Disarmament and International Security Committee
Welcome to HNMUN 2020! My name is Jenna Wong, and I am so excited to be your Director for the Disarmament and International Security Committee. I grew up around thirty minutes outside of Boston, so I am thrilled to be directing this topic in my home city, and I hope you love your time in Boston as much as I have.
At Harvard, I am concentrating in Social Studies (which is different from the middle school subject, I promise!) with a secondary in Psychology. I am particularly interested in human rights law, transitional justice, women’s rights, Latin American politics, and ethics – which is why I am so passionate about our topic. One of the greatest challenges facing our world today is how to protect the rights of civilians during internal conflicts. As you read this background guide, I urge you to consider the underlying debate of what constitutes a morally justified military intervention. As we have seen all too often throughout recent history, even our best attempts to save lives may often leave countless innocent lives as collateral damage, and this may be too high a price to pay.
I only began participating in model UN during my freshman year of college, and I instantly fell in love with its format, which encourages collaboration and diplomacy above all else. These are the traits I will be looking for in delegates, and I am eager to help all of you work together on such a relevant and challenging topic.
This will be my third and final year directing at HNMUN, having worked in Administration my sophomore year and as the Coordinating Crisis Director for the Malayan Emergency JCC my junior year. I also have previously served as co-Head Delegate for Harvard’s travel MUN team, and have traveled widely on the North American circuit specializing in crisis committees, particularly my one true love: Ad-Hocs. For some strange reason, I have consistently directed GAs rather than crisis committees despite my own delegate preferences - this will be my seventh time directing a resolution-based committee.
I have chosen to direct DISEC in large part because the last time I competed in a General Assembly committee was at another conference’s DISEC my sophomore year. I am excited for my MUN journey to finally come full circle, especially with one of my best friends in the world. On that note, I also want to make it clear how I expect this committee to run. I do MUN because I deeply and genuinely value this activity as an educational experience. I am also aware that the traditional prestige of DISEC has often resulted in it becoming highly competitive to the point where substance takes a backseat to political maneuvering. While I seek to preserve the competitive spirit of HNMUN, I also hope to make this committee experience a constructive, positive, and enjoyable one for every delegate. This means I will have absolutely no tolerance for underhanded tactics, prewriting, plagiarism, sexism, racism, or really anything that makes committee a toxic environment. I also expect delegates to focus in on the actual content of debate and form blocs accordingly.
As someone who only started doing model UN in college, it is especially important to me that new delegates feel welcomed in the model UN community, and I hope that this committee will enable both first time and experienced delegates to acquire new skills and learn from one another. Please always feel free to reach out to me with any questions or concerns; I am here to make sure that all of you have an incredible time!
Director, Disarmament and International Security Committee
Topic Area: Foreign Interventions in Civil War
I selected this topic in large part to subvert the standard expectations of a DISEC committee. I find that DISEC is often susceptible to topics which present clear right and wrong options. It is hard to argue in favor of topics like private military contractors or expanding nuclear arsenals. As a result, DISEC can be reduced to a purely policy-based debate. This model is the exact opposite of my own directing philosophy. I believe that any debate must stem from theoretical principles, and policy solutions should then flow from these ideas. I thus selected a topic which will hopefully force a fundamental clash of ideas and values amongst delegates.
Our topic asks you to craft a set of guidelines on how to carry out foreign intervention in civil wars. You will be forced to first consider abstract questions such as whether you believe foreign intervention is even an appropriate solution, what human rights violations require international intervention, and what moral obligations they have to the people of war-torn nations. You will then be asked to consider all the ways in which foreign intervention has historically caused disaster, in particular by debating what forms of military intervention are appropriate, what an ideal exit strategy is, what obligations foreign actors have to contribute to the rebuilding process post-civil war, and what domestic actors should be allied with in cases like Syria, where numerous combatants including the Assad regime and ISIS make for very unfavorable partners.
The magnitude of this topic cannot be overstated. Foreign Affairs describes “intervention in civil conflicts” as “one of the most vexing decisions facing modern great powers.” Civil war is shockingly common; since the end of World War II alone, there has been 138 civil wars. The international community got involved in two-thirds of them, making my topic relevant to a broad array of countries. Yet intervention helped bring about a conclusion in only 30% of cases, demonstrating the clear need for a standardized framework on foreign intervention.