Special Political and Decolonization Committee

Dear Delegates,

Welcome to the Special Political and Decolonization Committee at Harvard National Model United Nations 2018!

My name is Shahd Tagelsir, and I am a senior at Harvard College from Khartoum, Sudan, studying Applied Math in Decision and Control with a secondary degree in Economics. I am very excited to have you join us in February and to serve as your Director for SPECPOL.

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 an Assistant Director of the World Conference on Women at Harvard MUN and the Director of SPECPOL at HNMUN 2017. I have developed a deep love and appreciation for the General Assembly, and I am beyond excited to close off my Model UN career with SPECPOL. Outside of Model UN, I also served as the President of the Harvard African Students’ Association and the Co-Chair of the Committee on Africa Week, a week dedicated to raising awareness about the continent and celebrating its cultural diversity.

The conflict in South Sudan has been ongoing since before the country’s independence in 2011. Although hopes were high for a peaceful post-independence era, ethnic and tribal conflicts did not allow for peace. With thousands of deaths, the humanitarian crisis, and famine plaguing the country, it is important for us to work towards finding a solution to the issue. That is why the first topic we will be discussing is the Status of South Sudan. Our second topic is Mine Action. Landmines and Explosive Remnants of War are a threat to people’s lives in many areas around the world. To ensure international safety and security, it is important to address the removal of landmines and explosive remnants of war safely.

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

Shahd Tagelsir
Director, Special Political and Decolonization Committee
Harvard National Model United Nations 2018

Topic Area A: The Status of South Sudan

In July 2011, the world’s newest nation was born when South Sudan seceded from Sudan. However, the secession did not calm the already existing conflict between the two states. In particular, issues regarding the border between the two states and disputes over territories at those borders have continued. The main areas under conflict are Darfur, Abyei, and the two areas of South Kordofan and Blue Nile. Moreover, South Sudan itself has been an area of conflict since its independence, suffering from a civil war driven by ethnic clashes. In 2016, a UN commission on human rights stated that a process of ethnic cleansing is underway in the country. In February 2017, South Sudan declared famine in a crisis described by the UN as a “man-made catastrophe caused by civil war and economic collapse.” With such a dense history of violence, death, and humanitarian crisis, the ongoing conflict of South Sudan has become the responsibility of the United Nations and the international community. SPECPOL will aim to address the conflict in South Sudan by considering issues of governance, political stability, and land disputes, within the setting of chaos and catastrophe that controls the country.

Topic Area B: Mine Action

The world we occupy today is full of reminders of a war-filled history. Although most reminders are harmless, landmines and other explosive remnants of war (ERW) cover many post-war grounds. These ERW threaten the lives of the many people who occupy these regions. It is therefore the duty of the international community to ensure that these deadly reminders of war are all removed and that their impact is minimized. One way to achieve this is through mine action. Mine action is concerned with activities that reduce the impact of landmines and other ERW to a point where it is no longer risky to occupy a certain region. Its five pillars are: Humanitarian Demining, Risk Education, Victim Assistance, Stockpile Destruction, and Advocacy to promote policy. However, in areas of conflict, it is not always safe or easy to intervene in an autonomous state. Questions regarding state sovereignty come into play. SPECPOL delegates are tasked with improving mine action while considering issues of state sovereignty and land access.