PUNISHING the perpetrators of human trafficking is not always the answer, argued a Westhoughton student who recently took to the international stage as a young diplomat of a country described as “slavery’s last stronghold”.

Josh Bramwell, aged 20, was one two UK students among hundreds from across the world speaking at the Marrakech Model of the United Nations.

He was awarded the Distinguished Delegate Award and effectively placed second for his persuasive arguments and his skilful debating on alternative ways in tackling human trafficking.

Delegates had to follow UN protocol and were assigned a “country” to represent at various United Nations committees, in the General Assembly and the Security Council.

They were given a topic to discuss to adopt a “joint resolution”. Former Bolton School pupil, Josh, was joined by fellow University of Exeter student James McLeod, and “represented” Mauritania.

Slavery still exists in the West African country, and trafficking is part of life and ignored by the government.

While they discussed: “Combating Human Trafficking of all Forms”, the pair had to adopt a stance at odds with other countries.

History student, Josh said: “Punishing those responsible wasn’t the answer for Mauritania, which was the instinctive response.

“It is about education and long-term investment to give those who are in slavery an alternative.

“We need to get to the source of the problem, rather than just punishing people, to prevent it.”

He said: “Many people in slavery don’t recognise it as slavery and education about their rights is important.

Josh and James persuaded the other countries to adopt their long-term approach to tackling the issue and it was written into the resolution.

Josh said: “We had four weeks to prepare, but with university work we basically had about five days.”

He described the accolade as a “joint award” saying it was a team effort with James.

“Taking part in something like this increases your confidence and makes you more ambitious, as well as giving you the chance to meet more people.”