20-21 February 2014, New York – The UNITAR New York Office held an informative training course on multilateral negotiations with a specific orientation towards population and development.  Around 40 delegates from various United Nations Member States participated in an intense and engaging two-day training event.  Yvonne Lodico, Head of the UNITAR New York Office, opened the workshop by affirming the importance of this event for delegates from smaller Member States as well as diplomats that are new to the UN system.  The goal of this workshop, she asserted, was to empower diplomats’ negotiation skill and confidence in multilateral environments.

In his opening remarks, H.E. Charles Thembani Ntwaagae, Permanent Representative of Botswana to the UN, echoed Miss Lodico’s words by stating that diplomats need negotiation tools to navigate multilateral diplomacy, as conference negotiations are the diplomat’s stock and trade.  These tools, which would be provided via exercises and instruction at the workshop, were intended to help empower the delegates in the work and to this end, “level the playing field.” In her opening remarks, Deputy Permanent Representative of Sweden, Ambassador Signe Burgstaller discussed the importance of the workshop, especially in view of the growing complexity of global issues.

Dr. Minh A. Luong, former professor at Yale and Brown University, opened the first session with an overview on the status of multilateral negotiations and discussed the importance of informal negotiations.  Ms. Kadra Ahmed Hassan, First Counsellor of the Mission of Djibouti to the UN, shared her experiences in multilateral negotiations.  Ambassador Ahmad Kamal, senior fellow at UNITAR, reflected on his personal thirty-some years of diplomatic experience.  He shared some insights for negotiations, describing one strategy as a similar to peeling an artichoke.

Mr. Johnston Barkat, Assistant Secretary-General, United Nations Ombudsman and Head of Ombudsman and Mediation Services, moderated the final session of the day which focused on difficult negotiations and negotiators. Mr. Navid Hanif, Director of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs at ECOSOC,informed delegates that you get in life what you negotiate for – at the UN this is especially true.  To this end, he described his personal experience of negotiating at the Monterrey Consensus in 2002.  Mr. Hossein Gharibi, Counselor from the Iranian mission to the UN, suggested to delegates that they must continue to get experience in negotiating – this is the best way to learn.

Mr. Barkat on the second day of the workshop, developed simulation exercises in which the delegates divided into groups and negotiate among themselves. This exercise highlighted the role of culture in forming coalitions.  Dr. Luong went on to discuss chairing and facilitating negotiations, and then conducted a simulation exercise. Mr. Jens Ole Bach Hansen, Counsellor from the Danish mission and H.E. Mr. Gonzalo Koncke, Permanent Representative from the Uruguayan Mission, who discussed their roles as chairs for the upcoming Commission on Population and Development conferences that are set to take place later this year.  Mr. Elizeu Chaves Junior, UNFPA, concluded the workshop by giving his insights on the ICPD process for 2014 and beyond.

Several delegates exclaimed how valuable this two intensive day was for the on capacity building in negotiations and for enriching their circle of friends within the UN diplomatic community.