By Jan Sedlacek, Secretary 2020 / 2021
When the editors of the Economist magazine predicted that the year 2020 will be “full of drama”, they were probably referring to the spectacle of the US presidential election. Perhaps, their minds were also preoccupied with the never-ending saga of Brexit negotiations. And somewhere between the lines, one may have run into a sentence or two about a flu-like virus popping up in Hubei’s provincial capital, Wuhan. Ehm, about that!
While the same editors eventually admitted that almost none of their predictions materialized thanks to a microscopic ball of protein and DNA, they were definitely not mistaken in forecasting the turbulence of the year behind us. The year 2020 was full of drama for everyone; persons, families, organizations and states included. It will therefore come as no surprise to the attentive reader that it was also a dramatic year for the TEIMUN Foundation. Let’s take the opportunity to go over the three events that defined our year.
1. GrunnMUN 2020
A long time ago, in a place where the term ‘1.5 meter society’ was nothing but a collection of three random dictionary words, the 2020 edition of the GrunnMUN conference took place. It was March the 5th when the halls of MartiniPlaza began to bustle with the sound of over 150 delegates and volunteers attending our local conference. With the theme of “Conquering Complexity as an International Agent”, it attracted the highest attendance numbers in a long time.
After an inspirational opening ceremony, delegates proceeded to simulate deliberations in fora such as the North Atlantic Council, the Human Rights Council, as well as the UN’s Security Council. With topics such as devising a framework for global sustainable land use and the protection and restoration of world heritage sites in conflict zones, GrunnMUN 2020 made TEIMUN’s leadership confident that our international conference, planned for the third week of July 2020, would be a success. Little did we know…
2. Our (Involuntary) Sabbatical Summer
You probably remember your first school day, how you felt when leaving on your first solo holiday, or where you were and what you did when you learned that your favorite singer or actor passed away. Those of us in the Netherlands will certainly remember that evening on Thursday, the 12th of March 2020, when public life ground to a halt. It was obvious that under the conditions and uncertainty about anything at that time, the prospect of a TEIMUN conference taking place was beginning to look more like a dream.
After that faithful Thursday, our predecessors made the decision to cancel this year’s edition of TEIMUN. In light of the impossibility to guarantee the health and wellbeing of participants from all corners of the world, cancellation was the most reasonable and sound course of action. It is a decision which we agree with, and hope that you understood. Yet, we also hope that TEIMUN’s involuntary sabbatical summer will make you ever-more excited for what TEIMUN 2021 has in store.
3. The TEIMUN Journal and Beyond
Perhaps calling the summer of 2020 “sabbatical” is not the most accurate of pictures. In fact, the Foundation’s various teams of volunteers did anything but stand still. The TEIMUN Society shifted online, the Board of Directors started the TEIMUN Blog (the very masterpiece of literary art which you are reading right now), and the Secretariat proceeded to put together the very first edition of the TEIMUN Journal.
In its more than 150 pages, “Conquering Complexity: Perspectives on Covid-19” brought together articles, interviews and opinion pieces from TEIMUN alumni, officials at Dutch public and international organizations, as well as renowned academics such as Kathryn Sikkink and Joseph Stiglitz. Under the direction of last year’s Secretariat, the journal gave our would-be delegates and followers the opportunity to explore the pandemic’s countless impacts on many areas of international political life, while continuing to educate our audiences about the workings of the UN and other international organizations.
As autumn rolled around a new leadership team took over the directing of the Foundation. Together with a great team of motivated and enthusiastic students, the author of this post can claim that while 2020 may have dealt a blow to our main event, we are going to enter 2021 with new experiences and lessons learned. Currently, preparations for GrunnMUN 2021 (whether in person, online, or everything in between) are in full swing. In fact, you can already apply, and you can expect to learn more about our summer conference in the near future.
As we celebrate Christmas and bid farewell to a year which we will happily put behind us, the TEIMUN Foundation would like to wish our entire community Happy Holidays, and much success in the year ahead. The bar is not exactly high. But with a good deal of optimism the TEIMUN community will, in the ever-lasting words of Green Day, “throw up our arms into the sky, you and I”.