Dear Participants of BERMUN 2024,

Who am I? This three-word phrase is the central question of “identity”.  Take a moment to think of yourself:  you may be a student or a teacher, a citizen of one or multiple countries, a religious adherent or an atheist. Each of our identities is composed of various intersectional identities such as our ethnicity, class, race, gender or sexuality.

The largest shared identity is humanity, a group that encompasses roughly 8.1 billion individuals. In theory, this identity could be the basis for global cooperation. Yet, fragmentation and polarization are increasing internationally - far from the ideal of a cohesive, global community. Group identities offer inclusion through a sense of belonging for those within it yet this in-group solidarity can be used to exclude others. Nationalism, for example, holds the superiority of one’s own country and can be a basis for xenophobia and violence towards outsiders. Other forms of “identity politics” can be divisive by splitting society into individuals and small groups based on differences that supposedly make these groups unable to understand one another. 

Meanwhile, other forms of “identity politics” like the feminist, disability, and civil rights movements, have achieved notable progress in various countries, as vested in UN conventions. An awareness of the intersection of inequalities faced by certain groups is vital in securing rights for marginalized individuals. Moreover, the UN recognizes that diverse identities enrich global society. Thus, the UN’s “global citizenship” envisions a global community of individuals, united by shared humanity, who act responsibly, knowing their actions affect the planet and its inhabitants. 

While critics like the former British Prime Minister Theresa May argue that, “if you believe you are a citizen of the world, you are a citizen of nowhere," it is important to understand that being a global and a state citizen must not be mutually exclusive. As the Professor of Philosophy and Law at NYU Kwame Anthony Appiah said, one “can feel a profound loyalty to a particular community and to humanity.” Global citizenship differs from state citizenship because there is no global government to establish and enforce rights, privileges, and responsibilities. For some, it is too vague. As Harvard Professor Dani Rodrik states, “no one is accountable [for] them, and there is no one to whom they must justify themselves.”

Factually, this criticism is accurate. The concept of global citizenship is deeply rooted in idealism, requiring global citizens to hold themselves accountable for their responsibilities. Yet it is only with such idealism that the UN has achieved great progress in the past. The responsibilities of global citizens may not be clearly legally defined, but they are rooted in the concept of global citizenship. Because global citizenship is centered on a shared humanity, responsibilities are based on issues that impact the global community, such as climate change or upholding human rights. The scope of such responsibilities extends far beyond specific identity groups, making them a collective human responsibility - and therefore one of global citizens. Naturally, an individual is not responsible for solving major global challenges alone.  Rather, they must think globally, while acting locally to the best of their ability. As UN Messenger of Peace Jane Goodall said, “The greatest danger to our future is apathy."
BERMUN2 2023 Secretariat
Luise Massen, Deputy Secretary-General
Maya Hauff, President of the General Assembly
Moana Kammerer, Secretary-General
Alfred Justus, Deputy Secretary-General

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