Thursday, October 6, 2022

Evaluation of Objection Mechanisms at International Meetings

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By Dr. Ali Hilal Al-Hadi, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Iraq

Usually, representative(s) of countries meet in multilateral meetings and international conferences for the purpose of working together and in a spirit of cooperation to reach an agreement, outcome or decision that everyone agrees on in order to achieve the interests of those countries.

Nevertheless, an act or statement might be issued, or a draft resolution might be prepared that faces objection from one or more countries.

This article is going to evaluate the objection mechanisms of the state’s representative(s) (head of state, prime minister, minister of foreign affairs, diplomat(s) at the United Nations’ meetings/ conferences…etc.) on what is delivered, adopted, or happened in the multilateral international meetings such as meetings of the principal organs of the UN such as: the Security Council (SC) and the General Assembly (GA) or international conferences and meetings of the executive councils or boards of international organizations and specialized agencies of the UN.

– Among the rights granted to the representative(s) of a state in international meetings (the right of reply) which is exercise by a representative of a state to defend his/her country against public criticism in the same venue. Some conventions or internal regulations have been granted the right of reply as a means to defend the dignity of the state exercised by the state’s representative by waving with a plaque bearing the name of his/her state or waving with his/her hand to the chairperson of the meeting to interrupt the speaker and clarifying his/her point of view, in some cases the chairperson ignores the act of waving.

When the state representative receives no response, he/she would resort to knocking on the table with his/her hand or with a plaque to draw the chairperson’s attention to his/her request, and in rare cases, after not responding to these procedures, the state’s representative starts shouting, which is an undesirable method and far from diplomatic decency. The state’s representative might not exercise this right of reply despite the abuse towards his/her state when s/he does not wish to draw the attention to what has been said. When the accusations were mentioned in the NGOs statement, in this case, the representative deals with this accusation with what can be called a (low profile), especially in the meetings of the GA or Human Rights Council (HRC).

– An objection to the resolution against member state or the draft resolution submitted in a meeting might be in a form of using a (written objection) and shall be after the end of the meeting, if the rules governing the meeting permit so, the state shall submit a written objection against the proceedings of the meeting or session or its proposition through a diplomatic note issued by its accredited diplomatic mission to the receiving state where the meeting took place or any other mission of the state or through a letter of protest.

It will be addressed from the head of the delegation to the Director General of the Organization, or the Chairperson or the Secretariat of the Organization, or the meeting or with a diplomatic note circulated to all missions accredited to the state of meeting, the main advantage of a written objection to the right of direct reply is that the objector has a period of time through which it can refer to the decision-making authority in the capital of the State concerned. 

– The objection of the State representative(s) in the meeting to the breach by the representative(s) of a State to the rules of procedure of the Organization or the rules of procedure by which the Organization operates under which the international meeting is conducted, in this case, the rules of procedures at international conferences and multilateral meetings allow the State affected by the breach of the rules of procedure or the Convention governing the proceedings of the meetings of the Conference to request for the so-called (point of order) and it will be through the objection of the representative of the State at the meeting (during a particular procedure), or to make a speech to a particular delegation, for example) to request the chairperson to approve the intervention of the State representative concerned to clarify the point of order that shows the breach in the proceedings of the meeting, and the chairperson, in this situation, is often obliged to listen to the point of order, and this entails suspending the conduct of the legal procedure under consideration or interruption the speech that was objected to at the point of order and to listen to the opinion of the delegation (the concept of the point of order) or representative of the objecting State and then to discuss it confidentially between the chairperson and the secretariat, or the chairperson might sometimes resorts to his/her convictions and personal knowledge to decide whether the point of order is accepted or not.

Exercising this feature requires legal knowledge of the treaty and rules of procedures that the organization work under it, therefor it is necessary to be very careful in the use of such a procedure and ensure the accuracy of the objection so that the point of order raised does not receive criticism and indicates a lack of legal knowledge of the delegation.

The mechanisms that were mentioned above cannot be classified in terms of importance or an ascending manner, as each case pave the way for the delegation participating in the meeting to choose one of the above tools to explain its objection, so that the delegation participating in international meetings must take these mechanisms into account, and think of a certain strategy in exercising the means of objection according to the situation and its seriousness.

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