Recapping 10 of the biggest foreign policy and national security stories of 2020

Subscribe to this week in foreign policy, anna newby an anna newby director of communications and managing editor - foreign policy, the brookings institution.

December 22, 2020

Whether your preferred metaphor is a roller coaster or an outright dumpster fire, the year 2020 has been an outlier, to put it mildly. A few big stories dominated the news cycle, and our lives — the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. election, widespread protests over racial justice issues — while many others carried on in their shadow, sometimes with explosive effects and sometimes with underappreciated ones.

Many people are eager to pack memories from this year onto a funeral pyre and cast it off to sea. Before we do, a quick recap of how the world changed in 2020 can help prepare us for what may come. As always, Brookings foreign policy and national security experts illuminated what this year’s big events meant, as well as what they portend. Both are of utmost importance as new leadership prepares to take the reins in Washington, with the world watching.

Suzanne Maloney argued in the Washington Post that the Trump administration “escalated simmering tensions with Tehran from an economic onslaught to an act of war.” While the killing was “likely to instigate a dangerous and unpredictable Iranian backlash,” she cautioned, “Iranian leaders are well-practiced at calibrating retaliation around their real interests, which ultimately concern the survival of their regime.” Other experts highlighted Soleimani’s gruesome track record, the potential for region-wide blowback, Saudi Arabia’s reaction, and more.

John R. Allen expressed skepticism, writing: “The Taliban are untrustworthy; their doctrine is irreconcilable with modernity and the rights of women; and in practice, they’re incapable of summoning the necessary internal controls and organizational discipline needed to implement a far-flung agreement like this. The so-called ‘Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan’ will not only not be honored by the Taliban, it will also not bring peace.” Other experts worried about the lack of input from Afghanistan’s government, identified possible reasons for cautious optimism, outlined key battlefield dynamics, and analyzed the prospects for lasting peace.

After the virus originated in China, experts studied Beijing’s “ mask diplomacy ,” and stressed the dangers posed by the inability of the United States and China to coordinate. In Europe, Italy was hardest hit at first, Germany quickly applied strict lockdown measures, and the United Kingdom largely bungled its early response. In East Asia, the pandemic had dire effects on Japan’s economy and others, and North and South Korea took starkly different approaches. In Southeast Asia , the pandemic intersected with the U.S.-China rivalry. In the Middle East, where Iran was an early epicenter, experts analyzed risks of public unrest and economic instability; in Pakistan , religious conservatives played a key role. Latin America would become a hotspot later, with Mexico adopting a “feeble” response. Across Africa, the economic impacts of COVID-19 may largely outlast the health impacts, as experts discussed .

Reopening America and the World

“When it comes to the use of economic engagement as a diplomatic tool, Japan — not the United States — is China’s peer competitor,” wrote Mireya Solís in Foreign Affairs in the wake of Abe’s sudden resignation. She went on: “It might be tempting to yet again dismiss Japan’s potential. But the country’s strategic choices are by no means foreordained, and they will affect not only its own future but also the course of the raging great-power competition now playing out between China and the United States.”

Listen to Solís discuss Japan’s leadership transition:

Before the vote, Thomas Wright contended that the election put “the fundamental principles of U.S. leadership to the test” and detailed the stakes, having studied both Trump’s and Biden’s foreign policy approaches. Via Brookings’s Policy 2020 initiative, experts provided answers to common voter questions, such as: What is the Trump administration’s track record on the environment ? Who are America’s allies and are they paying their fair share of defense? Is U.S. defense spending too high or too low? And scholars from across Brookings Foreign Policy listed concrete, meaningful policy actions the next president should take, regardless of the election outcome.

As Peter Petri and Michael Plummer estimated , “RCEP will connect about 30% of the world’s people and output, [and] could add $209 billion annually to world incomes, and $500 billion to world trade by 2030.” The United States, meanwhile, remains outside this economically and geopolitically significant agreement

Figure: Members of RCEP and CPTPP (Numbers present 2018 GDP in trillions of U.S. dollars)

Instead, as Ryan Hass and Abraham Denmark highlighted , the United States has experienced “more pain than gain” in its trade war with China: “The ultimate results of the phase one trade deal between China and the United States — and the trade war that preceded it — have significantly hurt the American economy without solving the underlying economic concerns that the trade war was meant to resolve.” Separately, David Dollar dove deep into the economic challenges China faces as it continues to rise.

Finally, since most of us will remain largely stuck inside for at least a few more months, check out Brookings Foreign Policy’s recommendations for books to read (with many more excellent finds coming next year), as well as movies and TV shows to watch . Stay safe out there, and see you in 2021.

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Course info.

  • Prof. Stephen Van Evera


  • Political Science

As Taught In

  • American Politics
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Learning Resource Types

American foreign policy: past, present, and future, second paper assignment.

Write a short paper that evaluates a U.S. foreign policy (to include a broad U.S. policy, strategy, or doctrine, or a specific U.S. decision); or a foreign policy idea that was suggested but not adopted.

In your evaluation you can (1) describe and evaluate the key factual and theoretical beliefs that motivated the policy. Were these beliefs true or false?

And / or you can (2) describe and assess the consequences of the policy (if you assess a policy that was adopted); or the consequences that probably would have followed if the policy had been adopted (if you assess an unadopted policy idea). Were these consequences good or bad for the U.S.? Were they good or bad for other states? Were they desired or undesired by U.S. policymakers?

And / or you can (3) assess whether the process by which the policy was decided was good or bad. Were alternative policies considered? Was relevant evidence marshalled and examined in a systematic fashion? Overall, did the policy making process follow the rules of science? Was it “rational-legal”?

In asking if the consequences of the policy were good or bad, you can assess the policy against a pragmatic standard (“the policy improved US national security”) or a moral standard (“the policy violated universal human rights”), or both.

If the evidence available in the assigned readings is too thin to allow you to fully evaluate the policy or policy element that you have chosen to discuss, please say so and describe the information that you would need to perform a more thorough evaluation. Alternately, you can consult works listed in the ‘‘Further Readings’’ pdf, which can be found in the Readings section, or you can ask your TA for suggestions on further reading. (Extra reading is not mandatory but we encourage it if your paper seems to call for it.)

Examples of policies you might evaluate:

  • U.S. foreign policies in the interwar years (1919–1941).
  • The U.S. decision to pursue Containment (1947).
  • The policy of rollback against the USSR that was suggested by some during 1949–1954 but not adopted.
  • The national security policies’ of the Eisenhower Administration (1953–1961). (Note: ‘‘National security policy’’ refers to policies to protect national sovereignty and physical safety; these include national grand strategy, general military policy, and more specific foreign policies.)
  • U.S. policies in the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.
  • The 1965 U.S. decision to send large ground forces to Vietnam.
  • Other U.S. policies in Vietnam/Indochina, 1945–1975.
  • Any other U.S. intervention in the Third World, e.g., the 1954 CIA coup in Guatemala.
  • The 2001–present War on Terror.
  • The 2003 Iraq war.

Your paper should be about eight typed double-spaced pages, with normal 1" margins and normal-size typeface.

Start your paper with a short summary introduction that states your guestion(s) and distills your answer(s) . And offer a conclusion.

Your paper is due at the beginning of Session 23.

Your TA will give you feedback on a draft of your paper if you submit a draft a week before you submit your final paper. You must do this for one of your two papers. You are wise to do it for both papers.

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Policy Papers

foreign policy paper example

The Road to Taiwan’s 2024 Presidential Election

On January 13, 2024, the Republic of China, also known as “Nationalist China” and Taiwan, will hold its next presidential election. This will be the eighth direct election of a president in Taiwan, the first having been held in 1996. It will also be a contest that showcases the island’s changing identity politics, shifting political preferences, and potential security challenges. 

foreign policy paper example

AFPC Iran Strategy Brief no. 14: How Israel Thinks About Iran’s Future

For Israel, the Islamic Republic of Iran represents both a cardinal security challenge and an existential danger. The country’s current clerical regime is estimated to be connected to some “80 percent” of the contemporary security problems confronting the Jewish state.[1] These include not only Iran’s increasingly mature nuclear program, but also its extensive sponsorship of extremist proxies throughout the Mideast, as well as the radical expansionist ideology that continues to animate the regime in Tehran.

foreign policy paper example

The Imperative for United States Engagement in a Global Space Debris Cleanup Program

The United States should proactively engage with other nations and initiate a comprehensive program to clean up the space debris problem.

foreign policy paper example

China’s Space Ambitions

Assessing China’s space program is vital to understanding how investments in space add to a country’s comprehensive national power.

foreign policy paper example

The Starship Singularity

Starship, due to its reusability, size, and power, will dramatically improve access to low Earth orbit that will greatly support the expansion of public-and private-sector activity in space.

What Is Foreign Policy? Definition and Examples

  • U.S. Foreign Policy
  • The U. S. Government
  • U.S. Liberal Politics
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  • Women's Issues
  • Civil Liberties
  • The Middle East
  • Race Relations
  • Immigration
  • Crime & Punishment
  • Canadian Government
  • Understanding Types of Government
  • B.A., International Relations, Brown University

A state’s foreign policy consists of the strategies it uses to protect its international and domestic interests and determines the way it interacts with other state and non-state actors. The primary purpose of foreign policy is to defend a nation’s national interests, which can be in nonviolent or violent ways.

