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White paper

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A white paper can be an authoritative report on a major issue, as by a team of experts; a government report outlining policy; or a short treatise whose purpose is to educate (contrast position paper) industry customers. It is called white paper because it was originally bound in white.

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Government white papers

In Commonwealth countries, it is the informal name for a parliamentary paper. In the United Kingdom they are (normally a "Command paper") issued by the government and laying out its policy, or proposed policy, on a topic of current concern. Although a white paper may occasion consultation as to the details of new legislation, it does signify a clear intention on the part of a government to pass new law. By contrast, green papers, which are issued less frequently, are more open-ended and may merely propose a strategy to be implemented in the details of other legislation.

White papers published by the European Commission are documents containing proposals for European Union action in a specific area. They sometimes follow a green paper released to launch a public consultation process.

Commercial white papers

Over time, the term white paper has also come to refer to documents that argue non-governmental positions as well. For example, many white papers today espouse the benefits of particular technologies and products. These types of white papers are often marketing communications and are designed to promote a specific company's solutions or product as it relates to the issue or topic examined. As a marketing tool, it is important to note that these papers will often highlight information favorable to the company authoring or sponsoring the paper while minimizing any negative aspects related to the company's involvement with the issue, product or technology.

Famous white papers

  • In Place of Strife (1969)
  • The White Paper to abolish the Indian Act in Canada and recognize First Nations as the same as other minorities in Canada, rather than a distinct group (1969, cancelled in 1971)
  • White Paper of 1939 calling for the creation of a unified Palestinian State with limited Jewish immigration and limited ability to purchase land. Affirmed the British promise for a Jewish center, but not an official state for its people.

References

zh:白皮书

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