In November (19-22), 120 young people from Sweden and abroad will gather at Malmö University to simulate the United Nations at the Model United Nations of Malmö conference (MUNmö, previously MUNOM). Together, they will debate current issues facing the West African region. They will for instance discuss terrorism in the Security Council, or debate Boko Haram as one of the 47 members of the Human Rights Council. They will also meet individuals who share the same passion, while representing internationalism at its finest.
The United Nations (UN) was founded in 1945 after the Second World War and consists of 193 Member States. The organisation is based on the notion of peace. Thereby, the UN works towards preventing war, improving humanitarian and social conditions, strengthening international law and advancing development. The UN is comprised of six main organs, the most important being the General Assembly, the Security Council and the UN Secretariat. The main bodies of the UN, apart from the Secretariat, consist of delegations from Member States that are bound by instructions from their respective governments.
It is from this point that the concept of Model United Nations (MUN) began. MUN conferences provide an environment where young people can take the role of a delegate from a Member State within the UN, and thereby, try what it would be like to represent the ideas and opinions of different countries. MUNmö 2015 provides the opportunity to either be a member of the Security Council, the First and Third Committee of the General Assembly, dealing with disarmament and international security, and social, humanitarian and cultural affairs respectively, or the Human Rights Council. Delegates have the chance to debate issues such as discrimination based on sexual orientation on behalf of Russia or Saudi Arabia or discuss illicit trade in weapons on behalf of the United States or India. This is also one of the beauties and difficulties of MUNs, as it gives the participants the possibility to expand their horizons and challenges them to think outside of their own perspective.
Furthermore, MUNmö aims to broaden the delegates’ mind-set, and contributes to an atmosphere full of highly engaged young people that can become professional contacts and friends for life. At the same time, participation in MUNmö provides an opportunity to experience the life of a diplomat, the language, customs and clothing of international politics, and gives an insight into how the UN system works. It also provides an educational context where skills and abilities in public speaking, researching, debating, writing, critical thinking and leadership can develop and grow. This year, MUNmö’s aspiration is also to deepen delegate’s knowledge in relation to the West African region, its role in the international community and the global challenges it presents in the contemporary world.
‘West Africa: Contemporary Issues and Challenges’ is the theme of MUNmö 2015, with subtopics such as ‘Threats to International Peace and Security caused by Terrorism’, ‘The Relationship between Disarmament and Development’, ‘Assistance to Refugees, Returnees and Displaced Persons in Western Africa’ and ‘Discrimination and Violence against Individuals based on their Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity’. The West African region has at times been prevalent, but is often missing from the mainstream media picture. It is, however, an important region in global politics, considering the various past and current conflicts taking place, the recent Ebola outbreak, the attacks of the terrorist group Boko Haram, and the following vast amounts of refugees and internally displaced persons.
Foremost, Boko Haram, a militant Islamic group originating in Nigeria, has spread to neighbouring countries such as Chad and Niger. The group has been behind bombings, massacres and abductions, and has caused the displacement of 1.4 million children according to UNICEF, along with thousands of deaths. Militarism is one of the largest barricades to ending poverty in developing countries and regions, and especially the countries of western Africa have suffered from conflict, examples being Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. Several factors are influencing the conflicts in West Africa, such as poverty, human rights violations, corruption and ethnic marginalisation. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to examine and discuss West Africa in order to also create a greater focus on the region.
To conclude, MUNmö 2015 is a platform for innovative thinking and internationalism where engaged young people will tackle the difficult issues and challenges that West Africa is facing at present. The team of MUNmö 2015 invites you to join us between the 19th and the 22nd of November at Malmö University. The price of SEK 550 (€60) includes all conference material, three lunches, three dinners, fika and social events. Moreover, you will also be able to attend our preparation sessions in October and November, and you can host international delegates to further expand your perspective and gain even more friends!
All information is provided on our website: http://www.munmo.se/
By Julie Gjerlufsen
Erika Lundqvist and Aurore Menard for MUNmö