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This year too on 28th February our Nelson Mandela Debating Group made up of four teams participated in the Berlin Championship in partnership with Freiblickinstitut e.V.

The spirit with which all schools took part, created a great day for debating which we all enjoyed at The University of Applied Sciences Europe last Thursday. It really was the students who made it such a memorable and inspiring event. Berlin was also showing itself from its best side, with a beautiful late winter sunny day.

Students who participated in the Debating Matters competition this year were:

Alva Jung, Laetitia Gräber debating the first debate for “Tourism benefits the World” against Bertha-von-Suttner-Gymnasium. Maurtis van Veen and Julius Heide debated against Hans-Carossa-Gymnasium on “Autonomous Cars will make Driving Safer.” Paul Scrima and Philipp Dannemann prepared to debate against “It is Wrong for Countries to Offer Tax Incentives to attract Investments” and Alec Dent and Meret Weber were prepared to debate for “Western Museums should Agree to Repatriate Cultural Artifacts.”

Our students had four weeks to prepare their debate speeches and I believe enjoyed every minute of it.

Watching our students argue for and against certain motions is a delight and a privilege.

The last two debates did not take place for our school as we did not make it to the finals unfortunately.

Please follow this link to see the Debating Matters article about the day: http://www.debatingmatters.com/news/...

You can also follow this link to see the photos taken on that day:

https://photos.app.goo.gl/XJvtnW54AwKtEMxF7

 I have attached some of the three-minute speeches that the students prepared for their debates below for those of you interested. One point I need to make here is that despite the very difficult position that our students had and that almost always contradicted the general social feeling towards the topics that they were dealing with, our students fought hard and well. I for one am very proud of them.

 Nihal Adler

Head of Languages

 

First Speech Pro “Tourism Benefits the World “ by Alva Jung /Q2

Dear Audience, honorable Judges, Fellow Debaters

Did you know that the ancient Romans believed in taking vacations of up to five years? And that after wars, tourism was used as a critical tool for re-establishing diplomatic relations?
Today we are arguing in favour of tourism, since we believe that tourism is necessary for our education, economy and health.

Tourism is defined as “the act and process of spending time away from home in pursuit of recreation, pleasure and relaxation while making use of commercial provision of services.”

But it is so much more than that.
In the fast paced world we live in, it has become a necessity to remove oneself from day to day routines.

Travelling allows us to do this while also nurturing our social and intercultural skills, raising tolerance and increasing both our historical and political knowledge.

We are by no means ignoring the impact tourism has on the environment. In fact, we believe that change is necessary. However, the current sustainable tourist revolution is taking a positive turn and can benefit the environment and its preservation.
This has also influenced the tourist activities that people participate in.

Sustainable tourism has encountered growing popularity, due to an increasing awareness of environmental implications on earth.
If we were to continue this conscious mindset and invest even a fraction of the revenues from tourism in the environment, we would have the adequate means to address the problems arising from climate change and preserve the environment.

Following WWII, governments became interested in tourism as a tool of diplomacy. The first step to reconciliation between France and Germany was the creation of exchange programs and city partnerships to help break down both physical and psychological barriers.This shows how valuable tourism is in the fight against discrimination and stereotyping.

With the rise of nationalism and populism, having a multicultural perspective is more important than ever. The American astronaut Edgar Mitchell stated that “when you see the world as a whole, you develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it”.
When travelling we gain an understanding of different ethnicities, cultures and diversity and stop seeing the world in black and white but as a whole community and gain - as Mitchell states “a global consciousness.”

Instead of limiting tourism or questioning its benefits, we should make it more accessible to everybody, regardless of the scale. Alternative accomodation and travel options such as Inter-Rail, Couchsurfing and student exchanges are the bright and sustainable future of travelling. In an age of rising predispositions against others, It is this future that makes tourism beneficial to the world.
Thank you.

 

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Second Speech for “Tourism Benefits the World” by Laetitia Gräber /Q2

 Dear Audience, honorable judges, fellow debaters,

Following what my partner has just said I will be providing you, with further information on why tourism is one of the most significant industries globally.

