Historical Bretton Woods Conference, 1944

Dear Delegates,

Welcome to Harvard National Model United Nations 2017! My name is Andrew Chen and I’m honored to serve as the Director of the Historical Bretton Woods Conference, 1944.

First, a little about me. I’m from a small town near Princeton in New Jersey called Plainsboro. In high school, I participated in a wide range of Model United Nations conferences as part of our school’s team. I’m currently a sophomore at the College preparing to pursue a concentration in Statistics and considering minors in Computer Science and Philosophy. Besides my academic pursuits, I’m involved in the Harvard Financial Analysts Club and the Harvard College Consulting Group. Some of my hobbies include watching football and playing beach volleyball (when the weather is nice).

Having been involved in Model United Nations for over four years as both a delegate and a staffer, I’ve grown to understand the importance of MUN conferences beyond discussion of specific topics. Conferences allow us to hone our public speaking and quick thinking, skills that are invaluable in nearly any role in the world. They also teach us to examine problems and ideas critically, through a lens of pragmatism.

Having said that, I’m very excited to be working on the Historical Bretton Woods Conference. Set in 1944, the Bretton Woods Conference gathered the best economic minds from across the globe to debate how to best shape the post-World War II economy. The actions taken in committee had lasting international ramifications, and you as delegates will have a chance to rewrite history knowing what we know today.

Feel free to contact me by email if you have any questions about the committee, Harvard, or any concerns you may have!

Andrew Chen
Director, Historical Bretton Woods Conference, 1944
Harvard National Model United Nations 2017

Topic Area A: Monetary Order in a Post-War World

Although World War II formally began after the invasion of Poland, the seeds were planted at the very end of World War I. The Treaty of Versailles left countries reeling to repay debts incurred during the Great War, and an inability for nations to come together and form collaborative, realistic remuneration proposals forced nations to fend for their own economic well-being. Isolationist, “beggar-thy-neighbor” policies pitted countries against each other in the form of monetary policy and dramatically magnified the delicate political state of Europe.

The Bretton Woods Conference, occurring towards the end of World War II, officially convened to facilitate more open markets—implicit, however, was the goal of avoiding the disastrous economic climate after World War I that lead to World War II. The original Bretton Woods Conference created the bodies that we now know today as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Group, but significant criticisms exist over the roles of these bodies.

This topic will require delegates to consider some fundamental economic questions in a historical context. Should there exist international financial institutions, and if so, what should their roles be? How should disputes between monetary policy between nations be settled? Should currencies be pegged, and if so, to what? Any resolution passed on this topic will take immediate effect and set a global precedent for the 20th century.

Topic Area B: European Post-War Reconstrution

World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history and resulted in hundreds of billions of dollars of damage in infrastructure and production. As evidenced by the interwar period, not allocating sufficient aid to nations recovering from war can lead to suffering people and tense political climates.

Although at the time of the Bretton Woods Conference World War II had not yet ended, the war was in its waning stages, and attendees had begun to divert their efforts towards how to solve the impending question of reconstruction. Though some countries eventually enacted unilateral action, the Conference facilitated discussion on how to best aid recovering nations.

This topic will require delegates to evaluate the best way to provide relief to Europe after the end of World War II, which involve some key questions. What is the role of the international community in the reconstruction of Europe? How should sustainable development and immediate relief be balanced? What is the best way to implement reconstruction programs? Any resolution on this topic will serve as a guideline for the international community following the end of World War II.