Real issues

Megara Tegal talks to the organisers of the upcoming 5th MUN conference. Pix by Gemunu Wellage

Armchair politics is something we’re all guilty of indulging in as we criticise politicians while knowing little about the difficulties they face when it comes to doing their job. Providing the younger generations and future leaders the chance to slip into the shoes of the world leaders of today, The Overseas School of Colombo, introduced the Model United Nations (MUN) conference to Sri Lanka.

The MUN is a simulation of the United Nations (UN) which is aimed at educating participants about civics, current events, effective communication, globalization and multilateral diplomacy. The participants are between the ages of 13 to 19 and come from private to government schools.

This year there are over 500 students from Sri Lanka and 50 from India and Pakistan who will be participating in the conference. Each will represent a particular country and will assume roles as diplomats, investigate international issues, debate, deliberate, consult, and more importantly develop solutions to world problems. “MUN is more comprehensive”, says Tharaka Hettiarachchi, President of the Security Council of the MUN, “it’s not cold blatant facts .

We get involved in providing answers and not just arguing. So MUN is close to heart. We get more involved and we have more freedom to do stuff.”

Having successfully conducted MUN conferences in the past, Sri Lanka is set to conduct the 5th largest MUN conference in the world. What makes this even more impressive is that MUN is a complete student initiative. The organising committee is made up solely of students who raise funds and organise the event by themselves.

The organising committee is also responsible for establishing a new theme for the conference each year. The theme for this year is ‘Human Trafficking’ which is an issue that they feel has been swept under the carpet by the international community. According to the organising committee it is the third most profitable industry in the world following the sale of illegal narcotics and the weapons trade.

Natalie Wijewardhana, the Vice President of the Second Committee of the MUN, says, “MUN teaches you to consider the opinions of others and to respect those opinions. It also makes you aware of what’s going on around the world. Although, if you really want to gain the full experience of the MUN, you have to actively participate in the conference, which is why this year we plan to give everyone the chance to speak." While MUN broadens the minds of the younger generations and gives them better perspective into world issue, it also develops their skills and personality. Natalie says MUN helps participants develop other skills, such as public speaking, and equips future leaders with handling local and international issues.

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