Uninformed critiques of tourism believe that it destroys cities and natural sites while at the same time taking full advantage of its benefits. Yet, Tourism leads to the preservation and maintenance of museums and valuable cultural sites that are NOT only there for tourists, but in fact also for the local community. Tourism encourages the maintenance of beaches, parks, lakes and cities in general which creates an enjoyable atmosphere for both tourists and locals while also upgrading the general standards of a city.

Some of the countries affected by a financial crisis such as Spain, Greece and Portugal have benefitted widely from the influx of tourism into their countries. Especially for places like Greece, a nation that just recently experienced a high level of unemployment and has serious debts , the 30 million tourists visiting a year, are a much needed economic stabilizer. The revenues generated through tourism also help fund improved infrastructure such as airports, roads and public transport that is valuable not only for the international visitor but also for the local community.

Many European cities such as Paris, London and Athens posses important cultural and historical sights. Restricting tourism in areas with cultural sites is not the solution to preserving these sites. How about managing tourism through spatial zoning, spatial concentration and restrictive entry or pricing? Heritage and culture tourism increase our appreciation and knowledge of arts, artefacts and architecture, while stressing on the need to preserve these symbols of our history

Throughout the last couple of years traveling has undergone major changes. By visiting gifts of nature, we learn to appreciate the world and what it has to offer. As people start to experience the results of climate change, their traveling preferences also change. Many start favorising more eco friendly, environmentally sustainable ways of spending their vacation abroad. Many hotels, around the world are adapting to new eco friendly habits to preserve nature and its wildlife.
For example check out the “El Nido” resorts on Palawan. Besides their environmentally friendly activities, they also take their guests on island hopping tours, where tourists have the opportunity to buy local goods and souvenirs and interact with the locals. Everything they do is low in carbon footprint and high in natural and cultural experiences. With their many programs the resort works closely with the community in protecting wildlife and the biodiversity of the island. Shares of the resorts’ profits go directly into the local fauna and flora e.g. reef conservation.

Tourism is a form of cultural education. It destroys stereotypical boundaries and prejudices, creates equality and helps address worldwide racial and social issues. Intercultural exchange, that goes along with tourism, improves cultural understanding among nations and helps contribute to world peace. The interaction between tourists and locals helps people understand each others’ worlds in a way that no book nor movie can teach them. It makes us become citizens of the world, even friends, rather than enemies .

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First Speech against “Autonomous Cars will make Driving Safer” by Mauritz van Veen

Dear Audience, honorable judges, fellow debaters,

Autonomous cars are not safe because they have flaws that can be influenced by many factors that may disturb the safe running of a car. One of these factors is the lack of technological advancements in the used sensors. Another is the possibility of autonomous cars rewriting their own codes and therefore becoming a threat everyone on the streets.

Before I continue, let us pause for a second and reflect on what the word safety here implies? Safety to whom? To what? To the car? To the driver? To the pedestrian or to the environment? Safety should be applied for all of the above so, how does building more, create a sustainable solution for our environment? And ultimately human safety? How do we keep the global temperature from rising above 2 degrees celsius, as required by the Paris agreement? Certainly not with individualised transport. A study done by the University of California, Davis, clearly states that: if cars are manufactured continuously in the future, the greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector alone will increase by 50%, in only 30 years! We need to realise that the autonomy of future cars is what sells a future in individual transport, threatening the world we hope to leave to our children.

There are many sensors in autonomous cars to give them an awareness of what surrounds them. It is unclear whether the sensors for example are resilient towards extreme weather conditions. Which are predicted to occur more often in the future, due to climate change, which in large part exists because of the automobile industry. This risk is especially unsettling, since the few companies that build these autonomous cars test them in areas with perfect weather conditions, like California. How about difficult weather conditions, like fog, Hail Storms or blizzards?

Furthermore, if these sensors can brake, they will pose a major threat to all road users. Due to their high complexity, they are irreparable for the driver.

