I’m Dylan Parker, and I’ll be directing the Legal Committee this year at HNMUN. I originally hail from Pittsford, NY, which is basically Canada (we have the second-highest snowfall per year in the US and everyone plays hockey). Academically speaking, I’m a sophomore studying Computer Science and Statistics with a particular interest in the applications of machine learning to medicine and national security..
I’m particularly passionate about our topic, Cybersecurity and Cyberwarfare, because of these interests in computer science, statistics, and national security. But more than that, I think that there has been a critical lack of cooperation between scientists who refuse to engage in politics and politicians who do not understand science. Given the defining role of science and technology in 21st century politics, this divide must be bridged. I hope that you all will take on these responsibilities at HNMUN this year, crafting solutions that are both scientifically prudent and politically feasible. That said, do not be deterred if science isn’t your bread and butter. We will certainly discuss a lot of cool and revolutionary technologies, but my goal is to make the topic accessible to everyone, regardless of your academic background. Moreover, many of the most difficult issues in cybersecurity and cyberwarfare do not require extensive knowledge of the underlying technologies; it is more important to know what is possible and how impacts the political climate than it is to know exactly how a particular technology is implemented. For instance, if we are working to establish a strong definition of what constitutes a cyber-attack, you should know that it is possible for a cyber-attack to take down a national power grid, release the financial information of millions of people, disrupt communication between military leaders and their armed forces, etc. You would likely want to your definition of a cyber-attack to encompass each of these scenarios, so it is important to know what is possible and what is not possible. However, you do not need to know how possible cyber-attacks would be executed. In the example above, this means that it would not be particularly useful to understand how someone would hack into the national power grid, the pentagon, or a major financial institution; you just need to know that each of these scenarios is possible. I will do my best in the background guide to give you a broad understanding about what is plausible in the cyber-world, while sparing you the details of how cyberwarfare and cybersecurity actually work (which is convenient since I am not an expert in these fields either).
Since we will be debating just a single topic, you will be able to really delve into the many sub-issues pertaining to Cybersecurity and Cyberwarfare. We will also be integrating crises into committee, so you will be able to see the results of your actions (or inaction) and intimately interact with the situation on the ground. To succeed in this committee, therefore, you will have to consider every dimension of this issue. For instance, some of your subtopics will compel you to shrewdly negotiate and navigate contentious political issues Others subtopics, however, will require that you understand the fundamental concepts behind the technology that will define 21st century cyber-politics. Approaching global issues from this dual scientific-political perspective is something at which the world’s leaders have largely failed, so I’m excited to see the leadership, insight, and innovation you all bring to committee.
I check my email compulsively and am super passionate about these issues, so please reach out to me if you have any questions, concerns, or points of confusion as you prepare for committee. I cannot put into words how excited I am for HNMUN, and I really look forward to meeting you all!
Director, Legal Committee
Harvard National Model United Nations 2019
Topic Area: Cyber Warfare
Subtopic A. Definition of a Cyber-Attack versus an Armed Attack
Subtopic B. The Right to and Execution of Self-Defense