UNITAR Launches Training Course for Kuwaiti Diplomats
12 August 2017, New York, USA - The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) launched the first two modules of the Training Course “Strengthening Knowledge and Skills in Multilateral Diplomacy: Practical Preparation for Membership in the UN Security Council” for Kuwaiti diplomats. It took place at the Permanent Mission of Kuwait to the United Nations on August 11, 12 and 16. The course started with Opening Remarks by H.E. Mr. Mansour Ayyad Al-Otaibi, Permanent Representative of the State of Kuwait to the United Nations and Mr. Marco A. Suazo, the Acting Head of UNITAR New York Office. Mr. Suazo encouraged the 20 Kuwaiti diplomats to be constructive, open-minded and take full advantage of their upcoming Security Council membership.
The first module laid out in detail the political and constitutional role and responsibilities of the Security Council under the UN Charter and vis-à-vis the other organs of the United Nations system, as well as the procedures and practice of the Security Council. It discussed topical issues on which the Council is deliberating and introduced the Security Council Presidency. Furthermore, it provided a legal overview of the Security Council’s work and focused on the Responsibility to Protect norm. The second module focused on the Security Council Subsidiary organs.
Professor Larry Johnson of Columbia Law School and former United Nations Assistant-Secretary General, Legal Affairs Division, introduced the session with an overview of the history and background of the United Nations Charter. He highlighted the adaptability of the United Nations as an international organization over time and discussed the issue of the veto in the Security Council. Professor Johnson further brought insight into the Security Council’s relation with the General Assembly and clarified the Rules of Procedure.
Ms. Norma Chan, former Acting Director for the Security Council Affairs Division, focused on the operational side of the Security Council. She briefed the delegates on how to best prepare for membership and what work the membership entails once started. To prepare well, she referred to helpful literature and the importance of reading in advance since “knowledge is power”. She also highlighted the requirement of submitting credentials specific to the Council for every representative of the delegation to the Secretary-General in advance. Moreover, she stressed the importance of having a strong Political Coordinator and Deputy to navigate the complex environment. Her advice for being a member in the Security Council included managing time and expectations well. She discussed the navigation of several different meeting formats within the Security Council, both formal and informal, especially highlighting the value of Security Council Consultations. Overall, the session was highly interactive with the Kuwaiti delegates gaining clarification about specific terms commonly used in the Security Council as well as getting their questions answered about specific procedures and procedural differences with the General Assembly.
The afternoon session started with Ms Mona Khalil, Legal Advisor, Independent Diplomat, providing a legal overview of the Security Council Work. She introduced the Security Council’s overarching principles and also pointed to some conflicting points, for example the Responsibility to Protect norm suggesting that sovereignty is penetrable versus the non-interference principle outlined in the Charter. Ms Khalil provided case studies that further exemplified the debate whether resolutions passed by the Security Council are essentially new laws. The diplomats were highly engaged, asked challenging questions including about the power of the charter and how to avoid the misuse of diplomatic language and the session ended with a comparison of how the Security Council handled the Iraqi War in 2003 and the Kosovo War.
Ms Jelene Pia-Comella, Deputy Executive Director at International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect focused on the Responsibility to Protect norm and she stressed that implementing this norm is needed now more than ever if the international community is determined to prevent mass atrocities. A three-pillar approach was shared that outlines measures and actors involved: Pillar 1 underlines the responsibility of the State to protect their population from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, Pillar 2 addresses the commitment of the international community to help states with capacity building and protection of the population and Pillar 3 focuses on the responsibility of the international community to take actions when states lacks the ability or the will to protect its populations. The interactive session that followed was guided by case studies and differences between the Security Council and the General Assembly in their support of the norm were highlighted.
The Friday session led by Ms Loraine Sievers, Former Chief of the Security Council Secretariat Branch, underlined the Security Council Working methods and provided further insights into the works and procedures of the Security Council. Ms Sievers stressed that since 1970, the international community has increasingly put pressure on the Security Council as accelerated by enormous death tolls in conflict regions. This added to an increased awareness of the importance of the Security Council’s work and the Council should continue to work on increased transparency. The afternoon session clarified the purpose and procedures of various Security Council meetings, including “Arria-formula” meetings, Informal Interactive Dialogues, Private Meetings, and Consultations. Examples of each type of meeting were also shared to demonstrate key differences, highlighting which meetings counted as official and formal activities of the Security Council. Participants were keen to understand these differences, and engaged in dialogues that clarified how to choose meetings strategically. Additionally, the nuances of rules surrounding the Speaker’s List and the Penholder System were explained. The session wrapped up with discussions of meetings and receptions held as President, and concluded with a brief Q&A session.
Module two was led by Mr. Davis Biggs, Senior Political Affairs Officer in the Security Council Affairs Division, who shared insights into the Security Council Subsidiary organs and Sanctions Regimes. The delegates greatly benefitted from the expertise of Mr. Biggs as he briefed the delegates on how to best prepare for and conduct the chairmanship of Sanctions Committees. He urged the Kuwaiti diplomats to carry out due diligence in the run-up to chairmanship including investigating the enforcement of The Consolidated Sanctions List in the Kuwaiti banking and airline sectors. The delegates further learned about the different meeting formats including the value of open briefings, where members not present in the Security Council have opportunities to make statements about sanction regimes and the usefulness of using experts on the ground. Further topics covered included the panel of experts, informal working groups and reporting procedures for sanctions regimes. The entire session was highly interactive and specific questions in regard to enforcement mechanisms of the sanctions and delisting procedures from the Sanctions List were answered.
Photo credits: UNITAR