19 September, 2017, New York, USA - The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) held a five-day training course on “Strengthening Skills and Knowledge in Multilateral Diplomacy” for the new delegation from Qatar.
On 11 and 12 September 2017, the delegation from Qatar attended the “Briefing for delegates on the 72nd Session of the General Assembly and the Main Committees” organized for FOSS members and sponsored by the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Singapore. The two days detailed the functions, practices and procedures of the General Assembly and provided the delegates with an overview of the critical issues to the work of the Main Committees. Opening remarks were given by H.E. Mr. Miroslav Lajčák, the incoming President of the General Assembly, H.E. Mr. Burhanudeen Gafoor, Permanent Representative of Singapore to the United Nations and Mr. Marco Suazo, Acting-Head of UNITAR New York Office. All of them voiced their support for small countries to play an important role at the 72nd session of the General Assembly. Distinguished speakers chairing the different sessions included the Chairs of the Main Committees. H.E. Mr. Vladimir Drobnjak, Permanent Representative of the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Croatia to the United Nations, concluded the program speaking on the topic of Revitalization of the Work of the General Assembly.
The session on 13 September was led by Ms. Jelena Pia-Comella, Deputy Executive Director at the International Coalition of the Responsibility to Protect. She introduced the diplomats from Qatar to the three pillars of the Responsibility to Protect norm which include the responsibility of the state to protect its population from mass atrocities, the commitment of the international community to assist in protection and capacity building in states, and the international community’s responsibility to take action when a state is unable or unwilling to protect its population. She further highlighted the challenges of demystifying the norm and particularly the last pillar, which is often viewed unfavorably. To implement the third pillar of the Responsibility to Protect, she urged the conduct of preventive diplomacy that allows for the peaceful and early resolution of conflict. Tools for implementation she highlighted included mediation panels of experts, peace keeping operations and political missions.
Ms. Mona Khalil, Legal Advisor, Independent Diplomat, continued the morning session on the constitutional role of the General Assembly and its relationship to the other principal organs. She put great emphasis on the importance of the Charter in determining the role of the Security Council and General Assembly. Ms Khalil outlined the elements of international law stressing the non-binding nature of the resolutions by General Assembly, which can, however, become customary law if they are consistently adopted year after year. The responsibilities of the Security Council were highlighted and the different kinds of sanctions that can be applied to individuals and entities discussed. A lively exchange between the diplomats and Ms Khalil took place throughout the session.
In the afternoon, Mr. Marco Suazo, Acting-Head of UNITAR New York Office, welcomed the delegation from Qatar once again to the United Nations family and presented them with a general overview of the UN System. The functions and responsibilities of the principal organs of the UN were discussed in great depth. His presentation was followed by a guided tour of the United Nations Headquarters and the diplomats enjoyed learning about the insights of the building.
The next day was opened by Professor Larry D. Johnson, Adjunct Professor of Law at Columbia Law School and former Assistant-Secretary General in the Legal Affairs Division at the UN. He provided a historical overview and background of the United Nations Charter and the Qatar diplomats benefitted from his deep knowledge of the Rules of Procedure of the General Assembly. Professor Johnson emphasized the war time allies’ hope in establishing a successful postwar international organization that would succeed the League of Nations. He highlighted the years preceding the drawing up of the United Nations Charters including important milestones such as the Yalta Conference, which resolved the controversial question on the voting procedure in the Security Council. Considering the circumstances the Charter was drawn up under, he pointed to the flexibility and innovative nature of the Charter for today’s world. The different responsibilities of the General Assembly and the Security Council were discussed and specific Rules of Procedure of the General Assembly analyzed and clarified. The diplomats from Qatar were highly engaged in the topic following up with further applicable case studies.
The afternoon panel was chaired by Dr. Colleen Thouez and the speakers included Ms. Suzanne Sheldon from the International Organization for Migration, Ms. Christina Mc Elwaine, Migration Fellow from the United Nations University, Mr. Bela Hovy, Chief of the Migration Section, Population Division, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs and Ms. Andrew Painter, Protection Officer at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Ms. Suzanne Sheldon introduced the mission of the International Organization for Migration to promote humane and orderly migration for the benefit of all and its four areas of migration management including migration and development, facilitating migration, regulating migration and forced migration. She further clarified differences between a refugee and migrant status. Ms. Christina Mc Elwaine focused on the United Nations University’s work on migration and the Global Migration Group, an inter-agency group that was established by the UN Secretary-General in 2006 and is currently chaired by the United Nations University. She highlighted the challenges of international migration and the role that the Global Migration Group is playing in addressing them through comprehensive and coordinated approaches and the application of regional and international norms regarding migration.
Mr. Bela Hovy argued that evidence of migration is essential to avoid misunderstanding. He outlined the definitions of an international migrant and methods of how international migration can be measured. He further pointed to the causes of migration including economic inequalities. Key opportunities for migration and development such as remittances, diaspora contributions to countries of origin and contribution to destination countries were highlighted. Lastly, he referred to key milestones of international migration and development at the UN including the World Population Conferences and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. All speakers stressed the importance of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, which was adopted by all 193 member states of the UN in September 2016. The Declaration was celebrated as a milestone for shared responsibility. Mr.. Andrew Painter focused in great depth on the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework with its aims to ease the pressure on the host countries, enhance refugee self-reliance, expand third-country solutions and support conditions in countries of origin. The diplomats further learned about the global compact on refugees and global compact for migration which will be considered for adoption in 2018.
The Friday morning module was led by Mr. Hesham Afifi, Chief of the Reimbursement Policy and Liaison Section in the Department of Field support in the United Nations Secretariat and focused on Diplomatic Report Writing. He began by outlining the main considerations of communication including the purpose of the correspondence, the type, sender and recipient, the level of confidentiality and precedence. He continued by providing general guidelines for drafting and providing helpful insights into technical questions.
Photos: Speakers and participants