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Podcast Episode 26
Ms Ashley Müller: Welcome to the Geneva Centre for Security Policy Podcast. I’m Ashley Muller. This week’s episode explores some of the latest global issues affecting peace, security, and international cooperation.
Ms Ashley Müller: Climate change, technology, pandemics and the economy are transnational global security issues, we speak with Vicente Paolo Yu III Associate Fellow, GCSP Global Fellowship Initiative and an independent expert and consultant for various UN agencies and NGOs to hear his insights on international cooperation. And as we evaluate our crisis response to the coronavirus pandemic, we speak with Ms Catherine Rompato-Arifagic, Special Assistant and Political Affairs Officer with the Office of the Rule of Law and Security Institutions (OROLSI), Peace Operations Department of the United Nations.
Ms Ashley Müller: Vicente among many things you are also a founding partner of the Clean Energy Innovations Partnership and formerly served as the Deputy Executive Director of the South Centre, an intergovernmental policy research institution on developing countries. You are also associated with the Third World Network and United Nations Research Institute for Social Development. Thank you for joining us here today. My first question to you is, when it comes to the international security landscape today, what does “cooperation beyond silos” look like?
Mr Vicente Paolo Yu III: We must have a good understanding of why things are in silos, right? And what are those silos that have an impact on the global security situation? And here we define security broadly. So it's human security. It's not just military or political security. What we are facing right now is a context in which we have multiple challenges facing the global community. You have climate change and biodiversity loss. You have unilateral trade protectionism, for example, you have population growth, you have global pandemics like the coronavirus, you have concerns about what would be the impact of technological change, artificial intelligence, what digitalisation means for us, for human beings as workers in all of those things. I think the word silos come in because the way that we had structured international governance arrangements over the past meant that you created an international organisation for a particular topic. And by I think sheer institutional inertia in a way. They tend to then focus on their own turf and it is very difficult and makes it then that makes it very difficult to do the cross-linkages. And I think what we are now seeing is that a lot of these issues, biodiversity, climate change, pandemics, technology, the global economy and the extent to which the global economy is very unstable right now shows us that you do need to connect all of those silos together. Because if you do not connect them, climate change breeds conditions, which can make it difficult for human security to be achieved in countries. You have typhoon impacts, for example, you have biodiversity, deforestation causes people to move, those kinds of things. So we need to have that kind of cooperation across institutions, across issues. with the understanding that all of them are interconnected, they are all linked, and no one institution can do it. And I think what we now have in terms of cooperation beyond silos looks like if you have an attempt since 2015, at least within the UN system, through the Sustainable Development Goals at trying to achieve this cooperation. The jury's still out on whether that has been happening well, but at least I think we have to give credit to the global community for the UN system for that they have recognised the problem and are trying to do something about it.
Ms Ashley Müller: What is an unsuccessful example/challenge facing international cooperation linked with climate change?
Mr Vicente Paolo Yu III: I think climate change is one of those crux global issues where we have not seen international cooperation work well. We had the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change adopted in 1992. It entered into force in 1994. Then in 1997, you had the Kyoto Protocol, which entered into force only in 2008. And then you had the Paris Agreement, adopted in 2015, entered into force in 2016. And still has to be implemented beginning next year. Right. So, what has happened? What happened is that under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change developed countries were supposed to have gone reduce their emissions back to 1990 levels by the year 2000. Under the Koto protocol developed countries were essentially supposed to have reduced their emissions to somewhere around 5% below 1990 levels by the year 2012. Under the Paris Agreement, we still have to see what that will mean. But also under the Kyoto Protocol, some developed countries were supposed to then also further reduce their emissions to somewhere like 18% below 1990 levels by the year 2020, this year. From 1994 to now developed countries on average have reduced emissions to somewhere around 1% below 1990 levels, which means that the extent to which we had hoped that problem couldn't be addressed was not met. Another big, I think failure in a way or implementation gap is in a way is this idea that under the climate convention and under the Kyoto Protocol, and even under the Paris agreement that we had this idea of international cooperation where developed countries were supposed to help developing countries do more and do better in reducing their own emissions and in adapting to the impacts of climate change. And so the idea back from the mid-1990s up to now is that you would have funding and technology transfer being moved to developing countries so that developing countries instead of following the heavily emitting pathway of developed countries in the past, we don't do that anymore, right? We shift things. And that's our contribution towards addressing this problem. If you read reports coming out from the UN system about how much money has gone in, it's fairly depressing, because there has not been much money going in technology transfer has not happened as well, because there are barriers. One, you have to buy technology. And if you don't have money, you cannot buy the technology. Second, you also have technology policy barriers in the form of, for example, intellectual property rights, meaning that you cannot reverse engineer that technology that you buy from the west, right? Because if you do that, if you reverse engineer that, you might get hit with a dispute case before the WTO because you violated the intellectual property rights agreement. So all of these things. So it's a question of I think you have failures in international cooperation in the climate change area, largely because there was not much political will among governments to do things, but also because you have systemic design flaws in a way, where it's the international system is not necessarily coherent with itself, when it comes to shaping the international regimes, so you have climate change treaty that says, you all have to work together. But then you have a trade treaty that says, actually, you can't, or you should not, but instead, you don't do technology transfer, but instead, you buy it from us. And if you want to copy it, you cannot, because that violates my Corporation's rights, so things like this have to be looked at in a systemic way. And so far, we haven't been very good at doing that.
