For those of you interested in working for the public or nonprofit sector, you will need to master the craft of writing a policy brief. This type of writing is intended for an audience of policy makers inside government in order to assist them in making a particular policy decision. As such, the information you provide is critical. This type of writing differs significantly from academic writing, since the audience is different (those reading it may have limited expertise, and VERY limited time, but require the necessary information to make an informed decision, etc.), and since it is written succinctly and geared towards a singular issue (hence the term brief).
You will take on the role of a bureaucrat within a government or international organization. Research an issue of importance to your government/organization related to global governance issues, and draft a policy brief for your political leadership within your government/organization in preparation for an upcoming international meeting or event.
The brief must include:
- Title: Clearly name the organization you represent and the title of the brief. You may also want to specify who it is for and for what meeting or event the brief is for. Note: If you are addressing a national politician, you should be a bureaucrat within the SAME government, if you are addressing a UN body head (e.g. Antonio Guterres, UN SG), you should be an employed in the UN bureaucracy, also known as the Secretariat, etc.
- Statement of Issue: What is the problem this brief is seeking to address? You may phrase it as a particular question and one that you will seek to answer in the body of the brief.
- Executive Summary: Summarize the issue, and the main recommendations you are putting forward. Limit this to 150 words or less. This should give the reader the main points reflected in the body of the brief.
- Background (of the problem/issue): Provide the necessary contextual information that the reader requires. Make sure you are precise and all the information you provide is essential and not superfluous. Background should not be overly historical, but provide contemporary insight into the context surrounding the issue.
- Your organization/governments interest in the issue: How does this issue touch upon your country’s national strategic economic, political, social, cultural interests?
- Your organization/governments previous policy decisions/actions on this issue: If you are representing the US State Department, for instance, what programs, policy decisions, funding, has been allotted to this issue in the past? What countries and organizations are you already partnering with on this issue? If there is little prior policy action, why was no action taken?
- Policy Options/Pros and Cons of each: what are the current policy options that your reader should consider? What are the strengths and weaknesses of each?
- Policy Recommendations: Given the context and the policy options you have laid out, what policy recommendations would you make on behalf of your government for the reader?
- Talking Points: In brief, clear sentences, include 3-5 bullets that contain what the reader should communicate on behalf of the organization (these bullets are approved messaging). You may include bullets to be included should the reader get pressed on a given controversy.
- List of References
Note: It is important to include data to demonstrate your position. In-text citations are not required, but please provide a separate sheet with your references.