Key Takeaways: Foreign Policy

  • Foreign policy encompasses the tactics and process by which a nation interacts with other nations in order to further its own interests
  • Foreign policy may make use of diplomacy or other more direct means such as aggression rooted in military power
  • International bodies such as the United Nations and its predecessor, the League of Nations, help smooth relations between countries via diplomatic means
  • Major foreign policy theories are Realism, Liberalism, Economic Structuralism, Psychological Theory, and Constructivism

Examples of Foreign Policy

In 2013 China developed a foreign policy known as the Belt and Road Initiative, the nation’s strategy to develop stronger economic ties in Africa, Europe, and North America. In the United States, many presidents are known for their landmark foreign policy decisions such as the Monroe Doctrine which opposed the imperialist takeover of an independent state. A foreign policy can also be the decision to not participate in international organizations and conversations, such as the more isolationist policies of North Korea .

Diplomacy and Foreign Policy

When foreign policy relies on diplomacy, heads of state negotiate and collaborate with other world leaders to prevent conflict. Usually, diplomats are sent to represent a nation’s foreign policy interests at international events. While an emphasis on diplomacy is a cornerstone of many states' foreign policy, there are others that rely on military pressure or other less diplomatic means.

Diplomacy has played a crucial role in the de-escalation of international crises, and the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 is a prime example of this. During the Cold War , intelligence informed President John F. Kennedy that the Soviet Union was sending weapons to Cuba, possibly preparing for a strike against the United States. President Kennedy was forced to choose between a foreign policy solution that was purely diplomatic, speaking to the Soviet Union President Nikita Khrushchev or one that was more militaristic. The former president decided to enact a blockade around Cuba and threaten further military action if Soviet ships carrying missiles attempted to break through.

In order to prevent further escalation, Khrushchev agreed to remove all missiles from Cuba, and in return, Kennedy agreed not to invade Cuba and to remove U.S. missiles from Turkey (which was within striking distance of the Soviet Union). This moment in time is significant because the two governments negotiated a solution that ended the current conflict, the blockade, as well as de-escalated the larger tension, the missiles near each other’s borders.

The History of Foreign Policy and Diplomatic Organizations

Foreign policy has existed as long as people have organized themselves into varying factions. However, the study of foreign policy and the creation of international organizations to promote diplomacy is fairly recent.

One of the first established international bodies for discussing foreign policy was the Concert of Europe in 1814 after the Napoleonic wars . This gave the major European powers (Austria, France, Great Britain, Prussia, and Russia) a forum to solve issues diplomatically instead of resorting to military threats or wars.

In the 20th Century, World War I and II once again exposed the need for an international forum to de-escalate conflict and keep the peace. The League of Nations (which was formed by former U.S. President Woodrow Wilson but ultimately did not include the U.S.) was created in 1920 with the primary purpose of maintaining world peace. After the League of Nations dissolved, it was replaced by the United Nations in 1954 after World War II, an organization to promote international cooperation and now includes 193 countries as members.

It is important to note that many of these organizations are concentrated around Europe and the Western Hemisphere as a whole. Because of European countries’ history of imperialism and colonization, they often wielded the greatest international political and economic powers and subsequently created these global systems. However, there are continental diplomatic bodies such as the African Union, Asia Cooperation Dialogue, and Union of South American Countries which facilitate multilateral cooperation in their respective regions as well.

Foreign Policy Theories: Why States Act as They Do

The study of foreign policy reveals several theories as to why states act the way they do. The prevailing theories are Realism, Liberalism, Economic Structuralism, Psychological Theory, and Constructivism.

Realism states that interests are always determined in terms of power and states will always act according to their best interest. Classical Realism follows 16th-century political theorist Niccolò Machiavelli ’s famous quote from his foreign policy book "The Prince":

“It is much safer to be feared than loved.”

It follows that the world is full of chaos because humans are egoistic and will do anything to have power. The structural reading of realism, however, focuses more on the state than the individual: All governments will react to pressures in the same way because they are more concerned about national security than power.

The theory of liberalism emphasizes liberty and equality in all aspects and believes that the rights of the individual are superior to the needs of the state. It also follows that the chaos of the world can be pacified with international cooperation and global citizenship. Economically, liberalism values free trade above all and believes the state should rarely intervene in economic issues, as this is where problems arise. The market has a long-term trajectory towards stability, and nothing should interfere with that.

Economic Structuralism

Economic structuralism, or Marxism, was pioneered by Karl Marx, who believed that capitalism was immoral because it is the immoral exploitation of the many by the few. However, theorist Vladimir Lenin brought the analysis to an international level by explaining that imperialist capitalist nations succeed by dumping their excess products in economically weaker nations, which drives down the prices and further weakens the economy in those areas. Essentially, issues arise in international relations because of this concentration of capital, and change can only occur through the action of the proletariat.

Psychological Theories

Psychological theories explain international politics on a more individual level and seek to understand how an individual’s psychology can affect their foreign policy decisions. This follows that diplomacy is deeply affected by the individual ability to judge, which is often colored by how solutions are presented, the time available for the decision, and level of risk. This explains why political decision making is often inconsistent or may not follow a specific ideology.


Constructivism believes that ideas influence identities and drive interests. The current structures only exist because years of social practice have made it so. If a situation needs to be resolved or a system must be changed, social and ideological movements have the power to bring about reforms. A core example of constructivism is human rights, which are observed by some nations, but not others. Over the past few centuries, as social ideas and norms around human rights, gender, age, and racial equality have evolved, laws have changed to reflect these new societal norms.

  • Elrod, Richard B. “The Concert of Europe: A Fresh Look at an International System.”  World Politics , vol. 28, no. 2, 1976, pp. 159–174.  JSTOR , JSTOR,
  • “The Cuban Missile Crisis, October 1962.”  U.S. Department of State , U.S. Department of State,
  • Viotti, Paul R., and Mark V. Kauppi.  International Relations Theory . 5th ed., Pearson, 2011.

Viotti, Paul R., and Mark V. Kauppi.  International Relations Theory . Pearson Education, 2010.

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Policy Memo Resource

Foreign policy/national security, murrow, kennedy and memos on cuba.

Memo reviewed by Lauren Brodsky, HKS Lecturer in Public Policy

Kennedy Coin

Sitting slightly reclined, with a steady stream of cigarette smoke visible to the viewer, esteemed journalist Edward R. Murrow faces a television screen with a view of a Boston apartment. It is 1953. Murrow is interviewing junior Senator John F. Kennedy, and his wife, Jackie, for the show People to People .... Read more about Murrow, Kennedy and memos on Cuba

"Present at the Catastrophe: Standing By as Turks Cleanse Kurds in Northern Syria," US Envoy Criticizes Trump Administration

Memo reviewed by Michelle Barton, HKS MC/MPA

Russian and Turkish military vehicles patrolling in NE Syria

This foreign policy memo   (found in the New York Times article by Eric Schmitt, 11/7/19)  is a clear and concise piece of writing in response to a mammoth decision in U.S. foreign policy. It was written to experts at the Department of State, and was unclassified. The memo deals with a catastrophic, unilateral decision to withdraw by President Trump, made in consultation with no area experts, and has since caused rapid deterioration on the ground in Syria. The author, Ambassador William Roebuck, has been in and out of Syria for the last two years.... Read more about "Present at the Catastrophe: Standing By as Turks Cleanse Kurds in Northern Syria," US Envoy Criticizes Trump Administration

"Our Response to Soviet Intervention in Afghanistan," a Memo to President Jimmy Carter, From: Assistant for National Security Affairs, Date: 12/29/79

Memo reviewed by James J. McDonnell, National Security Fellow, Harvard Kennedy School

Adult man with gun in war battle black and white

Brzezinski, the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (currently called the National Security Advisor) under Jimmy Carter, wrote a memo to outline what response the U.S. should take to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.... Read more about "Our Response to Soviet Intervention in Afghanistan," a Memo to President Jimmy Carter, From: Assistant for National Security Affairs, Date: 12/29/79

"Reinvigoration of Human Rights Policy," a Memo To: Secretary of State, Alexander Haig, 10/26/81

Memo reviewed by Andreas L. Hahn, 2020 Fletcher MALD Candidate

Globe and many faces

( Memorandum From the Deputy Secretary of State (Clark) and the Under Secretary of State for Management (Kennedy) to Secretary of State Haig [1] , 26 October 1981)

The memo on the “Reinvigoration of Human Rights Policy” left an impact on me because it distilled abstract concepts in a persuasive way. But what made this particular memo stick, compared to an abundance of other memos on the topic?... Read more about "Reinvigoration of Human Rights Policy," a Memo To: Secretary of State, Alexander Haig, 10/26/81

Harvard's Jane Rosenzweig reviews "Whistleblower" memo in New York Times

Picture of edited memo

I can’t tell you what’s going to happen to his  blockbuster complaint  about the president’s behavior, but I can tell you that the whistle-blower’s college writing instructor would be very proud of him.... Read more about Harvard's Jane Rosenzweig reviews "Whistleblower" memo in New York Times

  • Audience (1)
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  • Credible (1)
  • Environment (1)
  • Foreign Policy/National Security (5)
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  • Politics (1)

How to Write a MUN Position Paper

A MUN Position Paper, also known as Policy Paper, is a strategic document that gives an overview of a delegates country position.

A good MUN Position Paper has three parts:

1) Country’s Position on the Topic 2) Country’s Relation to the Topic 3) Proposals of Policies to Pass in a Resolution

The following guide will show you how to write an excellent Position Paper, make the right impression to your chair and fellow delegates while achieving your overt, and covert, goals.

