If you think that a « co-sponsor » is probably a sportswear brand, that “3G” is useful to watch videos on your smartphone, and that the “Indonesian lounge” is probably a new bar, so the 69th UN General Assembly Ministerial Meeting is a great occasion to get you up to date.
UN Glossary for beginners
"38th floor" : In the main building of the United Nations Headquarters in New York, the 38th floor was occupied (before the current renovations) by the offices of the Secretary-General and his cabinet. The metonym “this comes from the 38th floor” means that the item in question comes from the Secretary-General’s office
3G (Global Governance Group) : Created in 2009, at the instigation of Singapore and as a response to the structuring of the G20 at the level of Heads of State, the 3G gathers 28 non-member states of the G20. Its objective is to voice, through a constructive dialogue, the position of the non-member states of the G20 on matters decided upon by the G20. The 3G advocates a G20 that is “more consultative, inclusive and transparent,” namely through UN-framed consultation.
Absent (from a vote) : Said of a delegation that does not cast a vote. It may be in the room but either not entitled, or choosing not, to vote.
Acclamation : A procedure whereby a conference adopts a proposal without a vote, all delegations having indicated their support for it, e.g. by applause.
Burden-sharer : designates the delegation which is responsible, at the General Assembly, for the negotiations for a resolution on behalf of the European Union, when this delegation is neither the EU delegation nor the delegation of the country holding the presidency of the EU.
C34 : (or Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations) : is a committee of the General Assembly created in 1965 and whose mandate is to carry out a comprehensive study each year on the issue of peacekeeping operations.
Chapitre VII :Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, entitled “Action with respect to threats to the peace, breaches of the peace, and acts of aggression,” authorizes the Security Council to impose enforcement measures (sanctions, use of force), in the case of failure of Chapter VI (which deals with “Peaceful settlement of disputes”). It is the keystone of the collective security system. The commonly used phrase is “Chapter VII resolution.”
Consensus : A text is said to be adopted by consensus when all the members of the organ tasked with taking the decision give their tacit consent. No voting takes place. Consensus differs from unanimity which is an explicit agreement, resulting from a vote in which all members cast a vote. In summary : a consensus is obtained without voting when no one opposes the decision, and unanimity is when everyone agrees and votes in favour of the text.
Co-sponsor or co-author : Co-sponsors are member States which commit, through their sponsorship, to voting for a resolution. Their names appear at the top of the resolution document.
Expert : An expert is a diplomat of a permanent mission, usually at the level of first secretary, in charge of a particular issue. The Permanent Mission of France has some thirty experts (3 responsible for African issues, 3 responsible for human rights, etc.). An expert meeting brings together diplomats from a number of missions in charge of the same issue.
Facilitator : At the United Nations, a facilitator is a diplomat who volunteers to lead unofficial negotiations on a draft resolution and to work toward obtaining a consensus. In case of a deadlock, the facilitator offers, if necessary, a compromise proposal. In order to ensure impartiality, there are often two designated facilitators, one from a Western country, and another from the South (from the G77, see definition). They are called co-facilitators.
G77 : The Group of 77 at the United Nations is a coalition of emerging economies and developing countries, founded in 1964 by 77 countries to promote the collective economic interests of its members and to boost their capacity for negotiations at the United Nations. The Group has since expanded and now includes 132 member States. China is often associated with this group ; when speaking, the representative of the G77 speaks “on behalf of the G77 and China.”
G193 : The G193 informally designates all the member countries of the United Nations, or more specifically the General Assembly, in comparison to the G20 in particular. This designation serves as a reminder that the United Nations’ legitimacy stems from the fact that the UN represents the entire international community. The term G173 is sometimes also used to by opposition to the G20.
Indonesian Lounge : Lounge located next to the General Assembly, favoured by diplomats thanks to its quiet and cozy atmosphere, often used for private discussions. The lounge was named after two Balinese sculptures offered as a gift by the government of Indonesia and representing peace and prosperity.
