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Orientation Course on the General Assembly for the Diplomats of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
4-8 November 2013, New York, USA UNITAR carries out five-day tailored made course on the UN system for diplomats of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.
Ms. Yvonne Lodico welcomed the diplomats and made the opening remarks. Mr. Rabih Haddad, Multilateral Diplomacy Program from the UNITAR Office in Geneva, gave the participants little background information about the transformation from the League of Nations to the United Nations. Participants also had a chance to see the differences and similarities between two organizations.
Mr. Ziad Mahmassani,in the General Assembly Affairs Branch spoke about both the Rules and Procedures of the General Assembly. In the first Mr. Mahmassani explained the significance of GA rules and procedures in terms of following up meetings, voting, drafting a resolution and so on. He further discussed the agenda cycles and voting procedure for Committee Chair, which is currently controversial.
The Saudi diplomats received a thorough review of the Office of Disarmament Affairs. Mr. Prins, chief of conventional weapons, explained the history of ODA, and gave an overview of one of its most recent and significant achievements: “Arms Trade Treaty” adopted in 2013, which was a result of years of negotiation between countries and an outcome of his office.Mr. Wang, chief of training, spoke about the assistance provided: practical training, capacity building and legal assistance in Africa, Pacific, and Latin America and Caribbean regions. Mr. Ennis, chief of public outreach, gave an overview of his department. The mission of his department is to increase understanding and knowledge of member states and the public on Disarmament Affairs.Mr. Randy Rydell, from the Office of the High Representative focused on the Weapons of Mass Destruction. He presented five agreed multilateral standards that can be applied to any disarmament agreement: transparency, verification, irreversilibility, bindingness, and universality.
From political affairs department, Mr. James Sutterlin, from the Security Council Secretariat Branch in the Department of Political Affairs spoke about the role and functions of the Security Council. He explained the responsibilities of the branch which are procedural advice, strategic guidance, mission and overall planning, research and reporting. Mr. Muhammad R. Shah, from the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF), spoke about the function of CTITF which is to bring coordination and coherence in counter-terrorism activities within the UN. The CTITF consists of 31 UN agencies mandated with both the General Assembly and the Security Council. Participants were also informed the Saudi Government contribution to the agency. Mr. Darko Mocibob, from the Department of Political Affairs gave a briefing on his department. Employment numbers, the year of establishment, political mission on the field were the main elements of his speech. Ms. Lee O’Brien, from the Middle East and West Africa Division spoke about the work, and current focus: Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine. In contrast, Mr. Khaled Abdelshafi, is a special adviser on Arab States within the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) spoke about the UNDP’s Role in Arab States.
From the Department of Public Information, Mr. Collinet F. Njinga, acting chief of the Press Service gave an overview about his department. His colleagues, Ms. Nancy Groves and Ms. Florecia Soto spoke about the UN and Social Media activities.
In terms of GA Committees, Mr. Arnold Pronto, assistant secretary of the Sixth committee (Legal) spoke about the working methods and historical change of the committee. For instance, terrorism was one of the topics covered in the sixth committee, and then the Security Council started working on the topic. Ms. Sonia Elliott, deputy secretary of the First Committee (Disarmament) spoke about the working methods, procedures and the program of the work of the 68th session.
Mr. David M. Hamam, director of the Office of the Special Adviser on Africa presented the historical change of the African development attempts, explaining how political deficits, economic and social instabilities represent main obstacles preventing the African countries going further.
From the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), Mr. Kieran Dwyer, chief of Public Affairs discussed inter statistical and historical information about UN Peacekeeping Operations. He compared the historical dimensions of peacekeeping, especially since the Cold War. In the beginning, peacekeeping operations were essentially military weighed, but now multidimensional peacekeeping elements are pushed which are the importance of democratic governance, demobilization of armed groups, strengthening of the post-conflict country governments. Mr. Chirag Ghura, from the Security Sector Reform Unit, spoke about the importance of his department within the DPKO. He also showed a video, developed by UNITAR, on Defense Sector Reform.
During the training, Dr. Yassin El Ayouty, who has an historical link to UNITAR, having drafted the statute for the organization in 1963, moderated the training and proudfully distributed the certificates.