General Assembly


The General Assembly (GA) contains the nine largest committees at HMUN 2018, and it is the place where each of the 193 member states of the UN come together to discuss pressing issues that affect many countries across multiple continents. These issues range from disarmament and security to international law, health, and development. Debate in the GA is spirited, as delegates must balance their responsibilities to their respective nations, allies, and the committee as a whole. Delegates emerge from a GA committee with a thorough understanding of the promises and pitfalls of international diplomacy.

Disarmament and International Security Committee

Director: Angie Cui

Topic Area Summaries

A Letter from the Director

Historical General Assembly: Emergency Session on the Global Financial and Economic Crisis, 2009

Director: Cora Neudeck

Topic Area Summaries

A Letter from the Director

Special Committee on Reform of the United Nations

Director: Liz Manero

Topic Area Summaries

A Letter from the Director

Dear Delegates,

I am thrilled to welcome you to Harvard Model United Nations 2018! This January, I’ll not only have the honor of meeting you all in the Grand Ballroom, but also of returning to HMUN for the sixth time (I know, wow) after four years as a delegate, one as an assistant director, and now as the director the Disarmament and International Security Committee (DISEC)!

I was born and raised in New York City, which means I walk and talk a little too quickly for my own good, am an avid self-proclaimed foodie, and have a bit of a superiority complex about NYC being the best place in the world (feel free to challenge me on this, though). I am a sophomore concentrating in Social Studies, Harvard’s interdisciplinary umbrella concentration for all of the social sciences. Being exposed to issues of global security while participating in Model UN is partially what brought me to Social Studies, to DISEC, and to our topic: the weaponization of natural resources. This topic’s applicability is vast and the implications of resource weaponization are far-reaching. I’m also excited about this topic because our case studies empower smaller nations to have firm, defensible and contentious policies, and force larger ones to have more nuanced policy positions that are difficult, and may even be a bit contradictory, to think through.

Outside of HMUN and the Harvard International Relations Council, I perform with the Harvard-Radcliffe Modern Dance Company and Expressions Hip Hop Company, work as a tour guide for the Harvard Admissions Office, and spend a lot of time scouring Harvard Square for the best cup of cold brew coffee (I’ve found it, by the way, and please feel free to ask me about it). I am also constantly restocking my snack supply of kettle-corn and Brookside chocolates, and watch a little too much Netflix.

I hope that DISEC will allow delegates — MUN veterans and newbies alike — to push themselves in thinking about this topic. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me with any questions or concerns, or just to introduce yourself! I cannot wait to meet you all at conference!

Yours,

Angie Cui
Director, Disarmament and International Security Committee
disec@harvardmun.org

Class year: 2020

Hometown: New York City, NY

Major: Social Studies

Favorite MUN moment: Attending my first HMUN as a delegate during my freshman year of High School.

Why HMUN? I did my fair share of Model UN in High School, and no conference on the circuit compares to HMUN in terms of delegate experience. HMUN's directors care deeply about their topic areas, our executive and administrative staff take so much pride in putting this conference together, delegates who come from all over the world and are passionate in defending and uniting their opinions, and the Boston Sheraton isn't too shabby of a place to spend a weekend. I fell in love with HMUN while participating in it as a delegate for all four years of High School, and continue to be honored and excited to be staffing it as a Harvard student.

Advice for new delegates: Speak thoughtfully and substantively. Be willing to engage and collaborate with other delegates, and to learn from your peers. Don't be intimidated by rules of procedure or any other MUN jargon you may hear. The Grand Ballroom may be big, but the impact of DISEC happens through each speech, working paper and conversation that is presented, and know that the dais is to answer any questions and facilitate this entire process as it happens!

Topic Area: The Weaponization of Natural Resources

Conflicts over natural resources have always existed, but compounded with issues of resource scarcity and climate change, these tensions are now increasingly being used by state and non-state actors as leverage for political influence. There are two main ways to frame tension over resources in the context of international security: the direct or indirect deployment of natural resources as strategic or tactical weapons, and the use of disputes over scarce or unequally distributed resources to escalate existing tensions into potential military conflicts. In both instances, natural resources are a potent force in war because they create social unrest that often leads to political unrest, acting as a threat multiplier and exacerbating existing interstate tensions. The increase in conflicts effected by confrontations regarding natural resources indicates that a new geopolitical landscape in which state actors maybe more inclined to use direct force, or at least threaten the use of force, to gain control over valuable resources. The use of natural resources as foreign policy tools or weapons in conflict blurs legal and political lines, and lies in jurisdiction largely outside of existing international combative legislation.