Table of Contents:

What is a Position Paper?

  • The Sections of a Position Paper
  • The PREP Formula

Types of Position Papers

The purpose of a position paper.

A Position Paper/Policy Paper, is a document, normally one page, which presents your country’s stance on the issue/topic your committee will be discussing. A solid position paper has three parts 1) Country’s position, 2) Country’s relation 3) Country’s Proposal

Great Position Papers require research and strategic analysis to effectively convey your countries position. Most MUN conferences require Policy Papers for a delegate to be eligible to win an award. Having an outstanding Position Paper could be the tiebreaker to win an award.

Why is the Position Paper important?

A MUN Position Paper is important for a wide variety of reasons beyond ensuring that delegates do a basic level of research before the conference. Understanding why a Position Paper is important lays the foundation to help you sort your thoughts as well as delivering your desired message to the chair.

The chairs oversee the committee from start to finish and as a delegate, you will want to show consistency with the principles and values present in your Position Paper.

Goals of a Position Paper

1. Show your country’s unique understanding of the issue being discussed . 2. Show your country’s previous relationship with the topic (preferably with relevant examples). 3. Show policies and ideas that your country would like to see in the resolution .

As most position papers are limited to one page, a minimum of one paragraph should be devoted to each of the aforementioned goals, and there should be clear transitions from paragraph to paragraph. The following position paper outline is universal, with options to expand in specific sections if you see it is needed.

The Sections of a Good Position Paper

A position paper is the result of proper preparation and research for your Model UN conference . Once you finish researching, follow the position paper guidelines (the conference should provide you with these). With the formatting instructions in mind, follow the instructions below to produce a high-quality position paper.

Model UN Position Paper Structure

1) How you / your country sees the situation/problem in general

2) Your country’s relation to the topic

3) What you want to pass in your MUN resolution

1) Your Position on the Topic Being Discussed

To answer the question “how to start a Position Paper’, keep in mind that you are not only sharing your position, but also introducing the reader to see the topic being discussed from your eyes.

To establish your position, start with a brief history of the situation / problem the committee will be discussing (How you see the situation / your position on the topic). Define what you see as the challenge to the global community (or at least what some of them face). Keep in mind that your goal is to meet this challenge by the end of the paper.

Frame the issue to be discussed as something that does not only pertain to your country but, ideally, also the other countries you would want to support your policy.

It helps to keep in mind that you will not get support for your clauses, or pass a resolution, alone. It is only if other countries see the topic the same way you do, that they will want to join you to implement your solution.

Example of Position Country: Angola Committee: The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Topic : Improving Access to Clean Water

The Republic of Angola believes consistent access to clean water is a basic human right. Some countries have an abundance of water, such as: Canada, Scotland and Switzerland. Others have next to no water, such as: Yemen, Libya and Djibouti, or low rainfall like Namibia and Sudan which creates water scarcity and desertification. The solution to all of these problems is the weather control that comes from cloud-seeding, with richer countries already reaping the benefits. The National Center of Meteorology and Seismology (NCMS) witnessed an increase in rainfall of 10%–15% in polluted air and 30%–35% in clean air. China uses cloud seeding over several increasingly arid regions including Beijing, the capital. In 2017, the United Arab Emirates launched 235 cloud-seeding operations by five cloud-seeding planes based in Al Ain. The use and success proves the technology works, but it is only accessible to those who can afford setting up the mechanisms to cloud seed, or pay for the chemicals from companies like Bayer and DowDuPont Inc, who control the patents and sales rights.

2) Your Country’s Relation To The Topic

presentation of the policies your country has used to deal with the issue in the past. You should also describe the successes or failures of those policies (Your country’s previous relation to the topic and the precedents it set).

Note: This is also the place to write previous actions your committee has with the topic ONLY IF it is relevant to how your country introduces itself. Otherwise, you are repeating factual information that is not related to you introducing your position. Writing facts that do not forward your case is a trap many fall into. In the cases where your country has a strong link to the issue, the examples in the 2nd paragraph should be about your country’s connection to the specific issue.

If your country has no direct relation, see if similar countries to yours, or countries with similar positions, have a relation to the topic. You can also conduct research to find out if your country has a relation to a similar topic, from where you can draw inspiration and a direction to justify your policies. (More on this in our article about ‘ How to effectively represent your country ’)

Example of Relation Country: Angola Committee: The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Topic : Improving Access to Clean Water

Angola’s history is scarred with conflicts arising from the abuse and mismanagement of natural resources, such as iron ore, petroleum, uranium, and diamonds. Angola is oil-rich while our people are dirt-poor. We stand at 149 out of 186 on the 2016 Human Development Index poverty scale. In rural areas, which contain 11.4 million people (38.5% of our total population), only 6% of households having access to electricity and 38% do not have access to safe water sources. Approximately 15 out of every 100 children do not survive beyond the age of five, leaving us with a child mortality rate is around 17%. These challenges are especially difficult for our president Joao Lourenco, who entered the office in September 2017. President Lourenco biggest challenge is reforming 38 years of cronyism and corruption under former President José Eduardo dos Santos. During his 38 years in power, infrastructure has not been developed while tens of billions of petrodollars disappeared. The 2014 oil slump made our situation worse reaffirming that we are unable to pull ourselves up on our own. Additionally, we do not get enough rain. We only get 32 days of rain with more than 0.1mm of rainfall meaning only 2.7 days of quality rain, sleet, and snow per month. Not enough to maintain adequate crop yields.

3) Extra Supporting Material

be hard data needed to support paragraph 2 or justify paragraph 3; this 4th paragraph still comes before the final section where you describe your desired policies.

what was originally read in the committee study guide.

Example of Extra Country: Angola Committee: The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Topic : Improving Access to Clean Water

The global system that depends on technologies provided by companies like Corteva is strongly entrenched in the Sub Saharan agriculture sector, as well as all over the world. The four biggest companies, Bayer-Monsanto, ChemChina, Corteva and Syngenta have 59 percent of the world’s patented seeds, 64 percent of all pesticides and held near-monopolies over other agrichemicals. The use of these crops and chemicals has become fundamental to grow corn in Tanzania, potatoes in Kenya and other crops in sub-Saharan Africa throughout their diverse range of crops and terrains. This position of power persists because the sub-Saharan farmers are similar in their lack of access to best practices, techniques, technologies, finances and markets. This lack of skills is combined with limited resources results in the agriculture sector that is as under-development in agriculture as it is dependent on companies like ChemChina.

4)Proposal – What You Want to Pass in a Resolution

Give an outline of possible / likely solutions that your country proposes and would advocate to see implemented during the Model UN simulation. Do this within the limits of what your particular committee can do (What you would want to pass a resolution about). If you want to do additional actions beyond the mandate of your committee, you can outsource them to other committees. If this is an integral part of your strategy they should also go here. In the Proposal section, you can either commit to one strong Call to Action, a few different policies or two extreme red lines, which you say you intend to work between. Remember, while you do not need to fully commit yourself to what you write in your Position Papers, it is important that you show the margins within which you will be operating at the conference. Doing this shows there is thought behind your actions and gives you more credit with the chairs for diplomatic progress. It is thus strongly advisable that you not write something that you will directly contradict through your actions in committee sessions.

What is a Policy? A policy is a course of action proposed, or adopted, by a government, party, business, or individual. Your policies are a Call to Action telling the UN officials, who get the resolution, what to do.

You want your MUN policy to be clear, concise, and SMART .

The SMART MUN Policy

SMART is an acronym to describe the criteria needed to set policy goals. S pecific – Target a specific area for improvement in your policy.

M easurable – Suggest an indicator of progress once the policy is in place.

A ctionable – Specify what action this policy will do.

R ealistic – Given available resources and committee mandate, ensure your proposed policy can realistically be attained.

Timely – Specify when the result(s) from your proposed policy can be achieved, or when to revisit.

Example of Proposal Country: Angola Committee: The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Topic : Improving Access to Clean Water

Angola advocates for a UN-sanctioned policy that gives permission to dry developing countries to make generic replicas of their patented chemicals at a fraction of the cost to achieve water independence. An example of these technologies belongs to German rainfall enhancement leader WeatherTec Services GmbH. WeatherTecs cutting edge technologies to improve water access are cheaper than many of their competitors but the operating costs start at 11 – 15 million Euros a year. Angola does not believe the United Nations should subsidize the cost of the chemicals, as the subsidy is a temporary solution and it would take funds from other important programs while leaving the corporations with the same level of control. Today, aside from South Africa, none of us can afford cloud seeding. We can cloud seed on our own if freed from the shackles of patent laws that benefit the rich. Dupot made net sales of $62.5B in 2017, by charging prices which the poorer dry countries could never afford. The UN should allow the relevant member states to locally produce WeatherTecs technologies so we can join the ranks of self-sufficient nations who can provide for themselves the basic water needs to survive.

The PReP Formula for Successful Position Papers

PReP stands for Position, Relation, extra & Proposal , which are the essential parts of every position paper . PReP will help you remember the formula.

Position – Your view / interpretation of the issue being discussed. (Paragraph 1)

Relation – Your connection to the topic being discussed. (Paragraph 2)

extra – The optional 4th paragraph which can contain extra information your feel is critical to your case, but doesn’t naturally fit into one of the other three paragraphs. This paragraph still comes before the one containing your policies.