Although the sensors are a concern, the real problem with these cars is how they are programmed and how these cars interact with humans. Programers create Artificial intelligences, also called AI to reduce their own work and enable the car to learn, while driving. These AI are lines of code, algorithms but at the same time in charge of our safety. Once an algorithm is learning, we no longer clearly know what its rules and parameters will evolve into. In addition to this it is even more fatal, if the code it is building up on is incorrect. This problem includes all autonomous cars, since they all use a common software and all receive the same updates. A mistake in this software could lead to thousands of dangerous accidents.

Finally I want to ask you the drivers of the future: why support a System that is evidently too dangerous to be driving our kids to school or ourselves to work? We must stop this development and boycott autonomous cars to ensure the safety of our roads!

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 Second Speech against “Autonomous Cars will make Driving Safer” by Julius Heide

Dear Audience, honorable judges, fellow debaters,

I want to emphasize one thing: autonomously driven cars will not make driving safer. By handing over our responsibility as well as ability to navigate and drive to technology, we are making ourselves vulnerable to hacking and disruptions in the car’s software, trusting manipulated statistics. By creating a fake sense of safety for the driver, the attention to traffic and the ability to take over in crucial situations, will decline and cause irresponsible behaviour behind the wheel. But most importantly, how can we seriously put a car in the position to decide upon life and death? Ethically this is not justifiable.

By making cars independent we trust machines to make rational and moral choices within split seconds. In situations for which the car was not programmed, we do not know how it will react. Imagine a scenario where the car has to decide, to either run over 10 children that suddenly ran on to the road, or drive against a wall and kill the driver. What will the car decide to do? But even more importantly: what do we want the car to do?

In the digital age we live in, the possible hacking of software poses another major threat. One possible use of hacking could be to carry out terror attacks with autonomously driving cars. Just remember Nice in 2016 or the Christmas Market in Berlin in 2017. Imagine the power terrorist hackers would have if they gained control over a server controlling not just one, but perhaps several thousand cars, and the carnage they could cause. Just imagine the disaster, pain and suffering.

We are aware of the statistic claiming that an autonomously driven Tesla only has an accident every 200 million kilometers, while a human driven car has one every 150 million kilometers. However, statistics like this can be easily manipulated. First of all, the study was provided by Tesla, the company promoting these cars. It was only conducted in America and primarily tested in California and Florida, where the road conditions are excellent. But what about other regions in the world ?
Comparing the amount of accidents of these ultra modern cars, driven in the safest of environments, to regular cars in America, which have an average age of at least 10 years, is not a valid comparison.
Teslas are not safe because of their autonomy but because of their most modern construction.
Also keep in mind: The automobile industry has just recently fooled their customers with manipulated statistics for profit reasons. Remember the Volkswagen emission scandal. Therefore I would like us to look beyond questionable statistics and consider the real dangers being introduced by this technology.

The problem created here is not only technological but in fact psychological. Tesla already admits that autonomous cars will always need an alert driver behind the wheel, and even have a built-in system, to ensure this. However there are already examples of misbehaviour behind the wheel causing deadly accidents. In 2016 Joshua Brown was killed in a fatal car accident driving a semi automatic Tesla. The crash was not just Mr. Brown’s fault, for ignoring the warning signs that were shown to him seven separate times, but also that of the car, for mistaking a white tractor for the sky.
Distracted drivers combined with cars not able to distinguish the sky from a tractor will create a new threat to driving as whole.

In conclusion, self driving cars will not only make drivers more irresponsible but also hand over both responsibility and decision making to a pre programmed computer that does not know how to react in unforeseeable situations. We are also making ourselves vulnerable to hacking and to malfunctioning software, blindly trusting manipulated statistics. So it is really up to us: Do we want to trade the safety of millions of road users and potentially kill a group of children playing on the road for the ability to play angry birds while driving to work?
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Prepared Speeches that were not delivered:

For “It is Wrong for Countries to Offer Tax Incentives to attract Investments” by Paul Scrima