The weaponization of natural resources is one of ways in which our conception of warfare in the 21st century is evolving, and is also a significant gap in existing international protocol. While resource weaponization is implicitly prohibited by Additional Protocol II of the Geneva Conventions relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts and he Convention on the Prohibition of Military or any Hostile use of Environmental Modification Techniques (ENMOD), legislation regarding the weaponization of natural resources is neither comprehensive nor explicit. In many ways, resource weaponization is a uniquely modern problem. Contemporary destabilization threats such as global warming and non-state actors have multiplied the danger of what could happen if natural resource conflicts are or continue to be exploited.

In this committee, you will be challenged to conceive new frameworks, legislation and diplomatic strategies that place resource scarcity and conflict at the heart of interstate negotiations. Through examining selected case studies that illustrate the varying degrees to which natural resources can be strategically or tactically deployed in conflict, you will hopefully be able to propose some answers to questions that concern the very nature of modern conflict resolution.

Note: The Disarmament and Security Committee is a single-topic committee.

Dear delegates,

My name is Daniel Rosenblatt, and I am very excited to serve as the Director of the Second Committee of the General Assembly, SOCHUM, at HMUN 2018! I am a freshman at Harvard College from Greenwich, CT, currently living in Canaday Hall. Next year, I will be living in Pforzheimer House (and am very excited about that!). I am still undecided about my concentration, as I like a bunch of different subjects, but am currently leaning toward either Applied Math or History.

Outside the classroom, I am an active member of the Harvard International Relations Council, serving as an editor for The Harvard International Review, along with my work in MUN. I also am a member of the Club Tennis team, a student tour guide for the Admissions Office, and active in organizing events relating to Jewish life on campus. When I am not doing all of that, you can find me hanging in the Harvard Art Museums (or any museum for that matter), watching TV, or, honestly, drinking an iced coffee in Harvard Yard.

I’ve been involved in model UN for seven years now and cannot begin to describe how valuable my experiences with the activity have been. Model UN, in my opinion, has so many beneficial characteristics: It is an exercise in public speaking that develops skills in communicating ideas with confidence. It is an exercise in empathy, in which students are forced to acknowledge, grapple with, and defend perspectives that may be far from their own. And finally, it is an exercise in global engagement, teaching young people about the ways our world works, and doesn’t work. As you may be able tell, I really believe in the power that model UN has to shape high school students into informed and articulate citizens of the world.

These beneficial aspects of model UN are not, unfortunately, evident in every committee; it is up to the delegates to work to make their experience a positive one. So, I implore you delve into the topic by examining past UN Resolutions, news articles, academic sources, books etc. to understand the topic to the best of your abilities. It will really serve you well when the conference comes around, allowing you to speak comfortably and share your ideas and potential solutions. If you think you will be more at ease, feel free to prepare a speech or two in advance. Or discuss your thoughts on your research with family members of friends. Anything that gets you excited about the topic and thinking about it critically will help you come January.

Unfortunately, the topic of Migration-Related Xenophobia, Racism, and Violence is one that may come up naturally in discussion between now and the conference, as it is one that is so prevalent in the news these days. Its relevance, though, is one of the many reasons I chose the topic. I hope that the committee’s discussions delve more deeply into the causes and solutions of this problem and analyze some of the prejudices or misconceptions that we ourselves may have prior to the conference. I also have chosen this topic because I think that it is one that has tangible, achievable solutions. From the local to international level, a variety of programs and legislative changes can have a meaningful impact on the lives of migrants and refugees. I am excited to see which ones you support as most effective and feasible, and I hope that the committee inspires you to work toward tangible change in your hometowns or through channels such as NGO work or political activism. Finally, I believe that above all, the elimination of xenophobia and racism stems from increased tolerance and understanding – so I hope in discussing this topic together we can learn and work toward eliminating this issue starting from within our own communities.

Following this letter is the background guide that I have prepared for the committee. I hope you read it thoroughly to get a sense of the scope and foundations of this topic. However, I ask that you not stop there; please use the background guide as a jumping-off point for further investigation and research. If you have any questions about what I have written, the topic, or the committee, please shoot me an email. As you can hopefully tell, I am very passionate about this subject matter, so I really do hope you reach out.

I am so excited to see you all in January! Get psyched!

Sincerely,

Daniel Roseblatt
Director, Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee
sochum@harvardmun.org

Class year: 2020

Hometown: Greenwich, CT

Major: Undeclared

Favorite MUN moment: Singing at the top of my lungs with my teammates on the bus back from conferences in high school.

Why HMUN? HMUN is great honestly because the both the staff and the delegates are so dedicated to running a professional, realistic, and exciting simulation of the UN. Nowhere else do I think is the debate and discussion of topics at such a high level - and that is a testament to the the hours of the work that the dais members and the delegates put into researching their topics thoroughly and contemplating potential solutions. I have always found that committees at HMUN bring about a sense of fulfillment similar to few other conferences. Here, the committee discussion is specific and relevant - and because of that, I think it is truly powerful and inspirational. I hope SOCHUM will maintain this norm!

