Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Copenhagen Negotiations (Not!)

Coming back to the Copenhagen conference in December, I want to look the the process that the UN is increasing using to run its conferences. By UN here I am including agencies such as the IMF and the WTO (even though they have separate governing boards and conference rules).

What to me is the worrying tread is that very few countries are allowed to dictate the what the final draft document is to be. At Copenhagen only six countries negotiated the so-called "accord" (it does not make a difference who the countries are).

Let us look at the Copenhagen conference as a test case. Well over 100 countries met there as the Conference of Parties (COP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to work out a treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol. The secretariat of the UNFCCC is part of the UN secretariat.

Then while the members of the COP were debating, the US got together secretly with five other countries and hashed out a deal with absolutely no influence from the other 100+ delegations. This undermined the whole conference. Indeed what was the purpose of having 100 countries in the first place? The delegates were then given a chance to agree, without any discussion or even sufficient time for them to read the document.

To me worse than the fact that this happened was that the UN host simply allowed it to happen.

This method of having a tiny number of countries to do back room politics while the rest of the sit in the main hall is becoming more and more typical of how UN negotiations are being held. The supreme leader in this area is the IMF where decisions are often said to occur in the "green room". (In this article I am omitting the issues related to real or effective veto power - those are related, but separate, issues).

We need to make sure that decisions are made in the open. Negotiations between individual parties is an important part of any conference, but the determination of the final product must be done in an open forum and only after a full debate where all of the parties can participate. Simply put, when a back room deal is brought to the table it should be immediately rejected by the chair.

Why is this so much of a problem? Again, let us look at Copenhagen. The small island countries are among the most vulnerable, if not the most vulnerable, to climate change (specifically to raising sea levels). They had been very vocal in the lead up to the summit. But their views meant absolutely nothing at the summit, despite the fact that the UN claims that each country has an equal say.

1 comment:

Rui Che said...

Well,it's just like a fairy tale,every country said that "yes,I agree,we will follow the final draft,and we will give the money to some poor countries to support their energy saving and emission reduction."But,finally,if there is something that will damage their benifits,they will turn a blind eye to what will damage the environment.So nothing changes if talking about money.