Dear Audience, dear Judges,
I will debate that it is wrong for countries to offer tax incentives to attract Investment.
A tax incentive is a government measure that is intended to encourage individuals and businesses to spend money or to save money by exempting them from their financial obligations to society. More importantly, these incentives are encouraged by certain countries offering tax breaks for large corporations This resulted in many firms relocating to other countries in order to avoid paying their taxes. In other words, circumventing their financial obligations to a society which enabled them to prosper in the first place.
But there is healthy competition and dangerous competition, a fact we should have learned from the late 2000s financial crisis.
State bidding wars using money direly needed for infrastructure… social projects. E.g. using money elsewise paying for cancer care for large corporations… find US tax break + lacking healthcare funding

At best their economic effect is minimal. At worst is zero or negative. In any case, the benefits secured are not worth the cost. Targeted tax breaks are expensive and inefficient.

Whilst taxes are disliked by many, they fulfill a social obligation towards the societies in which we live. More importantly from an ethical standpoint, how is it alright to oblige citizens with low income rates to pay these taxes but allow large firms and corporations as well as the rich to escape these obligations through legal loopholes?
Don´t you agree that ALL should pay their dues proportionately?

Tax incentives increase compliance costs for businesses and enforcement costs for the government. They can result in similar firms having vastly different effective tax rates that are hard to justify. Larger firms for example have a level of political and economic influence that is not enjoyed by smaller firms, and these firms are more likely to secure special treatment/privilages. Similarly,these firms are often able to secure special tax breaks for relocating to another country, while loyal firms that remain in the country of origin are stuck with their normal bill.

Targeted tax incentives fail for a number of reasons. First, states and countries end up wasting a significant amount of revenue on jobs or economic development that would have occurred even without these incentives.

Secondly, there are countries that offer tax incentives to attract wealthy individuals and companies.
Conversely, numerous worldwide corporations flat out avoid taxes by changing the country they are legally based in even when most of their business is done elsewhere. A prime example for this is the furniture giant IKEA, that has effectively avoided taxes for 40 years since the founder Ingvar Kamprad moved to Switzerland in 1973.

Finally, giving tax incentives in one area means that the revenue for a country will have to be made up in another area: by higher taxes for the majority of the population or lower spending elsewhere, both of which would have an economic impact as well.

What does all this mean? Simply counting the number of companies or jobs that receive a tax incentive does not tell you whether it is worth the cost. You must compare it to other uses of the same revenue.

Good tax competition involves competing to provide good, efficient government services while keeping taxes as low as possible... When rates increase, the demand from businesses for special tax breaks increases as well.

Ultimately we should ponder on the influence large firms have now and will increasingly in the future on our global economy. Tax incentives are a prime example of the exploitation many of these firms willingly engage in and will continue to be so if we do not restrict their power.
In conclusion, I ask you, to stand up for measures that prevent the loopholes that essentially allow companies and corporations to engage in legal tax fraud and to demand fair and equal regulations for all allowing us to engage in our societal responsibility?

 

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For “It is Wrong for Countries to Offer Tax Incentives to attract Investments” by Phillip Dannemann

