28-30 September 2011, Vienna, Austria. One of the three international UN headquarters, Vienna provides an exciting, yet sometimes confusing working environment for diplomats. With the view to provide practitioners with clarity on key issues and to ensure a good start to newcomers to the multilateral work setting, the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) organised two briefings on the mandate and governance of Vienna-based UN agencies and international organisations. The first briefing was organised jointly with the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) and concentrated on the specific role, activities and objectives of this important UN agency. The second event provided participants with an overview of all main international organizations operating in Vienna.

Understanding UNCITRAL’s role in the advancement of international trade and development

Topics discussed at the one-day UNCITRAL briefing ranged from the contribution of international trade law to development cooperation and international commercial arbitration to more technical questions relating to the role of the organisation in electronic commerce and insolvency. For the participants, many of whose assignments involved close work in relation to the various Working Groups of UNCITRAL, this workshop provided the opportunity to acquire relevant first-hand knowledge as to the organisation’s main policies and strategies, including current projects and future programmes.

Making an impact in multilateral conferences conducted at the UN Office at Vienna

The two-day briefing on Vienna’s multilateral working environment was organised with the kind support of the Austrian Foreign Ministry. It orientated diplomats and provided the opportunity for staff of international organisations to meet the people responsible for their affairs in respective member state missions. In this way, communication links for future negotiations at multilateral conferences could be established. The event offered a unique opportunity to engage with representatives of all major Vienna-based international organisations, including UNIDO, IAEA, OPEC and OECD, and get acquainted with the key activities, objectives and structures of these organisations.