THE Hong Kong Committee on Children's Rights will hold a Youth Conference on Saturday, and all secondary school students are invited. The committee, which evolved in 1992 from a Concern Group on Children Left Unattended, aims to promote the rights of young people in Hong Kong. The group took on a new task when the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child was extended to Hong Kong in 1994. The Convention reaffirms that children, because of their vulnerability, need special care and attention and protection of their rights over a broad range of issues including nationality, employment, detention, education and health. The aim of the conference is to give young people the opportunity to learn about the Convention and the rights and responsibilities it confers. Everyone agrees that children should be protected from physical injury or abuse, but what about the other rights in the Convention such as the right to be heard and the right to participate? All secondary school students are eligible to attend the conference which will be held at the Baptist University from 11.30 am to 6 pm. There will be a United Nations debate for Form Four, Five and Six students. There will be a 'Secretary-General' and a motion will be proposed and debated by students representing different countries. At the end, a vote will be taken and the motion may be passed, amended or defeated. A number of schools have expressed an interest in joining the debate so there will be a lively and challenging discussion. For Form One, Two and Three students, there will be a series of workshops based on the three main subjects of the Convention - Survival, Protection and Development. The workshops are aimed at encouraging young people to think for themselves and will be active sessions featuring games, T-shirt painting and other activities. An important part of the 'Development' theme will be the child's right to participate in decisions made on his or her behalf and to have a voice in matters that affect him or her. The finale will include all participants and each group will have the opportunity to talk about what they have learnt. The day will end with an entertainment and communal singing of songs especially composed for the occasion. China has ratified the Convention as has the United Kingdom so both countries have to report to the United Nations on how they are putting the Convention into practice. The UK has entered certain reservations on behalf of Hong Kong; these relate to young people working in non-industrial establishments, laws governing the detention of children seeking refugee status and the mixing of children and adults in detention facilities. This will be the first time that young people have a chance to discuss issues that affect their own lives in an open forum. For more information, call Charles Cook on 2351-6060.