Special Session HMUN: Committees

General Assembly

The General Assembly (GA) contains the ten largest committees at HMUN 2019, 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.

This year, the General Assembly Plenary Theme is “The Responsibilities of Leadership”. In line with the organ of the United Nations we are seeking to simulate, which convenes under a plenary theme each year, debate in each of the General Assembly committees will revolve around this larger question of how and when international actors should take on the challenges that they contribute to, directly or indirectly. We hope that the plenary theme will serve as a launching point for how to break down this topic and its many subtopics and case studies. Your consideration of the theme should be present in work you produce in committee, including speeches, working papers, and draft resolutions. Because all GA committees at HMUN 2019 are convening under the same Plenary Theme, also take this opportunity to connect with your peers across different committees and see how the same starting point informs your conversations and debates when it comes to different topics.

Check out the General Assembly Blog, where Directors are posting content updates and answering questions, for important current affairs supplements to the background guides!

Disarmament and International Security Committee

Director: Angela You

Topic Area Summary

A Letter from the Director

Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural Committee

Director: Bella Muti

Topic Area Summary

A Letter from the Director

Special, Political and Decolonization Committee

Director: Jenna Wong

Topic Area Summary

A Letter from the Director

Historical General Assembly: The Sixth Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement, 1979

Director: Justin Wei

Topic Area Summary

A Letter from the Director

Dear Delegates,

Welcome to HMUN 2019! My name is Angela You and I am so excited to be your Director for the Disarmament and International Security Committee. I am originally from Ramsey, New Jersey, where I first became involved with model United Nations as a member of my high school’s travel team. Model UN has been one of the most transformative experiences of my life, and I cannot wait to meet all of you this January!

A little bit about me: I am a current sophomore concentrating in Statistics with a secondary in European History, Politics, and Societies. Outside of model UN, I am involved in the Harvard College Consulting Group, a couple of different investment organizations, and Harvard’s chapter of Women in Business. In my spare time, I enjoy sampling the many coffeeshops in Harvard Square, napping excessively, freelancing as a makeup artist, and going to EDM concerts in Boston!

As Italian philosopher George Santayana so eloquently expressed, those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. Studying history has instilled in me the conviction that leaders must look to the past in order to solve the problems that plague us today. DISEC and the international community have the tendency to address issues only after the damage has been done, which is something that must change. This is why I am so excited to spend four days with you debating international responses to lethal autonomous weapons systems; it is an extremely complex and rapidly evolving topic that the United Nations has not yet given its full attention to, which creates a great deal of potential for unique solutions, multifaceted debate, and exciting committee dynamics. This January, you and your fellow delegates will be tasked with creating an international framework for addressing the third evolution in warfare, which has deep and far-reaching effects on the global population.

From questions on substantive issues to preliminary feedback on speeches, I am here for you, every step of the way. As your Director, I am deeply invested in each and every single one of your experiences, and I would love for this committee to be a truly engaging and fun learning experience for novice and veteran delegates alike. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns, and best of luck to all of you!


Angela You
Director, Disarmament and International Security Committee

Class Year: 2021

Major: Statistics, Secondary in European History, Politics, and Societies

Hometown: Ramsey, NJ

Why HMUN?Angela has never seen a conference that as dedicated as HMUN is to the core tenets and purposes of Model UN: teaching diplomacy to the leaders of tomorrow, raising awareness of the world's most pressing issues, and making sure delegates have fun.

Advice for new delegates:Make your voice heard. Whether it's through a speech to the entire committee or raising a point during an unmod, take advantage of every opportunity to speak, because every single idea has immeasurable potential to shape policies created in the General Assembly.

Fun Fact:Angela has spent the last four summers of her life in Thailand!

This year, the General Assembly of HMUN will be convening under the Plenary Theme of “The Responsibilities of Leadership.” Given heightened international security threats, responsible leaders must be at the forefront of proactively managing the emergence of lethal and potentially uncontrollable new technologies.

International Regulation of Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems

"Dubbed the “third revolution in warfare, after gunpowder and nuclear arms,” lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS) use artificial intelligence and deep machine learning to locate, identify, and engage targets with minimal or no human oversight. While proponents praise the reduction in human cost and logistical military advantages of LAWS, opponents cite moral concerns and the risk of uncontrolled escalation as reasons to preemptively ban their development. The stakes are high in both camps of argument; the integration of autonomous weapons into armies can slash military costs by almost one fourth and significantly decrease the number of human casualties. However, it is also not difficult to imagine the dystopian worst case scenario: technology whose intelligence and capabilities grow more quickly than any international arms race. Despite its sensationalist elements, the Future of Life Institute’s 2017 anti-LAWS video “Slaughterbots” shows the risks of unmitigated and unregulated advancements in potentially life-threatening technologies. Morally, there are arguments in favor of both sides; LAWS can be expected to act more systematically and reduce the burden of consciousness on humans, but one must question whether non-human agents should be given the power to make life-or-death decisions, given that LAWS could violate the Principle of Distinction by failing to distinguish civilians from combatants.

Shortly after a group of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) collectively formed the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots in 2013, the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) issued a mandate to start dialogues on LAWS. In November 2017, the CCW Group of Governmental Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems convened for the first time to discuss emerging technologies, their military effects, and possible legal and ethical implications. The group met again in April 2018 and agreed to start developing a legally binding instrument on LAWS in November. These developments bring to light a key concern: technology is still evolving at a faster rate than international regulation, which is a breeding ground for gray-areas and uncertainty.

