UN Academic Conference in Florence, Italy

UN Academic Conference in Florence, Italy

Workshopping the Security Council

1 November 2017

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Not quite in Florence, but somewhere in the Tuscan hills, a group of highflying diplomats and academics came together to discuss how to leverage influence on the UN Security Council.

Organisers strategized about getting the discussion dynamics right.

UN Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect Jennifer Welsh was paired with Brazilian diplomat and proponent of Responsibility while Protecting Antonio de Aguiar Patriota.

“We thought there’d be an interesting tension there, but it turns out they’re very old friends,” said Dr Jeremy Farrall, a Fellow at the Asia-Pacific College of Diplomacy.

“It just led to a terrific conversation.”

The October workshop was the product, and signature event, of an ARC Discovery Project running from 2015 to 2019 involving a team of five researchers.

Discussing ways non-permanent elected members could leverage their influence on the Security Council was its chief focus.

“You have 193 member states. Five of them are permanent,” said Dr Farrall of the UN and Security Council.

“So, there are 188 member states for whom the insights from this program will be not only interesting but also relevant when they sit on the council in future.”

The workshop outside Florence sought to bring together academics and practitioners with ready insights to share.

“High quality but not high pretence. Down to earth and ready to engage,” said Dr Farrall of the group that attended.

“We were looking to test our ideas and get examples of where those ideas had flown or sunk according to various experiences of elected members on the Security Council,” he said.

The format was found to be so productive that the research team are now considering future workshops in Asia and Africa.

“Given how exciting and successful we felt this event was, we are quite keen to try and run this event in different regions to harvest other experiences,” Dr Farrall said.

The research group are planning two major book projects resulting from their research, as well as special issue journal articles derived from the workshop output.

The project’s planned trajectory is set to see it conclude in 2019, but according to Dr Farrall a number of workshop participants were keen to see it continue beyond that point.

“It shows that there’s value and interest in the project we’re undertaking but also, potentially long-lasting implications,” he said.

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