Proposal – The practical policies you would want to see in the resolution. (Paragraph 3)

The PReP Strategy

With the Proposal ( paragraph 3), you solve the issue shown in your Position (paragraph 1) with the tools and relevance you set up in your Relation (paragraph 2). (The examples used in paragraph 2 should, preferably, also show the policy margins of your country).

The policy outlined in the final section of the Position Paper should show ideas that address the issues outlined in your position associated with the committee topic (as should have been specified in the first paragraph). This position should be justified by the country’s relation (or guesstimate relation) to the topic (the second paragraph). These should be used to justify the policy proposals you outline in the third paragraph. Each of these paragraphs should try to have as much unique information as possible that can’t be found in the committee study guide (because everyone in the committee should theoretically know that information). Obviously, your paper should have some connection to the main issues of the topic, but if you feel the paper should go in a different direction, that is completely your right.

Topic: Finding the cure for the Zika virus

Country: Greece

While this topic is one that is important, the delegate of Greece can decide that he doesn’t want his country to fund viruses they don’t have and only exists half a world away. In such a case, we would see:

Position (First paragraph) : How the global community spends collective money on local issues.

Relation (Second paragraph): How Greece doesn’t have the money to spend and how it has local diseases and problems at home.

Extra (Fourth Optional Paragraph): Optional paragraph could include data on regional diseases that broke out in neighboring countries and remain a viable threat for Greece.

Proposal (Third paragraph): Passing laws that would have localized diseases with body counts that don’t cross the tens of thousands, to be funded by local unions. There can also be a second idea that the World Health Organization divert extra funds instead of countries collectively forking out money.

There is no set amount of space each section needs to have. Some Position papers need a longer first section while others need double the space for the policy. What is certain is that no paper can miss any of the sections (except the extra part) and each one should be developed to at least 25% of the paper.

Practicum: The four-step plan to implement PReP

Writing a Position Paper should come after you finish your MUN research . Once you have completed that (and especially if you haven’t), follow this three-step plan and don’t over complicate things.

– Position Papers chairs read – Position Papers delegates read – Position Papers everyone will read – Position Papers no one will read

“Everyone has a story to tell or a product to sell. Know your audience before you open your mouth.” – April Sims

While not all Model United Nations conferences require Position Papers, many of them do. Whether it be your Chairs, other delegates, a mix or none of the above, knowing who will be your audience will help you craft the right paper and achieve your desired goal.

Position Papers Only The Chair Will Read

When the chair is required to send feedback, this usually means they will have read your Position Paper. This is an excellent opportunity to go all out, regarding the reasons for why your country has the position that it is taking and why you chose the policies that you did. (See our article on ‘Properly Represent Your Country?’) This is also the place to describe your Call to Action / the policies you want to implement in detail. The reason for such open and clear (but not too clear) writing is because no one but the Chair will read it, meaning you don’t need as much nuance as you would in a public Position Paper or opening speech. This is the place to give your ideas in a clear, unfiltered manner so that the Chair can understand it later when you give a more layered speech during the formal sessions.

‘For Chair eyes only’ Position Papers are also an excellent opportunity to bring facts and ideas that you want known to the chair, but don’t have time to fit into your first speech or two. While not bluntly giving away your country’s real motivation, you have a lot more liberty to flag things you’re afraid might be missed once the committee session starts.

Position Papers Only Delegates will Read (but not Chairs)

These are Position Papers where all the delegates are able to read each other’s work, research and position on the topic at hand. An example of where this can happen, is a large conference (e.g. 200 delegates), where the Position Paper deadline is the day before the conference.

For these papers, you still want to use the Position Paper platform to show why the discussion should focus on where you want it to go. For this reason, the Position Paper should be written more to frame the issue than give concrete detailed policies. Delegates who did not research to the same extent, or have no clear position, can be introduced to your interpretation of the topic. Some may completely adopt it, or at least be familiar with it when they hear it in a speech. (See our article on ‘ Writing the Killer Speech ’)

Position Papers Everyone Will Read (Chairs and Delegates)

The Chair + Delegate Position Papers are the most complex to write. In these cases, the ideal situation is for the chair to see what you would want them to see, as if it was written just for them, while at the same time, the other delegates would see a Position Paper customized for them. This is a hard balance to find, but if erring to one side, it is better to build a paper for the delegates and hope the chair has the experience to read between the lines.

One more variable to take into consideration is when Position Papers are written for a gigantic committee (100 or more delegates).

In gigantic rooms, the Position Paper should have at least the basics of the policy, because one might not speak in the first few hours and this might be the only way to get you onto the floor.

Position Papers No One Will Read

Yes, this actually exists in MUN. Some Position Papers will not be read by the Chairs  or anyone else at all. However, the conference requires submission to qualify for a diplomacy award. A few conferences will admit that no one will read the Position Papers, but most will not.

Here are a few things to look out for to know your Position Papers likely won’t be read:

-When Chairs are not required to send you feedback on the Position Paper

– The deadline is the day before the conference.

In these cases, the main benefit of writing a Position Paper is to organize your thoughts. However, in practice, a poor document can be just as easily submitted to qualify.

Pitfalls to Avoid

Potential issues you may run into:

  • You may run into a situation where your country does not have a clear policy towards a topic, or they have recently changed policy. For example, with the election in the US and the change from one ideology to another, their rhetoric towards the Iran Nuclear issue changed almost overnight. It would be tempting to follow the words of the leaders in a case like this, but pay attention to actual actions. Nothing has changed.
  • When faced with conflicting positions from your country, choose one and stick with it. Use the position that you can find the most research on.
  • Sometimes you will be stuck with a topic or committee that your country has little to no interest in. This will cause a lack of information to work with. For example, if you are in UNESCO and the topic is oil drilling in Ecuador’s rainforest, you may find that Malawi has not put out any statement on the issue. Don’t despair.
  • In a situation like this, when your country has no position on a topic, you have to get creative. Find similar issues that affect your country and extrapolate that to the current topic. For the Ecuador example, Malawi can use their position of environmental issues in their own country and throughout the continent as a guide as to how they would respond.
  • If you find yourself on a topic with indigenous people’s rights, but your country does not have a strong position, find out if there are indigenous groups in that country. Do they treat them well or poorly? Both will give you a direction to take with your Position Paper.
  • There shouldn’t be a single sentence that has no purpose.  Each fact or statement should support the identity you are constructing.
  • If you feel a fact or statement that doesn’t seem to have a place, must be in the PP, think about why. If it is so vital that it fits into the first, second, or sometimes the  third paragraph. If it does not, perhaps it can be replaced with one which does.
  • The information can be used later – this fact or statement can be important and be saved for a later speech. However, the position paper needs to be a self-supporting document and just because it is important doesn’t mean it has to go here.
  • You want to end every Position Paper on a strong note, but you do not want to have a conclusion that is overwhelming or concrete. Remember, you will not have many pages, usually, one to get your country’s position across. The Chair is not judging your Position Paper on how well you close, they are judging it based on your understanding of the issues and the solutions you bring to the table.
  • That being said, it helps to close the paper well. There is an old saying about writing an essay that can apply to a Position Paper as well:
  • “Your introduction tells them they will be intrigued. The body is the meat of the argument. The conclusion reminds them that they were impressed.”
  • How do we apply this to a Position Paper? In the beginning, you frame the problem, not wasting your time giving a detailed research paper. The bulk of the paper is letting the Chair know that you understand your country’s relationship to the topic and your proposed solutions. Your conclusion is going to close briefly with a strong, concluding remark. BRIEFLY is the key word here.

Position Paper Format

The format of each Positions Paper, or Position Paper template, varies from conference to conference. However, even if you have no format instructions you do not want to have a messy position paper.

An unorganized paper can:

  • Make you look less serious (to chairs and delegates)
  • Make your text harder to follow
  • Give your reader less incentive to pay attention

Messy Position Paper – Example

You can see here how the bunched lines, uneven spacing, random bullet points, different sizes, confused margins and everything else makes the paper unappealing to the eye before we even start reading.

Organized Position Paper – Example

Here you can see the Position Paper is more organized and easier to read.

Sometimes, the conference will give you an unfilled Position Paper template, with the logo and blank headings for you to fill in. Other times, the conference will send you a Model UN Position Paper sample. Other conferences will send you specific, or loose, Position Paper instructions about how they want the paper formatted.

Each Position Paper should be measured by its content and its ability to inform and influence the respective Chairs and delegate. However, the Position Paper will not reach that point if it is not accepted. It is a pity when your work is not be read or forwarded on because you got the font wrong, exceeded the margins or sent the paper in late. For this reason, whether strict or lax, read and follow the Model UN Position Paper formatting instructions so the hard work you put into the document will achieve its strategic objective.

Examples of Position Paper Instructions

Position Paper Instructions Example #1:

Write the Position Paper for ExampleMUN 2026 using the standards below:

  • Length must not exceed two pages.
  • Margins must be 2.54 cm or 1 inch for the entire paper.
  • Font must be Times New Roman, size 12.
  • Justify the paragraphs. The left and right margins must both have straight edges.
  • Country name / institution committee name must be clearly labeled on the top of the 1st page.
  • Agenda topics must be clearly labeled as the title.
  • National symbols, such as flags, logos, etc. are deemed inappropriate for ExampleMUN Position Papers.
  • Send your document in PDF format.

