2 May 2013, New York, USA — Thirty delegates gathered at the UN Headquarters to participate in UNITAR New York Office’s capacity building workshop for Election Officers, titled 'Gearing up: Elections to UN Organs'.
Introduced by Ms. Yvonne Lodico, who qualified it as an insider’s course into elections to UN organs, the workshop shined light on diverse, important elements of said elections. Ambassador Ahmad Kamal, Senior Fellow of UNITAR, gave the opening remarks, repeating the importance of developing friendship, which combined with other important tips, he described as key to a successful election campaign.
Mr. Larry Johnson, former Assistant-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, and Adjunct Professor at Colombia Law School, gave an overview of principal UN organs, their membership composition, and the regional distribution of seats. Following this session, Mr. Ziad Mahmassani, of the General Assembly Affairs Branch, discussed the technicalities involved with restricted and unrestricted balloting. Ms. Mary Muturi, also from the General Assembly Affairs Branch, intervened, reminding Election Officers to communicate their Missions’ candidacy to the General Assembly Affairs Branch. Ms. Maria Maldonado, Former Director of the General Assembly Affairs Branch, concluded this session by giving a very detailed overview of the voting procedures, including insight into what would invalidate certain votes.
Session three presented a panel where the key elements of election campaigns were discussed. Opening this session, Mr. Olivier Maes, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Permanent Mission of Luxembourg to the UN, described elections to UN organs as very fascinating topics and shared Luxembourg’s experience regarding its time line approach to its successful Security Council campaign as well as its campaign to ECOSOC in 2006 and its presidency in 2009. According to Mr. Maes, candidate States should make themselves visible to the rest of the Member States, at all times. Ms. Radhika Ochalik , of the ECOSOC Affairs Branch, discussed the complex system of elections of the subsidiary bodies of ECOSOC. Ms. Maritza Chan, Minister Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Costa Rica to the UN, shared the successful approach that Costa Rica took for the 2011 elections to the Human Rights Council as well as to the International Law Commission, respectively. Closing this session, Mr. Joseph Mutaboba, Mediator-in-Residence of the UN DPA/Policy & Mediation Division, highlighted the importance of being well informed at all stages of the candidature.
Ms. Maria Jose del Aguila Castillo, Second Secretary of Permanent Mission of Guatemala to the UN, headed Session four, where she gave a tour of CandiWeb to the delegates. At the same time, she also spoke of her experience as an Election Officer and advised Member States to be proactive instead of reactive, so that your mission maintains its momentum for when the campaigning seasons arrive. Delegates attending this workshop, comprised mostly of new Elections Officers, applauded this course, claiming that it provided not only guidance but also helped to ease the stress of this very intense position from which only an experienced diplomat with an insider’s experience could share.