MILMUN 14th Conference:
“The Crisis of Democracy and the Ideological Shift in International Politics”
Bocconi University, Milan
The fourteenth edition of MILMUN, the first and longest lasting Model United Nations conference in Italy, will be held from April 1st to 5th, 2019 in Milan. The conference is organized by the MILMUN Association and is hosted by Bocconi University. From 2006 to 2018 the MILMUN conferences have brought more than 1600 top students from over 100 universities with more than 80 different nationalities with all five continents being represented to Milan, Italy. Their main fields of study were just as diverse, ranging from Economics, International Relations and Law to History, Medicine and Mathematics.
The main purpose of the conference is to give university students the chance to practice diplomacy by impersonating the role of a diplomat or chairing one of the committees. This will help them train a set of skills, including the ability to speak confidently in public, negotiation skills to form alliances and furthering their country’s position and the drafting of diplomatic documents. The main outcome of the simulation will be contained in the resolutions that each committee will pass on the topics discussed throughout the week. This document is the outcome of strenuous research on the issues under discussion and of challenging negotiations in the conference sessions. Resolutions will also be sent to the respective international organizations’ organs to challenge them on taking innovative solutions towards some of the most urgent issues on the international agenda.
2018 Conference theme
The Crisis of Democracy and the Ideological Shift in International Politics
We are almost two decades into the 21st century. What we have seen by now are numerous wars, the Great Recession, a wave of economic crises, and the emergence of a digital world that enabled world-wide connectivity. At the same time, our world is an ever-shrinking one. Not only do we speak the same languages, but we are also able to access information from the furthest points of the globe within seconds. Although this growing proximity of world citizens, both physically and psychologically, seems to be portrayed as an overall positive phenomenon, the emergence of the mass culture is not favoured by all.
When looking at history, we can see that the above-mentioned change is not a singled out phenomena that has emerged just recently. There have been multiple waves of globalization. While they all have in common a tendency of exponential integration each of them has also been followed by a so-called globalization backlash This entailed growing protectionism, reinforcement of ethnic identity, and distancing from international cooperation.
The above-mentioned globalization backlash is in fact what our society might be experiencing today. In our strive for a global village, in which everyone can freely enjoy their human rights, we might have forgotten about what is truly important for many people around the world – a feeling of belonging to a community. Such may be defined as your village, your city or your country. Most importantly, it is your safeplace.
Those, who display such a need have been many times marginalized. It is not to say that they were unready for the level of interconnectivity there exists in the world today. It is more important to mention that the world, especially in the political context, has evolved in a way that leaves little, or no place for people who share the principle of a strong and independent nation state. Such attitudes understandably lead the people, whose needs were not addressed by liberal left-wing politicians of the post-1989 order, to look for understanding in a different place.
Many times the same people find common ground with right-wing politicians and their parties. These groups resonate with the lack of inclusion of a broad spectrum of opinions into the political and social discourse. The problems addressed do not, however, only concern national identity. More so, they are mainly problems of the middle class and the consequences of growing income and class disparity in leading democracies.
The globalization backlash of recent years can also be seen in growing protectionist tendencies of the main world economies. Countries strive to achieve autarky supported by citizens who believe in the importance of a strong state.
Most importantly, however, one of the symptoms of the globalization backlash seems to be the departure from the traditional form of democracy – a liberal system with extensive rights and internationalization. In a world that is more interconnected and interdependent both economically and politically than ever before, the emergence of right-wing, and sometimes populist movements is an increasingly popular response. Many assume far-reaching implications that can pose a threat to the democratic order. However, the question to be asked here is whether the system is in a crisis, or rather it’s changing its form.