Sharing Discussing Understanding

Commonwealth Journalists' Association

Young people from around the globe are in Fremantle on the west coast of Australia this week to take part in the Commonwealth Youth Forum.

Amanda McClintock, 19, a Commonwealth Correspondent and aspiring journalist from Queensland, reports on the hard, and at times tense, bargaining among youth delegates to arrive at a joint communique to present to leaders on Sunday.

Restless. Passionate. Argumentative. It would be an understatement to suggest that the consensus session at the forum is going smoothly and without complication.

If the Commonwealth were based upon a majority vote method I have no doubts that this communiqué would have been finished long ago. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work on a majority vote but rather a consensus between all people.

While on one hand the forum can be grateful for the passion and determination of the delegates involved, it is proving to be a problem when the delegates turn from determined to passionately stubborn as the group works through each word of each sentence regarding the recommendations they want to propose to the Commonwealth Heads of Government on Sunday morning.

You can see that after three hours of discussion and arguments so far this morning, nerves are starting to fray as people get restless. Despite this, there are several steps being made in the right direction. As a group, consensus has been reached on recommendations relating to youth enterprise, information and communication technology, sustainable livelihood and economy. Although one sentence took half an hour to properly word for consensus to be reached, it appears that there are common goals, which have been agreed on.

For example, one of the recommendations is that all Commonwealth member states agree to provide a minimum level of access to ICTs. Significant discussion was based around whether or not to include any information regarding the censorship of information and the access to such information. After many side conversations of a small group of delegates who all disagreed, it was decided that the point of the recommendation was based upon the access to technology rather than the information in itself.

This is just one example of the compromises that have taken place this morning. There are still proposals and objections being thrown around the floor as the discussion has moved to the environmental sustainability area of the communiqué. The current argument is in regards to the name of an environmental task force and whether each recommendation stands alone or whether they are all interconnected. As such, it is necessary to repeat the same phrases or ideas in each recommendation.

As well as this there is a divide in regards to our ability to protect the environment or if we need to focus on climate change. If climate changed is focussed on, will member states accept the proposal if they are wary of a new taskforce undermining their current climate change policies?

Time is ticking and it is now 11:45am with a rehearsal for the closing ceremony meant to be taking place in the same room at 12:00. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done. It looks like a cliff-hanger. Will there be compromise between the delegates? Will there be anywhere to continue this process? Will they get the communiqué done in time? Tune in later to find out!