KARACHI: “Egypt, you have to stop influencing other delegates or you will be sent out of the committee session,” threatened the committee chair to maintain order in the session.
His booming voice was followed by pin-drop silence-that lasted for all of about five seconds.
Students from 32 schools participated in the third Model United Nations (MUN) conference organised by The International School (TIS). The delegates spoke so confidently on international affairs that it was difficult to guess that they were teenagers, and in some cases as young as 11 years old.
The three-day conference attracted 450 students who discussed world politics and passed resolutions on different crises affecting the world. The topics discussed included implementations of methods to avoid human trafficking, the Eritrea situation and the nuclear-proliferation treaty.
The delegates, representing 122 countries, were repeatedly reminded to maintain the ‘decorum of the conference’, but they kept finding ways to annoy their committee chair. First-year-law-student from Szabist, Asif Hassan, was a co-chair of one of the three committees and he continuously urged the delegate from Italy to stop digressing. Meanwhile, the delegates representing New Zealand kept leaving the conference to go out and get snacks, till finally a resolution was passed. The third day of the conference, held on Sunday, started at 8 am and continued till lunch time around noon, after which the delegates rushed back to their committee sessions. “It is exhausting handling so many students, but I would definitely say it’s worth it,” said the co-chair for the Economic and Financial Committee, Asfandyar Ali.
The Security Conference hall was decked out with flags representing different countries. Despite the light-hearted atmosphere of the un-moderated caucus, students discussed situations and their resolutions very seriously. Arguments and tempers flared when the United States was urged to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan.
The aim of this model conference is to give students the chance to speak their mind, said Shahzeb Hussain, a member of the organising committee for the third consecutive year. “There are many students who don’t read newspapers and these conferences help them learn so much about international affairs. Plus, we’ve established that no question is stupid so the students freely ask whatever they need to know,” he added.
Many students are better prepared for the conference than others but all participants are given an equal chance. The conference also builds the students’ confidence and shy students are urged to speak publicly.
“Students from interior Sindh are also invited to attend and even though they may not always participate, they observe and pass on to others what they have learnt at these conferences,” said The City School representative teacher.
The conference started off with just 150 students and the organisers found it difficult to reel in sponsors but now the number of participating schools increases each year.
“We have opened the conference for everyone. There is no class or status barriers once you are here and you are distinguished only by the knowledge that you have,” said Shahzeb.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 17th, 2011.