Historically, the international community has failed to take preemptive and preventive measures against life-threatening technological advancements; regulations usually crystallize after the fact, which has led to widespread loss of life. The emergence of LAWS is a multifaceted issue that has not received as much attention as higher-profile security issues, but is no less important for it. In this committee, delegates will be tasked with creating an international framework to address the forces that will influence the development and eventual deployment of LAWS: geopolitical tensions, private sector activity driven by capitalistic objectives, and the pace of technological development. Additionally, delegates must consider possible ethical and moral implications, as well as the relationship between cybersecurity and potential complications of LAWS. By considering historical precedents and the possible trajectory of future developments, you will develop final recommendations that will determine the future of warfare itself, and the life of every individual on this earth.

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

This year, the General Assembly of HMUN will be convening under the Plenary Theme of “The Responsibilities of Leadership.” It is our responsibility to protect both the workforce and population of developing nations that are experiencing foreign investment, as they are largely at the whim of these profit-driven corporations and unable to advocate for their own best interests.

Dear Delegates,

Hello! My name is Liam Simons, and I am so excited and honored to be your Director of the Economic and Financial Committee (ECOFIN) for HMUN 2019! This will be my fifth HMUN, after three years as a delegate in high school and one year serving as an Assistant Director for the Disarmament and International Security Committee (DISEC) at HMUN 2018.

I was born in raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts, just minutes from Harvard’s campus. In fact, when I would ride my bike to my high school in the morning, I would unknowingly bike right past my current Harvard dorm! At Harvard, I am planning on concentrating in Economics with a Secondary in History. I find both fields to be fascinating, and of the utmost applicability to many of the events that occur in our everyday lives. Outside of class, I am involved with other International Relations Council (IRC) programs at Harvard; I tutor Boston public school students in international relations and the UN through the Harvard Program for International Relations and I am on the IRC Board of Finance. I also work in the Harvard Evolutionary Psychology Lab, where I conduct research into the evolutionary background of moral outrage and collective bargaining.

I love doing things outdoors, whether it be hiking, biking, skiing, fishing, or even just walking around campus. I am a huge fan of barbeque, the Boston Red Sox, and classic film. When I’m not in class or working with the IRC, you can find me bouncing between my favorite food spots in Harvard Square. The most recent addition to this illustrious and nonpareil list is Pokeworks, which I would highly encourage you to visit if you visit the Harvard campus. I also love to travel, especially backpacking, wherever I can. The summer after high school my cousin and I backpacked around the Mediterranean Sea, starting in the south of Italy and making it all the way to the south of Spain.

I deeply believe that many of the ills in the world come as a result of misaligned financial incentives, which often force nations, companies, or even individual people to make a choice between benefiting themselves financially and bettering others through their actions. For example, as we will discuss in committee, multinational corporations could choose to pay workers in developing countries high wages, and thus improve their standard of living. However, this benefit for the workers would come at a financial cost to the company. Through this committee, I hope that we can make substantive and sustainable changes to the way that businesses operate, and perhaps ever so slightly push these misaligned financial incentives in the right direction.


Liam Simons
Director, Economic and Financial Committee

Class year: 2021

Major: Economics, Secondary in History

Hometown: Cambridge, MA

Why HMUN? Liam attended HMUN three times in high school, and it greatly impacted his life. It taught him international relations, public speaking, and gave him a lot of confidence.

Advice for new delegates: Be bold! Do not be afraid to speak up, ask questions, or make mistakes. This is how we best learn and grow.

Fun Fact:Liam loves classic film!

This year, the General Assembly of HMUN will be convening under the Plenary Theme of “The Responsibilities of Leadership.” It is our responsibility to protect both the workforce and population of developing nations that are experiencing foreign investment, as they are largely at the whim of these profit-driven corporations and unable to advocate for their own best interests.

Topic Area: Corporate Accountability in Developing Nations

Wealthy and powerful foreign entities have been using less wealthy, undeveloped regions for economic gain since the very beginning of the Colonial Era. In many ways, the exploitation of developing nations by strong, multinational corporations represents the modern conception of colonialism, but perhaps with a purely profit-driven methodology. At the most basic level, macroeconomic theory tells us that globalization and increased free trade should be beneficial to all parties involved. Economists widely agree that free trade is mutually beneficial, and along with economic investment, can help raise the standard of living in a developing nation. Supporters argue that through foreign direct investment (FDI), foreign companies bring skills and technology from abroad, which, when backed with the financial stability of a multinational cooperation, can both increase the demand for and productivity of labor in the developing nation.

However, many believe that the heavy involvement of multinational corporations comes with more drawbacks than benefits. One potential drawback is the Theory of Export Pessimism, which claims that encouraging developing nations to grow through international trade rather than the development of domestic industries is unsustainable, because as soon as they are no longer competitive in the market, the multinational corporations will vanish. Then, after the foreign investment dissipates, the developing nation will be back to square one, as it chose to grow economically through free trade without the development of sustainable domestic industry. Secondly, the influx of foreign capital may not always be put to the best use, and may be misused as a result of corruption and the lack of rule of law that plagues many developing nations, and that a stronger framework is necessary to properly manage foreign capital investment. Thirdly, many laborers in developing countries are vulnerable to exploitation by these multinational firms, who care about profit above all. Many workers in developing nations lack the rights, government protection, and ability to unionize available to workers in developed nations. This is, in part, what makes developing nations so attractive to multinational corporations.