Position Paper Instructions Example #2:

We ask delegates of ExampleMUN to each produce a position paper before the conference. It must outline their country’s position, main objectives and issues they are seeking to address during the conference. Your Chairs will return the Position Papers to you with feedback a fortnight before the conference. This will give you time to ascertain which countries would be considered natural allies for you and for you to read which issues the other delegates may deem important.

A Position Paper the length of one side of A4 should be sufficient to state your position.

Example of Formatted Position Paper

Angola feels that in this day and age, hunger should be a thing of the past. However, in 2018, over 795 million people do not have enough food to lead a healthy, active life. This does not include the half of the world’s population, more than 3 billion people, who live on less than $2.50 a day. For better or worse, the road to more accessible and cheaper food is strongly related to water supply. Some countries have an abundance of water, such as: Canada, Scotland and Switzerland. Others have next to no water, such as: Yemen, Libya and Djibouti, or low rainfall like Namibia and Sudan which creates water scarcity and desertification. The solution to all of these problems is the weather control that comes from cloud-seeding, with richer countries already reaping the benefits. The National Center of Meteorology and Seismology (NCMS) witnessed an increase in rainfall of 10–15% in polluted air and 30–35% in clean air. China uses cloud seeding over several increasingly arid regions including Beijing, the capital. In 2017, the United Arab Emirates launched 235 cloud-seeding operations by five cloud-seeding planes based in Al Ain. The use and success proves the technology works, but it is only accessible to those who can afford setting up the mechanisms to cloud seed, or pay for the chemicals from companies like Bayer, Dupont and Dow Chemical Company, who control the patents and sales rights.

How to Win a Best Position Paper Award

T he difference between a good and a great Position Paper

Good Chairs will give credit to delegates who properly predict the room and are able to guide their policies from the Position Paper to the final resolution. This is because it means that the delegates accurately predicted which direction the discussion would go in, or better still, were able to direct the room in that direction.

This does not mean that the best delegate must have an excellent Position Paper, or perfectly stick to it. Aside from the ‘Best Position Paper’ award, the actions that take place in the committee are almost completely what Chairs will consider for awards. However, it is not uncommon that a Position Paper is used as a tiebreaker between two extremely close delegates.

In all these cases, you need to have an opinion. To win the ‘Best Position Paper’ award, your Position Paper needs to be full of new solutions, it must follow proper format and it has to be concise and ‘ fluff-free ’. Neutrality on an issue, or saying your country has no opinion, is admitting that you will let other delegates take the lead on the issue. It is better to find a policy of a country similar to yours, or your own policy on a similar issue, than saying nothing. More on how to deal with this can be found in our ‘ Research ’ and ‘ How to Represent Your Country ’ articles.

Top Position Paper Strategies

  • The Chair of your committee will be reading so many Position Papers about the same exact topic that they will be bored to death of seeing the same solutions over and over again. To stand out, come up with a viable, new strategy that other countries may not have thought of. We say viable because it cannot be so outlandish as to be impossible, but it should be something that makes the Chair stop and focus on your paper.
  • You can get a little off-the-wall with solutions, as long as they have a basis in reality.
  • Alexander Hamilton employed a similar strategy during the Constitutional Convention in the US. When debating an overhaul of the US government, there were two main plans (the Virginia Plan and the New Jersey Plan). The New Jersey plan was closer to what was already in place, while the Virginia Plan was a change almost too much for people to handle (though most knew this was the only way to save the nation). In order to discredit the New Jersey Plan, Hamilton boldly proposed a plan so radical, that the Virginia Plan became moderate in comparison.
  • Hamilton’s plan opened the discussion and changed the conversation. It caught the attention of everyone present and moved them towards a solution.
  • You can do this with a position paper. Even if you do not ultimately get what you want, you have caught the Chair’s attention and have become a player in the game.

While this seems self-explanatory, you would be surprised how many people disregard the format rules given by the conference. Do not ignore this. As Chairs are reading the papers, they will come to expect certain formatting and anything not following the rules will stand out, and not in a good way. Do not get on the Chair’s bad side before the conference even begins. You can be sure that they will take points off for improper formatting and keep your name written down for conference time.

When you think about how to start a Position Paper, don’t go for an intense sound-bite. Flare is not good without substance. Try to be as clear as you comfortably can and reach your important points as quickly as possible.

What Chairs Look For

Similarly to how Position Paper format instructions are given to delegates, Chairs are also given instructions by the Model UN Conference Secretariat on how to evaluate Position Papers. Chairing, from when you write the study guide until the closure of debate, is a sacred responsibility.

Sometimes, the instructions given by the secretariat on how to evaluate Position Papers are clear and uniform. However, often, a Chair needs to fill in some gaps between the secretariat’s instructions and doing the job in real-time.  To better understand the considerations regarding Position Papers, read the following instructions, given by an Under-secretary General of Chairing to their staff.


Dear Chairs,  

As of this weekend, all the registered delegates should receive their study guides. While a few delegates will still be getting allocations over the next week, most of them will have received guidelines for how and when to send Position Papers. The delegates are required to send the Position Papers to the committee email from the 20th – 26th of February. Any Position Paper received by the 26th before midnight should receive feedback from one of the Chairs. You are not obligated to give feedback to papers received from the 27th onwards. Hopefully, you should get most or all of the papers before the deadline. Papers received after the 28th are not eligible for the best position paper award, as you may not have time to check them. Position Papers that are received after March 1st, or not at all, will make the delegate ineligible for an award.

In the Position Papers, we want to see that delegates show they understand (a) the topic (b) their countries positions and history and (c) the policies they propose to solve it / perpetuate it (if they are evil).

The Position Papers which arrive on time should get feedback. This does not need to be more than a few lines per topic. However, we do require you to tell the delegates if they did a good job or if they are lacking in one of the three sections mentioned above. You should also tell them what you want them to improve. In the feedback, where possible, please use examples from their text. To do this most effectively, divide the position papers amongst yourselves and return them when you can. You are not required to send feedback if the delegate sends you an improved position paper. Our main goal is for you to have prepared delegates in your committee, and a rewritten position paper generally indicates better preparation.

  If anyone would like more information on how to give feedback, or have any other questions relating to Position Papers, please let me know in a reply to this email.

  If your delegates write you asking how to write a policy paper, or any other questions, we expect you to be helpful, courteous and available.

  Good Luck

USG Chairing

Not every MUN conference secretariat will have this level of instruction for their Chairs. Some have more; a few give online workshops about Position Papers, while others give no instruction at all. However, in most cases, the final feedback is left to a Chair’s discretion.

If your secretariat left you alone, giving feedback on the basics according to the guidelines at the beginning of this article is a good start. You can also give topic-specific feedback, which uses examples of where more research or analyses can be used, based on what you wrote in your study guide .

11 Questions Chairs Ask When Reading Your Position Paper

Question chairs ask about a quality position paper.

  • Did the delegate reframe the topic to make the problem-specific and relevant to them?
  • Did they show their country’s relation to the topic?
  • Did they offer policies that can gain a majority in the committee?
  • Do these policies represent their countries stated interests?
  • Did the delegate use examples?
  • Do the examples go beyond the information in the study guide?
  • Did the writer bring something new, unique and interesting?

Questions You Hope Your Chair Never Asks

  • Was this position paper copied and pasted from Wikipedia or some other online source?
  • If I change the country name on this super vague paper will it be just as “valid”?
  • How inebriated was the delegate when they wrote this?
  • Has the writer even heard of Model UN?

Using these questions to measure the quality of your paper will let you review your work with a Chair’s eyes. If the answers to these questions aren’t good enough, then you now know what to work on. A few appropriate modifications can result in a complete makeover of a Position Paper, and possibly a much-improved delegate as well.

Closing thoughts on Position Papers

Position Papers are important. Knowing if the Position Paper will be read only by the Chair or by the delegates should be taken into account when choosing what to write and focus on. Position Paper format should also be taken into account, but not at the expense of quality.

A Position Paper should accomplish three goals: 1. Show a country’s position on the topic being discussed. 2. Show a country’s previous relationship to the topic (preferably with relevant examples). 3. Show policies and ideas that (1) represent the interests of your country and (2) you would ideally like to see in the resolution.

When you’re the Chair, give instructive feedback with specific examples. Your comments could be the difference between a lost delegate or an effective one, or between a good conference and a great one.

Lastly, don’t forget the PReP strategy:

In Policy (paragraph 3) you solve the issue in Position (paragraph 1) with the tools and relevance you set up in Relation (paragraph 2).

