Welcome by the Secretary General
Dear Delegates, Student Officers, MUN-directors and esteemed guests,
It is my great honour and privilege, and on behalf of the staff, to welcome you to the 2017 Alfrink Model United Nations Conference in our twelfth year.
Last year’s MUNA passed with flying colours; it was a great success. Each and every year, there is this pressure to outdo the previous conference. However, I believe that every MUNA has its own special composition of flying colours; its own special way of succeeding. Just as the Conference Manager, Carlijn told me: “It’s not whether the conference succeeds that counts, but how it succeeds. This makes each conference unique.” It is a pleasure to help organise MUNA 2017 together with the MUNA staff. The decisions made by the staff ensure a different MUNA each year. The way in which small improvements are made or recurring problems are solved makes each MUNA original. Together, we spend a whole year building up to the three-day conference. This process not only helps us realise our full potential, but more importantly, it allows us to gain experience of working as part of a team. It is this balance between satisfying our personal goals as well as our collective goals that forms the foundation of MUNA.
MUNA’s motto has always been, “A conference that cares”. It is our goal to be more than just a conference for debating. We want to offer up new experiences for everyone as they meet and make new friends. We hope to not only be a three-day conference, but a once-in-a-lifetime experience for all involved. With this in mind, I am glad to announce this year’s MUNA theme: “A voice in the crowd”. During MUNA debate, we will often discuss current issues that are happening as we speak. However, there is sometimes just so much information to process that we forget to listen to the personal stories behind these events. Sometimes, we tend to focus more on the problem and forget the people themselves. This year, we urge you to think about the reason why we discuss these issues. The reason we debate is to listen to the voices that sometimes get lost in the crowd, to speak up for those people who often find themselves embroiled in a conflict that is not of their own making.
Almost everyone who visits MUNA comes from a country that has its own rich history. In that history, almost every country has experienced conflict in their own way. It might have been international or local, but what matters is that in any one of them, there were people crying for help and their voices were ignored. Even now, it is important to listen to these stories. Listening to these voices in the crowd helps you develop a better understanding and compassion for one another. Moreover, it helps you form a well-structured opinion about a conflict.
Listening and speaking are two sides of the same coin. Let your voice be heard as well and do not let your voice get lost in the crowd. I encourage you to take this opportunity to speak up for yourself and challenge yourself. Only by overcoming obstacles, does one learn to grow as a person. It is about how you conquer your struggles that makes you unique.
So when debating, I sincerely hope that all delegates will remember why they are discussing these global issues. Everyone can play a part but getting the right balance between individual effort and team work is what will make the difference.
On behalf of the entire staff, I wish you the best of luck and strongly encourage you to make the most of MUNA 2017.