Represented by Laura André and Uwe Porwollik
The issues discussed before the Third Committee of the General Assembly were:
- Evaluation and implementation of the United Nations Literacy Decade;
- Cultural Property: Illicit Trafficking and Restitution;
- Combating the Spread of Illicit Drugs.
On the first day of the conference, the delegates discussed and voted on the question in which order the different topics would be treated. For the Japanese Delegation, there was no question that the United Nations Literacy Decade was of highest importance.
Japan is one of the biggest donor states for educational purposes in the world and it has implemented a development aid policy which puts forward the importance of education in order to fight problems, such as hunger and drug abuse.
This opinion was shared by most of the delegations in the committee except the Latin-American countries, the U.S. and Afghanistan, thinking it would be more appropriate to discuss illicit drugs and its trafficking. At first there were vivid discussions that, however, came to an end very soon, as we moved very quickly into voting procedure. After only two hours there was a comfortable majority thinking that the committee should deal first with the UN Literacy Decade, second with drugs and their trafficking and third with cultural property. This outcome fitted perfectly with Japans policy and was therefore welcomed by our Delegation. During these first negotiations we were glad to make important contacts to the U.S. delegation and numerous African countries.
After the agenda was set, substantial discussion could start.
Since many of the other delegations had studied our position paper in advance, we could benefit from the work we put into it. We didn’t face any difficulties when we started writing a working paper for a possible resolution together with the U.S. delegation. This resolution was supposed to reveal how to evaluate the success of the UN Literacy Decade until now and how to make it more efficient. Of course, for us there was no resolution possible without mentioning the concept of Human Security, which is an essential concept of the Japanese foreign policy. Another important point was to establish a higher transparency and accountability of the receiving countries with regard to the usage of the funds.
Our following job was harder than we expected in the beginning. The group of delegations wanting to support this working paper increased exponentially and it was therefore no more possible to run a constructive discussion with every single delegation. Particularly problematic countries were Costa Rica, Ecuador and Burkina Faso. It was a big problem to find consensus with these countries concerning the above mentioned issues. Moreover, some countries acted quite ambivalent supporting different working papers with different priorities. This was the reason why the following negotiations took a lot of time. At the beginning we hoped that we would have had the opportunity to also discuss the second topic on the agenda, the combat of the spread of illicit drugs, but these hopes were dashed on the third day, the “meltdown Thursday”, so called due to the length of this negotiation day. The whole day we tried to merge the numerous working papers to be finally able to go into voting procedure on Friday. Doing this, it was indispensable to overlook all the upcoming changes to prevent that one of our hard negotiated points was dropped in the end. The consultations with the European group were unexpectedly difficult. Having strong ties with Iran, the United Kingdom was afraid to lose an important negotiation partner through the inclusion of the concept of Human Security, which seemed to them being much too controversial. Anyway, after hard negotiations a compromise, even with the Europeans, was found.
We had to vote on four resolutions; three of them were finally adopted. All of them contained our main interests and Japan was proud to have sponsored and initiated one of them.
We were happy about a big success and came back to Berlin bearing in mind that we have improved our negotiation skills. These wouldn’t have been possible without the intense and good preparation given by our faculty advisors and their great support during the conference especially through the supply of caffeine.