February 2013, Geneva, Switzerland – In partnership with the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Norwegian Agency for Public Management and eGovernment (Difi), UNITAR’s Multilateral Diplomacy Programme organised a four-day workshop for junior diplomats and government officials from different ministries to help them prepare for multilateral conferences and negotiations.

To familiarize participants with the United Nations working environment in Geneva, the workshop started with a guided tour of the Palais des Nations that provided an overview of the history of the United Nations. This was followed by substantive sessions on negotiation techniques and purposes and outcomes of multilateral conferences. Throughout the workshop, UNITAR’s Senior Fellow – Ambassador Jean-Marc Boulgaris – ensured that participants were actively involved and a number of practical exercises enabled them to immediately put their skills to practice.

In particular the participants took part in a negotiation simulation exercise on Cybersecurity. Taking the roles they had been assigned, the participants discussed intensively and had tough negotiations on the content and wording of a draft resolution. Thanks to his many years of experience as a diplomat and chair of multilateral conferences, Ambassador Boulgaris gave the participants valuable insights and advice as to how to achieve consensus and negotiate effective win-win scenarios.

With around 8,000 meetings and conferences organised by the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG) per year, Geneva is at the heart of international negotiations. It once more proved to be the ideal location for a training workshop on multilateral conference diplomacy as participants were able to attend the Conference on Disarmament to see how a conference unfolds in real life. This experience was a welcome addition to the theoretical input on the formal and informal processes of a conference they had received in previous sessions.

The 16 participants received their certificates from UNITAR’s Executive Director ad interim, Ms. Sally Fegan-Wyles, at the end of the training workshop, and expressed their appreciation for the workshop and resource persons.

UNITAR’s Multilateral Diplomacy Programme looks forward to continuing to build upon its cooperation with the Norwegian government and to offering similar workshops to other diplomats. For more information, please do not hesitate to contact us at diplomacy@unitar.org.