Letter from the Secretary-General
It is a tremendous honour and privilege to invite you to the 27th annual session of the Cathedral Model United Nations. We, at CMUN, take great pride in our heritage and legacy as one of India’s oldest and most prestigious student-led conferences. For nearly three decades, like-minded individuals from across the country have gathered to passionately debate and discuss various issues that plague our society. While this is undoubtedly a source of inspiration for us as we strive to uphold this undying spirit of dialogue, it also raises certain questions for us as humanity.
How much has the world really changed in the last 30 years, or even since the first edition of CMUN in 1996? On some levels, the two eras are almost impossible to reconcile. The unprecedented advancement in global interconnectedness and proliferation of modern technology at every level of society is responsible for this. If the statistics are to be believed, we have made great strides in eradicating or at least significantly reducing poverty, and various other social ills. Yet, in many other ways, it appears that not much has changed at all. Authoritarian leaders still exploit their people and smother dissent, rogue nations still subvert international law, and the price for all this continues to be paid by the most vulnerable. This is the exact idea that this year’s conference theme, Patterns and Perceptions in History, aims to capture.
To understand just how profound this notion is, one need only refer to the nature of global conflicts and tensions over the last 80 years or so since the UN was founded. Between 1945 and 1991, the United States and USSR engaged in a war that manifested in a thousand proxy battles across almost every continent and ocean. Imperialism and rule in the name of monarchs, which dominated before 1945, was replaced by control through puppet governments. What did not change, was the hunger for power. Each side grappled to have their influence maximised, or the influence of their opponent minimised, in every corner of the world. Then in 1991, the USSR imploded and perhaps some felt the world would enter an era of peace. On the contrary, the same desire to control others continues to be acted out, albeit in a new form. Today, economic colonisation through debt and “soft power” has become the tool of choice. It seems that there will always be some powerful nations, that use their strength to subjugate others. It appears to be a pattern that humanity is condemned to live out – over, and over again.
If anything has changed, it is that wars have become more multi-dimensional and dynamic. It is not that battles and conflicts aren’t fought on the ground by uniformed soldiers; look at Ukraine and we know that this still happens. Instead, the frontline has moved and become virtual, undefined, and ever shifting. Every mobile phone that carries personal data, every computer that is connected to vital infrastructure, is now a potential site of attack and defence among warring parties. Additionally, it is no longer clear where exactly the threat comes from. The unprecedented rise of non-state actors means that any strong-willed individual or group could pose a serious risk to global security. Delegates, I am here to tell you that the only way to make sense of all this is to understand that it is all about perception. What is in a nation’s best interest? Who is a foe and who is an ally? If we want to understand the nature and origin of a conflict, we must consider what its participants perceive about each other and the world. More often than not, conflicts stem from a difference in perception about how the world looks today, and how it should look in the future. Each individual or group wishes to bring their perceived ideal to fruition and is willing to do whatever it takes to achieve this.
Some could view this as a storm that will never subside, an abyss that we may never crawl out of. Others will see this as an opportunity to create change, and I sincerely hope that all of you are among the second group. The challenge I present to each of you, as we approach with growing impatience those three August days, is to attempt to disrupt history’s patterns. Use your skills of tact, compromise, and diplomacy to align perceptions and arrive at creative and complete resolutions. In my journey as a MUNner over the last five years, I have seen history reshaped and the future altered in its course several times. I am beyond confident that CMUN this year will be no different. Our diverse and fascinating committees, administered by our talented and passionate secretariat, promise to reward ingenuity and dedication in the best way possible. All this to say, the experience of a lifetime awaits you, and I cannot wait to see you all in action.
Finally, a little about myself. I am a Year 12 IB student and this will be my 5th and final CMUN. It is incredibly satisfying and humbling to be your Secretary-General this year. In addition to participating in MUNs, I am an avid debater and enjoy listening to music, watching cricket, or trying new food. If you wish to discuss any of this, or even something else entirely, I invite you to approach me during the conference.
If you should require any assistance or support in the meantime, do not hesitate to reach out to me at email@example.com.
Secretary - General,
Cathedral Model United Nations, 2023.
Letter from the Deputy Secretary-General
It is my utmost pleasure to welcome you to the 27th annual session of the Cathedral Model United Nations. Each August, our conference brings together the nation's emerging student leaders in a gathering that reverberates with passionate debate on matters of war and inequality. These issues serve as profound reflections, showcasing how patterns and perceptions intertwine and leave indelible imprints on our daily lives. They possess the immense power to shape our comprehension of the world and guide our actions.
"How can a mere debate make any difference in the world?" The question lingers, challenging the significance of any MUN conference. Yet I have witnessed, as a student, the consequential power a MUN holds. It is here, within the realm of simulated diplomacy, that we confront global issues head-on. We delve into research, hone our critical thinking, and kindle our voices. Through intense debates, we shatter preconceptions and embrace the perspectives of nations we represent. We emerge as leaders, armed with knowledge and empathy. Beyond the conference walls, we disseminate awareness, build networks, and develop the skills required to enact real change. Our impact ripples outward, creating a generation of informed global citizens, ready to shape a brighter future.
The recognition of the twin forces of patterns and perceptions unveils a mosaic of wisdom that resonates across generations. It empowers us to navigate the complexities of the past, illuminate the nuances of the present, and spearhead the journey toward a more enlightened future. Here at CMUN, our eight committees each represent a distinct conflict, converging under this unifying theme. It is through recognizing these commonalities and understanding diverse perspectives that we can begin to unravel these conflicts and pave the way for resolution. We witness the captivating tapestry of history unfold before our eyes as the specialized agencies of CMUN 2023 embark on a journey like never before. From the prevailing perception of the indomitable Mafia, and the monumental power struggle between monarchy and parliament during the English Civil War, to the seismic power dynamics shaping public perception of national sovereignty in the Invasion of East Timor, and the audacious formation of a democratic society by Pirate Lords—every facet of historic conflict is meticulously woven into the fabric of our committees. Within our regional body, the ever-shifting perceptions of the Belt and Road Initiative ignite discussions on sustainable development and regional cooperation. Our general assembly’s boldly venture into a futuristic realm, actively pursuing innovative approaches to address contemporary security challenges with unwavering determination. Meanwhile, the intricate dynamics that shape South Korea's economic landscape unfold with great fervour. Lastly, our esteemed International Press Corps takes center stage, poised to debate, report, and scrutinize every committee's valiant effort to discern and interpret these enthralling patterns that bind the pages of history. Brace yourself for the most dynamic and thought-provoking exploration of conflicts ever witnessed.
I am grateful that CMUN this year will be held with the same, if not more prestige than what it began with 26 years ago. This will be my fourth and final CMUN, and my second as a member of the Secretariat. It feels like mere moments ago that I sat transfixed before my computer screen, engrossed in my director's explanation of MUN procedures. Little did I know the monumental impact that CMUN would have on my life. As I reflect on my journey, I am filled with a deep appreciation for the transformative power of MUNs. Each moment I have experienced within this realm has been pivotal, shaping the very core of my being. It has been the catalyst that propelled me from a modestly confident speaker with limited awareness of the world to someone who now possesses a broader, albeit not all-encompassing, understanding of global issues and the patterns and perceptions that define them.
May this conference not only enrich your knowledge but also beget an amalgam of unforgettable memories. CMUN has the ability to illuminate minds and hearts, and I am confident it will continue to do so for generations to come.
I look forward to meeting you all very soon, but till then, please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.
Cathedral Model United Nations, 2023.