UNITAR Hosts Strategic Negotiation Skills Training for Small States’ UN Representatives
27-28 June 2018, New York, USA - The United Nations Institute for Training and Research's (UNITAR) organized a two-day event, “Strategic Negotiation Skills Training for Small States’ UN Representatives” on 27 - 28 June 2018 at the Joint Office of Commonwealth Permanent Missions to the United Nationsin partnership with the Commonwealth Small States Centre of Excellence. Approximately 25 representatives attended the workshop. Mr. Marco A. Suazo, Head of UNITAR’s New York Office, welcomed participants to theseminar and introduced the course’s esteemed panellists. Ms. Gabriella Cassola, Deputy Director of the Commonwealth Small States Centre of Excellence, Malta, and Mr. Travis Mitchell, Head of Economic Policy & Small States, Commonwealth Secretariat, briefed attendees on the nature of the workshop as well as what to expect over the coming days.
Following the introductions, Dr. Tres-Ann Kremer, Head of Good Offices for Peace and Adviser Caribbean, Commonwealth Secretariat, started a discussion about challenges in multilateral negotiations from a small state perspective. Participants took turns expressing their doubts and concerns as small state representatives. The issues discussed shared a common theme: that small states have limited resources, contributing to numerous disadvantages on the negotiation front. One participant said that the concern is not limited to a lack of resources at the mission, but also a simultaneous character of issues at the United Nations. Without enough staff to attend all events, representatives must choose what to attend and which issues should be prioritized. Furthermore, many missions do not have the capacity to process all information acquired. In sum, even though mission staff is highly capable, there are not enough hours in the day to complete all the work necessary to be competitive.
After a short break, Mr. Suazo introduced Dr. Roy S. Lee, Professor at Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, who would spend the afternoon discussing these challenges facing multilateral negotiations as small states. Laying a foundation for the topic at hand, Dr. Lee talked about the importance of regional distinctions. 193 sovereign states, all of whom have different political and economic systems, make up the United Nations’ General Assembly. Thus, the practice of regional divisions serves to encompass the majority’s beliefs. However, small country delegations, with smaller capacity and insufficient funds, run into problems of representation.
Next, Dr. Lee talked about negotiations through conferences, regional groups and committees and the ways in which processes could be improved for small states. Universal participation is important for regional groups; however, there are numerous aspects that inhibit progress. Regular changes in leadership lead to inconsistency, periodic meetings contribute to a lack of continuity, and negotiations with host countries make for segregated interests. Gaps of communication and biased selections of topics can constrain the effective participation of small states, as representatives struggle to attend all meetings and have their opinions heard. When these issues are compounded, law formation is inadequate in representing all involved parties. Dr. Lee provided remedies to these concerns, suggesting techniques and methods having to do with selecting subject matters, compromises and accommodations, as well as options other than treaty. He moderated a discussion about specific measures and strategies that may be used to strengthen island states’ negotiations. First, Dr. Lee suggested ways in which a specific agenda can be created that devotes itself purely to the interests of small islands states. His explanation of bargaining powers proved useful to participants, many of whom engaged with the topic at hand and asked questions specific to their experience. Some participants questioned how bargaining could be used when some small states do not have resources that are useful to other countries, and Dr. Lee suggested using special interests and elections within the United Nations. He also said that knowing what you want is a critical aspect of presenting proposals, identifying potential needs as well as community generators.
The next day, Mr. Suazo and Dr. Kremer recapped the previous day’s discussion and introduced Professor Larry D. Johnson, Adjunct Professor of Law at Columbia Law School and former Assistant Secretary-General for Legal Affairs at the United Nations. Professor Johnson not only discussed negotiations themselves but also defined the ways in which resolutions must be drafted and submitted, touching upon coordination and sponsorship.Mr. Johnson offered a platform for representatives to ask questions and impart their own perspectives. After a short break, Mr. Johnsonwent on to discuss in detail the Rules of Procedure of the United Nations and issues confronted by small states in past resolutions. No action motions and closure of debate (Rules 74&75) we topics of intense conversation among Mr. Johnson and the representatives.
After a break for lunch, H.E. Ms. Pennelope Althea Beckles, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Trinidad and Tobago, facilitated a presentation on negotiation strategies with a focus on small states.
H.E. Mr. Diego Fernando Morejón Pazmiño, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Ecuador, led the discussion in conjunction with Ambassador Beckles, providing insight and interacting with participants. Then, participants applied the knowledge they learned over the two-day course to an open dialogue of the way forward in negotiations as small states.
As the course came to its end, Ms. Cassola and Ambassador Suazo thanked the panelists for their work, as well as participants for their attendance and particular engagement in the workshop. A diploma ceremony followed, and participants enjoyed a short reception to conclude the course.
Image 1: Participants engage with speaker Dr. Tres-Ann Kremer
Image 2: Participants and speakers gather for a group photo
Image 3: Dr. Roy S. Lee introduces multilateral negotiation in a small-state perspective
Image 4: Mr. Larry D. Johnson discusses United Nations Rules of Procedure
Image 5: H.E. Ms. Pennelope Althea Beckles, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Trinidad and Tobago andH.E. Mr. Diego Fernando Morejón Pazmiño, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Ecuador
Image 6: H.E. Ms. Pennelope Althea Beckles, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Trinidad and Tobago receives a certificate for participating in the course