The UNGA President has shared a summary of the discussions covered in his ‘Morning Dialogues’ initiative with UN Member States.
To date, six ‘Morning Dialogues’ have addressed: gender mainstreaming; small states and the UN; closer cooperation and coherence between New York, Geneva, Nairobi and Vienna; coherence in the work of the main committees; and multilateralism under fire.
The UNGA President plans to continue to hold the 'Morning Dialogues' throughout the 72nd session.
5 March 2018: The President of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), Miroslav Lajcak, issued a summary of the topics and discussions covered in the series of ‘Morning Dialogues’ that he has convened during the 72nd UNGA session. Six Dialogues took place between November 2017 and February 2018.
The ‘Morning Dialogues’ series aims to promote “genuine and frank exchanges” among permanent representatives to the UN, the President’s office has noted, by convening small group discussions on a range of issues that affect the UNGA. The discussions seek to facilitate open and informal discussion on both normative and practical aspects of the UNGA’s work. Each gathering is limited to 20 individuals, with all 193 Member States being involved in the course of the year. Two Dialogues are held each month, and they take place under Chatham House rules, with ambassadors participating in their personal capacities.
As noted in the summary of topics discussed, the Dialogue on ‘Gender Mainstreaming’ acknowledged the limited number of women permanent representatives, which results, in some cases, from a lack of women in senior positions within UN Member States’ foreign ministries. Similarly, participants observed the lack of women representatives in the UN Security Council. Participants called for increasing visibility of women PRs in UNGA leadership roles and for achieving gender balance in the appointment of co-facilitators and selection of experts for high-level events. Participants recommended that regional groups considering gender in their nominations to leadership roles, and noted the potential for experienced women to mentor newly arrived women. The UNGA President expressed a commitment to champion gender equality.
The Dialogue on ‘Small States and the UN: Supporting effective engagement of small delegations’ addressed challenges for small delegations, including interactions with the Secretariat, the high costs of using UN facilities, and the burden of reporting requirements on UN resolutions. Representatives agreed to share information among small delegations, consider joint statements and raise relevant issues in fora such as the annual discussions on revitalizing the work of the UNGA. Lajcak agreed to share relevant matters with the UN Secretary-General.
“New York” tends to set the normative agenda, and leaders in other locations are not always aware of developments.
A Dialogue on ‘Closer Cooperation and Coherence between New York, Geneva, Nairobi and Vienna’ underscored the importance of coherence for an effectively functioning UN. Participants said that “New York” tends to set the normative agenda, and leaders in other locations are not always aware of developments. Participants further observed that some delegations “adopt different approaches in various locations on the same issue.” To promote coherence, participants recommended: reviewing working methods, including alignment with the 2030 Agenda; increasing use of technology to promote information sharing; encouraging Member States to adopt coordinating mechanisms between UN Missions; and holding briefings in New York by agencies from other locations. They recommended that the UNGA President arrange informal meetings in various locations to promote coherence in the UN’s work.
On ‘Coherence in the Work of the Main Committees,’ participants suggested earlier elections of the Main Committee chairs and bureau, to facilitate preparation before the start of each session. Participants also recommended: facilitating training for new chairs; promoting lessons learned reports from outgoing Committee chairs at the end of their tenure; increasing use of the General Committee to support streamlining the agenda and put in place new working methods; and strengthening the Office of the UNGA President, particularly to preserve institutional memory.
In a Dialogue on ‘Multilateralism Under Fire’ participants stressed that the UN “remains the most appropriate forum,” but acknowledged that the UN needs to adapt to changes in the global architecture. The next session in the Dialogue series, to convene on 9 March, will be the third on this topic. [Summary of Morning Dialogues]