United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

Dear Delegates,

Welcome to Harvard National Model United Nations 2017! My name is Antonio Soriano, and it is my honor to serve as the Director of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

A little bit about myself: I hail from Los Angeles, California where the sun always shines and the rain never falls. Currently, I am a sophomore in Currier House considering a concentration in the Study of Religion. Outside of class, I am an active member of Teatro, a Latino organization on campus that promotes the sharing of Latino culture. I am also a Director of Administration for our high-school conference, Harvard Model United Nations 2017.

I began my involvement with Model UN this past year, serving as an Assistant Director on the International Organization for Migration (IOM) at HNMUN 2016. I believe that one of the most powerful aspects of MUN is that it allows for the discussion of global issues in a forum that promotes both debate and cooperation. As conference unfolds I hope that each of you will come prepared to make your positions on these topics known while remaining open to new perspectives.

UNESCO aims to establish peace that is built not only on political and economic agreements but also on humanity’s morality and the concept of intellectual solidarity. It seeks to find holistic solutions to problems that have worldwide impact. The overall purpose of this committee at conference will be to consider how to create solutions that address social, environmental and economic issues. I look forward to reading the draft resolutions that will come out of committee and I am excited to see what each of you will bring to our discussion!

Don’t hesitate to email me with any questions, and I look forward to meeting you all!

Antonio Soriano
Director, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
Harvard National Model United Nations 2017

Topic Area A: Protection of Cultural Heritage Sites During Armed Conflict

Despite our hopes for the peace and progress of humankind, armed conflict continues to pose an immediate threat to many cultural heritage sites throughout the world. The inherent vulnerability and historical value of heritage makes such sites both necessary and extremely difficult to protect.

As ISIS and other militant groups have spread across the Middle East and other areas of unrest, they have targeted sites of cultural heritage, utilizing the seizure and destruction of these sites to garner media attention. These sites, ISIS and other militant groups claim, deserve to be destroyed because they contain content that is subversive to their religious agenda, and therefore they argue that they are entirely justified in their quest to eradicate the past.

Without access to cultural heritage sites we lose not only a physical testimony to the past but also a communal link which frames the identity of modern societies. For this reason, although cultural heritage sites are located within specific countries, their historical value transcends borders and demands the immediate attention of UNESCO. Within committee we will be focusing on strengthening existing policy on the protection and restoration of cultural heritages sites during periods of armed conflict.

The Second Protocol to the Hague Convention will be the primary focus of this topic area.This topic will require delegates to weigh issues of sovereignty against the necessity of protecting heritage sites and look for solutions that will maximize them both. Is the placement of peace troopers beneficial to both the nations in which these sites are coming under threat a violation of sovereignty? How can the governments of the countries in which these sites are located ensure that their history is preserved? Resolutions made will be applicable to other instances of armed conflict endangering sites of cultural value.

Topic Area B: Pesticides

The agricultural industry has made significant advances in recent years, making use of fertilizers and pesticides in order to maximize crop yield. An unfortunate side effect of the continued use of pesticides, however, is the endangerment of food safety. Many of the pesticides that are used by farmers in order to control pests and prevent crop diseases have a very real human impact, causing illness and birth defects when they leach into the regions surrounding farms and when food that is not properly washed is ingested by young children.

Although countries such as the United States and the countries of the European Union have begun to take a closer look at the human impact of pesticides and have drafted legislation to control their use developing countries must also be held to a unified standard for use of pesticides.

This topic will require delegates to consider balancing the dependence of farmers on pesticides for reliable crop yields with the danger that overexposure poses to the public. Additionally, they will have to consider the potential economic impacts that pesticide use can have on surrounding industries such as fisheries, as well as the reliability of the food that is being produced.