Dear Mayor, Honorable secretariat, distinguished guests, the most outstanding delegates, dear friends,
I am a graduate of English Language and Literature, and now I am an English teacher. For the past 15 years or so, I have been in love with Model UN conferences. So I would like to somehow combine these aspects and talk about a book.
It is an English classic, written by William Golding and published in 1954. It is called Lord of the Flies. Some of you might have read it, or even been forced to read it, as I was when I was 14. In the book, a group of schoolboys are evacuated from England when the country comes under nuclear attack. Their plane crashes on a desert island. The oldest of them are 12 years old. They have to survive and create a new community from scratch.
There are two older boys who represent competing visions. There is Ralph, an imperfect but fundamentally decent, fair-minded boy. He wants to create a rules-based society that will care for everybody. He is elected as the leader. But there is also Jack ; strong, aggressive and a bully.
The central exchange in the novel is when Ralph tells Jack off for breaking the rules. Jack’s answer is, ‘who cares?’ Ralph says – and William Golding himself once said that this is a key line in the book – that ‘the rules are the only thing we’ve got’. Jack’s response to this, and apologies for the mild vulgarity, is ‘bollocks to the rules!’
I will not talk about where the story goes from here, except to say that it explores some very dark depths. I will also not talk about modern politicians that the Jack character reminds me of, though we all know that there are some who view rules as just a tedious, pointless impediment to satisfying their own hunger for power.
I want to return to the UN, which to me is a little bit like the Ralph character. As Mr Parizek very eloquently showed us, the UN is often frustrating and sometimes ineffective. However, it is still rules-based. In fact, it is a preserve of rules and decency. It is imperfect, but I really would not like to imagine our world without it.
Students at an MUN have fun sometimes with the rules, and rightly so. Breaking the rules and receiving mild ‘punishments’ for doing so are actually an important part of learning how to be a delegate. At times, this can be a nice break from the seriousness and formality of the event. But it’s still important to see the serious point, which is that the rules are there for a reason. An MUN will, in fact, get nowhere without them. The rules are, as Ralph says ‘the only thing we’ve got’. They ensure that the smaller countries get their voice heard and that the stronger ones have scope to show leadership, without being allowed to exercise domination.
I hope that sentiments like Jack’s about rules will not be entertained at MarMUN, and that you have a wonderful, fun-filled, but also rules-based conference.