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Monday, 29 May 2000
Page: 16488

Mr MOSSFIELD (10:30 PM) —In a previous adjournment speech, I spoke about a number of young achievers from Western Sydney. I mentioned, in particular, Francis Ocampo, who represented Australia at the International Model United Nations Youth Conference held in The Hague in January. Francis was one of 15 delegates from Australia and New Zealand selected from a field of over 2,000 young people who sought this honour. The selection process took over nine months and looked closely at the candidates' oratory and debating skills, personal confidence, academic ability, active participation in sport and affinity with the youth of Australia.

Francis has presented me with a report on his involvement in this conference and, with his agreement, I would like to refer to some of the highlights of that report. Nearly 4,000 students from over 100 countries attended the week-long 31st session held in the Dutch seat of parliament. During the conference, students participated in a simulation of various United Nations bodies, including the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Human Rights Commission and the International Court of Justice.

Francis was assigned to the General Assembly's 5th Committee that is in charge of the administration and budgetary matters of the UN. The three agenda points that this committee was allocated to discuss were: equitable representation on, and increase in the membership of, the Security Council; review of the use of voluntary funds administered by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees; and improving the financial situation of the United Nations. These topics proved to be both interesting and controversial as 120 nations and NGOs attempted to bring their views to the forefront of the debate.

Francis was able to write his own resolution on this committee, which related to the use of voluntary funds administered by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees that focused on greater equality in the distribution of money and resources amongst the different refugee crises around the world. Francis was able to process his resolution through the various negotiation steps within the UN and finally to have the resolution passed 88 to 6, with 26 abstentions.

Issues debated at the conference ranged from youth unemployment, the situations in Afghanistan and East Timor, biological diversity and nuclear non-proliferation to sanctions against Iraq, United Nations reform, the creation of an international criminal court and the eradication of landmines. By writing, presenting and lobbying for resolutions, delegates discovered both the theoretical and practical sides of the United Nations, world issues and international politics. This hands-on experience provided the delegates with an understanding of global politics. This gave the Australian delegates an opportunity to participate in an event that allowed our young people to both think and operate outside of the confines of our island nation.

The theme of this year's conference was `Water, life and the environment, from vision to action'. This was a theme of particular interest to Australia, being the driest continent in the world. Delegates were asked to establish a long-term vision of water, life and the environment, concentrating on the equal distribution of clean drinking water amongst the world population, especially in developing Third World countries. Great emphasis was placed on the quality as well as the quantity of the world's drinking water. At the end of the conference, a youth perspective action paper was developed to be handed over to the Second World Water Forum, which was held in the Netherlands in April this year.

The Australian delegates were very active on the floor of the conference, proposing in all 15 resolutions; 13 of these resolutions were approved for debate, nine were passed by their subcommittees and six went on to be presented to the Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, the General Assembly and the Second World Water Forum. I congratulate Francis Ocampo and all of the Australian delegates to the 32nd The Hague International Model United Nations Conference. I wish them all well for the future.