Beyond Borders: Striving for Justice & Equality in the Shadow of the Berlin Wall

November 20, 2019
November 23, 2019

Striving for Justice and Equality may seem to be an uncontroversial goal with the enthusiastic support of all UN member states. Nonetheless, much depends on how they are interpreted and prioritized. Take a few examples from our committee topics: What does justice and equality mean today after a long history of MEDCs’ overconsumption or Western colonialism in Africa? Or what does justice and equality mean with mass surveillance when individuals and corporations also want liberty and security? And how much, if any, inequality of wealth or health is unjust?

This November marks the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The Berlin Wall was a physical and ideological barrier divided East and West Berlin, and the symbol of the bipolar world during the Cold War. To varying degrees, both the East and West Blocs strove to realize their own interpretations and valuations of justice and equality. The communist system collapsed in the early 1990s, ending the almost half a century Cold War. And although the liberal, capitalist system has been questioned after the economic recession of 2009 and the relative decline of the West, it is still pervasive today. So, we ask, how will such history shadow our future?

And what responsibility does and will each of us have in that future? The Israeli historian, Yuval Noah Harari, writes in his latest book, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, that we have trouble understanding justice and equality in our complex global world, because “an inherent feature of (this) world is that its causal relations are highly ramified and complex.” Blame and responsibility cannot be easily placed. Consider: are we partly to blame for child labor if we are dependent on a system that relies on it to produce clothing? Harari notes that “the system is structured in such a way that those who make no effort to know can remain in blissful ignorance, and those who do make an effort will find it very difficult to discover the truth”. In short, the ideals of justice and equality are incredibly difficult to understand and realize in a multiplex globalized world.

With this in mind, we hope that at BERMUN we will learn to better strive for multilateral solutions that look beyond our physical borders, genetic predispositions, and socially induced prejudices. Whether it is your first conference or you have many previous MUN experiences, we encourage you to reflect on the morals and goals that the international system is built upon. We look forward to working with you in November!


The 2019 BERMUN Secretariat

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