COMUN 2021: Practice Debates
The immediate momentum of this conference sprang into action the moment this venture was ‘greenlighted’ by the OSC administration and gave me a clear foreshadowing of the energy and passion disseminated by the EXCO and Secretariat to come. I am hopeful, yes with some reservations, but that was only natural and in fact healthy to some extent. I am looking forward to introducing myself to my counterparts and moving forward in the progression of COMUN; hoping to mend some discrepancies within our constitution and uplift the morale that depleted in the initial stages of this program. Demonstrating that challenges have been undertaken,I now realize that with clarity of mind and action, complemented by a strong support system, makes even a daunting task such as leading Colombo Model United Nations, glimmer with possibility and an undercurrent of optimism!
Being the biggest Model UN in the country, I not only feel a lasting sense of accomplishment for being the Secretary General COMUN 2021, but a lingering feeling of hope for the future. I find that COMUN is a splendid opportunity that fosters a sense of confidence within students and hands them the mantle to take charge and create a wonderful program, that not only prepares the youth of Sri Lanka for their future in whatever endeavors that they choose to pursue but instill in them a sense of discipline and professionalism. Being the largest student self-run conference in Sri Lanka, I was shocked at how quickly the conference passed by our calendar. In frenzied excitement, it almost made me overlook the months of hard work and preparation that formed the foundations of this successful conference.
After establishing the finality of conference this year, I pushed for the creation of the theme as this was not just a contextual incentive to invite peers from across the canvass of Sri Lankan international schools to be captivated about and apply for positions, but actualized my direction for conference. I wanted the theme for this year to obviously encapsulate the pandemic in both a literal but also a metaphorical sense; alluding to theme of dealing with panic rather than concentrating on the pandemic throughout the different committees in an effort to avoid cloning, but also host a capacity to address other pertinent issues such as the BLM movement and rejuvenation of the Me Too social movement, while allowing for a space to facilitate discussion regarding domestic issues of Uyghur Muslims in China and Indo-Pakistan military tensions. Thus, understanding the need to be ambiguous and entertain the freedom to explore a variety of issues currently plaguing the world, I wanted to craft a topic that would not allow for such but directly sponsor debate. Deciding upon, ‘Informed Action in Times of Crisis’, after suggesting it to Sanya and Mr. Lundin, the full potential of the theme was mapped out in a systematic structure in the form of different committees.
The first practice debate proved to be a very eye opening experience in terms of setting the structure for debate and logistics for the conference in two weeks. The committees itself were divided into six separate rooms at Kestrels, a hotel that we rented for the two days of debate. Coupled with a large room for the secretariat, the seclusion of each committee allowed for a better focus and attention towards each committee. As Secretary general I was in charge of visiting all committees and at times taking over debate. Specifically, during Practice Debate 1 and 2, after visiting the General Assembly 1 which discussed topics with a military focus, centering on the war and conflict, I realized that the chairs needed a little guidance in fostering more inclusive debate. As one of the pillars of COMUN 2021 is novice participation, when I observed the manner in which the chairs were managing less involvement of novice delegates, I inserted myself into the dynamic, and guided the debate narrative to allow inexperienced delegates to speak. Although not necessarily halting the flow of debate, I urged novice delegates to speak by giving them more time to voice their thoughts and choosing Point of Informations (POI’s) that consolidated their argument and those that did not inhibit progress. Although I had to play a lesser role in doing so during the second practice debate, the chairs still struggled to find capacity for novice input. However, this situation was rectified once I spoke to the Co-chairs, enlightening them on the situation at hand and urging them to recognize the importance of novice input in fostering and nurturing future generations of debaters.
Accompanying my role within debate, I also had a meeting with Kingsbury to discuss the logistics for the conference venue, inclusive of the opening and closing ceremony. Visiting Kingsbury with my Under-Secterary General, I shared my floor plan for both ceremonies with the General Manager, and stressed on the need to follow strict COVID-19 protocol to ensure a safe conference. Although discussing with the tech team and planning for both ceremonies to be live streamed virtually on YouTube, the need to maintain the same sense of professionalism that other COMUN ceremonies held was made implicit.
Overall both practice debates helped to provide empirical insight into the running of actual conference, allowing for the Secretariat to iron out any discrepancies within the structure of our EXCO and COMUN 2021 before the main event. I look forward to the three days of conference, as I know it will comprise of healthy debate, inclusive involvement of all participants and help in the nurturing of future world leaders.