Advice for new delegates: Be bold! It will always be easier to sit in the back of the room and not speak throughout the conference. It will require less maneuvering and energy to propose boring, agreeable solutions that have failed before. What is great about MUN is that it is four days for you to experiment and learn. So my advice is to push yourself - whether that means giving a speech for the first time, or writing a clause that might be creative or novel. Go for it.

Topic Area: Migration-Related Xenophobia, Racism, and Violence

The topic of Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee at HMUN 2018 is Migration-Related Xenophobia, Racism, and Violence. It is an issue that unfortunately very clearly plagues our global community today, particularly in the wake of the current migrant crisis and rising trends of nationalism. The committee will cover a variety of perspectives on why xenophobia and racism are particularly present in times of high immigration as well as methods to combat this specific iteration of the issue. Specific components of the topic include violence and gender-based violence, economic discrimination, and human rights abuses in detention centers, deportations practice, and security-related activities. More broadly, though, the committee will grapple with the question of how the international community can protect its most vulnerable populations at a time when globalization and multiculturalism are under attack and when countries are fearful of international security threats.

Note: The Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee is a single-topic committee.

Dear Delegates,

Welcome to HMUN 2018! My name is Nick Stauffer-Mason, and I’ll be directing the Special Political and Decolonization committee (SPECPOL). I am so excited to be directing at HMUN this year—model UN was a big part of my high school experience and remains a big part of my life in college. I want to make HMUN a transformative experience for each and every one of you, and I can’t wait to meet you in January!

A little bit about me. I’m a sophomore at Harvard, and I’m planning to study Social Studies, Government, or Economics. Outside of model UN, I volunteer at a legal aid organization for low-income people. When I’m not studying or pretending to be a country at a conference like HMUN, you can probably find me sleeping, watching Netflix, scrolling through Instagram, or sampling Harvard Square’s many eateries. I’m originally from Washington, DC—a city whose political climate is colder than a Boston winter! (In case that last line didn’t tip you off, I’m also a huge fan of really bad jokes. Mainly because I can’t make better jokes, but still.)

In all seriousness, the topic of this committee is profoundly interesting. You and your fellow delegates will be working to lay out an international framework for dealing with national secession around the world. Along the way you’ll be debating issues including national sovereignty, international law and intervention, post-conflict statebuilding, political rights, and many more. At stake is nothing more than the world as we know it.

Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions—I’m here as a resource for you as you prepare for and participate in the conference. I will be here to support you every step of the way, from the minute you read this and start your research to when you first step into the committee room to when we pass a resolution after four long days of debate and diplomacy.

Best of luck!

Nick Stauffer-Mason
Director, Special, Political and Decolonization Committee
specpol@harvardmun.org

Class year: 2020

Hometown: Washington, DC

Major: Social Studies, Economics, or Government

Favorite MUN moment: My first speech in front of a General Assembly committee was a thrilling and empowering experience and remains one of my favorite Model UN moments to date.

Why HMUN? I never had the privilege of attending HMUN as a delegate.

Advice for new delegates: Take risks. Whether you're drafting policies, delivering a speech, or developing your negotiation skills, you have a unique opportunity to experiment in supportive, low-stakes environment. Make the most of this chance while you have it—things will be a lot more complicated when you're an ambassador, CEO, or president.

Topic Area: National Secession and Separatist Movements

The year is 2018, and the nation-state is ripping apart at the seams. Even as an increasingly integrated international order erases national borders from above, another, more nebulous force is breaking states apart from within—an increasing drive for national secession.

Recent history is full of examples of groups or regions attempting to secede from their home countries, with varying degrees of success. In 2011, South Sudan seceded from Sudan, becoming the world’s youngest country. Catalonia, the largest province in Spain, voted in 2014 to become an independent state, but has since been blocked by the Spanish government. After what many saw as a thinly veiled invasion by Russia, Ukraine’s eastern regions seceded in 2014, though the U.N. voted to condemn this action and not to recognize the separation.

The legality of secession remains unclear. In the past, the U.N. and its Member States have responded to each individual case in different ways and based on different standards. Now, your task is to lay out an international framework for dealing with national secession, to clarify once and for all how national secession fits into the existing international order and define international community’s role in mediating separatism around the world.

There are many open questions about how a push for regional independence fits into the existing international order. First and foremost, is there a “right to secede?” Does the right to self-determination in the U.N. Charter mean a blanket right to separate from one’s nation? Or is secession only allowable in the presence of certain conditions, like a history of oppression or abuse? Is it even appropriate for the international community to take a stand on what are essentially internal political disputes, which some would argue is a violation of national sovereignty? Even if it is legal, the separation of one nation for another is an incredibly complicated process. What, if anything, should the international community do to streamline the process and keep the peace when one nation becomes two? In light of these many considerations, what should the international community respond to recent and potential cases of secession like South Sudan, Ukraine, Scotland, and Catalonia?

