On her best days, Katherine Kawahineho’oki’eki’e Sakys, known to most as Katie, can be found lounging on the white sandy beaches of Oahu, Hawaiʻi. Alas, pretending to be a mermaid isn’t much of a resume-builder, so Katie used to get her saltwater fix by swimming, playing water polo, lifeguarding, surfing, and paddling. She can’t do much ocean activity in Boston, given the freezing winters and all, so Katie’s turned her passions towards international relations. A junior in Kirkland House at Harvard, Katie is concentrating in economics and earning a secondary degree in the history of art and architecture. Being from Hawaiʻi, Katie has a particular interest in how non-self-governed territories (and in Hawai‘i’s case, formerly sovereign kingdoms) can peacefully gain independence. Spurred by this interest in international peacekeeping and diplomacy, Katie is also an active member of Harvard’s many Model UN communities, participating as both a traveling delegate and a committee chair. Besides chairing ASEAN at WorldMUN last year, Katie has chaired two SA committees: one on the United States’ imperialism in the Hawaiian Islands, and one joint crisis committee concerning the Malayan Communist Party’s rebellion against British imperialism in 1948. Katie is also an active competitor on the college MUN circuit with Harvard’s traveling team, ICMUN. When she’s not focused on MUN, Katie spends her time volunteering as tutor, consulting for Harvard College’s student consulting group, and engaging in various Native American and Hawaiian cultural activities. In her (limited) spare time, Katie’s inner adventurer enjoys exploring the East Coast, hiking, Yelping (read: eating), baking, and pretending she knows how to pair wines and cheeses. Katie cannot wait to meet the delegates of WorldMUN 2019!
Topic: Secessionist States
Challenging and thought-provoking, this iteration of SPECPOL will be an intense exploration of the rights and protection of secessionist states in the process of claiming independence. The United Nations defines as a nation state as “a sovereign state inhabited by a relatively homogeneous group of people who share a feeling of common nationality.” Likewise, sovereignty refers to the authority of a state to govern itself. However, tensions can emerge between different populations within one sovereign state leading to the desire of a population of a non-self-governing territory or an otherwise minority population to secede from the state and govern itself. Naturally, this can create conflict, which often turns violent, between the sovereign government and the non-self-governing or minority population. The UN Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples uses the principle of self-determination to grant peoples the right to freely determine their political status and pursue their economic, social and cultural development. Populations promoting independence often rely on this principle to legitimize their claim. However, the International Court of Justice has mainly referred to this right in cases regarding decolonization. Neither the ICJ nor the UN has commented on whether this principle allows a minority population to secede from an existing sovereign state. Therefore, the practical application of the right to self-determination in cases of secession remains unclear.
This topic begs this committee to question the role, if any, the United Nations should play during independence referendums and the process of declaring independence. Is it the role of the United Nations or of each sovereign state to determine whether self-determination applies in cases of secession? Does the United Nations have a responsibility to mediate situations of secession, especially when conflicts between the national and the regional governments become violent? This committee will also explore how best to ensure the political and human rights of the peoples living in these non-self-governing territories both before, during, and after the process of secession.