- Nine provinces, one nation, one conference
By Aysha Maryam Cassim
National Youth Model United Nations (NYMUN) continues to place youth at the forefront of its work with a vision to engage passionate young individuals of Sri Lanka in the art of diplomacy, peacebuilding and conflict resolution while providing them with an understanding of the cultural and political context of different nations and societies.
The idea of NYMUN was conceived in 2016. Over the years, NYMUN has been accessing diverse groups of knowledge and skills across the country by bringing agents of change into one unified platform.
The fourth NYMUN conference will be held on 19 and 20 October at Hilton, Colombo. The gathering will be a perfect simulation of the United Nations General Assembly at the youth level that reflects the core principles and protocols of the international organisation.
Through the conference, NYMUN seeks to give delegates an insight into the workings of the UN, by acclimatising them to the dynamics and dimensions of the international political system by assuming the roles of UN representatives and members of other affiliated international bodies.
The provincial workshops have been a successful stepping stone to NYMUN in taking the concept beyond Colombo. Over the years, there’s been an exponential increase in the active involvement and engagement of youth from North and East and South of Sri Lanka.
Through its outreach programs, NYMUN has been tapping into vast communities of youth,
allowing them to network their way into the central hub in Colombo. At the practice debate sessions and workshops, participants are taught skills such as International Relations, Public Speaking, Foreign Diplomacy and even National Conflict Resolution.
A trilingual platform
NYMUN fulfils the need to touch base with the grassroots level of society. From 250 young individuals in the year of 2016 and 450-500 delegates taking part this year, NYMUN has been growing in numbers with hopes of setting the target at an ambitious 1,500 young people from various parts of the island. In 2018, NYMUN brought forward the element of trilingualism, breaking away from the existing demographics and creating avenues for young people who would not have the opportunities otherwise. This year, NYMUN takes one step further in hosting more delegates, targeting schools across Sri Lanka who have shown interest in joining the movement.
“NYMUN welcomes anyone regardless of your age, race, religion and ethnicity. Gathering delegates for our workshop has been easy.
Although communicating the concept to the youth from the most remote areas of the country can be challenging,
the response we have received so far has been amazing. In Puttalam, youth host their own MUNs now. This is a massive step forward,” said NYMUN 2019 Secretary General Ornella Hishaam.
Discourse between delegates
NYMUN encourages all its delegates to understand and put into action what they’ve learnt. In the process of developing policies and mechanisms to address international and national challenges, young people will learn to negotiate, compromise, and adopt an open-minded approach to the discourse that is taking place. NYMUN’s platform caters to anyone who is yearning to take their passion forward.
“At the regional workshops, we gauge the audience and see what piques their interest the most. We teach them to zoom out and find ways to further the discourse of peace – even on the most contested political issues of the world. We make sure their ideas are heard and valued,” added Ornella.
The NYMUN conference
Speaking of the impact of the trilingualism at the two-day event, NYMUN 2019 Charge de Affairs Sierra Amarasiri stated that the conference stands out for its substance.
“The sheer atmosphere is at the conference offers a unique experience to all our delegates. You’d find a speaker delivering his views in Sinhala and receiving a reply in Tamil from the other end – which will be translated into English concurrently.
“We make sure that our outreach delegates get the exposure to an environment where they can learn, understand and analyse the pressing international development challenges and enhance their ability to develop and apply target-oriented solutions for local issues.”
Youth for national peace
The discussions at the NYMUN conference are always intense, insightful, and innovative. Delegates who will be chairing multiple roles as country representatives are given the chance to address problems concerning the international sphere and generate solutions working their way through constructive debates.
Recognising the pivotal role that youth could play in pursuit of a peaceful and inclusive Sri Lanka, this year’s conference will be based around the thematic areas of youth, peace, and security with special emphasis on the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2250.
Ideas which will be shared and debated will range from cybersecurity to economic and social impact of racism and digital hate speech, women’s equal participation in conflict prevention and digital information and data in the context of international security and national sovereignty.