Ms Ashley Müller: What is a successful example of cooperation beyond silos? What are the opportunities for international cooperation?
Mr Vicente Paolo Yu III: What has worked well, an example of international cooperation is the ozone layer. Remember that back in the 80s and in the 90s there's a big thing, right? The big hole in the ozone layer, so, if you're Australian, you were advised to slip slap slop, right? Slip-on a long sleeve shirt, slap on a hat and slop on the suncream slip, slap, slop. You had the I think it was a 1987 Vienna Convention and the ozone layer, and now the ozone layers closing. And I think that's a prime example of international cooperation. How did that work? You had governments looking at the science, understanding what the problem was, what was causing it. You had economic instruments that were in place, you had the Technical Assistance Fund that was actually being funded, which then allowed the developing countries to shift away from using equipment that was that were emitting these ozone-depleting substances, at the same time as developed countries were shifting away from the use of these ozone-depleting substances as well. So I think there are lessons that could be learned from that kind of international cooperation. I think some of those lessons could be applied when we talk about the SDGs, and how the SDGs are supposed to be met in the next 10 years, right? Because they're supposed to be until 2030. I think there areways in which the UN system is trying to do that. You have the high-level political forum, you've got what they call their partnership dialogues. You've got working groups set up, you've got expert groups, looking at targets and indicators and all of these things. But I think the thing that really needs to be focused on is looking at the extent to which real funding and real technology transfer take place towards developing countries. And that's because of two things. One, most developed countries have achieved, for lack of a better term development, which means that the challenge for most developed countries is not to expand their economies, but to reallocate more equitably in the resources that are within that economy, which poses a different set of challenges compared to other to developing countries where the challenge for most developing countries is that you have a growing population, which means that you have to have an economy that is growing because you need to make sure that that economy provides jobs for the young people who are entering the labour force. Because if you don't provide jobs for the young people that are entering the labor force, you will have a lot of unemployed young males and unemployed young females out there on the streets, which breeds a lot of political insecurity and economic insecurity, which then translates into a difficult situation for those countries. So, the challenges are different for different types of countries. And I think that's why I think having some kind of one size perspective about international cooperation and how you do it would not make sense. And I think that's where, that the UN is looking at when it comes to the implementation of the SDGs. So the crucial thing there, the second point is the crucial this flow of resources to developing countries, particularly as these challenges mount, because more and more of these challenges will come in and if developing countries are not supported and assisted in dealing with these challenges at the national level, those challenges could actually become exacerbated and amplify the impacts of these global challenges, also undeveloped countries. So international cooperation has to be the key. If you don't do that, then it will be each country for itself and then that entire concept of international security goes away because you will not have the security, you'll have insecurity in the end.
Ms Ashley Müller: Thank you Vicente for joining us.
Ms Ashley Müller: Ms Catherine Rompato-Arifagic, Special Assistant and Political Affairs Officer with the Office of Rule of Law and Security Institutions (OROLSI) for the United Nations Peace Operations Department
Ms Ashley Müller: Welcome Catherine, thank you for joining us today to discuss crisis preparedness. Why is it important and what does a 360 degree perspective on crisis management look like?
Ms Catherine Rompato-Arifagic: On crisis, perhaps we should start first on crisis management. I see it with three types of definitions of crisis management it’s once you are in a crisis, what is it that you do? How do we also prepare our leaders to be really adapted to face a crisis? What is more important and more related to my own experience is to have a holistic approach, to do a crisis management and to do the crisis itself, always with the view of leaving no one behind, so, always thinking about the most vulnerable population that you may not think at first once you are in a crisis, and so, therefore to involve as many new stakeholders, also to look at a gender diverse also, because that gender diversity makes you feel and think also differently. I'm a woman but also my male colleagues come with various angles on how they look at a crisis. The second definition I have about crisis management is more about the level of preparedness. So we're looking at contingency planning, what is it that you do, that you really think that you are all prepared? And then maybe the third approach is also looking at crisis management but in the future and that's exactly what we are actually brainstorming right now, are we really ready? And the whole aspect of it is always to ask the question to ourselves, are we ready enough to prepare for the unforeseen. So there have been some very interesting debates, which adds to the complexity of crisis management, is the unforeseen, and the unforeseen we've been discussing this morning was about artificial Intelligence, which I find extremely fascinating, especially in crisis management, I have seen it was more related to either insecurity, rebellion, natural catastrophes, but we do we really then think also about artificial intelligence in our in our work settings at the United Nations or for an international NGO, such as the one that I have worked for before with Médecins Sans Frontières
Ms Ashley Müller: Do you think that a skill set of a leader in charge of a crisis response team or strategic risk management, will that skill set change? And, if so, what are the skill sets now, and what should they be in the future?
