Delegates learn how to improve negotiation skills at New York workshop

15 March, New York, USA - UNITAR's New York office held on a workshop on Effective Negotiation in Multilateral Conferences on the 12-13 March, organized in collaboration with the Permanent Mission of Malaysia to the UN, and sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sweden. This introductory workshop gathered 48 diplomats, most of them from developing and least developed countries, with the aim to strengthen their negotiation skills in UN meetings and conferences.

H.E. Mr. Hussein Haniff, Permanent Representative of Malaysia to the UN, opened the workshop stressing the particular importance of training, especially for delegates from developing countries. As opposed to delegations from developed countries, where work is usually divided among delegates with expertise on specific topics, diplomats from developing countries have to be well rounded, since the size of the staff is often very small. H.E. Ms. Signe Burgstaller, Deputy Permanent Representative of Sweden to the UN, emphasized that the negotiation training series, carried out by UNITAR's New York office since 2007 with support of the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, is a key element for levelling the playing field not only for diplomats from developing countries, but also for empowering women diplomats.

Two experienced instructors, Dr. Minh A. Luong, Principal at Advocacy Associates Consultants and Dean Nicholas Coburn-Palo, Program Dean at Yale University, explained to the delegates that the foundation of successful negotiations is to reach an agreement that all parties can live with. In a simulation negotiation exercise, the participants could apply the newly acquired knowledge. The most important lesson learnt from the exercise was negotiators should always seek to maximize gains for all parties and that they should keep their word.

Furthermore, there was a panel on Climate Change Negotiations moderated by Ms. Yvonne Lodico. H.E. Mr. Luis-Alfonso de Alba, Permanent Representative of Mexico to the UN, stressed that for any negotiation in the UN, the importance of trust-building cannot be underestimated. Ambassador de Alba further discussed some of the successes of climate change negotiatons, as well as short comings. To this end, H.E. Mr. Ryszard Stanislaw Sarkowicz, Permanent Representative of Poland to the UN, stated that he could learn from Mexico’s achievements as Poland now prepares for the the next UNFCCC in November 2013. Professor Elizabeth Burleson, from Pace Law School, discussed the negotiations process during the 2012 Doha Climate Change Conference. Diplomats appreciated the insights of the panel, and inspired them to ensure successful climate change negotiations forthcoming in Warsaw and then in Paris.