Organization of American States

Dear Delegates,

Hello, and welcome to the Organization of American States! My name is Allison Toledo, and I am thrilled to be your Director. Over the course of the HNMUN weekend, you will be acting as member states of the OAS. You will be discussing corruption in government and rural inequalities, negotiating solutions to these critical issues, and addressing any crises that may arise as a result of your handling of the situations. Considering Latin America’s rising status on the world stage, it is an incredibly significant time for the OAS to address internal issues in the Americas in order to continue their states’ upward trajectories in the global standings.

For a little bit about myself, I am a sophomore at Harvard College, most likely concentrating in either Government or Social Studies. My interest in the Organization of American States stems partly from my Ecuadorian heritage as well as my American identity and upbringing. In high school in New Jersey, I was the Head Delegate for two years of my school’s small Model UN team, where I developed a passion for discussing international affairs that has carried over into my college career. At Harvard, I am a Deputy Director for our competitive Model UN team, a Director at both Harvard National Model United Nations and Harvard Model United Nations, a tutor for the Harvard Program for International Education, and a Director at HMUN China. Aside from Model UN, I also advise freshmen and am a member of an a cappella group on campus, the Harvard Lowkeys.

It is a pivotal time for the Americas. You will have to debate how best to combat corruption while understanding how endemic it is to the region. You will decide how to combat the inequality between rural and urban communities while keeping cultural, economic, and environmental considerations in mind. Committee will move quickly, and I hope to present you with interesting challenges in the form of crises based on the discussion. Model UN is an incredible forum for debate on pressing international issues, and I have faith that this committee will take on these challenges with confidence and innovation.

I look forward to meeting each of you and exploring these critical issues together! If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via email.

Allison Toledo
Director, Organization of American States
Harvard National Model United Nations 2017

Topic Area A: Corruption in Government

The Corruption Perceptions Index, published by the NGO Transparency International, has consistently ranked Latin and Central America high on corruption since 1995. Even the United States is not ranked as being among the least corrupt nations in the world. Fights against corruption have gotten more attention recently in places such as Brazil, where President Dilma Rousseff is fighting charges of breaking finance laws and of assisting former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva with avoiding corruption investigation, and Guatemala, where President Otto Pérez Molina resigned after being implicated in a customs corruption ring. Corruption in all levels of government, from the local to the executive, allows organized crime and the drug trade to flourish.

The standards for corruption investigation vary across the Americas. In some countries, the process for investigation varies by the type of corruption, and the body that investigates may not be entirely impartial. In Mexico, for example, the federal comptroller recently led a corruption investigation against the president, first lady, and finance minister, despite the fact that he reports directly to the president. All three were cleared of the charges. Across the Americas, the responses and solutions to corruption in government vary with similarly varied results.

The high levels of corruption have immense consequences for foreign investment, entrepreneurship, and stable governments. How should the countries of the Organization of American States respond? Should standards be created that the entire body must adhere to, or should a larger body like the OAS not directly interfere in what some consider a national, rather than transnational, affair?

Topic Area B: Rural Inequalities

16.7 percent of people in South America, 26.2 percent of people in Central America, 18.4 percent of people in North America, and 29.6 percent of people in the Caribbean live in rural communities. These people commonly experience higher levels of poverty than their urban counterparts, which subsequently affect their prospects for economic development, access to education, and ability to meet their basic food needs.

Many believe that the lack of investment in rural communities in certain areas, such as in health care, education, and infrastructure, lead to these vast inequalities. Some suggest that developing and industrializing these rural communities may narrow the gap between rural and urban areas, giving families a chance to overcome poverty. Yet others believe that such industrialization would have too large of an environmental cost, as it would contribute to pollution and prevent sustainable land management. Further, indigenous communities are disproportionately affected by rural poverty: the Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women reports that half of indigenous peoples living on reserves in the country are poor, three out of four indigenous peoples in Guatemala are affected by poverty, and indigenous communities in Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador are the poorest in the region.

How will you find a solution to these rural inequalities? How will you balance the need to alleviate poverty while keeping cultural identities alive and preventing environmental harm? These are questions you’ll have the opportunity to explore further in committee.