WELCOME TO YOUTHMUN!
26 - 28th FEBRUARY 2021
Held at the prestigious London School of Economics, YouthMUN is an annual model United Nations conference serving secondary students of all experience levels. During the course of the three-day conference, delegates will be tasked with debating and solving some of the most challenging issues confronting the international community today. We invite you to join us on one of the best weekends of the year!
EVALUATING THE EVOLVING NATURE OF EMERGING CRISES AND THEIR IMPLICATIONS ON GLOBAL GOVERNANCE
Cyber-nationalism. COVID-19. Climate change.
There is a new world dynamic taking order through the recent challenges confronting the international community. With 2020 marking the 5th Anniversary of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the current state of world affairs begs the question of whether the UN has fulfilled its founding goals of global cooperation for peace and prosperity. Are these established frameworks suitable in responding to today’s threats?
While we are facing a ‘new era’ of conflict which is increasingly waged between domestic groups rather than states, fast and drastic technological developments require much greater prioritisation than before. The Fourth Industrial Revolution characterises a decline in economic interdependence through drastic changes to established value-chain patterns as countries focus more on national or regional production agendas. ‘Made in China 2025’ policy and the ‘America First’ policy are direct examples. It is, thus, no surprise that the WTO has forecasted a decline in world trade of 13-32% in 2020.
‘Terrorism’ has evolved to produce new forms: emerging from the burgeoning climate-change related issues is ‘eco-terrorism’. Special interest groups, like PETA and Greenpeace, are employing strategies ranging from arson to vandalism to threatening governments into taking action. Yet, the UN has produced just the single Paris Agreement in response, which mushrooms concerns about continued dissatisfaction leading to new and existing groups becoming rampant.
Health-wise, the UN recognises that increases in infectious disease outbreaks leads to disruptions in healthcare systems, increasing mortality rates and elongating economic depressions. The ADB estimates COVID-19 costing the global economy up to $8.8 trillion. Yet, the technologies used for influenza vaccines have remained almost unchanged since the 1960s and prove dangerously inadequate to dealing with today’s outbreaks, which include one of the worst pandemics in history.
Most of the aforementioned challenges result in democratic institutions being dominated by the rise of populism, loosely defined as the ‘anti-institution’ sentiment. This makes it a particularly difficult challenge to confront - how can the system act to gain support when citizens lack trust in the actions of that very system? By 2018, as many as 20 populist leaders held executive office. Thriving since 2011 amidst the global financial crisis and digital revolution, today’s global context is only expected to boost this political opinion.
A Chinese cyberespionage group attacks targeted military and financial organisations in
Eastern Europe. 3 billion people today live in countries with borders closed to the rest of the world. The French have identified climate change as the “number one threat to mankind”.
As a result, the UN’s role as a body promoting global governance is threatened and demands reform. Birthed by the pandemic was a strong nationalist sentiment across nations: beginning with the racism toward Asians, to domestically focused economic policies due to public health concerns and peaking at the vaccine-development race. The slowdown of economic integration coupled with the growth of populism, indicate two major constituents of multilateral cooperation diminishing.
The WHO Director-General urges the world to ‘invest in preparedness, not panic’, for which information sharing and cooperation is pivotal. International ‘eco-terrorist’ organisations, by their nature, demand a global response. However, increased competition for resources hinders both. Governments, organizations, and the economy claim exclusivity of resources, such as masks and medical equipment which are more desperately needed in other countries. In the same vein, resources become scarce owing to disasters, 90% of which are climate related, intensifying competition. This has a straining effect on global relationships due to escalating tensions, both economic and otherwise, despite the ideal response demanding the opposite.
On the technological front, while the widespread use of social media today almost eliminates the obstacle of geography to connectivity, it has equal power to threaten global democratic structures. Information warfare is being utilised to spread misinformation and mobilise large groups against governments by distorting opinion. They also pose increasing threats to international security: from cyber warfare, to online propaganda by terrorist organizations, to violations of basic human rights, like privacy.
The UN is in crisis. They must change. They must adapt to the new dynamic. Now.
As nations become increasingly nationalistic and isolationistic, they shake the foundations to the UN, of egalitarianism and multilateral cooperation. Nationalism could foster a superiority complex leading to conflicts and power races as seen during the World Wars. This raises the question of whether or not the post-World War II era is over and Permanent Five states are to be recognized as leaders of the free world, in the context provided in Oppenheim’s international law. A further implication of reduced cooperation is the increased difficulty in holding states accountable for their actions. This results in a slippery slope which continuously allows the promotion of own interests even at the expense of the international community.
In 2020, the UN ‘reaffirmed their commitment to multilateralism’ during their 75th anniversary. At the same time, President Emmanuel Macron stated that it was “clear that...globalisation was reaching the end of its cycle”. Delegates of YouthMUN 2021, who will explore solutions to these changed dynamics to restore multilateral cooperation, are desperately needed by the international community. Through simulation of various UN Committees, we invite the youth, who are living through and experts on the nature of today’s issues, to come together to tackle them in the interest of global governance.
We look forward to seeing you all (virtually, if required) in February!
- Secretariat Team