectives.

In case the secretariat gives you discretion over the handling of the policy papers, responses that are in accordance with the directives of this article will help you keep high standards of performance and interactions. Each argument or paragraph may need a response specific to it using the study guide provided.

Critical Answers that Chairs Seek When Reading a Policy Paper

Factors Pointing at a Great Policy Paper

  •  Has the topic been reframed to meet the relevance criteria of the presenter?
  •  How has the country’s relation to the subject been expounded?
  •  Are the policies suggested practicable and desirable?
  •  How do the suggested measures concur with the country’s stand?
  •  Is there extensive use of evidence?
  •  How has the presentation confirmed to the guidelines provided?
  •  Are there hints that the investigation probed beyond the provided guidelines?

Dangerous Interrogations from the Chair

  •  What are the probabilities that the guidelines were plagiarized?
  •  Could the policy paper be too generic that it can fit in most country’s presentations?
  •  Does the presentation reveal a disturbed or intoxicated mind state?
  •  Is the presenter conversant with the reality of a Model UN conference?

One should be able to integrate these criteria in evaluating a paper to be presented to a model UN conference. This allows a shift of perspective from delegate to chair and back. Thus, a writer can be able to gauge the quality of his presentation earlier before submission and make appropriate changes.

Summary of Writing the Policy Paper

The significance of the policy paper can’t be overemphasized. It is thus critical to understand the nuances and demands of each paper. For example, who is the target audience, and what are the objectives behind the paper? The format for writing the paper should also be considered.

The aims of the policy paper are threefold:

  •  To state a country’s stand on a relevant subject under discussion.
  •  Explicate the history a country has had with the issue and past approaches to it using evidence.
  •  To convince on resolutions and suggestions that best fulfill a country’s objectives and that allows other countries to contribute positively to the action plans suggested.

In the case of a chair offering feedback, care should be taken that responses to presentations and submissions are clear, relevant and supported with illustrations so that each delegate may find adequate space to optimize on their presentation, and that each party may get the most out of a conference.

All this is best remembered when we appeal to the PReP approach and use it intelligently. If such use is made, then it is probable that your presentation will not only help you articulate your country’s position effectively but that you may also be recognized as diligent and that the whole conference may be developed courtesy of your insight and creativity.

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