Ms Catherine Rompato-Arifagic: You see before, and I would go back to my very, very first crisis, I was just fresh from university and I was thrown as I would call it that, from my organisation at that time, into the Rwandan genocide, and so are we really ever ready to cope with first of all human tragedy. So, at first you are new to the real crisis environment you learn as you actually do it right? So, you constitute yourself your own portfolio of various instincts that you have, but as more as I evolved in crisis management, as I also grew a little bit older, crisis and leadership skills really is first of all is to more as a leader is first to have your own self awareness, what is the kind of skills that you have to develop yourselves in order to deliver during that particular time. So, first from self awareness, you also need then to build a team and then I always think that it is not about the fact of having a crisis and dealing with your team and then oh yes, but what is your strength and what are your weaknesses. So, it is a lot of things on prevention and knowing actually your team skills and the team's skill set. So, that you exactly know, for example, whether you can also adopt a certain leadership style. In non-crisis emergencies you adopt more of a consultative type of leadership, you consult with people, see you get to know them, but vice versa they also know what are actually my strength, but also my weaknesses and so that when something arrives they can see that they are somehow more authoritative because it's not saying that in a very negative term, but sometimes when you are in a crisis situation, you have no time for consultative process to take place. So, you have to take immediate what is from your gut instinct what you think is the best in the situation and so, there is generally a more acceptance from your team members, even if this decision you take is not very popular, but then with some as I would say get to know and the team spirit and the team building is essentially very important. So once you have the time, people think that sometimes team building is just a waste of time, it is not it's actually the time that you invest in actually to spend it in a more efficient way in the future. So for the skills that you really need to have that it’s really to first to work on the investment of you vis-à-vis your team but your team's vis-à-vis yourself in order to better be ready and to understand each other better in team spirits and difficult decisions to be taken.
Ms Ashley Müller: So self awareness, trusting your team, investing in your team, and also making decisions and believing in your gut. I think that those can be very essential even moving forward to crisis 2030 even though we are facing the threat of AI to be able to still have to rely on human skills to be able to respond to crisis management.
Ms Catherine Rompato-Arifagic: It's not only about dealing with the situation, but it’s really to deal with all the stakeholders and when I also refer to leaving no one behind, you have indeed the victim but behind the victim, there is a whole world also meaning their relatives, their friends, their close friends. So you need to manage all this. Beyond the individual and the human being you have then the institution and either the institution also has its own organisational culture so you've got to be able to understand how your organisation is functioning and your organisation can be also highly political. So, any decision that you actually would take with your own instinct somehow also as a political impact. And I think that all this goes back to your first question, what is the leader of tomorrow? We really need to be not only self aware of their own skills but also to be able to measure and evaluate the impact of your decision because your decision may turn out to be a major political blast in the end so, that's how I translate this as being really a holistic approach, a family approach, an individual approach.
Ms Ashley Müller: So, and finally, just a few words, can you? What would be your advice to someone who is just starting out their career, you mentioned earlier in the interview? What would be your advice on how to get prepared and what would you say to that?
Ms Catherine Rompato-Arifagic: I think what is very important... I wouldn't be able to speak to you about crisis management if I haven't been in crisis before. So, I lived it when I was very young and basically maybe it’s the best time for you to do that. Not in my age right now. So, as I said, I lived through, the genocide in Rwanda following which I was in the middle of the war in Bosnia, lived through as a pure witness of the Srebrenica massacre and was evacuated, I don't know how number of times, then as an individual by the United Nations was also a victim of malicious act. So I think that somehow myself and crisis management I've also adopted a certain holistic approach by having lived on the other side, I would say of the des. Either you are part of this crisis management team, but I also have been in a way perhaps in certains times, unfortunately a victim of it too. But I think that having then going through all those types of experiences allows you really to move on and perhaps, to have a certain view of what is crisis management to make you feel that maybe you are, because you will live through it, that maybe you can actually do your job maybe the best that you can. So for the young people who would want to do that. I think that if you have the opportunity whenever, don't listen to people saying, oh, no, this is too dangerous, just don't go, it has to come from yourself if you feel that, no, I can go into those crisis situations and that really builds you up and especially that gives you a strong I would say tools for the future.
Ms Ashley Müller: Thank you Catherine for joining us.
Ms Ashley Müller: That's all we have now for today's episode. Thank you to Vicente Paolo Yu III for joining us along with Ms Catherine Rompato-Arifagic. Listen to us again next week to hear all the latest insights on international peace and security and don’t forget to subscribe to us on Apple iTunes, follow us on Spotify or on SoundCloud. Until next time, bye for now.
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