In ECOFIN at HMUN 2019, you will be tasked with creating new frameworks, legislation, and strategies that help to combat the paradox that comes with globalization and growing global trade: the ostensible benefits of free trade are in agreement with economic-theory, but they come at the cost of the exploitation of labor in developing nations. Through a proper alignment of economic incentives, I believe that the benefits of foreign investment in developing nations can be maintained, while negating the exploitation of local workers.

Note: The Economic and Financial Committee is a single-topic committee.

Dear Delegates,

It is my pleasure to welcome you to the Social, Cultural and Humanitarian Committee (SOCHUM) of Harvard Model United Nations 2019! My name is Bella Muti, and I will serve as your Director this upcoming January.

A little bit about me: I am a sophomore at the College currently studying Psychology, but that may change in the next few months since I have so many different interests and can never make up my mind! I was born and raised in New York City, so I thrive in crowded and intense environments, which is part of the reason why I love Model UN so much. Model UN has been such a huge part of my life for the past five years, and it has inspired a true passion for international relations within me, which I hope I can share with you all during the time we have together at HMUN.

In addition to serving as a Director at HMUN, I am also a member of the Design Board of the Harvard International Review, Harvard’s global news publication, as well as a research assistant at the Harvard Global Health Institute. Also, I really enjoy volunteer work, and I do a lot of community service outside of school. Outside of my school work and extracurriculars, you can find me going for runs along the Charles, spending time with my friends, or taking naps in my room.

On another note— the topic that we will be discussing in committee, protecting the rights of prisoners of war, is an extremely interesting and important one that affects nations around the world. As delegates of SOCHUM, it will be your job to revise existing legislation and create new frameworks to ensure the protection of prisoners’ rights and address violations to international human rights standards. As your Director, I will be here to support you in your research and preparation efforts before the conference and ensure that debate remains productive and on-track during committee.

That being said, the Assistant Directors and I have dedicated a lot of time preparing for this committee, and we hope that each of you come with similar dedication and enthusiasm. I look forward to hearing your ideas, and please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions before, during, or after HMUN!


Bella Muti
Director, Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural Committee

Class year: 2021

Major:Psychology, Secondary in Global Health and Health Policy, Citation in Spanish

Hometown: New York, NY

Why HMUN?All of the staff members are so friendly, caring, and dedicated to making conference the best experience possible for everyone involved!

Advice for new delegates:Enjoy your time at conference, meet new people, and participate as much as you can - take advantage of the amazing experience!

Fun Fact:Bella speaks three languages!

This year, the General Assembly of HMUN will be convening under the Plenary Theme of “The Responsibilities of Leadership." Leaders have the responsibility to uphold the human rights standards of their most marginalized populations, such as prisoners of war, even during times of war and political conflict.

Topic Area: Protecting the Rights of Prisoners of War

Ever since the 9/11 attacks in 2001, global tensions have been on the rise, and, as a result, detainment of both civilians and combatants persists as an international issue. In addition to the unfair imprisonment of many individuals around the world, there also exists a need to address violations to international prison standards and ensure the protection of the rights of such prisoners. For the purposes of this committee, we will use the term “prisoners of war” to consider people captured during active war, as well as persons who have been detained in a country due to prolonged conflict between that nation and the individual’s home state. Although this may not be the traditional definition, it is important to include a broad range of prisoners for the purposes of this committee so that we may address the full scope of the issue facing our world today.

Discussion in committee will not only focus on the status of prisoners of war, but also consider deeper issues related to prisoners’ rights, such as prison conditions, torture, and the death penalty. Violations of prisoners’ rights are by no means isolated to any specific geographic region. As a result, we will examine cases from a wide variety of nations, including but not limited to the controversy of Guantanamo Bay, the hostages detained in North Korea, and the prisoners who have suffered due to political turmoil in Venezuela. Delegates must consider the various human rights violations in each of these cases and prepare to take steps to improve the situation.

There is currently some legislation that addresses the rights of prisoners of war, including the 1929 Geneva Convention. However, these international guidelines are extremely vague and remain subject to violation. Furthermore, the international legislation regarding the issue of the rights of prisoners of war is extremely outdated and, as such, there is a need for new guidelines that take into account the changing socio-political climate of the 21st century. Prisons around the world are also often subject to corruption, and certain inmates receive preferential treatment while others suffer from disease, malnutrition, and abuse by prison guards. As a result, delegates in this committee will have to develop a new set of guidelines to address the issue of prisoners’ rights in the modern world and work to hold nations accountable to upholding the international standards.


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

"Dear Delegates,

Welcome to HMUN 2019! My name is Jenna Wong, and I am so excited to be your Director for the Special Political and Decolonization Committee. I grew up around thirty minutes outside of Boston, so I am thrilled to be directing this topic in my home city, and I hope you love your time in Boston as much as I have. At Harvard, I am concentrating in Social Studies (which is different from the middle school subject, I promise!) with a secondary in Psychology. I am particularly interested in human rights law, women’s rights, Latin American politics, and ethics – which is why I am so passionate about the issue of competitive authoritarianism, a theory first proposed by one of my own former professors here at Harvard.

The vast majority of my time outside of academics is consumed by model United Nations. Apart from directing this same topic at HMUN China in March, I am also co-Head Delegate of our competitive MUN team (I compete in a mixture of resolution-based and crisis committees), serve as Under-Secretary-General for Committees at HMUN India, and sit on the Board of Directors for the International Relations Council. When I am not procrastinating on homework through MUN, I can be found procrastinating on homework by writing editorial pieces for our student newspaper, The Crimson, needlepointing, and binge-watching crime shows.

