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Enthusiastic youth setting up model United Nations

A group of enthusiastic young students from Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan are finalizing preparations for what they call the "Colombo Operated Model UN’’ (COMUN), an academic simulation of the United Nations aiming to educate participants about civics, current events, effective communication, globalization and multilateral diplomacy.

In the COMUN model, students take on roles as diplomats and participate in a simulated session of the UN.

"Participants research a country, take in roles as diplomats, investigate issues, debate, deliberate, consult and then develop solutions to world problems," the organizers of COMUN explained.

The model which was first formally implemented with the participation of 50 students has now grown into a movement involving over 500 students from Sri Lanka as well as 50 international students from India and Pakistan this year.

The organizers said that the participation level has given COMUN the honour of being the fifth largest model UN Conference in the world.

The conference is due to be held for a period of three days, the first two days at the Overseas School of Colombo on Mar. 5 and 6 at the Overseas Children’s School, Battaramulla and on Mar. 7, the final day, at Waters Edge.

"One of the unique features of this event is that it is completely student run with the organization committee made up of students from a wide array of schools who are responsible for organizing and conducting the conference," the organizers explained

"We like to believe that COMUN strives to cater to an existing vacuum in the education system in Sri Lanka," the young people organizing this event said. "With globalization in full swing, the notion of the nation states is becoming overwhelmed. Hence Sri Lanka need to realize that the country can no longer exclude itself from international issues which affects the global community as a whole."

They explained that COMUN offers a comfortable platform for our future generation to engage in intense debate on major policy issues which pertain to the world as a whole and provide them with the opportunity to propound their own solutions to pressing international issues keeping in line with the foreign policies of the respective countries that have been assigned to them.

This year the theme that has been chosen for deliberation is that of human trafficking which the young students believe is an issue that has been swept under the carpet by the international community.

They say this is ironical considering that it is the third most profitable industry in the world after the sale of illegal narcotics and the weapons trade.

"In line with this year’s theme, we have joined hands with the International Organization of Migration (IOM) to help promote awareness on this most pertinent issue which surreptitiously robs the livelihoods of thousands in Sri Lanka itself.

"From the commercial sexual exploitation of women who are trafficked from rural areas to Colombo to the unknown maids who go eagerly to the Middle East expecting high salaries only to find themselves in situations of involuntary servitude, Sri Lanka is no stranger to human trafficking," the organizers of COMUN explained.

They said that conflict resolution is the fundamental principle of the Model UN and at this time when Sri Lanka has emerged from a brutal civil war, they believed that an initiative such as theirs is extremely timely in order to inform youth of alternatives to the use of violence as a medium of conflict resolution."

Deshani Senanayake is the Secretary General of COMUN 2010 with Yohan Senarath as President of its General Assembly.

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