Meditation Room : See Quiet Room
Ministerial Week : This is the busiest and the most “star-studded” week of the year at the United Nations. Most Heads of State and Government come to New York City during the third week of September for the opening of the new session of the General Assembly. Numerous events are organized concurrently with the ministerial week. In September 2010, a summit on the Millennium Development Goals was held just before the opening of the session.
No-action motion : At the General Assembly, a no-action motion interrupts the debates between member States on a draft resolution. The motion is put to a vote and requires a majority vote.
Official languages and working languages : The UN recognizes six official languages : English, Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), Spanish, French and Russian. Representatives from member countries can express themselves in one of these six languages ; their speeches are then translated into five other languages. It is possible to communicate in a language other than these six ; however, this can be done only when an interpreter is provided, who then interprets in one of the six official languages and becomes the intermediary for the other five. Official documents must be available in the six official languages. The working languages used by the United Nations Secretariat are English and French.
P5 : The P5 refers to the five permanent members of the Security Council : China, the United States, France, the United Kingdom, and Russia. We use the phrase “a meeting of the P5” (a frequently used format for the negotiations on a draft resolution before the text is distributed to all the Security Council members). The P3 includes the United States, France and the United Kingdom. The term E10 (“Elected Ten”) is sometimes used ; this refers to the 10 non-permanent members.
Pen holder : This term refers to the delegation which is the author of the first draft of a resolution. For example, France has traditionally been a pen holder for Security Council resolutions related to Côte d’Ivoire.
Permanent representative : The permanent representative is the head of a permanent mission. He/she has the same rank as an ambassador. The deputy permanent representative (DPR) is the number 2 of the mission. (Do not confuse the “Ambassador, Permanent Representative of France to the UN” with the “Ambassador of France in Washington.”)
Put in blue : At the Security Council, when a State wishes to put a draft resolution in blue, this means that it wishes to present it for a vote. The draft resolution is then printed in blue ink and officially distributed by the Secretariat to the Security Council members. In general, a draft resolution is put in blue 24 hours before the vote.
Quiet Room : Located next to the main Security Council chamber and the Council’s consultations room, this room is the Council’s anteroom, accessible to the delegates of non-Member States of the Security Council, but not to the press. It is in fact an important meeting place which can be noisy, in contrast with its name. This room shouldn’t be confused with the Meditation Room, a small quiet room, open to the public, next to the General Assembly and next to a stained glass window by Marc Chagall. It is dedicated to world peace for people of all faiths and religions. Its creator, former Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld, also called it the “Room of Quiet.”
Right of rebuttal/reply : The rules of procedure of many conferences provide that a delegation which so requests must be given an opportunity to make a brief statement in reply to a statement made by another delegation if it believes that its own position has been misunderstood or misrepresented. Also used in practice to respond to remarks which are considered injurious.
Right of veto : The right of veto gives each of the five permanent members of the Security Council (China, the United States, France, the United Kingdom, and Russia) the option of opposing a resolution. Regardless of the number of votes in favor, one veto is enough to ensure that a draft resolution is not adopted. In practice, and despite the Charter of the United Nations which requires an affirmative vote from the five permanent members in order for a resolution to be adopted, if one permanent member abstains, the resolution can still pass.
Stakeout : A media stakeout is an opportunity for members to address the journalists as they exit the Security Council or a meeting room (for example, “the Ambassador is holding a media stakeout”). The term also refers to the place where the stakeout is held (for example, “the Ambassador is at the stakeout”). If an ambassador addresses the journalists before entering the Security Council, then this is called a media “stakein”.
Turtle Bay : This is the name of the Manhattan neighborhood in New York, along the East River and approximately between 40th and 50th Streets, where the UN Headquarters are located. The term is used as a metonym for the world of the UN diplomats and personnel.
Unanimité : see Consensus.