I could not be more excited to direct SPECPOL this year on competitive authoritarianism - a topic that I first learned about as a freshman in college while taking courses on Latin American history. I know that the term can seem intimidating and obscure, but I hope that through this committee you learn how prevalent competitive authoritarian regimes have been throughout recent history. Countless countries function as not-quite democracies, not-quite dictatorships, masking human rights abuses and imbalanced power structures under the veneer of elections.

This makes competitive authoritarianism a uniquely nuanced topic for you to research and debate. Toppling dictatorships is easy; reforming a regime that co-opts much of its opposition and diverts resources away from the rest is far more difficult. Competitive authoritarian states embed themselves deeply within civil society, forcing this committee to rethink the typical narrative of defeating a patently abusive and isolated government.

I only began participating in model UN during my freshman year of college, and I instantly fell in love with its format, which encourages collaboration and diplomacy above all else. These are the traits I will be looking for in delegates, and I am eager to help all of you work together on such a relevant and challenging topic. Through this committee, you will be required to think critically about not only the practical implications of any policy regarding competitive authoritarian regimes, but also the moral ones.

You will also need to consider some of the most controversial aspects of competitive authoritarianism, forging new solutions that the international community can agree upon. Be prepared to debate whether these states can be beneficial to their citizens, the role of populist movements in the rise of competitive authoritarian regimes, and strategies to ensure fair, equal elections. As your Director, it will be my job to push you to think through the implications of each decision you make, and the impact it will have on current political climates across the globe.

As someone who only started doing model UN in college, it is especially important to me that new delegates feel welcomed in the model UN community, and I hope that this committee will enable both first time and experienced delegates to acquire new skills and learn from one another. Please always feel free to reach out to me with any questions or concerns; I am here to make sure that all of you have an incredible time!


Jenna Wong
Director, Special Political and Decolonization Committee

Class year: 2020

Major:Social Studies, Secondary in Psychology, Citation in Spanish

Hometown: Concord, MA

Why HMUN?HMUN made Jenna fall in love with Model United Nations as an educational activity, and there's nothing quite like seeing hundreds of delegates debating a topic that you've poured your heart and soul into in the months prior to conference.

Advice for new delegates:Jenna's personal goal for HMUN 2019 is to ensure that as many people as possible participate. Raise your placard, even if you only have a very short speech prepared, and don't be afraid to put yourself out there!

Fun Fact:A delegate and Jenna got into an ongoing debate over Girl Scout cookies during HMUN last year that culminated in both of us eating Thin Mints and Caramel DeLites during committee!

This year, the General Assembly of HMUN will be convening under the Plenary Theme of “The Responsibilities of Leadership.” In periods of regional chaos, leaders of states often face a trade-off between economic development and a liberal civil society, a conflict of interest illustrated by the persistence hybrid regimes.

Topic Area: Hybrid Regimes and Competitive Authoritarianism

In 1990, dark horse candidate Alberto Fujimori won the Peruvian presidency on a rising tide of populism. Taking advantage of the ruling APRA party’s widespread unpopularity amid hyperinflation, he would set about transforming the Peruvian political and economic structure. He implemented radical neoliberal reforms called Fujishock which slashed government subsidies, and in response to mounting political opposition, launched an autogolpe, or self-coup, shutting down Congress and suspending the Constitution with military support. In the coup’s aftermath, he allowed for new elections - and his supporters won in a landslide. Shockingly, the Peruvian people applauded this flagrant disregard for the democratic process, viewing it as a necessary step to extricating their country from utter chaos.

This committee will be framed through case studies such as that of Fujimori, which show the messy, nuanced grey areas which naturally arise whenever competitive authoritarianism is debated. Competitive authoritarianism, despite its complex-sounding name, is quite a simple concept to understand. In essence, a ruling figure or party maintains the illusion of democratic institutions - elections, Congress, and sometimes a constitution - while toying with political processes to guarantee that they remain in control. Fujimori technically reopened Congress after his autogolpe after all; he just ensured that Congress would serve as a rubber stamp for his policies. This committee will explore cases of competitive authoritarianism, debating not only how to reform these regimes, but also whether reform is even the right decision. Can countries benefit from domineering political leaders in times of turmoil? How sacred are democratic institutions, and can they be manipulated?

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

Dear Delegates,

On behalf of all of us staffing the General Assembly, I would like to welcome you to HMUN 2019! We really could not be more excited to have you. This year, I am serving as your Director for the Historical General Assembly, a place as much about understanding the past through simulation as it is about questioning the processes that have dictated historical realities.

At Harvard, I am a sophomore concentrating in History and Literature with a focus on imperialism and empire, so perhaps it is not all that much of a surprise that I am chairing the Historical General Assembly on a topic buttressed by the wide-reaching tenets of neocolonialism. The Cold War was a period of polarizing ideologies, so perhaps it is to be expected that Cold War history is chock full of polarizing superpower narratives. The textbook Cold War chronicle tells of the melodramatic battle fought between the US and the USSR. While this much is indisputable, I want our committee to complicate the zero-sum narrative.

