Today marks the start of the North American Model United Nations 2018 Conference.
By Naomi Richardson, Journalist
The opening, given by Deputy Secretary General of Operations, Ailin Li, began with a thanks to the Indigenous land on which the University of Toronto sits, a new statement of recognition becoming more common to open many lectures at events, but moreover an efficient way to state the atmosphere of this year’s NAMUN conference. As was the selection of long-standing Secretary General of Amnesty International’s English Branch, Alex Neve as keynote speaker.
“Where’s my music?” Neve started jokingly, in reference to the jingle that had played as the NAMUN Secretariat Members had been introduced. While good-natured and charismatic, his address to this year’s delegates was serious. It provided a criticism on the promises of the United Nations and international governments in contrast to their actions – or rather, their lack of action – on the same subjects.
Canada as well, Neve argues, has trouble following through with its actions; while often praised for its ‘welcome of refuges and reconciliation of indigenous peoples’ but similar to the other world governments, has issues with following through with its actions and has a clear “wobbly conviction when economic interests are at stake”.
Neve welcomed the delegates to enjoy a “fascinating and demanding and stimulating few days of grappling with international affairs”. He argued that the rise of the global human rights movement and outspoken voices of the public are and will be fundamental in changing the ‘narrow-minded views of world governments’. In answer to a student delegate, he states that “the public is both part of the problem and is the foundation of the solution”.
Following Neve, Jessica Han Lu Yu, Secretary General of this year’s conference. Like the addressers before her, she delves into the meaning of an international organization as she states that “As a simulation of the real thing, I am not sure about how much international order we are really maintaining when we move imagined troops or pass self-written resolutions, but I do believe we are fulfilling the fundamental obligation of a global institution, which is informing the public discourse,”. NAMUN 2018’s opening ceremony has clearly shown what an international government should hold as its values and therefore what NAMUN should reflect.
Delegates, welcome to Toronto and enjoy this year’s NAMUN conference!