ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday February 24, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 39

Taking on the world

By Tahnee Hopman

While countries the world over address the problem of global warming and climate change through largely futile arguments, a large group of students will soon gather in Colombo to discuss their take on the world's most pressing new reality.

In its fourteenth consecutive year, the Colombo Model UN Conference (an undertaking of the Overseas School of Colombo) has grown from what was initially a small group of four schools, to the fifth largest Model UN Conference in the world, a group of around thirty schools from Colombo, Kandy and elsewhere, in addition to foreign schools. The conference is set to take place over a period of three days, from the February 29 – March 2, and around 550 delegates are expected to attend this year.

As you read this, the delegates are most likely to be enthusiastically preparing for the three day challenge ahead of them, acquainting themselves with the rules of parliament procedure, taking part in practise debates, practising writing resolutions and doing research. Despite the load of hard work involved in participating in the conference, it has become increasingly popular over the years.

"Signing up for the conference is voluntary," explained Vinayak Rajendran – President of the General Assembly. "But due to excessive numbers, participation has to be limited, and schools now select from the lists of hopeful participants, students who meet the recommended criteria for taking part in the conference." What is in it for the students? Apart from the weeks of preparation, three days of defining solutions to problems, debating their effectiveness, and voting for the best solution, these teenagers also become aware of the workings of the United Nations, of the significant social, political, economic issues facing the world today and acquire a sense of diplomacy. Furthermore, they experience the virtues of compromise.

To get back to the theme of this year's conference, both the committee and the delegates are confident of being able to devise innovative solutions to the problem of climate change. Elaborating on the proceeding of the conference, Vinayak Rajendran said, "The main theme will be debated from different angles (security/disarmament, economic/finance, social/humanitarian) in the individual committees and the resolutions that pass on the last day of conference will be submitted to the head quarters of the United Nations."

Having completed approximately six months of planning for the 2008 conference, from juggling schoolwork, extra-curricular activities, to tedious hours of sponsor hunting, meetings with prospective sponsors, brainstorming for new ideas for conference, coming up with suitable and relevant conference topics and discussing them, finding ways to bring out the best in the delegates and attending to other aspects of the conference, the 16 member committee wholeheartedly agrees that the organizing process has been both challenging and rewarding.

After all, they have achieved everything they set out to do. It remains for the participants to give their commitment and dedication to the upcoming conference, in addition to learning something useful and having fun.

The committee also expresses its gratitude to its sponsors – The British Council, Sign Tech Advertising Services, Clear (Unilever), Lifebuoy (Unilever), Coca Cola, No Limit, Ferrero Rocher, Sampath Bank, Milo (Nestle), Kodak, MTV, Yes FM and the Daily Mirror.

The first two days of the conference will be at the Overseas School, and the final day will be at the Trans-Asia Hotel. The Chief Guest at the ceremony will be Mr. Neil Bohne, the UN Resident Coordinator for Sri Lanka.

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