Throughout conference, you all will have the chance to emulate the interests of the Non-Aligned Movement at its Sixth Summit in Havana, as well as to disentangle the effects of decolonization, “development”, intervention, and ideology on the appearance of our world map today. The perceptible lacuna of traditional “first world” powers in committee will empower us to more clearly distinguish between the needs, goals, and obstacles facing different non-aligned nations. In addition, each country will be afforded the chance to play a central role in defining the guiding philosophy of the movement that stands neither with or against superpower pressure. At a tipping point in the Cold War, we will together consider the great extent to which the Non-Aligned Movement, as a negotiating bloc, had key influence over the decisions and outcomes that we have grappled with since then.

For now, a bit more about me: I am an international student from Hong Kong, where I went to a German school, and served as Secretary-General of Hong Kong Model United Nations. So always feel free to come chat with me about what it is like to live on the other side of the world (especially if you too are an international delegate!) or if you ever want to practice your Mandarin, Cantonese, German, or French, which I am now trying to pick up in college.

Outside of MUN, I am also involved with the Asian-American Association, Harvard’s international orientation program for freshmen, and the college’s very own student consulting group on campus. In my free time, I love trawling through Spotify for the best new funk pop groups (talk to me about Vulfpeck), binging quality TV (ask me about Black Mirror or riveting Cold War documentaries), and pretending I am a good photographer (teach me more about cameras). On sunny weekend mornings, I also am very dedicated in my search for the best places to grab coffee, brunch, and Asian food around Boston (so reach out for recommendations!).

In the meantime, please never hesitate to reach out with any inquiries, concerns, worries, or suggestions between now and next January. I cannot wait to see where you all choose to take this committee.


Justin Wei
Director, Historical General Assembly: Sixth Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement 1979

Class year: 2021

Major: History and Literature, Secondary in Economics, Citation in French

Hometown: Hong Kong

Why HMUN?HMUN is an amazing product of so many people working hard on different things that all come together at conference.

Advice for new delegates:Always speak up and always reach out. You have the chance to make tangible difference in committee through so many means: speaking, drafting, editing, blocbuilding - take ownership of your experience and bring your voice to the table.

Fun Fact:Justin can make sushi, but he cannot ride a bike!

This year, the General Assembly of HMUN will be convening under the Plenary Theme of “The Responsibilities of Leadership.” Responsible leadership is to courageously challenge the dictated status quo and to defend your national interests, a struggle that the Non-Aligned Movement embodied in times of crisis.

Topic Area: The Sixth Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement, 1979

1979 represents a tipping point in the temporal framework of the Cold War. The Somoza dynasty in Nicaragua has just been overthrown by democratic socialists. Large-scale genocide committed by the Khmer Rouge has devastated Cambodia. The Angolan Civil War has turned the entire nation into a microcosm of interventionist in-fighting. Soviet-Afghan tensions are on the brink of escalation towards full-blown warfare. Radical Republican voices in the United States are calling for a more vindictive foreign policy approach. Little can be surmised about the long-term intentions of the USSR during its “Era of Stagnation.

Countries like Nicaragua, Cambodia, Angola, and Afghanistan do not often lend themselves well to association with the Cold War – yet they, in retrospect, have become almost paradoxically the decisive, and representative battlegrounds for central Cold War conflicts. While uniquely diverse in context, each case uniformly reflected a charged “Third World” situation, where the US and USSR both had vested interests in geopolitical control, but conversely little interest for the livelihoods of the local populations. The Non-Aligned Movement was born in direct opposition to such behavior, and grounded itself firmly in the ideas of self-determination and mutual respect.

Thus, the central question of committee is evaluative: What role did the Non-Aligned Movement have to play in the ideological superpower showdown, and how was it in flux at the end of the seventies? You will be tasked with maneuvering the complex undergirding factors that governed the Movement’s rising prominence: What challenges have decolonization movements brought about, and what lessons have the Movement learnt from them? How have upsurges in Third World nativism and nationalism intensified ideological debates? Were the central pillars of the Movement’s philosophy – sovereignty, racial equality, peaceful coexistence – still in vogue, or in need of amendment?

Yet superpower infiltration did not end with military means. Through mechanisms like the Congress of Cultural Freedom, and eventually the National Endowment for Democracy, the US and USSR attempted to monopolize the meaning of words like development and modernity. So here, you will have to grapple with questions of theory as well: How, if at all, has modernization theory applied to nations of the Non-Aligned Movement? How has Eurocentrism continued to exercise influence in the postcolonial era? How can the Movement respond?

Hanging above it all are questions of financial control and dependence. At the turn of the decade, American-influenced Bretton Woods Institutions also began attaching stricter conditions to aid, both humanitarian and developmental. These were conditions that forced non-aligned nations to either lean towards capitalism and American decision-making, or risk total meltdown alongside the impending economic recession. Therefore, as delegates in committee, you will also have much to consider, weigh, and decide upon – practically. What does association with the Non-Aligned Movement mean for domestic stability, both political and economic? How will the Movement continue to survive in a bleak financial landscape? The subsequent narrative is all yours to shape.

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

Dear Delegates,

It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to HMUN 2019! My name is Katie Sakys, and I am unequivocally excited to be your Director for The High Level Meeting on East Asia. Challenging and profoundly thought-provoking, this committee will be an intense exploration of the effects of a trade war on East Asian security in an increasingly-integrated global community where regional market issues are critical to national, regional and international policy-making in most areas of economic endeavor. The challenge of this committee is to help ensure that all members of East Asia’s value chains are protected from the spill-over effects of trade wars while simultaneously balancing respect for both state sovereignty and regional stability. You and your fellow delegates will be working to assess and resolve the impact of trade barriers and wars on East Asian markets to ensure that all nations are positioned to benefit from and contribute to the world’s most dynamic economic region.

