On Cooperation

By Sebastiaan A. Manders, President 2020-2021

As a species, we humans aren’t particularly gifted in many ways. We aren’t as fast as cheetahs, we aren’t as strong as hippos, we cannot fly like eagles and we cannot swim like otters. No, if anything, we are a rather second grade species save for one thing: we have the capacity to cooperate.

This ability is not unique in nature but it is obvious no one does it quite the way we can. Much like us organising TEIMUN and GrunnMUN requires cooperation, so does participating in it. Any process from doing taxes, buying things or simply lending a hand requires cooperation from many individuals across distances and times. It is this vital ability we are so skillfull at that has gotten us this far, that created pyramids and governments and society.

Cooperation is not a simple act, however. We are not a hivemind like ants and do not have inate loyalty to a queen like bees do. We discuss, plan, organise and adjust our cooperation based on our own needs and wants. Our ability to cooperate stems less so from necessity, as individual life is quite well possible as those who have watched Bear Grylls and his survival shows will know. No, our ability to cooperate stems from our desire to achieve and do more.

Why else does our species host the Olympics to figure out which countries’ athletes are the best? Why do we love football, a game so innately tied to the cooperation of players, coaches and even the fans? We want, very simply, to achieve, create and recognise the need to cooperate as a means of getting there, even if it requires compromise.

This is what makes MUN such a fascinating concept and continues to draw me back in. Countries, as any International Relations student will know, are autonomous actors in permanent anarchy, they should not want to cooperate under any circumstances (realists will tell you this is still the case) unless there is an obvious and equal benefit. However, do we not see in our simulations and even the real world that this is often not the case? We still see countries coming together to cooperate and achieve rather than dissociate and destroy. Does Russia not sometimes give ground during SC negotiations, and have crises not often brought conflicting nations to cooperate for the betterment of all? And this cooperation is no different from the cooperation you’ll find in the Board of Directors of TEIMUN. We haggle, dispute, relax, redraw, adjust and cooperate our way through tough situations and pitfalls that go to providing the best MUN conferences we can. The tension might not be as acute as in the Security or the Human Rights Council, but we still strain ourselves in order to achieve and create these two beautiful conferences for you all to enjoy.

Cooperation is a special human characteristic we should celebrate and employ whenever possible. There is no limit to what we can achieve and create if we put our hands together and work out a way towards a better tomorrow. Cooperation is, and shall remain, the foundation of our greatest triumphs.