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globe logo     Caravan: Newsletter of the Alliance for a Responsible and United World
Number 7 December 2000

bulletFrom Readers
bulletVisit to Mallorca & Catalunya
bulletASSEMBLY 2000-2001
bulletInternational Youth Parliament
bulletThe Artist
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drawing of man sitting on earth reading scroll

The International Youth Parliament 2000

Dear readers,

This time we are providing you with a cover of the event that for us is of a great importance - International Youth Parliament 2000 (IYP), which took place in Sydney from October 19th to 28th. This huge conference has gathered 250 participants from 150 countries and was co-ordinated by Oxfam Australia and Youth Workshop (YW). As Australian embassy in Paris refused to provide me with a visa, I could neither facilitate the Parliament's workshop "Youth in Conflict", nor prepare these pages from a direct experience. However, with help of the YW and the DPH team present at the Parliament and IYP2000's web-site, I hope to present you some of the impressions as well as some interesting young people who took part in the event.


Tijana Zivanovic (Yugoslavia)

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What an amazing collection of people!

Participants of the IYP2000 in front of
the Sydney Opera
As the Co-ordinator of IYP2000 - it was a dream come true to see 250 delegates from 150 countries converge to talk, strategies and develop action plans to deal with the big issues that young people face locally, nationally and internationally. What an amazing collection of people! What power and passion! What collective will to make the world sustainable, healthy and free from conflict! But also what a challenge to enable this process to happen.

The Youth Workshop was amazing - and we were very purposeful in times of incredible stress and pressure. It was not easy to put it all together - to facilitate more than 10 Working Groups over 10 days, to balance different agendas and different cultures. Despite the intensity, I think we all did incredibly well individually and as a team. We learnt a lot and grew a lot both personally and professionally. It was a great experience to meet the YW from around the world and to see what we do and how we do it. It was also great to learn from the DPH team and to share their experiences. But the best thing was to work as a team with a shared purpose so to enable others to effect change in their communities back home.

Congratulations to the YW and the DPH. I look forward to being part of the many outcomes from IYP2000.

Brett Solomon
Co-ordinator IYP2000 & YW co-ordinator for Australia/Pacific

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The International Youth Parliament, held in Sydney from October 19-28, gathered over 250 young people from about 150 countries. This event was the fruit of an initiative of Brett Solomon, from Oxfam - Australia and co-ordinator of the Youth Workshop for Australia-Pacific. It aimed at having the participants seek youthful solutions for the challenges they face world-wide in 3 areas: "breaking the cycle of poverty", "youth in conflict" and "cultural activism". The focus of the Parliament was for young people to get new skills, to network and to develop concrete individual and collective strategies to address the issues identified.

Indeed, each participant developed an individual project to be implemented when going back home. Moreover, the participants worked together to identify the issues they face, make proposals to address them and draw concrete collective projects to foster social change on these issues. The projects elaborated are very diverse - from developing "green" jobs to lobbying airline companies for them to show culture-sensitive videos of the destination countries during the flight, or to campaigning in support of the UN Convention on the Rights of Children.

The Parliament was also a wonderful occasion for young people to get to know one another and each other's culture: there was a real emulation during the "share your culture" sessions over lunch and many warm, funny and moving moments. The IYP also offered for many opportunities to network, build friendships and partnerships. This is now maintained with the help of Internet discussion lists that make ongoing work and follow-up easier.

From the very start, the Youth Workshop has been strongly involved in the IYP, through Brett Solomon and Jane Higgins but also thanks to the efforts and contributions of the whole team to identify potential delegates, find funding, help set up the agenda, design the program and the methodology. Besides, about 15 members of the YW attended the Parliament, constituting the bulk of the facilitation team and a small team of "dph butterflies" recording the experiences of the delegates and of the Parliament workings.

