BERMUN 2018 will focus on how to strengthen global cooperation in the context of power politics and a shifting world order. Enhancing international cooperation is embedded in Article 1 of the UN Charter and is essential to addressing problems such as climate change, migration, terrorism, and trade.
However, recent events seem to indicate that this noble notion is failing. The rise of anti-EU sentiment in Europe, the spread of populism, the US leaving the Paris Climate Agreement, the failure to address conflicts in Syria and Myanmar, and the current trade wars all signify a rising anti-internationalism. Tackling these issues requires an understanding of the reasons for the current lack of international cooperation.
Many scholars argue that an ongoing global power shift contributes to this trend. According to Harvard academic Joseph Nye, two types of power shifts are occurring: “power transition” and “power diffusion”. The rise of emerging economies like the E7 countries is an example of how a power transition changes the existing order. The rise of these nations challenges the Western-dominated system. For example, Philippine President Duterte announced a “new world order” where the Philippines is in alliance with China and Russia “against the world”. Concurrently, poll after poll shows that electorates in many developed countries believe their countries are in relative decline, a mood populist, anti-internationalist political candidates are capitalizing on. In addition to power transition, power diffusion is increasing as nation-states see their power diverted to non-state actors like multinational corporations, NGOs, & terrorist organizations.
The goal of analyzing and finding responses to these issues inspired our theme “Strengthening Global Cooperation: Navigating Power Politics in a Shifting World Order”. Students will consider how to reassess international bodies like the WTO, improve cooperation with grassroots activism, and create policy solutions that remove barriers to international collaboration. All committees at BERMUN 2018 will take at least one of these approaches. Most address the situation in the present, while others, like the HSC and ICJ, explore global power shifts in history.
After UN Secretary-General António Guterres addressed the proliferation of power politics in his speech to the General Assembly on September 25, 2018, he said, “With leadership committed to strategic cooperation and to managing competing interests, we can avoid war and steer the world onto a safer path." We share his hope that future leaders may better learn how to navigate, and perhaps, even manage these competing interests to strengthen global cooperation. We believe that this theme will provoke valuable and critical inquiries to make this conference rewarding for everyone.
The 2019 BERMUN Secretariat