Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
December 05, 2007)
The recent Commonwealth Youth Forum held in Entebbe, Uganda proved to be an excellent experience for the Federation’s representatives who said they learnt many life lessons.
Ghislyn Williams, 23, and Azard Gumbs, 18, were among representatives from 45 Commonwealth member-territories that debated topics such as globalization, youth and health (with emphasis on HIV/AIDS), sustainable development and climate change, conflict management and social transformation as well as youth participation in decision making.
The duo appeared on SKNIS’ radio programme Perspectives, and said that the discussions were spirited at times as various delegates jockeyed to ensure their suggestions made it into a draft communiquÃ© that was presented to Head of States to consider.
One such incident occurred during the group discussion on HIV/AIDS. Ms. Williams indicated that the group contained more persons from larger countries than small island states who stressed the need to have the Commonwealth pay “special” attention to the African continent in the provision of antiretroviral drugs and other related measures.
Ms. Williams said that decision was controversial but the group observed the principles of democracy and compromised on a solution that was best for all parties.
Another disagreement surfaced in Mr. Gumbs’ group that tried to find a suitable balance between industrialization and protecting the environment. Again the representatives from developed countries did not share the view of their counterparts from smaller territories. However, consensus was reached and the draft communiquÃ© stressed the need of protecting natural resources.
The duo said they learnt a lot about the Commonwealth and the way international forums function. The African country and its culture also impacted the St. Kitts and Nevis representatives. The River Nile and a tour of a forest provided many memorable and educational experiences. The poverty level also proved unforgettable for the delegates.
The group said they were grateful for the opportunity to represent the country abroad. They revealed that networking with persons from other Commonwealth territories was useful and allowed an exchange of ideas, some of which they are eager to implement locally.