Historical General Assembly, 1956

Dear Delegates,

Hello and welcome to Harvard National Model United Nations 2018! My name is Will Strang, and I will be serving as the Director for the Historical General Assembly, 1956, a committee which I am sure will be exciting and thought-provoking.

I am currently a junior at Harvard studying history with a potential secondary in economics. Although I am originally from New Jersey, I grew up around the world in Moscow, Jakarta, Manila, and currently Malta (although I went to boarding school in the Boston area for high school). I started doing MUN during my freshman year of college, and I have previously served as both a Director and Assistant Director at HMUN and HNMUN over the past two years, while also competing on Harvard’s intercollegiate MUN team. In my free time, I love playing ultimate frisbee and pickup basketball and watching (and re-watching) The Office.

The Historical General Assembly presents a unique opportunity for delegates to re-examine historical events that profoundly affected millions of lives and engage with them from a uniquely contemporary perspective. Both of the topics covered by this committee represent enormous turning points for the international community as it attempts to address the decline of imperialism and the rising tensions of the Cold War. In Topic A, delegates will confront the challenges posed by an aggressive military intervention whose legitimacy has been questioned by many in the international community, while in Topic B, they will take on the aftermath of a bloody civil war with all of its accompanying issues against the backdrop of communist expansion. Crafting solutions to these problems will certainly require both substantive knowledge and interpersonal cooperation, and I look forward to seeing how you rise to these challenges in new and creative ways.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns. I look forward to seeing you in February!

Will Strang
Director, Historical General Assembly, 1956
Harvard National Model United Nations 2018

Topic Area A: The Suez Crisis

After the nationalization of the Suez Canal by the Egyptian President in July of 1956, a coalition of British, French, and Israeli forces occupied the Suez region in October 1956 in a violent military response unsanctioned by the international community. This intervention in an effort to reassert control over the canal by force sparked debate over the vestiges of imperialism and the role that nations were allowed to play in interfering in other countries’ affairs to protect their own interests. Religious tensions also flared in response to the crisis, as Muslim nations banded together to protect a fellow Muslim state while Israel was criticized for its aggressive involvement. Additionally, the Canal’s importance as a key chokepoint in international trade demands a rapid response for continued cooperation in the international economic community. In attempting to craft a coherent international response to the crisis, the committee must first address the extent of its own jurisdiction, as its degree of interventionism will set a precedent for future involvement in international conflicts involving traditionally powerful nations. Questions of national sovereignty, de-militarization, and the relationship between governments and foreign enterprise will all also have to be addressed.

Topic Area B: The Hungarian Uprising

In October 1956, the people of Hungary rose up in revolt against the authoritarian, communist regimes of first Matyas Rakosi and then Erno Gero in an effort to transform Hungary into a democratically socialist state. Although the rebellion met with initial success in deposing the government, it was subsequently threatened by the prospect of the deployment of troops from the Soviet Union, which had previously asserted its right to intervene in other nations within its communist sphere of influence. The people of Hungary have turned to the international community for protection from the Soviet threat, leaving it in the hands of this committee to craft a coherent response. In attempting to solve the problems posed by the situation in Hungary, delegates will need to respond to continuing developments as the conflict continues to progress. The committee will also have to address the potential refugee problem as thousands of Hungarians could be displaced from their homes fleeing violence or a crackdown on domestic dissent. Even if a consensus can be reached on how to address the issues within the confines of a diplomatic forum, practical implementation of concrete policy actions rather than empty statements will be essential to maintain the reputation of the UN.