Youth Workshop Team in Sydney

For all of us, the IYP was a wonderful opportunity and a great learning experience. Engaging with such good and diverse delegates, interacting with the team of volunteers who were the core and spirit of the IYP and whose dedication and work were most remarkable, implementing and adjusting a 10-day long working process were all sources of many learning and many joys. Moreover, for YW members, the IYP proved to be an extraordinary moment for our life and work as a team. The diversity and complementarity of our skills, experiences, fields of expertise, and sensitivity, our habits to work as a team, our practice and approach of how to "connect people", our cross-cultural skills constituted decisive elements in the good functioning of both the organization and the work of the delegates.

At the same time, the IYP was experienced by some of the Youth Workshop members as a very exhausting experience on dealing with cultural differences, organizational issues and personal relations - mainly for internal material and organizational reasons. The Parliament was indeed fraught with some problems and tensions around issues of material conditions, agenda and timetable, language and cross-cultural communication, respective roles of various members of the organization team. Also, as the Alliance and the YW have a non-institutionalised approach, it became a complex issue to define our role and recognize us not as mere sponsors, but as part of the co-ordination itself.

Thus, this opportunity of meeting wonderful people and supporting youth role in promoting social change, combined with our rich and fruitful experience as facilitators of such an event, beyond all difficulties, has strengthened our will to organize similar meetings in the future. We are also more sure about the importance of the networking approach the YW has developed through the last years as a path for an innovative tool for social change and we wish to get more and more involved with the other Alliance workshops members, exchanging knowledge, visions and also feeding them with the amazing people we have the opportunity to meet and involve in our network.

Dudu Rombauer (Brazil) & Véronique Rioufol (France)
With the input of Rajendra Mulmi (Nepal)

* For more information about the IYP2000, please visit

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photo of Ignatius Tumwine Mugabo   
Ignatius Tumwine Mugabo from Rwanda is a lawyer and has studied armed conflicts, peace keeping and human rights issues at the United Nations University in Tokyo. He has also been involved as a researcher with many human rights organizations in Denmark, Holland and Mexico. At present, Ignatius works for the International Youth Co-operation (IYOCO), which provides an international platform for youth to discuss issues that concern them and their communities, via the Internet. His focus is on the role of youth in the destructive conflicts going on in the Great Lakes region of Central Africa. He is trying to network with the youth of this region about human rights and about the alternatives to violence. It is important for them to appreciate the effects of violence and realise they have a choice. It was young people's involvement in the conflict in Rwanda that disturbed Ignatius the most and invoked in him the desire to change youth attitudes. "The youth executed the Genocide in Rwanda", he says, "but then of course they were manipulated by those in power. The youth are manipulated from when they are young by politicians and community leaders. They are a product of where they are born, all they know is violence, there is no other way." The experience has had a lasting effect and has led Ignatius into a career in human rights, peace education and social activism. "Most of them [the youth] were killed, Many of them are now on the streets and unemployed", he says. "We are trying to tell them that at the end of the war the entire country was a loser."

Ignatius says the International Youth Parliament 2000 has been a unique experience and he hopes to make concrete resolutions to present to his government. "I haven't attended any other conference where there is exchanges of real experiences between people from all backgrounds, in both the first and third worlds. My message is that we should go beyond words and create concrete projects to influence our governments at home, but more importantly we, the youth of the world, must make it clear that war is the most primitive form of dispute settlement."

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   photo of Tamara Postma
Tamara Postma is a brave and passionate young woman with cerebral palsy. She has suffered as a result of other people's misunderstandings and believes it is a result of a fundamental lack of education. "In South Africa they're not used to disabilities at all", she says. "People are very uneducated, they don't know what disabilities are - they think it's a sickness." It is this lack of education in South Africa that leads many mothers to abort disabled babies. This is an issue that is very close to Tamara's heart. Her mother said that had she been told at the time that her daughter would be disabled, she too would have had an abortion. Tamara says this does not mean that now her mother loves her any less, just that at this time, she, like many other mothers, didn't understand disabilities and saw them as a form of disease. "If you are not educated you don't know what the baby is going to be like," she said. "I'd like to change the legislation, have the parents educated and information provided about the disability before they make decisions. They should meet someone with that disability. The best way to educate people is to speak to them yourself and tell them how you want to be treated. I have a voice and a mind to speak out and address the problem. I feel it's my duty."