Dear Audience, honorable Judges,
I stand today in front of you surrounded by a world in which trust in well-established political institutions is diminishing by the hour.
In examining why this is the case, we find that much can be attributed to socio-economic policy that has disenfranchised the majority of our population.
Living in a society which teaches us that we shall strive to enable equality of opportunity, today we face the choice whether to live up to that premise.
As my partner already stated, tax incentives stand in direct contradiction to a fair market environment. Trough tax incentives, global corporations have been provided financial leverage over taxpayer dollars, while rising entrepreneurs and small businesses are left out to dry.
There is however another component to tax breaks that has to be addressed: That of an ethical and moral obligation for all entities under our law.
Living in a welfare state, we as citizens are all obligated to pay a share of their income to the government, in return for the services that it has provided us with in the past, the services it continues provides to us and our families, and for the services it will provide to us in the future.
It is through this reciprocity that we finance the education of our children, infrastructure that enables economic growth, social security for the disenfranchised, as well as medical care for the sick.
And just as we have benefitted from these sources of opportunity, so has the private sector: It is the government building the roads, train tracks and airports through the help of which goods are transported; it is education that produces a skilled workforce, and most importantly it is the government through which law and order, a prerequisite to market stability are upheld. After all, businesses strive to settle where their assets are protected.
It is for that reason that businesses are being taxed, and it is for that reason that they should continue to be taxed.
As I am sure, the opposition will have laid out that tax incentives create new jobs and result in prosperity, but this is simply not the case. As the corporate-friendly Forbes magazine layed out under the headline: Government Incentives To Attract Jobs Are Terrible Deals For Taxpayers, tax incentives often grant corporations billions of dollars for jobs already planned to be added, let alone in regions already elsewise competitive as business-environments. That is for one precise reason: When corporations seek to open new branch offices or factories, their primary concern lies on good infrastructure and skilled labor. According to reporting by the New York Times. Incentivizing investment through tax breaks only plays a considerable role roughly 2 percent of the time,
(If necessary, alternate examples)
It is as such that we must decisively come to the rational conclusion that tax breaks not only do not work, but give corporations huge exempts from their economic responsibilities responsible in large parts for their own success, thus leaving the burden to be carried by the rest of society.
Therefore, I urge all members of the august house to vote for the motion that it is wrong for countries to offer tax incentives to attract investment and send a signal calling for economic and social sensibility.
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For ”Western Museums Should Agree to repatriate Cultural Artefacts” by Meret Weber

When the ethical and historical responsibility to return cultural property has been established, the debate surrounding repatriation often becomes focused on the specifics of transporting and installing individual pieces or collections. However, many nations are forgetting their legal obligation to agree to this process in the first place. The 1970 UNESCO Convention on Cultural Property grants every state the right to request the return of its own cultural property if it was illicitly acquired and identifies the export of property taken on colonial missions as illegal. International law further supports this with the general consensus that any and all goods taken illicitly from a place or person must be returned to their owner. Seeing as an estimated 90% of African cultural heritage is not currently situated on the African continent, it is clear that the repatriation is a responsibility of returning stolen goods. Legally, cultural property must be repatriated.
If Western nations want to hold this debate in a truly post-colonial manner, the discourse must occur on an even playing field. Creating hierarchies and power structures that place them in superior positions is incredibly patronising and reinforces neocolonial patterns of thought and policy making. It is therefore not in the hands of Western nations to decide which institution or country is “ready” for repatriation.

We have now identified the ethical, legal, cultural and political reasons of why property must be repatriated. These are not new facts or discoveries. So why do so many institutions still refuse to return stolen works? The only argument left that Western institutions use to justify their claims is the idea of so-called “global” museums, created to display a complete and international perspective on world history. Museums see themselves as those responsible for upholding and protecting art and evidently, there is no opposition to wanting to conserve cultural heritage. But this train of thought and self-perception underlines just how harmful the very perspective these museums provide can be. When we ask ourselves why “global” museums only exist in the West, who actually gets to access these supposed international spaces and who curates the exhibitions, we realize that global museums are not achieving their goals.
They exist only in the west because we assume that other regions are not able to keep the same standards we do. We like to believe that everyone has access to the wonderful museums across Europe, but how and why should a teenager from Ethiopia have to fly to London just to access a complete version of their own history? We assume that global museums widen horizons, but more often than not, they reinforce a euro-centric worldview and portray non-European cultures as inferior and primitive. Global museums are just not doing their jobs and again, it is clear why: while art and culture in a global context is wonderful, it must first be completed in its own context.
If we want to commit to expanding world views and accept that in the past, Western nations robbed their colonies of culture and history, we have to commit to returning it. If we want to commit to creating global museums in a globalised world, they have to truly be global. Lending art is not enough. Deciding who is “ready” for repatriation is not enough.

Cultural property must be repatriated and that without compromise.

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20.05.2019 Nelson-Mandela-Schule · Staatliche Internationale Schule Berlin | Nelson Mandela School · State International School Berlin