Updated: Jun 24, 2022
To say it in the words of Secretary General Jelto Heykants: “I hereby declare the 21st Oldenburg Model United Nations for officially opened.” Today, on the 21st of June the OLMUN 2022 started with the Opening Ceremony opening the way for three days of fruitful debates and fun evening activities. The Opening Ceremony began with the Rolecall carried out by the President of the General Assembly Per Pagnia to confirm the delegations' presence. It was followed by the Opening Speech of this year’s Secretary General Jelto Heykants. In the beginning, he stated examples for conflicts and catastrophes all over the world like the situation in Afghanistan, civil wars or Russia's attack on Ukraine and acknowledged that the prospect of war is as present as it has never been before, comparing war with a shadow that is clouding the sky and hence, peace. He also pointed out that “peace” cannot be easily defined and used the definition of sociologist Johan Galtung “peace as a society's capacity to transform”, to help understand the word's true meaning. However, that implies that in order to have or maintain a peaceful world humans have to work on themselves and their society.
After the speech, the Opening video for OLMUN 2022 was shown and the delegates were able to feel the typical “OLMUN- Spirit”. It began with clips of peaceful cities and landscapes but quickly changed into showing calamities all over the globe. Natural disasters, climate change, pollution, famine, war and humans protesting against their governments. Summarized, it captured the essence of this year's slogan “Causes of Conflict and Proposals for Peace” as it demonstrates the urgency with which long-term peace must be achieved.
Subsequently, the delegations had the opportunity to present their opening speeches and many delegations accepted the offer. The main focus of many of those speeches was the world's peace as well as reassuring the delegations' willingness to work towards the common goal. Worth mentioning is the fact that on all three occasions on which the Russian delegation gave a speech, many of the delegates left the conference room and only returned after the speeches were over. It remains to be seen how the committee sessions will pass off in that regard.
During a short break from opening speeches, the floor was yielded to the mayor of Oldenburg Jürgen Krogmann. He thanked the secretariat and the Inner Circle for organizing the conference and emphasized the fact that the OLMUN is now the largest of its kind in Germany. Krogmann later referred to this year's slogan and highlighted that it is now “more relevant than ever” to deal with this topic. Peace cannot be taken for granted and humanity must do its best to continue the fight for a peaceful world. The slogan and how fitting it is in the context of the war in Ukraine were referenced several times in other speeches as well.
Susanne Menge and David McAllister both sent video messages prior to the conference which were played between the delegations' speeches. Menge particularly appealed to everyone participating in the conference to continue being committed to causes like these and to help develop OLMUN further. In his video, McAllister highlighted the relevance of this year's slogan as 2022 is evidence to the fact that war can break out anytime and anywhere. Lower Saxony's Prime Minister Stephan Weil wrote a text which was read out loud by Deputy President Kian Assent during the ceremony. In his letter, Weil expressed his delight of the OLMUN being held in person in 2022 as opposed to the last two years. Also referring to the slogan, he mentioned that it is important for the youth to deal with the subject of war and the questions surrounding it, especially now that there is a war in Europe. Through looking into the topic everyone participating will learn a great deal about how politics work and how big decisions are made. The Opening Ceremony can also be watched in its entirety on the OLMUN YouTube channel, if you are interested in hearing the speeches in full length.