Historical North Atlantic Treaty Organization, 1998

Dear Delegates,

I am honored and thrilled to welcome you to Historical NATO 1998! My name is Bary Lisak, and I will be your director for this committee. Hailing from Wayland, MA, I am a sophomore in Pforzheimer House concentrating in applied mathematics. In addition to my role at HNMUN, I served as Vice President of Committees at Model Security Council 2016. Outside of the Harvard International Relations Council, I am passionate about soccer and chess.

This committee will take place during a crucial juncture in modern history. In the wake of the Soviet Union’s collapse, NATO has emerged from the Cold War apparently victorious, but must now reinvent itself in the absence of the force it had defined itself in opposition to for many years. You will have the opportunity to discuss when and how NATO’s considerable power should be applied across the globe and particularly in Europe. As the violent situation in Yugoslavia continues to develop and Russia attempts to regain its footing, you will debate how to bridge the gap between East and West and what it means to be a leader of the free world.

Despite the fact that this body falls under the Economic and Social Councils and Regional Bodies, you can expect committee to contain a substantial element of crisis. Because NATO is a military alliance, the committee will be able to pass directives in response to critical developments requiring immediate action. However, the committee’s goal is not only to react as effectively as possible to short-term developments, but more importantly to learn from its successes and failures to develop a broader strategic vision for the future in its final resolution.

Feel free to contact me with any questions about committee, and I look forward to seeing you all in February!

Bary Lisak
Director, Historical North Atlantic Treaty Organization, 1998
Harvard National Model United Nations 2017

Topic Area A: The Integration of Former Soviet Bloc States

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 led to the creation of fifteen new republics, as well as the separation of several other Eastern European states from the old Soviet sphere of influence. Liberated from Communist rule, many of these countries quickly turned westward, seeking to strengthen diplomatic and economic ties with prosperous NATO members. Through programs such as the Partnership for Peace, NATO actively cultivates ties with these nations, often with the eventual goal of full membership in the organization. By 1998, the process of integrating some of these states into NATO was already underway; the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary had already been invited to join.

However, concerns remain about bridging the gap between East and West, and about the Russian response to the erosion of its sphere of influence. The Partnership for Peace and the current criteria for admission into NATO must be evaluated as ever more countries clamor to join, and the committee must also consider how to assuage the concerns of a worried Russia. The committee will have to determine its priorities in the process of integration and decide how best to strike a diplomatic balance between its own interests and those of Russia and potential new members.

Topic Area B: NATO's Role in Humanitarian Crises

As its original rival no longer exists, NATO has been forced to move beyond the confines of a traditional military alliance and consider other priorities such as humanitarian concerns. The most notable example of these new criteria is NATO’s reaction to the state-sponsored ethnic violence in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. As other international organizations such as the United Nations were largely ineffective in dealing with the brutality of the Yugoslav regime in the Bosnian War of 1992-1995, NATO chose to intervene with military force, contributing to the end of the war. Now, faced with rising tensions in Kosovo, the committee must contemplate at what point and how NATO will apply military force again, should the need arise. Similarly, ethnic conflicts in Chechnya in the Middle East may threaten countless lives and the stability of nations and regions; NATO must be prepared to respond to such situations. The committee should consider appropriate alternatives to force and when intervention is apt given NATO’s role in the post-Soviet world.