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Foreign Policy

Academic Writing Service

Foreign Policy Research Paper Topics:

  • The role of ideology in shaping foreign policy
  • The impact of globalization on foreign policy
  • The role of diplomacy in foreign policy decision-making
  • The influence of public opinion on foreign policy
  • The role of intelligence in foreign policy
  • The role of international organizations in shaping foreign policy
  • The impact of economic factors on foreign policy decisions
  • The role of the media in shaping foreign policy
  • The role of military force in foreign policy decision-making
  • The impact of humanitarian considerations on foreign policy
  • The role of historical legacies in shaping foreign policy
  • The impact of identity politics on foreign policy
  • The role of international law in foreign policy decision-making
  • The impact of security considerations on foreign policy decisions
  • The role of foreign aid in shaping foreign policy
  • The impact of cultural factors on foreign policy decisions
  • The role of leaders in shaping foreign policy
  • The impact of domestic politics on foreign policy
  • The role of international norms in shaping foreign policy
  • The impact of environmental concerns on foreign policy decisions
  • The role of public opinion in shaping alliances and coalitions
  • The impact of technology on foreign policy decision-making
  • The role of international regimes in shaping foreign policy
  • The impact of terrorism on foreign policy decisions
  • The role of intelligence sharing in foreign policy decision-making
  • The impact of economic sanctions on foreign policy decisions
  • The role of international peacekeeping missions in shaping foreign policy
  • The impact of human rights concerns on foreign policy decisions
  • The role of non-state actors in shaping foreign policy
  • The impact of energy considerations on foreign policy decisions
  • The role of propaganda in shaping foreign policy
  • The impact of international trade on foreign policy decisions
  • The role of ideology in shaping the perception of foreign threats
  • The impact of international migration on foreign policy decisions
  • The role of international financial institutions in shaping foreign policy
  • The impact of international law on economic sanctions and trade agreements
  • The role of cultural diplomacy in foreign policy
  • The impact of the intelligence community on foreign policy decisions
  • The role of nonproliferation in shaping foreign policy
  • The impact of cybersecurity threats on foreign policy decisions
  • The role of international development aid in foreign policy
  • The impact of nationalism on foreign policy decisions
  • The role of transnational social movements in shaping foreign policy
  • The impact of climate change on foreign policy decisions
  • The role of economic interdependence in shaping foreign policy
  • The impact of foreign direct investment on foreign policy decisions
  • The role of diasporas in shaping foreign policy
  • The impact of the arms trade on foreign policy decisions
  • The role of cultural differences in shaping foreign policy perceptions
  • The impact of international justice on foreign policy decisions.

Foreign policy is composed of several elements, including economic, military, political, and cultural factors. Economic considerations form a significant part of foreign policy as nations engage in trade, investment, and financial transactions to advance their economic interests. Military factors, on the other hand, involve the use of force, military alliances, and weapons proliferation to safeguard a nation’s security and sovereignty. Political considerations include efforts to promote democratic governance, human rights, and global governance through international organizations such as the United Nations. Lastly, cultural factors, including soft power diplomacy, aim to project a nation’s values and ideals globally through music, art, literature, and sports.

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The formulation of foreign policy is influenced by various factors, including geography, history, culture, ideology, and leadership. The geographical location of a country plays a crucial role in shaping its foreign policy. For instance, a landlocked country may have a different foreign policy from a coastal state that relies on sea trade for its economic prosperity. Similarly, a nation’s history and culture shape its foreign policy. For example, Germany’s historical experience of being a defeated nation in World War II and the subsequent division between East and West Germany shaped its foreign policy of neutrality and European integration. Ideology and leadership also play a significant role in shaping foreign policy. A government with a liberal democratic ideology may adopt a foreign policy of promoting democracy and human rights globally. A leader’s personality and worldview may also influence foreign policy decisions, such as former US President Donald Trump’s “America First” foreign policy that prioritized the country’s national interests over global cooperation.

The significance of foreign policy in international relations cannot be overstated. Foreign policy determines a nation’s role and standing in the international system, its alliances and partnerships, and its response to global issues such as terrorism, climate change, and human rights abuses. Effective foreign policy can promote peace and cooperation among nations, advance economic prosperity, and enhance a country’s international reputation. On the other hand, poor foreign policy decisions can lead to conflict, economic stagnation, and damage to a nation’s reputation.

In conclusion, foreign policy is a critical area of study in political science, and it plays a crucial role in shaping a nation’s interactions with the international system. It is a complex and dynamic field that is influenced by several factors, including economic, military, political, and cultural considerations. Effective foreign policy can promote peace, security, and prosperity among nations, while poor decisions can lead to conflict and damage a nation’s international standing. Therefore, foreign policy is an essential aspect of political science and international relations, and its study is vital to understanding global affairs.


foreign policy paper example

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foreign policy paper example

With Russia playing an ever-larger role in global politics, understanding the drivers of Russian foreign policy is crucial. This series of papers examines the factors that shape Russian’s relations with countries in its neighborhood and further afield. What are Russia’s foreign policy goals? What tools has it used to try to achieve them? And to what extent is Russia attaining its aims? Drawing on scholars with deep regional expertise and based on fresh research, Russia Foreign Policy Papers provide new insight into understanding Russia’s international role.


  • Understanding Russia’s Cyber Strategy - Russia Foreign Policy Papers - Josephine Wolff - July, 2021
  • Russia’s Nuclear Activity in 2020: A Show of Strength Despite COVID-19 - Reports , Russia Foreign Policy Papers - Maxim Starchak - May, 2021
  • Russia’s Struggle to Gain Influence in Southeast Asia - Russia Foreign Policy Papers - Bennett Murray - August, 2020
  • The Role of the Military in Russian Politics and Foreign Policy Over the Past 20 Years - Orbis , Russia Foreign Policy Papers - Anna Borshchevskaya - July, 2020
  • Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss: Putin ‘Changes’ the Constitution - Orbis , Russia Foreign Policy Papers - William R. Spiegelberger - July, 2020
  • “Engaged Opportunism”: Russia’s Role in the Horn of Africa - Russia Foreign Policy Papers - Samuel Ramani - July, 2020
  • Russia’s Defense Industry: Between Political Significance and Economic Inefficiency - Russia Foreign Policy Papers - Pavel Luzin - April, 2020
  • Friends or Frenemies? How Russia and Iran Compete and Cooperate - Russia Foreign Policy Papers - Nicole Grajewski - March, 2020
  • Russian Private Military Companies: Continuity and Evolution of the Model - Russia Foreign Policy Papers - Anna Borshchevskaya - December, 2019
  • Belarus-Russia: From a Strategic Deal to an Integration Ultimatum - Russia Foreign Policy Papers - Arseny Sivitsky - December, 2019
  • Russia’s Awkward Dance with Vietnam - Russia Foreign Policy Papers - Bennett Murray - October, 2019
  • Russia’s Engagements in Central America - Russia Foreign Policy Papers - Ivan Ulises Klyszcz - October, 2019
  • NATO in the Baltics: Deterring Phantom Threats? - Russia Foreign Policy Papers - Robert E. Hamilton - July, 2018
  • Hanging by a Thread: Russia’s Strategy of Destabilization in Montenegro - Russia Foreign Policy Papers - Reuf Bajrovic, Vesko Garčević, Richard Kraemer - July, 2018
  • Moscow on the Mediterranean: Russia and Israel’s Relationship - Russia Foreign Policy Papers - Joshua Krasna - June, 2018
  • Outfoxed by the Bear? America’s Losing Game Against Russia in the Near East - Russia Foreign Policy Papers - Michael A. Reynolds - April, 2018
  • Russian and American De-Confliction Efforts in Syria: What’s the Endgame in the Civil War? - Russia Foreign Policy Papers - Robert E. Hamilton - April, 2018
  • The 2016 Coup Attempt in Montenegro: Is Russia’s Balkans Footprint Expanding? - Russia Foreign Policy Papers - Dimitar Bechev - April, 2018

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  • A Research Guide
  • Research Paper Topics

25 Foreign Policy Research Paper Topics

25 foreign policy topics for a successful paper.

  • Foreign policy and the role of propaganda in it
  • Foreign policy of Japan
  • Foreign policy of People’s Republic of Korea
  • Foreign policy in the age of globalization
  • Colonisation and the relations between former colonies and metropoly
  • Weapons of mass destruction as instrument of foreign policy
  • The foreign policy of President Trump
  • The importance of diplomacy in the foreign policy
  • Can terrorism be controllable instrument of foreign policy?
  • Foreign policy of USA and USSR during the Cold War
  • The idea of “Global Democracy”
  • Foreign policy and its dependance of resources of country
  • What makes the country strong enough to be a powerful player on the global arena?
  • Foreign policy of USA
  • Foreign policy of EU
  • Foreign policy of Russia
  • Protecting human rights and the foreign policy
  • Case study of Fashoda Incident
  • Yalta Conference
  • The changes in the foreign policy of China in the last decade
  • The loudest foreign policy events in 2018
  • Dictatorships and the similarities in their foreign policy
  • The changes in the foreign policy of the USA after the tragedy of September 11th
  • Military intervention as an instrument of the foreign policy
  • Humanitarian aid as an instrument of the foreign policy

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Best Examples of Policy White Papers by Governments

Key insights from the best policy white paper examples by governments.

Government agencies are best known for policymaking and its implementation, and publish white papers to let the general public know about it.

The target audience for policy white papers is private companies, academics, legal institutions, nonprofit organizations, municipalities, corporations, etc.

These institutions use policy white papers to know the government’s vision and stance on socio-economic, political, financial issues, and chart their future course of action.

In this post, we will focus on the best policy white paper examples by governments across the globe. These white papers are well known for their authority, depth of research, coverage of topics, and the power of influence that they wield on their target audiences.

Some of these may not have a lot of visual content and will be text-heavy. That is because governments are trying to drive home their point of view and will not necessarily rely on imagery to get it across. They may not even have a marketing campaign to accentuate it.

Policy white papers are in stark contrast to B2B corporate white papers, which appeal to specific target audiences with a mix of visuals, text, and research. They have fixed objectives to meet - such as increasing website traffic, educating their target audience, boosting their subject authority, etc.

