When 18 Trinitians departed from College on the 21st of January to Colombo while singing the school song, they were headed towards the first physical conference that the Trinity College Model United Nations Club had participated in over 2 years. Sri Lanka Model United Nations (SLMUN) remains the largest and most competitive conference in the country, and SLMUN 2021 was no exception. Even with its massive size, the organisers took the highest precautionary measures, including a vaccine mandate and postponing the conference from October last year to the 22nd and 23rd of January.
During the conference, our 18 delegates took part in different committees, which, reflecting the actual UN, are divided upon their roles and mandates. This year, we took part in the following committees discussing an extremely diverse range of topics;
- The United Nations Security Council on the situation in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover,
- The UN Human Rights Council which discussed reconciliation and human rights in post-conflict Sri Lanka,
- The UN General Assembly Plenary concerning the use of the cyberspace in Middle Eastern conflict,
- The Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific which had a conference topic on threats to democratic governance in the Asia-Pacific,
- The UN Environmental Program on alternative waste disposal methods,
- The International Cricket Council which discussed how to create equal playing conditions for batters and bowlers, and lastly,
- The World Health Assembly on the prevention and management of chronic and degenerative diseases.
Two of our members also took part in an entirely different kind of committee, the International Press Corps, where they were assigned to a news agency (such as the BBC) and they had to report on the proceedings of other committees in news articles submitted daily.
After recruiting willing delegates from grades 9 to 13, we began the process of participating at SLMUN through selecting the committees that we wanted to be in. Then the organisers sent us the countries we would represent (this year it was Russia and Somalia), after which we began our research to prepare for the conference well in advance. We held several practice sessions beforehand, working online due to the pandemic, reminding our younger delegates about the procedure of an actual conference.
We left Kandy on the 21st and arrived at Kithu Sevana, a dormitory that Trinity often uses, where we stayed across the weekend, in the early evening. We were all very excited to see the newly-opened Central Expressway. We had two dorm rooms, where some of us burnt the midnight oil doing our last-minute research and where others did their only research for the whole conference. On the first day, we walked to BMICH, which was only 200m away from Kithu Sevana and settled into our separate committees directly after the opening ceremony.
A MUN conference follows a set procedure;
- Speakers’ List- an open forum where each delegate is given a chance to express their country’s stance on the agenda at hand, after which the rest of the committee bombards them with questions, known as points of information, and accusations of violating their country’s foreign policy.
- The second phase is Moderated Caucus where delegates propose subtopics to the agenda with special focus on constructive solutions for the issues being discussed,
- Unmoderated Caucus is when delegates split into two groups to write out resolutions with the solutions that they support for the issues under discussion.
- Finally, resolution debate happens when both resolutions come under scrutiny from the delegates and only one passes with a simple majority vote from the entire committee.
The closing ceremony, after 2 intense days of debate and resolution writing, was exceptionally rewarding for the TCMUN club. We were able to win three awards, a special feat given that we hadn’t won any awards at SLMUN in several past sessions. Gesith Epa, our president, was the 3rd best delegate (Honorary Mention) in the UN Security Council, often recognised as the most competitive and hardest committee at any conference. Thithira Jayakody won a Higher Commendation (2nd best delegate) in the UN Human Rights Council and Dinil Jayasuriya was part of the Best Overall News Agency in the International Press Corps.
Returning to a physical conference was a nostalgic experience for our seniors and an entirely new one for our younger delegates. For both, however, this allowed us to refine our public speaking skills and revitalise the confidence needed to articulate complicated international relations jargon in a sensical manner. MUN, as a field of interest, is extremely important in allowing for delegates to develop intensive research skills that are not honed by any of our academic curricula and to be able to analyse and understand interconnected policies and motivations of different countries when approaching extremely timely and important topics to today’s world. We are proud to say that our participation at SLMUN has undoubtedly helped us to be more aware of who we are and where we stand as citizens, and more importantly, as a human species.
Finally, We would like to extend our gratitude to Mr. V. Raveendran, our Master in Charge, for sorting out all the administrative tasks and accompanying us to Colombo.
“As TCMUN celebrates its new streak of awards in conference I believe that we should stick to the core principle that our club is based on within Trinity. That is to prioritise diplomacy over competition. MUN is a role playing simulation of diplomats, ambassadors, representatives and journalists and we as MUNers should be careful as to what we learn from MUN and what we aspire to be in the future. Do we reflect what our leaders decide in councils & committees, write articles for news agencies or do we make the news and make decisions for the international community as leaders of the world?”Gesith Epa, President, TCMUN
Review by Thithira Jayakody (TCMUN)