Geneva, May 2014, Governments and increasingly other actors such as international and non-governmental organizations use multilateral conferences as a means to achieve important policy objectives. As the number of conferences and meetings has risen considerably over the past twenty years, the number of government officers and other stakeholders involved in conference processes has also increased significantly. While diplomats remain at the centre of diplomacy, government officials assigned to line ministries and agencies, as well as staff of intergovernmental organizations and NGOs, are increasingly finding themselves in the role of the multilateral conference delegate.

UNITAR organised a two-day face to face training workshop on “Effective Participation in Multilateral Conferences” which aimed to familiarize participants with the world of conference diplomacy. The overall feedback from participants was very positive and one beneficiary summarized the event as follows: “As a new delegate in Geneva, the course has provided me with useful insights into my work.”

The trainer, Ambassador Jean-Marc Boulgaris, former Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the United Nations and other international organizations in Geneva shared his live-long experiences in the field of multilateral conferences with his colleagues who were either at the beginning or in the midst of their careers. Ambassador Boulgaris’ deep knowledge of informal channels in multilateral diplomacy prepared participants for situations beyond the official processes of conferences. This knowledge was strongly appreciated by the participants of whom one expressed it like this: “Ambassador Boulgaris is the perfect teacher for the course. Highly recommended to have him again next time. He lectures with passion. His stories, narratives and anecdotes were real gems for new diplomats like me. Good materials and presentation.”

After the workshop, participants felt more confident in identifying how to prepare for multilateral conferences, naming the rules of procedure and their value in advancing delegates’ objectives and generally expressed a deeper understanding of how conferences unfold. Therefore, the two-day workshop was very positively perceived by the participants and will also be offered in the future. 

Thanks to the generous support of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria, UNITAR was able to offer fellowships to diplomats from the Group of 77 enabling them to participate free of charge.

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