Quick Guide to Writing Effective Working Papers
A working paper is commonly a precursor to a Draft Resolution. It is a place to put the first draft of the ideas that you hope to guide to the resolution through lobbying, negotiation and compromise. However, just because a working paper needs to turn into a draft resolution does not mean that it has to be formatted like one from the get-go. The time that is used to find appropriate preambulatory or operative phrases or proper formatting and punctuation, could be better used to convey important ideas to many other delegates in a less formal manner. This can be especially useful in the early stages of the writing process. The following guide will give you some tips on how to better utilize the working paper stage and make yours much easier to understand and your lobbying time much more effective.
Bold or highlight important words and sentences
In the lobby rush of unmoderated caucuses, many delegates won’t have the time to read the entire working paper. As you and your block will often find yourselves repeating the same pitch to different delegates. It is very helpful to be able to point to keywords and sentences and help them stand out.
Use maps and graphs
As a working paper is not a formal document, feel free to use a map when explain troop movement or where you would set up a medical camp. When explaining your idea to other delegate you would need to load a map on your computer or smartphone anyway, so better to have the map or chart ready to make you idea clear and ready to understand.
Pointing to the region, showing proximity to borders and neighbors can do a better job than explaining the region in generalizations even if it takes five times the time.
More food aid + Training of teenagers to cook = less idle hands in refugee camps
Sometimes writing out the variables / stakeholders in an equation like the one above can be more clear than an entire paragraph. Use an equation to establish your main idea in way that shows clear cause and effect. Even when you have clauses written later on in the process you can keep your equation on the top of the draft. With the draft in hand you can tell others that they are welcome to read further but your main idea is here in the math on the top of the page.
Copy chunks of raw data
Sometimes your operative clauses will need specific names and data. While the specific clause may use some of the data, when speaking to potential signatories showing the whole picture may turn out better. For yourself you can highlight the main points but also show supporting data which will help you persuade but isn’t relevant enough to reach the final operative clause
Mix Preambulatory and Operative
One of the requirements of good chairs is that all operative clauses are justified by preambulatory clauses which elaborate on the problem that the operative clauses are solving. Sometimes, when writing operative clauses on our own we forget the preamb we were going to match with them. When explaining working papers to other delegates writing the clause in a ‘problem – solution’ manner might be very helpful to get your idea across.
Don’t write too much
Some resolution writers feel clauses need to be very long and cumbersome or they should not be submitted. On the other hand, early-stage working papers are there to transfer ideas. Writing one line per idea to be developed later can help you lobby with 5 people in the time it would take to develop a clause and the subsequent sub-clauses. Follow the KISS rule (Keep It Short and Simple), especially when it’s an early stage working paper.
Every few clauses use a headline so the reader will understand what issue the clauses are dealing with. Using headlines like “Regulations Pertaining to Peacekeeping Forces”, “United Nations-Facilitated Disarmament Oversight and Initiatives” and “Humanitarian Assistance and Funding Initiatives” will make the resolution a much easier and clearer read.
Have a cheat sheet
Especially useful in a larger room, if the resolution is being modified by writers lobbyists can use a cheat sheet one-pager with bullet points of the main ideas. The headlines from tip 7 could be useful for this. Using a cheat sheet to keep up the ideas will let you do what you were doing anyway in a more clear manner.
Give options where you can
Working papers are about persuasion and negotiation. Naturally, some policies will not be set in stone. If you find ideas that can be solved in multiple similar ways, write both options and have it open for discussion.
– Develop a cure for a virus internally at the UN
– Outsource the job to independent researchers
Asking opinions can get other delegates to feel more invested. On the other hand, if many delegates feel strongly about both you may have an issue.
Many working papers are written in google docs. Another way to get maximal input quickly is to give instructions to other delegates to leave comments. You can do this with instructions in the document, sharing with the “Can view” option or even yelling across the room. You will find that some positive suggestions, and the openness to do so, could not only bring you new allies but also new ideas.
These 10 tips above will not only make your working paper clearer but are also faster to write. It is true that the same principles behind a United Nations resolution often exist for working papers as well. These principles are also helpful when giving speeches and in general when learning to think MUN. At the same time, working papers are not draft resolutions and there is no law requiring you to make them perfectly formatted or legally sound, especially so early in the process.
In fact, the opposite often occurs where the rush to format results in you scrolling through a working paper to find clause 15, which no one will read and you need to spend extra time understanding what you are reading before you read it. Using even some of these tips will make your working paper more easy to understand and will help your allies get signatories or defend it against the opposition. The key is to keep in mind that a draft resolution needs to have a majority to pass and getting that majority starts when they understand the ideas you will show them in a clear working paper.