Hillcrest matrics impressed by UN’s complex workings

2014-08-01 00:00

JOSHUA Coetzer made the most of the recent school holidays. He became president of the United Nations.

Hillcrest High matric pupils Coetzer (17) and Cheyenne du Plooy (18) were both selected to take part in the Envision Global Young Leaders Conference (GYLC) which took them to Washington and New York where they participated in debates at the UN headquarters.

The two were among over 200 youths from around the world who took part in the GYLC, themed “Becoming Leaders of Change”, and were divided up to represent nine countries: Brazil, China, France, India, South Africa, Turkey, the UK and the U.S.

Coetzer, who made a point of “putting himself out there” for leadership roles, was president of the UN Security Council. “We were put into a hypothetical situation where Turkish-Cypriots carried out an attack in Cyprus and the Security Council had to come up with a resolution.”

From there Coetzer went on to chair the UN Global Summit taking the hot seat seen in a million news bulletins. “When you pressed the button for the microphone you could hear you own voice and the camera followed you,” he said. “It felt very real.”

In the process Coetzer learnt how to organise a UN summit. “I had to plan the seating charts — and make sure Russia was not put too close to its allies so they could pass notes to each other.”

Du Plooy, who became French for the conference, said you had to stay “in character” with your assigned country. “One issue was GM foods, which France is very much against,” she said, adding that though other countries were for them and tried to broker a deal “we had to say we cannot vote for them”.

Du Plooy said she was struck by the differences between countries but how they all wanted “to work together because we all want a better world for each other.”

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