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Making Consultations Happen

A delegate can initiate consultations simply by going up to another delegate and starting to talk with them.

Members of the Security Council gather informally for discussions

Delegation leaders make it their business to arrange meetings with their counterparts at chosen times – whether it be at a lunch or a meeting at the permanent mission or a visit to the presiding officer in his chambers or with a facilitator that has been appointed to help achieve consensus. They also see it as part of their business to ensure that the delegation as a whole undertakes all the necessary consultations. Planning consultations, including assigning responsibilities for doing so amongst delegation members, is one of the essential first tasks of a delegation. Making sure that consultation takes place and ensuring that the results are disseminated throughout the delegation is an ongoing aspect of effective delegation management.

When UN conferences are held, the conference organizers will sometimes invite delegates to a preconference get-together to enable them to initiate informal consultations before the conference begins. Once the conference has started, the organizers, often arrange social events, which provide excellent opportunities for delegates to meet and to engage in consultations in a clearly informal setting. Any tours or excursions offered to participants are similarly useful.

Conference managers are very conscious of the importance of informal consultations and consequently see allowing enough time for consultations to take place as part of their job. In particular, they understand that delegations need a certain amount of time to meet and get to know each other, to fully absorb a proposal and then to take action on it.