Special Summit on Sustainable Development

Dear Delegates,

It is with great excitement that I welcome you to the Special Summit on Sustainable Development (SSSD).

My name is Kamran Jamil, and I’m currently a junior at Harvard College, with a passion for economic development, health policy, infectious diseases, and, well of course, the United Nations. I’m currently studying Social Studies, an interdisciplinary field which hopes to bring together the social sciences in asking multi-faceted questions. A question I’m incredibly interested is the one of state-development and determinants of success—as in, what underlies the economic successes and failures of states? More subtly, I’m fascinated by the ways in which the growth of economies is tied with human rights records, health policy, the presence or absence of extractive institutions, and the general ideologies of peoples.

As a current co-editor-in-chief of the Harvard College Human Rights Review, and the Senior Publishing Chair of the Health Policy Review, I have tried to merge my interests in health, human rights, and economics together. Currently, I am now working with Professor Michael Kremer, a visionary and leader in the field of developmental economics. Academically, I’m attempting to pursue both developmental economics and some sort of biology secondary field, just to try and approach this topic of development from many angles. Outside of school, I am training to become a First Year Outdoor Program leader, for the purpose of leading freshmen into the woods of the Northeast for a week. I also enjoy playing the piano and eating out.

So why do I do MUN? I find Model United Nations to be an incredible forum for the exchange and debate of students from a variety of backgrounds on topics of international relevance. As the Director of the HNMUN 2015 Human Rights Council, I have returned to direct again because I have found this experience to be so valuable for both the delegates and for myself. As I grapple with these questions of economic development, I hope you will join me as we try and unravel exactly what makes ‘good economics’ and what we as a committee can do about it.

For my first topic area, I’ve chosen post-Ebola Liberia as a state ruined by a health crisis, with the overarching question: what should we, as the SSSD, do? I hope to provide delegates with an in-depth history of economic tools and programs that have been used in moments of crises, and as well, their accompanying policies. How can we help set up Liberia for long-term growth, and with a strengthened health system? What could be the positive and negative results of our interventions, and what roles do you see the SSSD inhabiting in a world with a more globalized economy—an economy that does not wait during and after health crises? Further, I’d like delegates to engage with new ideas relating to “big pharma” and how the pharmaceutical industry may help or hamper the recovery of nations post- health crisis.

For the second topic area, I would like delegates to grapple with the successes and failures of structural adjustment programs, and the ways in which the SSSD should operate. Why did structural adjustment fail for so many people, and in what ways can we prevent these negative outcomes from occurring in the current practices of the SSSD, or of other international organizations, like the World Bank? What problems should we focus on, and how exactly should we address them? By including the history of international economic policies, the various schools of thought on economic development, and case studies of the most pressing global economic issues, I hope delegates will be informed to make their own decisions on the initiation of new programs, novel approaches to global issues, and perhaps new methodologies entirely as they re-define the role of international organizations in a post-Structural Adjustment world.

As we live in a world of intersections and complex forces, the question of how to best allow states to thrive requires us to use tools in economics, anthropology, and policy. I have no doubt that our committee can make great headway in answering this question, and I am excited for the learning and debate to come. See you all soon!

Kamran Jamil
Director, Special Summit on Sustainable Development
Harvard National Model United Nations 2017

Topic Area A: Development after Health Crises

After health crises, like the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, with tremendous ramifications on the economies and livelihoods of states and peoples, what policies of growth and reconstruction should international organizations use?

This topic area presents the new and rising ideas of the randomistas—scholars who use randomized, controlled trials to find out more about what really contribute to poverty and inequality. Their various findings either run contrary or in line with current international programs and public opinion; debate will partially focus on determining the role of their findings in furthering sustainable development.

Post-Ebola Liberia will be used as the main case study. Liberia’s economy has been wrecked by the Ebola epidemic that ravaged the region last year. Through economic data and current public opinions as documented by reporters, polls, etc., delegates will be indundated with information that they must decide how to use. How can the SSSD encourage growth in Liberia in a long-lasting way? After having considered numerous options, delegates will ideally reach a practical conclusion that delivers the greatest results. Possible avenues for solutions that delegates may consider are the roles of pharmaceutical companies, direct aid by international organizations, microfinance, and more.

Topic Area B: The Role of International Organizations in a Post-Structural Adjustment World

Especially in the latter half of the twentieth century, national crises were often solved through structural adjustment programs: loans from international financial organizations conditioned with the implementation of austerity measures. After structural adjustment programs wrecked the conception that international organizations could bring long-lasting growth to nations, the SSSD will investigate ways in which international organizations like UN Development Programme (UNDP) or the World Bank can re-make their images. Given the troubled history of economic development, what can we do differently for the future?

Delegates should learn from past cases, but must also think futuristically—what should the UNDP or World Bank ideally look like? What is their new role, and what techniques and tools should they use? What problems should we address?

For example, in the years following the United States invasion of Iraq, structural adjustment policies wrecked the economy, and served to initiate a downfall in standards of living for most of the Iraqi population. This highlights one of the largest criticisms to structural adjustment policies - that they over-privatize the economy and directly interfere with a state’s sovereignty. In addition, structural adjustment policies have been correlated with a rise in economic disparity of populations, and accordingly, the rise in terrorism and its appeal for marginalized peoples.