Though these questions and the regions they deal with may seem small, this topic is of global importance. If there is a blanket right to secession, enforced and supported by the U.N., the world’s states could splinter apart; if secession is never recognized under international law, then the current political order is frozen in perpetuity. You, delegates, will chart the way. At stake is nothing more than the world as we know it.

Note: The Special, Political and Decolonization Committee is a single-topic committee.

Hi delegates,

I’m Dylan Parker, and I’ll be directing the World Health Organization (WHO) this year at HMUN. I hail from Pittsford, NY, which is basically Canada (we have the second-highest snowfall per year in the US and everyone plays hockey).

I’m particularly passionate about the WHO because of my interests in medicine, neurobio, and physics (and maybe global health). But more than that, I think that there has been a critical lack of cooperation between scientists who refuse to engage in politics and politicians who do not understand science. Given the defining role of science and technology in 21st century politics, this divide must be bridged. I hope that you all will take on these responsibilities at HMUN this year, crafting solutions that are both scientifically prudent and politically feasible. That said, do not be deterred if science isn’t your bread and butter. I’ll include a quick primer on epidemiology and health policy, so the issues we discuss should be totally tractable no matter your background.

This year we will be debating just a single topic, Refugee Health in the Middle East and Mediterranean; this means you’ll be able to really delve into the many sub-issues pertaining to the health of refugees. We will also be integrating crises into committee, so you will be able to see the results of your actions (or inaction) and intimately interact with the situation on the ground. To succeed in this committee, therefore, you will have to consider every dimension of this issue. For instance, some of your subtopics will compel you to shrewdly negotiate and navigate contentious political issues (e.g. determining whether health workers can cross the Syrian border to care for civilians attempting to escape). Others subtopics, however, will require that you understand the pathology and epidemiology of the diseases affecting refugees (e.g. establishing a protocol to prevent water supply contamination in refugee camps). Approaching global issues from this dual scientific-political perspective is something at which the world’s leaders have largely failed, so I’m excited to see the leadership, insight, and innovation you all bring to committee.

I check my email compulsively and am super passionate about these issues, so please reach out to me if you have any questions, concerns, or points of confusion as you prepare for committee.

With love,

Dylan Parker
Director, World Health Organization
who@harvardmun.org

Class year: 2020

Hometown: Pittsford, NY

Major: Neurobiology and Physics

Favorite MUN moment: Accidentally walking into a school board meeting at my first MUN conference.

Why HMUN? It's an incredible opportunity not just to talk about interesting stuff, but to talk about interesting stuff with interesting people from all around the world. It embodies the diversity of opinion and heritage that model UN is all about.

Advice for new delegates: Do good research. Be good to others. Eat good food. Have fun at HMUN!

Topic Area: Health Concerns Among Refugees in the Middle East and Mediterranean

Background: There are 21.3 million refugees, and nearly a third of them came from Syria and neighboring nations. Despite significant global efforts to assist these displaced peoples and protect their “right to health,” the WHO itself has admitted that “many refugees and migrants often lack access to health services and financial protection for health.” It is your task to change this.

Food, Water, and Disease: Securing ample supplies of food and water has by no means been easy, but the international effort has largely succeeded at providing these bare necessities to refugees. However, as in many crises, other equally dangerous threats have been ignored—particularly the threat of disease. Common communicable diseases that plague refugees both in camps and in host nations are tuberculosis, HIV and viral hepatitis, influenza, Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus, and bacterial infections that are resistant to cheap antibiotics. Just as dangerous are food- and water-borne diseases, which can easily reach epidemic levels. Non-communicable diseases are also an acute concern, as they are exacerbated by poor living conditions. Clearly, there refugees face myriad health hazards, but what are the greatest threats to refugees’ health? How can they be prevented from reaching epidemic levels, or combatted if they do? How do the needs of refugees in camps and in host nations differ? How can the WHO encourage host nations to provide adequate healthcare? Should the WHO focus on prevention or treatment?

Females, Children, and the Immunocompromised: Three groups—females, children, and the immunocompromised—are at particularly high risk for diseases. Children and the immunocompromised are not fully equipped to combat the pathogenic haven that is the refugee camp, so they suffer from the most common diseases with particularly high frequencies. Females, on the other hand, confront a specific set of health challenges: “maternal, newborn and child health, sexual and reproductive health, and violence.” How can the WHO protect these particularly at risk populations? How can stigmas about reproductive health, as well as the violence that often accompanies them, be overcome?

