Special Political and Decolonization Committee
Special Political and Decolonization Committee
Cyndia Yu, Director
Class Year: 2016
Hometown: Chandler, AZ
Favorite City or Country: Camelback Mountain in Phoenix, AZ
Favorite Food: Chinese food from home
Favorite MUN Moment: When Intercollegiate Model United Nations (our competitive travelling team) held a sleepover that we trekked 15 minutes through Snowstorm Nemo to get to!
Why did you choose these topics?
I chose these topics because they deal with some of the most interesting yet least discussed issues of our time, and they can only become more relevant as we move into the future. I love the various layers of complexity that each of these topics presents, and they lend themselves extraordinarily well to interesting debate, unique positions, and diplomatic solutions.
Any advice for new delegates?
Do your research! Model UN is a fantastic experience for meeting new people and building those speaking and negotiating skills, but a prerequisite to that is having a wealth of knowledge about the topic up your sleeve so you have something to say. Above all, though, be friendly, don’t hesitate to ask questions, and have fun!
You should come to HMUN because… You will have an opportunity to work on some of our society’s most pressing issues with some of the brightest students in the world. These are ideas and situations that will continue to shape the global arena for years to come, and it’s an incredible experience to get to learn and debate about them with the future leaders of our world, then make friends with them in an awesome hotel afterwards!
A Letter From Your Director
Welcome to Harvard Model United Nations 2014! My name is Cyndia Yu and I’ll be directing the Fourth Committee of the Special Political and Decolonization Committee this coming January. I look forward to meeting you all and hearing your ideas on these topics, and I am confident that you will bring nuanced critical analysis, compelling debate, and diplomatic negotiation to this committee.
As a rising sophomore studying physics, I think a lot about interdisciplinary approaches to issues. Where do the social, political, economic, ethical, scientific, and historical spheres of analysis intersect, and what perspectives can we draw from each of those lenses? I was heavily involved in policy debate in high school, and as such I have always been interested in examining issues in international relations from multiple angles, and I am excited about the way that Model UN allows delegates to act out these theoretical perspectives in diplomatic environments. The topics I have selected for SPECPOL this year, namely, nuclear globalism and private military contractors, are essential to our analysis of global security and national sovereignty in the 21st century. I strongly encourage you to research well in advance and spend a lot of time thinking carefully about the positions of other stakeholders in the issue. I foresee not only compelling debate and intense resolution-crafting, but also a fun and intellectually enriching experience come January.
I hope that this committee will be challenging, exciting, and above all fun. I am so eager to meet you all, and I hope you join me in my excitement for HMUN SPECPOL 2014!
Cyndia Yu, Director
Special Political and Decolonization CommitteeEmail Cyndia at email@example.com
Topic Area Summaries
Topic Area A: Nuclear Globalism
Though the specter of nuclear war no longer pervades public consciousness as it once did, the impact of nuclear technology continues to transcend borders and impact countries whether or not they possess nuclear weapons or utilize nuclear energy. The advent of nuclear technology has brought about nuclear weapons, proliferation, an arms race, and a world teetering on the brink of conflagration, as well as a new source of clean energy that is vastly superior to coal and natural gas in terms of environmental sustainability. These advances have not come without costs, however. The ascent of nuclear technology brings with it the increased marginalization and neo-colonization of populations affected by its hidden effects—namely, radiation fallout, uranium mining, and nuclear waste disposal. As there is not and never has been an “official” nuclear war, these “hidden nuclear wars” are rarely, if ever, mentioned.
This idea of nuclear globalism, formulated by Masahide Kato, impacts nearly every nation on the globe, and will require delegates to confront a number of unique challenges. While the Comprehensive Test Ban and Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaties attempt to stem the impacts of nuclear testing, both documents have yet to be universally adopted. Furthermore, nations that rely heavily on nuclear energy must consider their practices in uranium mining and waste disposal, as both practices severely degrade the environment and significantly impact some of our society’s most vulnerable and underrepresented populations. While nations scramble to find solutions to global warming, increased reliance on nuclear energy can only accelerate these impacts, which have historically have most burdened native populations with little representation. The United Nations, a powerful organization entrusted to regulate humankind’s most powerful source of energy, must then decide how best to protect some of the weakest voices in the world while considering the enormous environmental challenges that the 21st century poses.
Topic Area B: Private Military Contractors
The use of private military contractors rather than a nation’s armed forces in war, security operations, peacekeeping operations, and humanitarian crises has reshaped the nature of conflict in the 21st century. These private contractors play a variety of roles in support of and in conjunction with the nation’s regular uniformed military personnel. The United Nations itself has purchased the services of PMC’s, as well as nations, non-governmental organizations, international organizations, non-state actors, and private companies. Proponents of PMC’s argue that they are more efficient, effective, and innovative than traditional forces and can serve as a counterweight to the military in states with weak political institutions. However, opponents highlight concerns of accountability, regulation, cost, and the possibility of rogue forces and criticize the use of PMC’s as an unnecessary expense in an increasingly bloated defense industry.
Since they are motivated by finance and not by national loyalty, PMC’s are exceedingly difficult to regulate. They are unconstrained by public and legislative approval, are not subject to the same levels of scrutiny as a national military, and do not follow the same hierarchical chain of command found in most armed forces. Thus, PMC’s face widespread accusations of human rights abuses and have statistically been more likely to open fire during confrontation than their national military counterparts. Further, while international law bans the participation of mercenaries in war, whether PMC’s fall under the definition of mercenaries outlined by the Geneva Conventions. Delegates must confront the legality and morality of the use of this new facet of the military and consider modes of accountability for their actions.