Technology has opened many doors for Tamara and allowed her to overcome many problems. Tamara excels academically and the road to her success started with a typewriter. It was her doorway to leading a normal life. Her handwriting was unreadable and she wrote very slowly. So, her school, which was a special school for the disabled, taught her to type. In her final year in primary Tamara was taught how to use email. She became obsessed with having a lap top computer and wrote to several companies, telling them her story and how she would benefit from having one. Compaq replied and sent her a top-of-the range notebook. She could now sit with her family in the lounge room and play or work on her computer. She was no longer isolated. "The computer is my hands and feet to communicate with the outside world. If there wasn't technology I wouldn't be able to go to school. Education is made possible for me by technology. I wish all disabled children could be given the opportunity and access to the world of computers and multimedia", says Tamara.

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photo of Robert Blackley   
Robert Blackley, 25, is the youngest mayor in Australia. As an Indigenous leader of the largest Aboriginal community in Australia, empowerment of the Aboriginal community is one of Robert's main concerns. He wants Aborigines to be able to determine their own lives and devise solutions for their own problems. He believes that little can be achieved whilst governments are expecting Aborigines to conform to the white way. "Laws that govern us are determined by non Aborigines, but it's not how we want to live", he said. "We know what the solutions to the problems are because we live the problems." Robert says his power to implement change is restricted by a bureaucracy rife with racism. As a result he says realistically it will take him between ten to twenty years to achieve the change he desires. However, he understands that to effect positive social change you must speak the language of those in control. Whilst he is comfortable doing this he says he never forgets his true Indigenous identity. "As an Aboriginal person I have to know how Westerners describe their reality, but never forget who I am", he says.

In his community of Palm Island the greatest problem is the disturbingly high unemployment rate of 88%. Robert says this leads to other social problems such as poor health and high crime rates but that economic development would have a positive effect on the community's behaviour and social environment. He came to IYP2000 to discuss with other delegates a World Health Organisation project and its potential for making a positive change and its impact on Indigenous Poverty, as well as to meet an array of interesting and active young people and share ideas with them. "As younger people we are closer to the issues," says Robert. "It is time for the world to listen to the voice of youth."

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   photo of Dhruv Malhotra
"I am driven by the passion inside me for an utopian world. It can be done, nothing is impossible. Where there is a will there is a way. There may be many hurdles but surely we can achieve this together. Maybe not in my life time, but in that of my children or grandchildren." These are the words of the 15 years old Dhruv Malhotra from India who works passionately to achieve his dream and is an ardent supporter of grassroots action. Dhruv is a strong believer in the individual's ability to invoke social change and has already managed to motivate an entire community of schools to commit to a recycling program on a scale never seen before in India. He is the Deputy Director of a 160-member school nature club and he teaches thousands of children how to recycle paper, plastic, water and how to plant trees.

Environmental activism is not an easy task in a country where so many people are struggling just to make it through their daily life. Environmental action is not a high priority to many and awareness of the problems is limited. Therefore, at the International Youth Parliament 2000, Dhruv wanted to concentrate his efforts on the topic of "Breaking the Cycle of Poverty". He believes that education is the key to a better quality of life. India, he says, is a country stricken by extreme poverty. Many people are hopelessly trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty, exacerbated by the population explosion. "The big problem India faces is illiteracy, which leads to a vicious circle of other problems, this is what I want to concentrate on at the Parliament", he said. Dhruv believes IYP2000 would provide an opportunity to build a network of supportive young activists to help with his work at home. For him the importance lies in working as a team and always knowing that there are others out there who support you. "If young people all over the world combine their efforts towards the common goal of 'planet saving' as a result of the collective effort there would come about a global renaissance", says Dhruv.

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© 2001 Alliance for a Responsible and United World. All rights reserved. Last updated March 2, 2001.