Historical General Assembly, 1991

Dear Delegates,

It is my honor to welcome you at the Historical General Assembly at the 63rd session of the Harvard National Model United Nations.

My name is Thomas Chatzieleftheriou and I come from Lesbos, a little Greek island that has recently been the main port of entry to the European Continent for refugees fleeing from the Syrian Civil War. I am a sophomore at Harvard College, probably concentrating in Social Studies with a secondary in economics. From a very young age, I have avidly enjoyed participating in debates over both domestic social policy and international issues, always believing that it is in our hand to shape through hard work a world worthy of our dreams. Back in high school, I directed a series of fora on educational reform, while the past year I had the pleasure of serving as Assistant Director in the HNMUN HGA. I am also currently Co-Programs Director in the Syrian Humanitarian League as well as a member of the Harvard Political Union and of the European Society. In my free time, I love exchanging experiences with my international friends and attending various cultural events in Boston.

This committee is going to discuss two themes that are often overlooked by high diplomacy and grand strategy, but carry a lot of significance for the lives of millions of ordinary people. In Topic Area A, delegates will have to practice their skills in the art of state-building, assuring a decolonized territory will have a peaceful transition to a prosperous independence. In Topic Area B, they will need to face a multidimensional refugee crisis and make the decisions necessary in order to guarantee the basic human rights of people forced to abandon their homes because of a military confrontation and its diplomatic implications. I am really excited to be your companion in the handling of these complex issues, which require a degree of originality and critical thinking, and I am sure that your passion will shine in the committee room. I look forward to meeting you soon.

Thomas Chatzieleftheriou
Director, Historical General Assembly, 1991
Harvard National Model United Nations 2017

Topic Area A: The Decolonization of Western Sahara

Following the collapse of the Franco regime in 1975, Spain relinquished its control over the region of Western Sahara to Morocco and Mauritania. However, a group of guerillas, the Polisario Front, disputed this transition and resorted to arms demanding independence for the former colony. In 1991, after a 16-year ferocious war and the withdrawal of Mauritania, Morocco and the guerillas agreed to lay down arms and ask the UN to draft a comprehensive plan for the resolution of the conflict.

This committee, taking into account the aforementioned background, will have to recommend a framework for peace that will preserve order in the territory, temporarily administer justice and governance, maintain the ceasefire and supervise the withdrawal of armed forces into specifically designated areas. This framework may also look to include provisions for the organization of a free and fair independence referendum, the amnesty of all political detainees or POWs, and other necessary post-war reconstruction solutions. Delegates must be mindful that their recommendations will heavily guide the principles of a potential post-independence democratic Sahrawi constitution.

Topic Area B: The First Gulf War Refugee Crisis

In August 1990, Saddam Hussein, the Baathist leader of Iraq, invaded Kuwait with the aim of annexing it, after the ruling family of the princely state refused to forgive the huge debt Iraq accumulated during its 8-year war with Iran. This prompted a backlash among the international community, and thus, having the authorization of the UN Security Council, the United States led a coalition which liberated Kuwait. However, the Arab states split on this issue: while Saudi Arabia, Syria and Egypt supported the American-led expedition, Jordan, Yemen and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) opposed any Western intervention in the region. As a result, hundreds of thousands of foreign workers were expelled from their countries of residence, while at the same time droves of Iraqis rushed to leave a country fully destroyed by sanctions and airstrikes.

This committee will need to address the problems generated by such a massive refugee flow. First, the delegates will have to prevent human rights violations and create structures of assistance that will provide every dislocated individual with food and shelter. On a second level, they will need to devise a plan of aid allocation to the destination countries, whose economies have received a blow after the stop in the inflow of remittances and have to be reconstructed. Lastly, it would be ideal if a formula was found for the normalization of diplomatic relations between all the Arab states and the resumption of civilian life across the Middle East.