Letter from the Secretary-General
It is my absolute pleasure and privilege to invite you to the 25th annual session of the Cathedral Model United Nations. CMUN is known for being the oldest, largest, and most prestigious student-run conference in the country, but what sets it apart is that it is revolutionary, challenging, dynamic and truly ahead of its time. In 1996, a single committee enterprise galvanized a faction of young leaders to establish a dedicated Symposium Club, a MUN of this magnitude and an illustrious legacy, that you, delegates, now have the opportunity to experience.
Our world is in a constant state of revolution. Literally, the one that determines the seasons, climate and time itself, and figuratively, the ordinarily inconspicuous protests that imbue every corner of every nation. One is interminable and the other ceases only to give way to the nascency of the next sea change. These two perennial revolutions are inextricably yoked to the point where any revolution worth its salt takes time, an expedient political climate and the season for a new beginning. It could be years, decades, even centuries in the making – but its time will come.
Delegates, I am here to tell you that the revolution is now. It exists in every girl that defies her parents and goes to school, every farmer that riots for his rights, every teenager that assumes the voice of a dying planet, every victim that tells their story, every refugee that seeks a safe haven and every aspirant that decides to jump off the bandwagon and travel the road not taken. It is up to you to find the revolution you resonate with and take your place within its ranks. Start here, at CMUN, where each of our ten committees represents a revolution that transcends time and place.
Beginning with the social, religious and political wars of the Renaissance to the clashing clans of Sengoku Jidai and the Hukbalahap rebels of the Philippines, our Specialized Agencies explore the tumultuous terrain of world history in a way that has never been done before. In our Regional Bodies, Latin America takes on the legalization of drugs, Africa the humanitarian impact of cannibalistic gangs in the Liberian Civil War, and US senators the police brutality that has gone on for far too long. Overcoming the parlous effects of the Great Depression, formulating ethical data regulations and resolving futuristic issues in a world without the United Nations is all in a day’s work for our General Assemblies. Last but not least, our International Press Corps forms the vigilant fourth estate that debates, reports, questions and has a role to play in every revolution. I am sure that your role in each of these shifting paradigms will have as much of an impact on you and your perspective as a global citizen, as it will on the committees you partake in.
As the rising tide of the pandemic continues to overwhelm and drown more of our number each day, it seems there is little we can do but wait for it to pass. Wait for the tide to turn so we can go back to our safe, cosy, happy lives. Only time will tell, but if I am to venture a guess, I believe life will never be safe, cosy or happy unless we choose for it to be. That choice is not entitled or bestowed - but earned. Earned through perseverance but knowing when to change course, tolerance but knowing when to speak up and accommodating but knowing when to take charge, in a world that sometimes makes it unbearable to do either. It is this, ever-evolving, gruelling, real-world that CMUN emulates. It prepares you not to blissfully maintain peace, security and harmony but to strive for it even in the most devastating circumstances.
Those are some of my life lessons from my years at CMUN as a delegate and a member of the Secretariat. Apart from that, CMUN has empowered my metamorphosis from a nervous eighth-grader daring to give a trembling speech on the Trident podium to the somewhat less anxious orator I am today. The 21st-century skills of communication, collaboration, research, negotiation and innovation are just a few of many you will have the chance to hone during our three days of stimulating and productive debate.
Needless to say, the quadranscentennial session of CMUN will be one to remember, but I hope it is one that you remember, learn and grow from. I hope you emerge from this conference a more open-minded, empathetic and promising version of yourself.
I look forward to meeting you all very soon, but till then, please feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com.
Come prepared to join the revolution.
Cathedral Model United Nations, 2021.
Letter from the Deputy Secretary-General
It is my honour to welcome you to the Cathedral Model United Nations, 2021, to join us as we accomplish a significant milestone and celebrate our 25th annual session. It has always brought me immense joy to speak of the rich history of CMUN, at any conference I attend, and I assure you that this session will continue to live up to the high standard we pride ourselves on.
As my peers watch me prepare for a MUN amidst an already cluttered schedule, they often ask me, “Why do you do it? Why spend an entire weekend clothed by a false sense of authority and responsibility only to pretend to solve global conflicts without actually changing anything?” A perfectly valid question and one that I recommend every delegate contemplate. I believe it is important to take a moment to reflect and understand why we do something. This serves as motivation to do our best, and succeed because we believe that it is, in fact, worth it.
The answer to this is something I learned with years of experience and reflection. I realised that a MUN goes much beyond merely simulating the UN and its operations. A MUN creates an environment that allows its participants to develop their public speaking and argumentative skills in a manner that is unique. It is not like a conventional debate wherein only a handful of the best students participate, but instead provides an opportunity for everyone to gather and discuss. This is what always struck me about MUNs: there is no elimination, no single speech to decide your fate, but rather, throughout the weekend, you receive several chances to make yourself heard and be actively involved in the discussion. Now that I look back on my journey as a delegate, I can truly appreciate how critical it was to my development as an individual.
The MUNs I attended not only made me aware of an issue I previously knew little about but also improved my ability to research, made me more resourceful and also encouraged me to learn more about similar struggles around the world. Every Google search led to numerous new tabs being opened and on several occasions, I found my browser crashing completely. Reassured that I knew what I was speaking about, this knowledge gave me the confidence to voice my opinion fearlessly before my fellow delegates and collaborate with them to resolve each conflict.
However, there is yet another aspect of this question that we must consider. The United Nations. The UN has failed to uphold the ideals it was conceived to protect. I will not go so far as to claim that it has failed completely, that would be a gross exaggeration and simply untrue, but it has definitely come up short on what it set out to achieve. We have witnessed an institution, that was meant to serve as a platform for equality and reform, concede to the political ambitions of the few powerful parties that constitute the majority of its funding. In several critical crises, the Security Council, amongst other UN bodies, has been indecisive and failed to take any meaningful action leading to continued hostility. Why then do we spend so much time simulating the committees of a largely unsuccessful organisation?
My answer to that is, there is much to learn from failure than from success. If we strive to change the future, we cannot do that without the mistakes of the past. We remain hopeful that no matter which organisation is established to protect the interests of the international community, it will be founded on the pillars of diplomacy and compromise. These skills are fundamental to any MUN and honing them is critical to nurture a competent generation of leaders and global citizens.
To conclude, a MUN is so much more than a simulation. A MUN provides opportunities to grow, learn, and interact with others, unlike any other cultural event. It encourages us to think creatively and relate to the dilemmas our leaders encounter on a daily basis while also introducing us to the intricacies of the institutions the world relies on. All of this, while also being engaging, is what makes a MUN truly remarkable in my opinion, an activity which everyone should partake in at least once.
With that said, I am eager to meet all of you and witness where you lead your respective committees. Should you have any queries prior to the conference, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Conclave on the Great Italian Wars, 1519
Cathedral Model United Nations, 2021.