Human Rights Council

Dear Delegates,

Phiroze Headshot.JPG

My name is Phiroze Parasnis, and it gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the Human Rights Council at HNMUN 2019! I am extremely excited to serve as your Director and see you delve into topics of both contemporary and historical importance.

I am a sophomore at Harvard, currently residing in Quincy House (one of the 12 upperclassmen houses at Harvard). I am originally from Mumbai, India, which explains my interest in a topic that involves one of my geographical neighbors. At Harvard, I am interested in Government, Politics, and Psychology. Beyond HNMUN, I also staff HMUN, Harvard’s high-school conference, as a Director of Business and am on Harvard’s Intercollegiate traveling Model UN team, ICMUN. While I did do Model United Nations in high school, MUN at Harvard is especially important to me because it was through this that I met my best friends! My other non-academic interests include directing theater productions, volunteering at a local Cambridge after-school program, as well serving a Peer Advising Fellow for Harvard Freshmen. In my free time,  I enjoy eating foods from different nations, watching television dramas on Netflix and staying up late at night having heated political discussions with my friends!

I hope you enjoy the intricate world that the rest of the dais and I have endeavored to create for you. It is crucial for me that committee means more than just the awards. I hope this committee helps you broaden your horizons, bring fresh perspectives, and question the information and perspectives fed to you daily. I believe that the issues of refugees and the right to self-determination are relevant and have longstanding implications for the larger world order. I hope that you will compromise, be far-sighted, and negotiate to come to a reasonable solution to some of the world’s most trying issues. While this is a huge feat to achieve, I am confident that you, whether a first-time MUNer or seasoned delegate, will be successful in this journey. Above all, it is essential that you are respectful to one another and have an exciting and informative weekend!

In the meantime, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at hrc@hnmun.org with any questions or concerns! I look forward to meeting you all soon!

Sincerely,

Phiroze Parasnis
Director, Human Rights Council
Harvard National Model United Nations 2019


Topic Area A: Rohingya Refugee Crisis

Since August 2017, more than 680,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees have fled Buddhist-majority Myanmar to neighboring Bangladesh. They bring with them stories of mass murder and destruction at the hands of the country's military. What is most significant about this is that it has occurred after a period of hope and prosperity. Its leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has been a beacon of hope when she was released from house arrest and voted into power in the country’s first national democratic election.

In this committee, you should expect to respond to the crisis in real-time. In committee, some of the short-term issues that you will be dealing with will be how to safeguard the human rights of the Rohingya Muslims, carry out an investigation into the military and keep governments accountable for their actions. Helping neighboring countries like Bangladesh deal with the burst of refugees entering will also be a priority of this committee. More broadly, this committee should grapple with the extent to which the international community should intervene in domestic issues and how genocide can be prevented in the long-term.

Topic Area B: The Right to Self-Determination

The right to self-determination of specific ethnic groups has been a controversial topic almost all throughout modern history. Can the right to an independent state be seen as a fundamental one granted by the UN? In what circumstances can ethnic groups assert the right to self-determination and an independent state? You will have to grapple with whether it is up to the United Nations to codify certain criteria for independence of an ethnic group, and what the consequences of such decisions on the stability of other multi-ethnic countries would be.

These questions will be answered with the help of several historical and contemporary case-studies: including but not limited to the Yugoslavian genocide, the rise of nationalism in Catalonia, Spain, and the separatist movement in Kashmir, India. While you will not be responding to an issue in real time, you will try to draw up a set of codified norms that should try and set a precedent in dealing with these issues in the years to come.