If Hong Kong students ran the world, the US-led proposal for war against Iraq would be thrown out in favour of a peaceful resolution to the weapons crisis there. That was the message from a simulated UN debate conducted under UN debating rules at the 15th Hong Kong Schools Model United Nations at City Hall last weekend. 'There was widespread support for a more moderate proposal put forward by France, Germany and Russia,' said deputy principal of Island School Chris Forse, one of the organisers. The two-day debate involved nearly 200 children from 16 local, ESF and international schools plus students from the University of Hong Kong. Participants spent three months researching roles as country delegates, journalists and UN officials. Organisers praised participants for their high standards of research and debating skills. 'The delegates needed to show mastery of detail and the language of diplomacy and had to respond spontaneously to a barrage of questioning from fellow delegates,' said Mr Forse. Island School student Xia Li, 16, (Kurdish delegation) said students at the conference showed that young people in Hong Kong could think critically about world events. 'Most students are intelligent enough not to believe everything that CNN says,' she said. Generally, though, students were not well-informed about international events, said other participants. Annelien van der Mark, 17, from West Island School (Indian delegation), said a similar debate held recently at her school had been disappointing. 'The vast majority had nothing to say simply because they knew very little about the current situation in the Middle East,' she said. Theresa Cho, 15, from Diocesan Girls' School (Palestinian delegation) said that the focus on exams in local education did not encourage students to think globally.