17-21 June 2013, New York, USA - Fifteen students and young professionals from around the world gathered at United Nations Headquarters in New York for the first UNITAR New York Office Summer School on Multilateral Diplomacy. The participants came from undergraduate and graduate programs across the United States and the United Kingdom, as well as the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the European Union.
The weeklong course was divided into five major themes, including global sustainable development, diplomatic skills-building and global security: conflict prevention, peacekeeping and peacebuilding.
Opening the course, Ms. Yvonne Lodico, Head of UNITAR NYO, gave an introduction on Multilateral Diplomacy in the 21st Century, welcoming the participants to New York and giving them an overview of the major themes and speakers of the course. Ambassador Ahmad Kamal, Senior Fellow at UNITAR NYO, discussed the “real UN”, describing the relationship between the different UN organs within an enlightening and entertaining historical context. In addition, Ms. Nancy Groves, the Social Media Team Leader of the Department of Public Information, gave a presentation centered on public perception of the UN and its relationship with the media. The participants were then given a private tour of the UN.
Ms. Sara Rendtorff-Smith of the Inter-Agency Task Force for Syria gave a compelling presentation on the current situation in Syria and the UN response thus far,. Mr. Walid Abdelkarim, the Principle Director for the Somalia planning team at the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, spoke broadly of the most critical issues in global security today, including piracy and the challenges of operating a peacekeeping mission. Ms. Heidi Modro, a former Chief Regional officer with the UN DPKO Mission to Haiti gave a presentation on Sexual Violence and Gender Prevention, as well as presented with Ms. Yvonne Lodico during a session on Rule of Law and Democratic Institution Building in Post-Conflict countries,. Ms. Gillian Kitley of the Office of the Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide described both the mandate of her office and the framework used to define genocide, and Ms. Claudia Banz, UN DPKO, held an informal, open discussion on her experiences with peacekeeping operations. The students very much appreciated being able to participate in this open forum on such pressing global issues.
On Global Sustainable Development. Dr. Nikhil Chandavarkar, Chief of Communication and Outreach in the Division for Sustainable Development at UN DESA discussed “wrapping up of the MDGs” and Mr. Paul Ladd of the UNDP Team on post-2015 gave an interactive presentation on how the post-2015 agenda is being created in part through “The World We Want” online platform. Mr. Edward Mackle, of the UN Global Compact, discussed how public private partnerships are helping to shape the agendas of the international development community. Professor Elizabeth Burleson, PACE Law School, described the challenges of climate change negotiations. Finally, Mr. Piero Bonadeo, the Deputy Head of UNODC New York Office, linked sustainable global development to combating in crime, such as drugs, human trafficking and piracy.
On diplomatic skills-building training for Multilateral Diplomacy, Dr. Minh Luong, via Skype, explained the main points of multilateral negotiations and public speaking. Mr. Larry Johnson, an adjunct Professor of Law at Columbia University and a Former Assistant-Secretary General for Legal Affairs, talked first about the UN Charter, and then discussed the challenges of
negotiating resolutions. Students enjoyed these two open discussion sessions with many questions and comments for the presenters.
On the final day of the course, “Getting Engaged” included a presentation on Effective use of UN Documentation by Ms. Joelle Sciboz, from the Dag Hammarskjold Library. Ms.Lodico led the students through a feedback session on their research interests, and then Mr. John Ericson, of the Office of Human Resources Management gave a presentation on Career Opportunities around the UN—including the Young Professionals Program. Professor Richard Gowan of the NYU Center on International Cooperation, helped to close the course with a session on UN Security Council reform - a favourite student topic all week.