Before I get too carried away discussing what is sure to be an exciting committee, allow me to introduce myself as a person rather than simply a director or a delegate. Travelling often as a child, my interest in the world was born at a young age. I was fortunate enough to grow up on the island of Oʻahu in Hawai‘i, a place where many cultures fused to create an extremely vibrant and special place in which to reside. My homeland infected me with a passion for food, art, music, and most importantly, learning about the world around me. Living at the Pacific crossroads of North America and East Asia solidified my interest in international relations and global interactions, which subsequently spurred a long career in speech and debate.

My interest in our committee’s purview has been fostered through my studies at Harvard as well as my summer experiences. I am a rising junior concentrating in Economics. I am actively involved in Harvard’s International Relations Council and Model UN, where I learn more about IR than I could ever hope to gain in a traditional classroom setting. Our committee’s topic area is of both personal and professional interest to me, as my internships with institutional investment firms over the past two summers have focused on East Asian markets, particularly Chinese domestic stock markets. While this will be my first year directing a committee at HMUN, it will be my fourth time directing a committee with Harvard and my third year staffing HMUN. In the little time I have outside of MUN and IR, I work with the Harvard College Consulting Group, participate in a variety of Native American and Hawaiian cultural activities, brush up on my photography skills, and use my passion for writing Yelp reviews as an excuse to try new restaurants.

Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions — first and foremost I am here as a resource for you as you prepare for and participate in the conference. Even if you do not have any questions for me, I encourage you to introduce yourself beyond the scope of a MUN delegate. In the mean time, I will look forward to meeting you this January.


Katie Sakys
Director, High-Level Meeting on East Asia

Class year: 2020

Major: Economics

Hometown: Oʻahu, Hawai‘i

Why HMUN? She is particularly thrilled to be directing at HMUN this year given the excitement she witnessed in each committee room at last year’s HMUN while she was delivering roses from the Business Booth. The committee’s topics are extremely important to her, and she could not be more eager to see these issues discussed and solved with the level of fiery passion, intense debate, and intuitive understanding that is unique to the high school MUN circuit.

Advice for new delegates: Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions — first and foremost I am here as a resource for you as you prepare for and participate in the conference. I was thrown into my first MUN conference with very little understanding of Model UN and even less committee experience, and it made for a rather nerve-wracking experience. Thus it is especially important to me that both new and seasoned delegates feel welcome and enabled at HMUN.

Fun Fact:

Topic Area: The Impact of Trade Wars on East Asia

The U.S.-China trade spat is only one of many headwinds for Asia, with analysts warning of a looming slowdown ahead for the world’s most economically dynamic region. Can the East Asian region ride out the storm? Already-nervous financial markets across the region have been rattled by threats of American tariffs on Chinese industrial imports and Chinese counter-tariffs on American agricultural imports. Both the United States and China have already imposed $34 billion worth of new tariffs on each other’s imports in a tit-for-tat fight that shows little sign of stopping.

The trade war is a constant overhang for American, Chinese, and international markets. With this overhang looming above, the entirety of Asia risks being caught in the crossfires of the world’s two largest national economies. An increase in tariffs between China and the United States will create spillover effects for the rest of Asia as indirect links propagate shocks into the region, impacting trade and growth. Many of Asia’s exports, including high-tech electronics, are highly reliant on tightly integrated supply chains encompassing East Asia. To that extent, tariffs would propagate any trade shock throughout the entirety of the region.

The markets in Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan are particularly exposed based on trade openness and exposure to supply chains while non-regional economies such as Australia that have significant trade volumes weighted towards China are also exposed to high risk.

While markets from Seoul to Taipei fear an impending trade war, concern for the financial impact of such a war continues to ripple through financial markets outside of East Asia and across the globe. Global market growth has slowed as foreign markets brace for the storm ahead., and world trade could be seriously disrupted as two-thirds of finished goods traded are linked to global supply chains. Uncertainty about trade often makes international banks wary of their exposure to affected industries and hurt the price and flow of credit for consumers in both developed and emerging markets around the world. It could also make foreign businesses reluctant to invest in East Asia given the close links many East Asian firms have to Chinese supply chains.

In trade conflicts, the countries involved are forced to turn elsewhere for trade in goods and services, so oftentimes other third-party nations benefit from tariff wars. Some of those beneficiaries could be in Asia, or some could be in Latin America. As the Chinese-American trade conflict continues to escalate, there will be shifts in trade corridors. The question is, where will those shifts occur, and how will they redefine stability in East Asia and overall world economic security? Ultimately, a full-blown trade war could plunge the global economy into recession, threatening the economic security of not only East Asia but of the international community as a whole.

The fate of this economic security now rests in your hands. Throughout the course of this committee, you and your fellow delegates will be challenged with navigating the intricacies of East Asian economics and diplomacy to determine and resolve the impact of trade wars on East Asian markets and regional and global economic security. Understanding these complex, storied relationships will enable you to conceive new legislative strategies demonstrating flexibility in negotiating and forming alliances while also showcasing the creativity that could stem from each countries’ historical and contemporary relationship with the member nations of the East Asian region.

Note: The High Level Meeting on East Asia is a single-topic committee.

Dear Delegates,

It is my honor to welcome you to Harvard Model United Nations 2019! My name is Michael Shafer and I am excited to meet each and every one of you this coming January in Boston as your Director for the Special Session on Terrorism. My goal is to make sure you all have fun and learn lots at this year's conference!