Governments publish policy white papers for a broader audience with diverse needs and requirements. A few examples of their objectives could be:

1. Reduce fiscal deficit and boost forex reserves

2. Improve bilateral relations with neighboring countries with a specific focus on export-import policy

3. Find newer ways to feed the ever-growing population of a country

4. Improve crop yield and subsidize agriculture

5. Fight national calamities, the outbreak of diseases, famines, etc.

Now that we have a fair idea of why governments create white papers, let's look at some of the best examples:

The Best WhitePaper Examples for Governments

The Best Examples of Policy White Papers by Governments

1. The Future Relationship Between the United Kingdom And The European Union

Published by: Government of the United Kingdom

Why do we like this?

This policy white paper was presented by Theresa May to the British Parliament laying out the roadmap and governing principles as they secede from the European Union.

It documents every aspect of their exit from EU - vis-à-vis their economic partnerships with other EU members, security aspects, cross-cutting/cooperation, and institutional agreements. Each of these chapters has a summary before delving into greater detail.

The best white paper examples created by governments created across the globe.

2. 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper

Published by: Australian Government

The Australian government’s white paper on their foreign policy is another classic example. It lays out its ideologies and doctrines on essential aspects such as their partnerships within the Indo-Pacific region, cooperation with global powerhouses, and the threat of terrorism & extremism.

Signed by the then Australian Prime Minister, it is the government’s mouthpiece on foreign policy affairs. It is substantiated with examples and case studies (that have benefited the international community) and has a sprinkling of visual imagery to support its principles.

This policy white paper is a perfect example of a government’s duty and responsibility towards its citizens, neighbors, and trading partners in a manner that its citizens comprehend it.

3. Ireland’s Transition to a Low Carbon Energy Future

Published by: Department of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources, Government of Ireland

One of the more livelier documents in our collection, it sets out Ireland’s energy future. Similar to policy white papers that we came across, it validates the government’s vision in their transition to a low carbon energy system.

However, unlike a lot of other white papers, this one had an 8-page executive summary that gave a glimpse of what was ensuing in the following pages in much granular detail.

It explains the Irish government's vision to achieve a low carbon future, including the citizen's role, the technology that enables it, regulations, and the requisite infrastructure.

Figures, charts, and diagrams support all of the above aspects. As countries plan their actions for controlling greenhouse gas emissions under the Paris Agreement, the Irish’s government’s white paper is a shining example.

The best white paper examples created by governments created across the globe.

4. Strategy for Export and Internationalisation

Produced by: Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Fisheries

This policy white paper describes how Norwegian authorities are committed to facilitate internationalization and increase trade and investments to and from Norway.

Norway has one of the longest coastlines in the world, and so international trade is its primary focus areas to generate value and create employment.

With signatures of government authorities, this policy white paper is a blueprint of how the government intends to create value through free trade agreements, bilateral investments, and policy frameworks. We like this document for its exquisite details that is embellished not only with charts, diagrams, and pictures but also highlights from their continuing initiatives.

5. White Paper on Education Reform

Published by: The Government of Iceland

The highlight of this white paper is the Icelandic government’s vision of improving the education system in Iceland. It is a relatively smaller document as compared to other pieces that we have included in this blog. It talks about the need for education and competence in the new century and then maps out the country's position in the context of educational systems spread across international borders. 
 This comparison is handy in understanding the present problems of their education system. Moreover, while every government has problems to solve, acknowledging them in a policy white paper and laying out steps to eradicate them is a welcome move. Similar to other white papers, this one has charts and diagrams laden with figures that help put the problem in perspective.

We hope you liked this collection. Do write to us at [email protected] if you have any favorites that you'd like to feature here.

Additional Reading:

Here are the ‘ Best White Paper Examples for B2B Marketers ,’ based on our research of more than 70 white papers across nine industries.

  • White Paper
  • Marketing Collateral


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  • Essay Database >
  • Essay Examples >
  • Essays Topics >
  • Essay on Government

Example Of Research Paper On Foreign Policy

Type of paper: Research Paper

Topic: Government , War , Politics , Crisis , Force , Syria , Middle East , Military

Words: 1700

Published: 02/11/2020



The problem in question here is the crisis in Syria. The crisis began since the last elections in 2011 with a hardline difficult to eradicate opposition fighting a government that stops at nothing to stop its opposition and suppress resistance. The government has reportedly been using chemical weapons, cluster bombs and missile attacks to suppress the rebels. The solution to the problem will involve a military solution given the present state of the situation. President Bashir la Assad has dealt with the opposition in ways that have severely torn the country with the opposition responding in equally radical ways. Both have employed military solutions with the people divided along religious and ethnic lines. The situation in Syria has given room for the Sunni Islamists opposed to the west to enter into the game with their access to gulf Arab funding and jihadi military techniques giving them a better place. Syria’s war has leaked across its borders to Lebanon that has been historically susceptible to Syrian influence. So far over 90,000 people have been killed in Syria with more than half being civilians. 1.8 million People have moved out of their country as refugees and another 4 million have been internally displaced. There have also been reports thousands of abducted civilians and reports of torture and human rights violations in state prisons. This has brought the need for the international community to come in to solve the crisis by possibly introducing a political solution.


The crisis in Syria is a political crisis that has fallen into a military option. The two fighting sides have taken hard lines and seem unstoppable in destroying the enemy. Using negotiations or any other means will mean that either side has to give in for the other for a given trade off. As with the current situation however, the parties are not any vulnerable to cooperation. The options in place therefore are either; the use of force or foreign military aid. These techniques have been used in the past with Vietnam and Iraq. The intervention will be under full control as the military can pull in or out of the target state upon the choice of decision makers.


Ways and objectives Use of force will entail bringing in troops and air combat strikes to attack the aggressor who in this case is deemed to Bashar al Assad’s government and army. The operations will involve; conducting air strikes, establishing no fly zones, creating buffer zones and controlling chemical industries in Damascus. The objective will be to suppress the aggressor and change the regime through overseeing democratization of Syria after suppressing the Ba’ath single party regime. The instrument is to be used overtly so that the intervention will be an open affair not left for speculation rumors among other nations. Covert operations could also be administered especially in hunting down high profile masterminds of the civil war particularly those in the government. As stated the use of force will be against the government. This force will first be a threat but; upon any continued aggression against the public (which is expected) then, actual use of force will be employed.

The intervention by force is obviously an act of war and the costs are like to be high; given the expected operations, the costs are to be at about $3 billion a month. Given the objective will possibly be attained and the stakes involved( saving many lives, restoring justice and human rights and saving a nation from government oppression) the operation might not be entirely expensive as it is worth the course.

This means however poses a little risks and complexities. For one, like the war in Iraq, the military intervention might take long; this will bring in much costs and definitely loss of military personnel. Another risk is that of international power balance and a possible competition of military supremacy like that seen during the cold war. Already, the east has been said to be in support of the Syrian government. The intervention of the US will definitely find opposition from nations like Russia who might in turn join the other side of the war. Most of the military equipment being used by the government to fight civilians that is; tanks, missiles and artillery are being purchased from Russia. It is therefore an open possibility that military intervention might be used as a showcase of military power diverting attention from the real objective and causing more casualties.


Application and objective The other option is the Intervention by foreign military aid. In this case those to be aided will be the opposition particularly the free Syrian army. This will involve provision of armaments, training of the rebels providing technical assistance such as electronic communication, food and funds. The objective of this intervention will also be changing of regimes. Through empowering the opposition militarily, the government will be toppled and the public will have the chance to bring in a new regime. The instrument should be used covertly that is the Syrian moderate opposition should quietly be armed. The target in this case will be the opposition in that they are the ones whom the foreign military aid is directed towards. The instrument should not be a threat; rather it should be actual intervention to aid the opposition against the government. Right now, the death toll is high and the government is continuing to suppress resistance; the appropriate timing is therefore immediate. Another factor is the current state of the opposition. Evidently there have been power struggles within the opposition. The opposition therefore requires assistance currently as a little internal conflict may give the government the chance to overwhelm them.

Costs and risks

Estimates show that assisting the opposition military will cost $500 per year. Compared to other military options this instrument is not entirely expensive, besides, the objective is noble as it is an act of upholding human rights and justice. It is therefore worth using this instrument. Use of thus instrument however does not guarantee achievement of the objective. Given past history of military interventions, the defeat of the government does not mean the opposition will establish sufficiently good governance. Instances like Egypt where even after hosting out the president the country was not able to establish a good government and civil unrests prevailed are not rare. Another risk is the kind of opposition being assisted in Syria. Besides the free Syrian army, the opposition is being assisted by the Taliban and the al Nusra which are radical Islamist groups. The assistance of these groups by the US especially in artillery and technology is likely to revolutionize their skills, capabilities and tactics. These might however be used beyond the Syrian crisis since these groups have been linked with terrorism besides radical and violent techniques.


The two instruments are effective and work indifferent ways. However, on the considerations, of costs, risks, and impact, it would be preferable to use foreign military aid. Whereas the operation involving the use of force will involve directly foreign military personnel and possibly foreign casualties, the use of foreign military and will have less foreign personnel involved. Through foreign military aid therefore we will be assisting to overwhelm the government whilst keeping our troops safe. Another reason is that the use of force will cost billions on monthly basis, however using foreign military aid will only cost half a billion annually. Going also by the stakes involved by the two instruments it is better to uses foreign military aid. For instance the entry of the US into the war by use of force (actual) will lead to the entry of Russia leading to sort of contest for military superiority. Covert operations on aiding the opposition on the other hand will not lead to an outright contest due to no explicit military involvement. In the process of implementing the foreign military aid however a lot of caution has to be taken. First the opposition should align their interests well to ensure that there are no internal conflicts within the opposition military. Another is that they should have their interests vested in their common good. This is going to be particularly instrumental in the process of putting in place the new government. It should also be seen to it that the opposition is not infiltrated with terrorist groups such as the al Qaeda and other radical Islamists. The assistance should be strictly directed to moderate militia with political motivation. This will ensure that powerful military artillery and technology is not in the wrong hands.