Mental Health: In camps and host nations, mental illness is the forgotten epidemic. Although 71% of refugee children suffer from symptoms of PTSD and 48% have developed some speech impairment after being displaced, mental health is often the last priority. For this reason, refugee camps severely lack psychiatrists. This issue, however, extends beyond camps; for instance, over 50% of Syrian refugees in Germany exhibit some form of mental illness. How can the WHO support the mental health of refugees in camps and host nations? How can it address mental illness stigmas, which might prompt host nations to turn away refugees with serious psychiatric conditions?

Ghost Refugees: There are tens of thousands of refugees stranded just inside the borders of Syria because of tightened borders, increased threats of violence, and other barriers to escape. Trapped in the desert without sufficient access to drinking water, food, and medical care, they desperately require international assistance. However, current WHO policy prohibits humanitarians from entering Syrian territory. Moreover, ghost refugees are technically not refugees, so they do not enjoy the same rights under international law as they would just across the border. Should the WHO extend the rights of refugees to those trapped just inside the Syrian border? If so, what rights? Should humanitarians be permitted to bring aid to ghost refugees? If so, how and with whose permission?

Exogenous Factors: As you begin your research, you should consider the external events and forces that might shape the condition of refugees. For instance, nations reluctant to accepting refugees argue that refugees carry infectious diseases and thus endanger native populations. Is contention valid? Should refugees undergo medical screening before being admitted? How thorough should the screens be? Is detection of an infectious disease justification for denying entry? But refugees are not just at the mercy of politics—they are also at the mercy of the environment. Because many refugee camps are situated in inhospitable environments, they are highly exposed to potential environmental dangers (e.g. sandstorms, heat waves, frosts). How can refugee camps be prepared to confront these challenges? How can the WHO mitigate the consequences of environmental events?

Developing a Framework: The current refugee crisis is not the first of its kind, and it certainly will not be the last. Therefore, it is imperative that you consider the precedents you set in responding to the current situation and that you explicitly develop a protocol to combat future crises. Although this necessity of “Developing a Framework” is included as a separate section here in the brief introduction to our topic, it will be integrated throughout the policy guide. My intention in doing this is to encourage you to consider both immediate responses and long-term policies for each of the subtopics. For each subtopic, ask yourself: What do we need to do now, and how can we prevent this from happening again (or better respond to it if it does)?

Note: The World Health Organization is a single-topic committee.

Dear Delegates,

I am excited to welcome you to the General Assembly and serve as your director during the 2018 HMUN conference! My name is Cora Neudeck, and I will be directing the Historical General Assembly: Emergency Session on the Global Financial and Economic Crisis, 2009.

This committee topic is so incredibly important (almost as long as its name), and so uniquely relevant due to the impact that it had globally within our own lifetimes. I am so looking forward to meeting you all and hearing you imagine creative and innovative solutions through your own experience.

First, to tell you just a bit about myself. I’m originally from the very small town of Reelsville, Indiana (with just slightly over 800 people), where I live with my family of 7 and close to a dozen pets. I’ve absolutely loved growing up in Indiana, but as a current junior at Harvard, I’ve been so fortunate to explore and enjoy my time out at Boston, experiencing all the new wonders the city has to offer. The Northeast is very beautiful, if albeit a tad cold during winter, but I hope you are all able to enjoy Boston this coming January!

At Harvard, I study Cognitive Neuroscience & Evolutionary Psychology with a secondary focus in Global Health & Health Policy. Through work with nonprofits and multiparty governmental organizations both in the US and abroad, I hope to be able to focus my career on continuing to expand access to essential health services and human rights protections for the world’s most vulnerable populations. During my time at school, I’m very involved in public service, working as the Volunteer Director of Y2Y, a youth homeless shelter. I also help to plan and coordinate pediatric cancer fundraiser with Olympic ice skaters from all across the globe through ‘An Evening With Champions’. As one of my favorite parts of being on campus, I also help volunteer with children with Autism, a cause particularly close to my heart, with my little sister having ASD, and am involved in planning social and community-building events for my Harvard dorm as a Junior Representative of my House Committee. In my free time, I love singing, cycling, traveling, and drinking lots of raspberry tea!

My involvement in model UN began freshman year, when I helped as an assistant director for both the Human Rights Committee and the World Health Organization, then through my sophomore year as an assistant director for the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) group, and as a director for our Business team, as well as a member of Harvard’s competitive model UN team. I’ve absolutely loved getting to be a part of model UN while at Harvard, and have also had the incredible pleasure to help in a similar conference simulating the Pan-American Health Organization of the Organization of American States throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.

Despite only becoming recently involved in model UN, I have absolutely loved the incredible community that it has to offer. I have been so incredibly awed by all of the amazingly talented, passionate, and intelligent individuals that I’ve had the ability to meet in committee from all across the world, and the opportunity that it’s provided me to explore topics more and gain a deeper understanding of the world. There’s so much to learn from every committee! I hope the knowledge and skills that you develop during the weekend of HMUN will extend far beyond our time together, and allow you to help enact greater change in the world, while forming incredible friendships and long-lasting memories.

