Individuality and Integration - International Issues of the 21st Century

In June 2015, the UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency, published a report recording the highest amount of people being on the search of refuge world wide, ever. Almost 60 million people from crises shaken and war affected countries such as Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Eritrea, the Yemen, the Lebanon, Malaysia and many others were and are fleeing their homes to find security, stability, and a better life either in a different region of their country or in a whole new state. And this number keeps rising.

While the mentioned countries lose enormous amounts of their people, their middle class, and therefore their future, economically and politically more stable countries experience an influx of newcomers they were not prepared for. This leads to inspiring acts of kindness and hospitality by many civilians in the receiving nations, voluntarily helping the arriving refugees. Unfortunately, with the refugee crisis continuing constantly, right wingers and self-declared “afraid civilians” gain more and more momentum in their fight against an alleged “Islamification” of their home countries, fueling xenophobia and rejection of the mostly Muslim incomers. A struggle between defending one's own individuality and adapting to or integrating into a frequently changing, multicultural society is apparent. It is this struggle that defines the global society we live in.

Not only is this paradox of a world getting smaller and more homogeneous, especially in regards of economy, while also being more and more fragmented because of hostility toward the foreign or different highlighted by the current refugee crisis, but by all sorts of change happening right now. Climate change forces us to change our ways of living, still we view the consumerist, resource-straining and unsustainable lifestyle prevailing in the developed and spreading in the emerging countries as the primary expression of a better life, although it goes on cost of the people in poorer countries, on future generations, and, in the end, even on cost of ourselves. The individual wants to protect its human rights and benefits arising from the comfort of being born in a stable, rather progressive country. Parallel, it is calling for the protection of the human rights of every person, while still perpetuating and, at least indirectly, supporting systems and societies that diametrically oppose those liberal ideas.

These and other themes will be discussed at our 9th BALMUN Conference in May, 2016, in the Hanseatic City of Rostock. They are struggles so real and imminent, still so far from being solved, that immediate action is needed. To solve these problems seems to be a task too great to be achieved. Nevertheless, how did Martin Luther King Jr. once say:

"No work is insignificant. All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence."

Let us live and act up to this spirit. Let us participate in finding solutions to these issues, not only by taking part and actively engaging in the next BALMUN Conference, but also by shaping our lives in such a way as to make a difference.

I will be pleased to welcome you here!

Sincerely, your committed Secretary General,

Johannes Schmidt