The situation is Syria has reached a critical situation. With the government using force against civilians and a relentless opposition, the death toll is over 100,000; refugees have reached 1.8 million while those internally displaced are 4 million. Both warring sides (government and opposition) have resorted to military solution and as at the current state of the situation; it is the only possible way of ending the crisis. The possible solution for this crisis is the use of force and the use of foreign military aid. Both are aimed at undermining the military campaigns of the government while empowering the opposition. Use of force involves directly bringing the military and combat campaigns to Syria. This will be largely expensive and is likely to bring in other players in a bid for military supremacy. The use of foreign military aid will involve, remaining advising and arming the opposition to attack the government. This will be cheaper though not entirely guaranteed to bring in good administration. Considering the costs and risks involved however, use of foreign military aid will be far much better than the use of force.

Reference List:

Hauss, C. (2010). International conflict resolution. New York: Continuum. Mearsheimer, John J., and Stephen M. Walt. The Israel lobby and U.S. foreign policy. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007. Starr, S. (2012). Revolt: Eye-witness to the Syrian uprising. London: Hurst. Voigt, S. (2006). International conflict resolution. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck.


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EU AI Act: first regulation on artificial intelligence

The use of artificial intelligence in the EU will be regulated by the AI Act, the world’s first comprehensive AI law. Find out how it will protect you.

A man faces a computer generated figure with programming language in the background

As part of its digital strategy , the EU wants to regulate artificial intelligence (AI) to ensure better conditions for the development and use of this innovative technology. AI can create many benefits , such as better healthcare; safer and cleaner transport; more efficient manufacturing; and cheaper and more sustainable energy.

In April 2021, the European Commission proposed the first EU regulatory framework for AI. It says that AI systems that can be used in different applications are analysed and classified according to the risk they pose to users. The different risk levels will mean more or less regulation. Once approved, these will be the world’s first rules on AI.

Learn more about what artificial intelligence is and how it is used

What Parliament wants in AI legislation

Parliament’s priority is to make sure that AI systems used in the EU are safe, transparent, traceable, non-discriminatory and environmentally friendly. AI systems should be overseen by people, rather than by automation, to prevent harmful outcomes.

Parliament also wants to establish a technology-neutral, uniform definition for AI that could be applied to future AI systems.

Learn more about Parliament’s work on AI and its vision for AI’s future

AI Act: different rules for different risk levels

The new rules establish obligations for providers and users depending on the level of risk from artificial intelligence. While many AI systems pose minimal risk, they need to be assessed.

Unacceptable risk

Unacceptable risk AI systems are systems considered a threat to people and will be banned. They include:

  • Cognitive behavioural manipulation of people or specific vulnerable groups: for example voice-activated toys that encourage dangerous behaviour in children
  • Social scoring: classifying people based on behaviour, socio-economic status or personal characteristics
  • Biometric identification and categorisation of people
  • Real-time and remote biometric identification systems, such as facial recognition

Some exceptions may be allowed for law enforcement purposes. “Real-time” remote biometric identification systems will be allowed in a limited number of serious cases, while “post” remote biometric identification systems, where identification occurs after a significant delay, will be allowed to prosecute serious crimes and only after court approval.

AI systems that negatively affect safety or fundamental rights will be considered high risk and will be divided into two categories:

1) AI systems that are used in products falling under the EU’s product safety legislation . This includes toys, aviation, cars, medical devices and lifts.

2) AI systems falling into specific areas that will have to be registered in an EU database:

  • Management and operation of critical infrastructure
  • Education and vocational training
  • Employment, worker management and access to self-employment
  • Access to and enjoyment of essential private services and public services and benefits
  • Law enforcement
  • Migration, asylum and border control management
  • Assistance in legal interpretation and application of the law.

All high-risk AI systems will be assessed before being put on the market and also throughout their lifecycle.

General purpose and generative AI

Generative AI, like ChatGPT, would have to comply with transparency requirements:

  • Disclosing that the content was generated by AI
  • Designing the model to prevent it from generating illegal content
  • Publishing summaries of copyrighted data used for training

High-impact general-purpose AI models that might pose systemic risk, such as the more advanced AI model GPT-4, would have to undergo thorough evaluations and any serious incidents would have to be reported to the European Commission.

Limited risk

Limited risk AI systems should comply with minimal transparency requirements that would allow users to make informed decisions. After interacting with the applications, the user can then decide whether they want to continue using it. Users should be made aware when they are interacting with AI. This includes AI systems that generate or manipulate image, audio or video content, for example deepfakes.

On December 9 2023, Parliament reached a provisional agreement with the Council on the AI act . The agreed text will now have to be formally adopted by both Parliament and Council to become EU law. Before all MEPs have their say on the agreement, Parliament’s internal market and civil liberties committees will vote on it.

More on the EU’s digital measures

  • Cryptocurrency dangers and the benefits of EU legislation
  • Fighting cybercrime: new EU cybersecurity laws explained
  • Boosting data sharing in the EU: what are the benefits?
  • EU Digital Markets Act and Digital Services Act
  • Five ways the European Parliament wants to protect online gamers
  • Artificial Intelligence Act

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CBSE Class 10 Hindi A Practice Paper 2024 with Solutions: Best for Last Minute Revision

Cbse class 10 hindi a practice paper 2024: download here the cbse class 10 hindi a practice paper with solutions to prepare for the upcoming cbse class 10 hindi exam 2024. these questions are best for last minute revision and assess your preparedness for the exam..

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    The End of World Order and American Foreign Policy. The United States should respond to the COVID-19 reordering moment and stop deterioration in the balance of power with China, bolster relations ...

  15. Foreign Policy/National Security

    February 13, 2020 Memo reviewed by James J. McDonnell, National Security Fellow, Harvard Kennedy School Brzezinski, the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (currently called the National Security Advisor) under Jimmy Carter, wrote a memo to outline what response the U.S. should take to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan....

  16. How to Write a Model UN Position Paper

    A Position Paper/Policy Paper, is a document, normally one page, which presents your country's stance on the issue/topic your committee will be discussing. A solid position paper has three parts 1) Country's position, 2) Country's relation 3) Country's Proposal. Great Position Papers require research and strategic analysis to ...

  17. Foreign Policy Research Paper Topics

    See the list of 50 political science research paper topics related to foreign policy. Foreign policy is a crucial area of study in the discipline of political science. It refers to the set of strategies, principles, and guidelines adopted by a country's government to interact with other nations and international organizations.

  18. Russia Foreign Policy Papers

    Home / Research Programs / Eurasia Program / Russia Foreign Policy Papers. With Russia playing an ever-larger role in global politics, understanding the drivers of Russian foreign policy is crucial. This series of papers examines the factors that shape Russian's relations with countries in its neighborhood and further afield.

  19. 25 Foreign Policy Research Paper Topics

    The idea of "Global Democracy" Foreign policy and its dependance of resources of country What makes the country strong enough to be a powerful player on the global arena? Foreign policy of USA Foreign policy of EU Foreign policy of Russia Protecting human rights and the foreign policy Case study of Fashoda Incident Yalta Conference

  20. The Most Pressing Foreign Policy Issues

    The Most Pressing Foreign Policy Issues President-Elect Joe Biden will face a suite of challenges on the global stage, from nuclear tensions with North Korea to coordinating a response to the ...

  21. Foreign Policies Research Paper Examples That Really Inspire

    16 samples of this type If you're seeking a possible way to streamline writing a Research Paper about Foreign Policies, paper writing service just might be able to help you out.

  22. Best Examples of Policy White Papers by Governments

    Governments publish policy white papers for a broader audience with diverse needs and requirements. A few examples of their objectives could be: 1. Reduce fiscal deficit and boost forex reserves. 2. Improve bilateral relations with neighboring countries with a specific focus on export-import policy. 3. Find newer ways to feed the ever-growing ...

  23. Foreign Policy Research Paper Examples

    Pages: 6 Words: 1700 Published: 02/11/2020 ORDER PAPER LIKE THIS INTRODUCTION The problem in question here is the crisis in Syria. The crisis began since the last elections in 2011 with a hardline difficult to eradicate opposition fighting a government that stops at nothing to stop its opposition and suppress resistance.

  24. EU AI Act: first regulation on artificial intelligence

    As part of its digital strategy, the EU wants to regulate artificial intelligence (AI) to ensure better conditions for the development and use of this innovative technology. AI can create many benefits, such as better healthcare; safer and cleaner transport; more efficient manufacturing; and cheaper and more sustainable energy.. In April 2021, the European Commission proposed the first EU ...

  25. CBSE Class 10 Hindi Practice Paper 2024 with Solutions, Free PDF Download

    CBSE Class 10 Hindi Practice Paper PDF: Students of CBSE Class 10 will write their first major paper for the ongoing board exams on February 21 2024 (Wednesday). The Central Board of Secondary ...

  26. FBI reveals controversial spy tool foiled terror plot as Congress

    The FBI revealed it used a controversial foreign surveillance tool to foil a terrorist plot on U.S. soil last year, part of a series of last-minute disclosures it hopes will sway Congress as ...