I hope you have the most wonderful time before conference, and I’m really looking forward to meeting you all soon! Of course, please feel free to contact me at any time before the conference with any and all questions.

Warm regards,

Cora Neudeck
Director, Historical General Assembly: Global Financial Crisis 2009
hga@harvardmun.org

Class year: 2019

Hometown: Reelsville, IN

Major: Cognitive Neuroscience & Evolutionary Psychology

Favorite MUN moment: A resolution which left no choice but nuclear war and we retreated to bunkers.

Why HMUN? HMUN is a wonderful opportunity for high school delegates to explore unique topics in-depth, get to know others passionate about Model UN, and truly gain confidence in their own speaking and debating skills to create ideas to help improve the world.

Advice for new delegates: Don’t be afraid to speak up with new ideas! It can be quite intimidating your first time coming to a conference, especially in a GA, but I’m sure you all have amazing and unique perspectives to contribute, so don’t be afraid to speak up!

“Peace, stability and prosperity are indivisible,” declared a United National General Assembly resolution from 2009 wrote that Together, they form a tripod in which the absence of one leads to the downfall of the others. Many of the global issues in the world today, specifically the rise of reactionary isolationism, protectionism, and xenophobia, are directly or indirectly related to the collapse of the world economic order known as the Great Recession.

During the time this committee is taking place, the world is in the midst of the beginning of the worst recession since the 1930s. While the initial causes mostly find their roots in the United States, ranging from the subprime mortgage crisis to lack of regulation, the impact was worldwide and catastrophic. International trade dropped off sharply, unemployment skyrocketed, commodity prices fell and economic trouble began to set the stage for the European debt crisis.

In this committee, it will be the job of the gathered countries to react to the financial crisis and mitigate the many deleterious results of the global recession through suggestions for the IMF, WTO, and other relevant UN actors. The most immediate question will concern returning consumer confidence in the international financial institutions which through lack of regulation and avarice induced miscalculation of risk became insolvent. Other pressing issues will include combatting the European sovereign debt crisis which started in 2008 with the collapse of Iceland’s banking system, as well as devising ways to help maintain international trade, combatting currency manipulation, and aiding developing countries suffering from depression of commodity prices. The theme which interweaves throughout all these issues, however, is the maintenance of the international order and cooperation represented by the UN, and combat the division which was catalyzed by the global recession.

With the benefit of hindsight, you can see how decisions made by world leaders and the UN over the last decade have worked, failed, or been improperly implemented. With history as a guide, you will endeavor to implement a plan which combines the successes of history with new innovative ideas to create a better world the one we have today. Your experience from this conference will in turn equip you with the process and tools necessary to think about and approach current and future crises. Good luck!

Note: The Historical General Assembly is a single-topic committee.

Dear Delegates,

Welcome to HMUN 2018! My name is Elizabeth Manero, although I expect you all to call me Liz, and I’ll be directing the “Special Committee on Reform of the United Nations.” I’m originally from Northern Virginia, and I can’t wait to meet you all this January in Boston

Growing up near D.C. has meant a life surrounded by politics - government shutdowns, international scandals, and politicians galore have created a love for negotiation and international relations that led me to direct this Special Committee for you this coming January. I’ve got interests ranging from law to economics to your favorite RBG meme. At Harvard, I’m currently studying Social Studies with a planned minor in Applied Math, and I’m (currently) planning on attending law school afterwards.

The founding of the United Nations in 1945 was a monumental achievement that has helped keep countries invested in international politics and global improvement. Since then, its structures and procedures have been amended a few times, but rarely so comprehensively as what this committee will tackle over the course of HMUN’s weekend. What makes this committee so unique is the overwhelming potential for impact that all of you as delegates are going to be faced with. Not only will you all have the opportunity to restructure the future of the UN, but in the process, you will be given a chance to revisit some of the major tenants of international law underpinning global cooperation today.

It’s my hope that this conference will be an opportunity for all delegates, no matter their level of experience, to delve into the greater organization of international structures that shadow the committees model UN normally operates in. That being said, I hope that you’re all as excited as I am!

Best,

Liz Manero
Director, Special Committee on Reform of the United Nations
scr@harvardmun.org

Class year: 2020

Hometown: Hamilton, VA

Major: Social Studies

Favorite MUN moment: Simulating the invasion of Afghanistan in a crisis committee.

Why HMUN? It's a wonderful experience to connect with delegates and get to learn about new topics.

Advice for new delegates: Don't be afraid to be creative!

