30 January – 3 February 2023, New York, USA — The UNITAR office in New York has successfully concluded the second week of training for the PGA (President of General Assembly) Fellowship. The training took place at the United Nations Secretariat building with two sessions per day, totaling 20 sessions within two weeks. Each session was led by high-level United Nations officials and experts, handpicked by UNITAR for their expertise on each specific subject area.
On 30 January, the first session was on Regional Organizations and Conflict Resolutions led by Dr Angel Angelov, Consul General to Bulgaria and Former Deputy Permanent Representative of Bulgaria to the United Nations. The afternoon session was on the United Nations Protocol, which was led by Ms Beatrix Kania, Director, Chief of Protocol of the Protocol and Liaison Service. She was supported by Ms Aicha Benmansour, Protocol Officer – the two distinguished speakers were introduced by Mr. Marco Suazo, Head of UNITAR office in New York. The engaging session introduced the fellows to the basics of the protocol in the United Nations setting.
On 31st January, another session was led by Mr Wannes Lint, Intergovernmental Affairs Officer of the General Assembly Affairs Branch at the United Nations — this time on the topic of UN Elections. The afternoon session was on Disarmament, International Security, and the First Committee and was led by a significant number of high-level UN officials: Ms Sonia Elliott, Secretary of the First Committee, Chief of the Disarmament and Peace Affairs Branch, DGACM; Mr Tsutomu “Tom” Kono, Senior Political Affairs Officer, Office for Disarmament Affairs (ODA); Mr Chris King, Senior Political Affairs Officer, Weapons of Mass Destruction Branch, ODA; Ms Katherine Prizeman, Political Affairs Officer, Science and Technologies Unit, ODA; Mr Rene Holbach, Political Affairs Officer at the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs; Ms Soo Hyun Kim, Acting Director, UN Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific; and Ms Marykate Monaghan, Youth Outreach Consultant with the #Youth4Disarmament Initiative.
During the morning session of 1st February, the fellows were joined by Mr Paolo Fontana, Political Affairs Officer at the United Nations; Mr Bart Paans, Team Leader of the Policy and Strategy Branch of PBSO; and Ms Sara Bottin, Programme Officer at the Financing for Peacebuilding Branch of the Peacebuilding Support Office. They talked about the UN Peacebuilding Architecture and The Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) — an intergovernmental advisory body to the General Assembly and the Security Council that supports peace efforts in conflict-affected countries, a key addition to the capacity of the Internal Community in the broad peace agenda. The afternoon session was on International Law and the 6th Committee and was led by Mr Larry Johnson, Former Assistant-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and Mr Arnold Pronto, Principal Legal Officer, Codification Division, Office of Legal Affairs (OLA) and Member of the Secretariat of the Sixth Committee.
On Thursday, 2nd February, the fellows had a session on International Crime Prevention and Drug Control led by Mr Matteo Pasquali - Deputy Representative, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) New York Office; Mr Gilberto Duarte Santos, Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Officer, UNODC; and Ms Louise Tripon, Associate Expert in Crime Prevention, UNODC, who gave an overview of the work and mandate on UNODC’s drug programme and crime programme, aimed at addressing the interrelated issues of drug control, crime prevention and international terrorism in the context of sustainable development and human security. The afternoon session was on the United Nations Budgetary Processes and 5th Committee, Mr Johannes Huisman, Director, Office of Program Planning, Finance and Budget, Department of Management Strategy, Policy, and Compliance (DMSPC); and Mr Lionelito Berridge, Secretary of the Administrative and Budgetary Committee. The session gave an overview of the work of the Fifth Committee and additionally focus on ensuring participants understand the structure of the UN Budget system, its current challenges, and the resolution and decision-making process on budgetary issues.
Finally, for the last day of training, 3rd February, the fellows had their morning session on Peace and Security led by Ms Jelena Pia-Comella, Former Deputy Permanent Representative of the Principality of Andorra to the United Nations, Senior Consultant. Ms Pia-Comella led an engaging and interactive session which focused on giving an overview of the evolution of the UN peace and security agenda and how it has adapted to the most pressing threats to international peace and security in the post-cold-war era. The course showcased key legal frameworks, policies and strategies to prevent conflict and mass atrocity crimes. The course will focus on the responsibility to protect as a tool of atrocity prevention and on women’s leadership in the peace and security agenda.
The last session for the first phase of training was on Climate Change which was led by Professor Narinder Kakar, Professor Emeritus and Permanent Observer to the United Nations, University of Peace. Professor Kakar spoke about the role of the UN with regards to climate change, and the importance of international relations and nations working together to combat the ever-growing global issue of climate change. The session focused mainly on explaining how global warming is caused and how it, along with other factors, changes our climate, with dire consequences. The session traces the history of efforts made by the international community to deal with this issue to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases over the last several decades, including the work being done by the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change to develop technical assessments on the continuing increase in greenhouse gases.
The first phase of training was a success — and received positive feedback from the PGA Fellows. The second phase of training will be held in April 2023.