I grew up in rural Eastern Oregon and am currently a sophomore at Harvard. I study Government (perfect for a committee on terrorism) and focus particularly on international relations and Middle Eastern politics. Outside of HMUN, I am involved with changing the way the United States holds elections through a group called Voters Choose, I work to affect policy change in Massachusetts through the Institute of Politics, and I am involved with the radio station here on campus. Besides those cool sounding things I also watch far too much Netflix and annoy my roommates with bad jokes and terrible singing.

Disrupting financial terrorist networks is a topic that I am extremely passionate about and hope that you all will come to find it as interesting and important as I do. This topic has many complexities that I hope to hear explored during debate in committee. The financial networks of terror organizations should be at the forefront of discussion now that ISIS and other terror groups are being consistently beaten militarily and yet are still able to have a global impact. I am excited to hear the ideas that are proposed during committee to disrupt these financial networks and take away the influence of terror organizations. Terrorism is a subject that I study extensively and cannot wait to hear new ideas!

I hope that this Special Session on Terrorism is a place where delegates can learn more about a different aspect of terrorism than is usually discussed on the international scene and a place where delegates can learn how model UN functions and, by extension, the UN. I want delegates to push the boundaries and propose radical ideas that the world has not heard before. I am here as a resource to you while you prepare for committee, debate, write working papers, and beyond. I am so excited to see you all at conference and I want to encourage you to reach out to me with any questions or concerns you might have or to just introduce yourself to me!


Michael Shafer
Director, Special Session on Terrorism

Class year: 2021

Major: Government, Citation in Arabic

Hometown: Athena, OR

Why HMUN? Michael loves HMUN because of the learning experience that takes place. It is a chance for delegates to really dive into a subject that they are passionate about and have an important voice. Delegates have the chance to meet with the best and brightest minds of their generation and tackle real and pressing issues, and Michael hasn't found anything that can compare to HMUN!

Advice for new delegates:Come in with an open-mind and be ready to present real solutions! Delegates should want to create a coherent and realistic solution to a complex and pressing problem.

Fun Fact: Coming from a very rural area of Eastern Oregon, Michael has spent eight years of his life raising pigs, herding cattle, and in general being a cowboy!

This year, the General Assembly of HMUN will be convening under the Plenary Theme of “The Responsibilities of Leadership.” Despite military success against terror networks, the financial self-sufficiency of these organizations is where responsible leaders must turn their attention to ensure that these groups cannot effectively function on a regional or global scale.

Topic Area: Disrupting Terrorist Financial Networks

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) reached the height of its power in about 2014 and since then has been losing both land and fighters to the coalition of nations working together break the hold of the terrorist organization. While there has been success after success against terror organizations on a military front, the world must turn its attention to the financial networks these organizations have in place. Terror groups around the world are starting to become financially self-sufficient and thus have a global reach. If the United Nations works to disrupt those financial networks, then the capacity for terrorists to commit deadly strikes in the hearts of our nations becomes severely limited.

There are a variety of ways that the member states of the UN can work together to disrupt terrorist financial networks. Two of those that I expect to be discussed during committee are how both economic and military aid can be used towards the goal of the member states. Often times when discussing financial networks, financial measures are discussed to combat those networks. While delegates should be prepared to discuss financial measures military aid should also be addressed as a possible in any form that delegates see fit. Delegates should also consider how narco-terrorism plays a role in financing terrorist operations and how nations could work together to prevent the sale of illicit drugs by terror groups. When considering this delegates should look at examples of the illicit drug trade that takes place in Middle East with Al-Qaeda and their opioid operations that take place in the region.

In this committee, delegates will be laying some of the foundational groundwork for how the UN addresses disrupting financial networks of terrorism and should bear in mind the possible precedents that their resolutions could take in the future. Disrupting these financial networks is crucial in the role of ensuring that these terror groups cannot function effectively on a global or regional scale. With recent years of success on the battlefield behind us the UN must act quickly to choke off funding for terror organizations so that they cannot rebuild their operations in the future.


Note: The Special Session on Terrorism is a single-topic committee.

Dear Delegates,

I am thrilled to welcome you to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) committee of Harvard Model United Nations 2019! My name is Rachel Freed, and I am super excited to be the Director of this committee.

Before we dive into what you can expect from committee, let me tell you a couple things about myself. I am sophomore at the College, hailing from Melrose, MA, a suburb of Boston. I competed in Model UN conferences all throughout high school, including HMUN, so I know exactly the position you’re in. I remember the anxieties and excitement leading up to conference so vividly. It is super important to me that each of you feels like they are leaving conference having learned something new about our topic, the minutiae of MUN, or themselves as people or delegates.

When I am not knee deep in MUN, I can be found working with freshmen as part of Harvard’s Peer Advising Fellows Program, writing satire for Satire V, a comedy magazine, or hanging out with my friends, many of whom are also involved in MUN! Outside of the Harvard realm, I am a big believer in naps and long meals. I am also pretty much constantly searching YouTube for the ~ultimate~ Vine compilation. I am really looking forward to getting to know you guys this January and learning about what you guys enjoy!

Moving back to the topic at hand, we as a committee are tasked with a wildly relevant, pressing issue: the surge of refugees seeking asylum globally. We want to explore the merits and methods of granting these refugees and migrants asylum or citizenship. I want to stress that I, and the rest of the Dais, are here to support you in your conference preparations. Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions you may have.