Topic Area: Reform of the United Nations

The foundation of the United Nations in 1945 was an exciting shift in global cooperation and international involvement. As an activity, model United Nations is educational in that it aims to show you all the importance of the impact that this body has had in making the world a better place. The UN however, like any organization, is not perfect, and the issues it faces are threatening to severely impair its functioning. A lack of funding for example, cripples projects and sets back millennium goals, while criticisms of unrepresentative structures lead to threats to pull out of international agreements.

The topic of UN reform is a vast umbrella for a number of proposals to improve the functioning of the United Nations and address some of these criticisms. As an international body, the UN has gone through a number of phases of reform in its history, and the politics and realities of the twenty-first century are calling for a new one. As delegates, you will be tasked with addressing the reforms to the UN that have gained the most traction in recent debates, notably reforms to the UNSC, UN Financing, Peacekeeping forces, and protocols of intervention.

These subtopics carry a number of implications not just for UN functioning, but of the very nature of international law itself, and this committee will offer a guiding hand for reshaping the regulations that have been in place for years. The world has changed however, and it’s up to this committee to determine how shifting international orders should be reflected in writing. How should international rules of engagement change? How does the UN define genocide and what are the guidelines for intervention? Should the UN shift to a global tax system? How should peacekeepers be distributed?

The questions that you will be proposing answers to are are difficult, salient questions that get to the heart of the international system, and as such are increasingly important to understand.

Note: The Special Committee on Reform of the United Nations is a single-topic committee.

Dear Delegates,

Welcome to HMUN 2018! My name is Edith Herwitz, and I’m directing the Special Session on Globalization. I’m originally from New York City, and I’m so excited to meet all you at HMUN this January!

Before we launch into the specifics of the committee, I just wanted to give a little background information about myself. In addition to being involved in the Model UN team at Harvard, I am an active member of the News Board of the Harvard Crimson, Harvard’s daily newspaper. I also serve as a Research Assistant for a Professor at the Kennedy School. I’m a huge fan of the New Yorker (particularly the Borowitz report) and NPR podcasts—so basically I do the same thing as a grandmother with my (too little) free time.

At Harvard, I’m studying Social Studies which basically serves as a combination of philosophy, history, government, statistics and economics. I really hope that throughout this committee we can take this interdisciplinary approach to discussing this ever growing topic of Globalization. I chose this topic, because it seems to me that globalization has almost been accepted as an inevitable component of the 21st Century international climate; however, I urge delegates to take a moment to consider whether or not this is necessarily the case.

Thus, as you will see throughout the Background Guide, unlike some other Model UN Conferences, there is only one topic we will be discussing: Globalization. However, I have included four specific subtopics to help guide and concretize our discussion of globalization and ensure we account for the environmental, philosophical, economic and international ramifications of this increasing globalization.

I really hope that this committee will provide a fruitful and thought provoking discuss on the role of globalization in our modernizing economy.

Please let me know if you have any questions or otherwise just want to reach out! Again, I’m really excited for January!

Best,

Edith Herwitz
Director, Special Summit on Globalization
ssg@harvardmun.org

Class year: 2020

Hometown: New York, NY

Major: Social Studies

Favorite MUN moment: When my team had a secret santa exchange.

Why HMUN? Because I get the chance to meet so many delegates with varying experiences.

Advice for new delegates: Although this may be very scary, I would encourage you to speak and participate as much as possible!

Topic Area: Globalization

Practically every front page article featured in the New York Times or Wall Street Journal will include the word: globalization. It seems as if this word has become requisite for any discussion of the relations between nations or even the policies that a given nation should adopt.

As delegates, you will be tasked with viewing globalization from a philosophic, economic, environmental, and international standpoint. One of the first questions that you ought to consider is if globalization is in fact inevitable? Because you are serving as delegates on a Special Session invoked by the General Assembly of the United Nations, you also ought to consider if the issue of globalization is one that the UN should address? Is it within the UN’s mandate or should it be at the discretion of individual nations? Furthermore, does globalization revoke the need for a nation state? Instead of thinking of individual countries would it be more apt to classify certain regions?

Many who protest the increasing amount of globalization point to the sometimes detrimental effect it has on the environment. Some of these questions were addressed in the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, yet delegates are urged to think beyond this. Specifically, how can poorer countries be expected to adhere to strict environmental standards? What should be the role of the UN in mitigating conflicts of globalized pollution (i.e. where the pollution of one country seeps into one of its neighboring countries?)

The issue of globalization is clearly one that involves the dynamics of trade and the development of the global economy. To what extent does globalization further the divide between developed and developing countries? Does the process of globalization condemn countries to an existence of simply being a provider of goods?

Tied into the role of specific countries, is the question of how globalization affects the supply and demand of labor. When there is almost a never ending supply of labor, what incentives do companies have to uphold a certain level? How does the demand for goods fueled by globalization contribute to the exploitation of labor rights? How can the fundamental rights of illegal workers in nations be protected? How can the UN attempt to mitigate Child Labor and indentured labor? Should there be some form of a health and safety standard for companies? If so, how can this be enforced?

