Washington, DC, December 3, 1998

The Organization of American States (OAS) will host some 500 high school students, on December 3 to 5, from the United States and Puerto Rico to participate in the XVII Model OAS General Assembly, an educational program designed to increase awareness of the Organization.

The Model OAS familiarizes the students with the way in which the OAS General Assembly carries out its business in accordance with established rules of procedure. The students play the role of ambassadors representing the member countries of the Organization. They will discuss a wide-ranging agenda that includes the strengthening of democracy; protection of human rights; the fight against drugs, corruption and terrorism; and economic integration and free trade.

The Ambassador from Guyana to the OAS, Odeen Ishmael, will be the keynote speaker at the Model Assembly and will discuss the issue of "Free Trade in the Americas." The OAS Permanent Council Chairman, Venezuelan Ambassador Francisco Paparoni, will open the Model Assembly on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. The Ambassador of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Kingsley Layne, who is vice-chairman of the council, will bring the event to a close on Saturday, December 5, at 5:30 p.m.