Word of Welcome

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Helena Heberer, Secretary-General

Distinguished delegates, honourable chairs, fellow staff members,

I am proud and excited to welcome you to the very first edition of Cologne Model United Nations.

We have put together an amazing team of 16 dedicated MUNers, who work their hardest to bring you the conference of a lifetime. This edition of CologneMUN will not only be special because it is the first to ever take place in our beautiful home city. From the get go, we will offer you a high academic standard with an amazing international chairing team. Our socials will provide you with the opportunity to network with your fellow delegates while getting to know Cologne’s unique nightlife and culture.

We decided to host the first CologneMUN under the slogan “Debating Democracy: Rights and Responsibilities of a Free Press”. Having a background in student journalism, the issue of freedom of the press is close to my heart personally as well as politically. There should be no doubt that a free press and free expression is crucial to a functioning democracy. The press holds leaders accountable. It informs the public and enables political participation. Ultimately, it seeks the truth. Yet, all over the world the press becomes vilified as the enemy. As we should know from history, this regress must be perceived as an alarm bell announcing the disintegration of democracy.

However, I would like to point out that the issue goes beyond “fake news”, “Lügenpresse” and the attack on the integrity of journalists. Increasingly, reporters are targeted and killed in armed conflicts. The Syrian journalist Halla Barakat was murdered in her Istanbul home for her coverage of the Syrian conflict. During clashes at a political meeting in Conakry, Guinea, El-Hadj Mohamed Diallo was shot and died on the way to the hospital. In Malta, a car bomb killed Daphne Caruana Galizia, who was involved in a story on a fuel-smuggling operation spanning Libya, Malta and Italy. For these reasons, in Cologne we want to stand up for everyone’s right to express themselves freely, free from restrictions and physical danger.

On a lighter note, CologneMUN 2018 will tackle another issue that is close to my heart. From the start, we want this conference to be eco-friendly. We have taken measures to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and will do our best to offset any emissions that we find to be unavoidable. In the applications forms, we give you the opportunity to pay one extra euro to support our efforts. Your donations will go into planting trees in order to make your participation in CologneMUN carbon-neutral.

For me personally, the challenge of Model UN lies in striking a balance between staying in character while going one step further than the realities of diplomacy would allow. At MUN you can bring your boldest ideas, debate them with the brightest minds you will ever meet and suggest radical changes to the way our world works. The true meaning of MUN is not simulating the reality but acting out your visions for a better future.

I look forward to meeting you very soon in Cologne for the conference of your lifetime.

Best regards,

Helena Heberer

Secretary-General