November 2011, New York, USA – The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), New York Office organized on 21-22 November 2011 a Workshop on Negotiating International Peace and Security: Strengthening the Rule of Law as part of its 2011 Negotiation Training Series “Towards a Level Playing Field” in cooperation with the Olof Palme Memorial Fund and financed by the Swedish International Development Agency. This advanced negotiation workshop, organized in collaboration with the Rule of Law Unit of the Executive Office of the Secretary-General (EOSG), gathered over 40 diplomats from developing and least developed countries.
Head of the NYO office, Yvonne Lodico opened the meeting and introduced Ambassador Grunditz of the Permanent Mission of Sweden who discussed the link of Olaf Palme and the theme of this workshop, the final one of the 2011 Negotiation Series, with a quote from Olof Palme: “peace is more than the mere absence of violence.” This axiom related directly to the basis for a workshop on strengthening the rule of law – to create the frameworks for justice, protection and national reintegration and healing through inter alia transitional justice, national justice and the rule of law, disarmament, and mediation. These mechanisms increase predictability, accountability and effectiveness in protecting civilians, addressing women’s and children’s circumstances and combating transnational crime and arms trafficking. `
At the conclusion of the workshop, participants indicated that they were convinced of the importance of the UN’s rule of law activities, especially in peacebuilding. They realized that the rule of law is a continuum and not a category of activities separate from the rest. Some of the key take-away messages; laws and concerted responses must be in place to protect civilians, including women and children during violence; post conflict recovery requires both formal justice and a victim-centred transitional justice process, to ensure against a culture of impunity; and, defence and policy forces need to be integrated into a civilian – rule of law framework. In addition to the panels, two trainers from the Columbia Law School Mediation Clinic and from the Institute for Inclusive Security organized simulation exercises. These exercises respectfully comprised: drafting of a peace agreement between conflicting countries under the auspices of a UN mediator; and negotiating a transitional justice agreement, including a decision on amnesty. Participants expressed a great deal of enthusiasm about the simulation training, as they can put into practice the knowledge accumulated throughout the workshop.
This last workshop aptly concluded the 2011 Negotiation Series as delegates were able to enhance negotiation skills they will be able to apply within their own regional groups, when they draft a UN resolution, participate in inter-state negotiations or multilateral conferences, or even, thanks to this last workshop, when they are involved in the negotiation of a peace agreement.