These are certainly some of the most salient and divisive questions of the day, and as delegates you will be tasked to propose and collaborate with others to form answers to these incredibly complex questions.

Note: The Special Summit on Globalization is a single-topic committee.

Dear Delegates,

On behalf of the Harvard International Relations Council, I warmly welcome you to Harvard Model United Nations 2018! My name is Nicolas Weninger and I will be directing the General Assembly’s Special Summit on Futuristic Technologies. I am originally from London – a short hop across the proverbial pond – and I am thoroughly looking forward to meeting each and every one of you in Boston this January!

Born and raised in London, I had the opportunity to visit the London Science Museum every weekend as a child. The immense aircraft landing gear at the main entrance and the roaring steam engine in the main hall not only peaked my interest in how these fascinating machines worked, but also just how much human endeavour was achieved with them. That is the reason I am studying Engineering Sciences at Harvard and indeed why I am directing this Special Summit of the General Assembly.

I have witnessed the occasionally rowdy British parliament vehemently debate matters of scientific policy, the unbelievable rate of technological development and the disconnect between technical and diplomatic education. One cannot survive without the other, and I want you to bridge this gap here. This committee illuminates this vital connection, and you will need to have the technical knowledge and diplomatic prowess to prevail – an often-overlooked combination of skills.

Most of all, I want you to walk away from this conference feeling like you were challenged in new and engaging ways, developed your diplomatic skills and made friends from across the nation and indeed the globe. I can only hope that you are as excited about this committee as I am!

Please do not hesitate to reach out to me at any point with any questions or concerns you may have.

With kindest regards,

Nicolas Weninger
Director, Special Summit on Futuristic Technologies
ssft@harvardmun.org

Class year: 2020

Hometown: London, UK

Major: Engineering Sciences

Favorite MUN moment: Convincing the crisis staff at CMUNNY 2016 to let me drop a nuclear warhead on Seoul, command the south-east asian airspace and unify North and South Korea into the United Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Why HMUN? HMUN is an amazing experience for all involved to become substantively thoroughly engaged in a fascinating topic and meet people from around the globe. I love seeing how delegates debate a topic in the full spirit of diplomacy that the post-war world - and especially now - so heavily relies on and seeing how actual change is possible in a forum such as the UN is truly a heartwarming moment for senior and junior staff alike.

Advice for new delegates: Regardless of whether you are a seasoned MUN delegate or approaching committee for the first time, everyone is able to gain so much out of HMUN on both an academic and social level. Do your research and know the topic, but at the same time, follow in the ideals of the United Nations and embrace the spirit of diplomacy.

Topic Area: Special Summit on Futuristic Technology, 2017

In just a span of a few decades, the world has seen an unparalleled leap in the development of technology and science, never even conceived in human history. The mobile phones of today in your pockets would be able to fly the Apollo missions to the moon and back, while still letting you play Angry Birds; warfare has evolved from rifles and shells on the fronts to covertly attacking national infrastructure and scaring others into submission with the nuclear deterrent, and the manipulation of the very code of life – one’s DNA – is now a distinct possibility. With the seismic shift in technological capabilities, the structures and legislation in place have found themselves unable to resolve the challenges of brave new world that we are living in with the traditions, moral convictions and persuasions of the post-war period.

This Special Summit aims to resolve these current tensions and foresee the future complications that will with certainty arise from the relentless march of development. You will do what the international community failed to do with nuclear weapons during their development – set a precedent and framework for when the technology inevitably develops beyond our wildest imaginations and presents unavoidable issues within our lifetimes. What powers does the international community even possess to regulate such issues domestically, and subsequently, how is this reconciled with current international convention? While sounding like science fiction, these considerations will prevent a global scramble at the eleventh hour. Much like the Cuban missile crisis unexpectedly arose from the conception of nuclear warfare, the world is prone to being plunged into uncertainty by these developments yet again.

With the advancement of Artificial Intelligence, and the resulting changing paradigms of employment, manufacturing, supply chain management and even current philosophy on the nature of consciousness, how can we prepare for a world after these drastic shifts? How do the changing power demands resulting from a shift to carbon neutral energy generation affect the geopolitical balance of the world? How will new biotechnology such as CRISPR change the conversation around bio-warfare, and is there now need for a second Geneva-Convention-like document? Even with the very nature of war itself, how will we respond to new forms of engagement and the moral dilemmas that arise from automated killing?

The world is rapidly changing and we risk falling behind. Only by thinking through present seemingly futuristic developments may we be able to have the foresight to prepare against possible threats to global peace. These are challenging questions, both technologically and philosophically, but history has the tendency to repeat itself, so let us not fail to learn from our past.

Note: The Special Summit on Futuristic Technology is a single-topic committee.