Special Political and Decolonization Committee

Dear Delegates,

Welcome to the Special Political and Decolonization Committee (SPECPOL) at Harvard National Model United Nations 2017!

My name is Shahd Tagelsir and I am a junior at Harvard College. I am very excited to have you join us in February and to serve as your director for SPECPOL. I am from Khartoum, Sudan, and my first time visiting the United States was my freshman year of college. I am currently studying Mathematics with a secondary concentration in Economics.

Throughout high school, I was involved with Model UN: first as a delegate, and later taking on the role of Under-Secretary General at my high school’s conference. My relationship with the General Assembly started in high school where I was a delegate in DISEC at The Hague International MUN, and continued in college where I served as Assistant Director of the World Conference on Women at Harvard Model United Nations. I am also the current Vice President of the Harvard African Students’ Association, and served as co-chair of the committee on Africa Week, a week dedicated to raising awareness about the continent and celebrating its cultural diversity.

With large numbers of peacekeeping operations in areas of conflict around the world, it is important for us to continuously review and reform such operations to ensure that they are achieving their goals of maintaining peace and security. That is why the first topic we will be discussing is “Reforming UN Peacekeeping Operations.” Our second topic is Improving Governance in Somalia. As a Sudanese woman and an African, I believe that the African continent is home to some of the most interesting government leaders. Many regions that have suffered from extended conflicts and instability are failing as states due to bad governance. Therefore, it is important to debate the issue of state-building and improving governance in a nation like Somalia.

Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions. I am looking forward to a wonderful conference!

Shahd Tagelsir
Director, Special Political and Decolonization Committee
Harvard National Model United Nations 2017

Topic Area A: Reforming UN Peacekeeping Operations

Conflicts around the world threaten individuals’ peace and security. International organizations, such as the United Nations, are tasked with maintaining peace and ensuring that a person’s right to security is not breached. As such, the UN carries out peacekeeping operations with the aim of restoring and creating lasting peace in areas of conflict. The failure of UN Peacekeeping Operations to restore peace in some areas questions the effectiveness of these operations and calls for a thorough review and reform to ensure that they are in line with the UN Charter’s principles. The recent deaths and injuries of peacekeepers in Mali brings into focus the increasing attacks on peacekeepers themselves and the severe threat to their safety. On the other hand, with reports rising of sexual assault and misconduct of peacekeepers, review is essential for determining whether the success of these operations is deterred by chosen troops and their behaviors. With all this in mind, SPECPOL will consider the safety and security of peacekeepers, expanding and strengthening support capacities for missions, the capacity for civilian protection and the conduct of peacekeepers in this debate for reform.

Topic Area B: Improving Governance in Somalia

Somalia has been an area of severe conflict ever since the start of the Somali Civil War in 1986. However, solutions for maintaining peace and stability in the region have not been found. More importantly, efforts to lay foundations for state building and a functioning government have failed consistently. Therefore, it is extremely crucial for this committee to address how to improve governance in the region. In particular, SPECPOL will address the questions of why state building and governance have been failing in the country, the implications of such failures, finding ways of maintaining a stable, functioning government, and putting an end to the ongoing conflict. Since the war in Somalia is mainly between the government and peacekeeping troops on one side, and different Islamist groups (including Al-Shabaab) on the other side, delegates need to take into consideration the different religious actors at play. To solve the issue, the committee will need to consider the type of state structure that would best fit Somalia’s unique situation, and bring peace to the area. SPECPOL delegates will be trained in the craft of state-building during times of severe conflict, and will need to consider how the international community can aid Somalia without interfering with its sovereignty.