The Assistant Directors and I are so excited to meet you all in January! Again, please shoot me an email with any questions you have regarding conference!


Rachel Freed
Director, International Organization for Migration

Class year: 2021

Major: Social Studies

Hometown: Melrose, MA

Why HMUN? Rachel competed at HMUN all through high school! She was awed by all the work that went into planning this amazing weekend on both sides of the dais. Her time at HMUN shaped her loved of public speaking, gave her friends across the globe, and filled her backpack with Sheraton soaps to take home.

Advice for new delegates: Meet the dais! We are here to get to know you and help you develop your skills as a delegate. Rachel Freed also highly encourages each delegate to try and speak at least once each day, if not each committee session. Speaking in front of a large group is always hard, but it is really important to make sure your voice is heard in committee!

Fun Fact: Rachel has a dog that can surf!

This year, the General Assembly of HMUN will be convening under the Plenary Theme of “The Responsibilities of Leadership.” Increases in globalization and cross-border movement have necessitated more nuanced strategy and policy regarding migrants’ rights, and the international community has the responsibility to create a truly global policy with which to support these individuals.

Topic Area: Border Crossings and Related Migration

With headlines of immigration policy and migration rates saturating global media in recent months, the issue of border crossings and the movement of individuals and families that follow has never been more relevant. In fact, 3.1% of the world’s population is comprised of migrants, indicating this issue’s salience on a global level. From open-border policies in Europe to US border security policies to border conflicts in South America, we interact with man-made delineations of national boundaries in our daily lives and through our engagement with current events. Despite an ostensible increase in the globalization of economies, cultures, and thoughts, in some ways, the international system is clamping down on its self-imposed boundaries. Of particular interest to this committee are the flows of migration that inevitably follow from individuals and groups who cross borders. These groups are often escaping persecution, violence, instability, or poverty, and are subject to violence and uncertainty all throughout their journey. The complex policies surrounding border crossing and their migrant status upon arrival in the destination country further complicate this process of migration.

Note: The International Organization for Migration is a single-topic committee.

Dear Delegates,

Welcome to the UNEP! My name is Jack Nugent, and I will be your director for the sixty-sixth session of Harvard Model United Nations. I am a sophomore at Harvard College, pursuing a concentration in Social Studies and a Secondary in Spanish. Outside of MUN, I am involved in the Harvard Political Union, Club Soccer, and the International Relations Council. I hail from Washington D.C., which means I know Obama personally.

I am very excited to meet all of you and direct the UN Environment Programme’s conference on the Illicit Trafficking of Marine Wildlife. My interest in the topic comes from my work at the Ocean Foundation, an environmental policy think-tank in Washington D.C. I have always had a passion for conservation and environmentalism, and that is something I want to pass on to my delegates this HMUN. I hope that over the course of this conference, you will find creative and innovative solutions to the problems facing the marine world. Delegates should come prepared for a fast paced committee, full of fun and interesting new elements of MUN.

I have been doing Model UN since I was 11, and I have learned so much from it. MUN has taken me to the US State Department, the South African Legislature, countless stuffy hotel conference rooms, and the United Nations itself. I think Model UN teaches invaluable skills: public speaking, research, writing, and diplomacy. Most importantly, however, is that MUN is a way to interface with students all over the world. We at HMUN pride ourselves on creating a truly international environment; we host a conference that pulls in students from all four corners of the world. This January, take the time to share stories with delegates from a place quite distinct from your own. Learn about and participate in cultural exchange: a process that has provided the building blocks for millennia of diplomacy.

I honestly can’t wait to meet all of you. We are going to have a wonderful time and it will be a MUN experience like no other.

Get ready for a lot of fun,


Jack Nugent
Director, United Nations Environmental Programme

Class year: 2021

Major: Social Studies

Hometown:Washington D.C.

Why HMUN? It brings people together from all corners of the world!

Advice for new delegates:Have fun and try to make friends through the conference. You never know who you'll meet.

Fun Fact:Jack is colorblind!

This year, the General Assembly of HMUN will be convening under the Plenary Theme of “The Responsibilities of Leadership.” Effective leadership is predicated upon responsibility for the ecological and economic health of our international waters and its resources.

Topic Area: Illicit Trafficking of Marine Wildlife

Marine wildlife trafficking is one of the largest illicit markets in the world, bringing in billions of dollars in revenue. The issues dealt by this committee will target system issues in the demand, supply, and transport of marine life. On the supply side, delegates will be tasked with combating issues of both organized and local poaching: addressing the problem of cartel presence in Mexico’s gulf, alongside the epidemic poaching of sea turtles by villages in Madagascar. Delegates will debate the viability of different enforcement mechanisms, and the form they should take (regional, international, or country-by country). Delegates will also have to factor in the ever-increasing demand for marine goods from developed and developing nations alike. Whether it be the newfound allure of shark fin soup, or the supposed medicinal benefits of ray gill, increases in demand for illicit goods have yet to be matched by similar international countermeasures.

Most notable, however, will be the committees initiatives to break down the pathways by which marine wildlife arrive at their destinations. From corrupt shipment methods of Port Authorities in West Africa to an incredibly widespread internet market, delegates will have to navigate the black markets that fuel the wildlife trade. Delegates should find new methods for implementing old protections, recommend new rules and regulations for international trade, and ultimately work together to create resolutions that consider both the environment and the economy in their works. Get ready for a fast paced committee that aims to make the UN more efficient than ever before!

Note: The United Nations Environmental Programme is a single-topic committee.