Well! did I get a crash course in international politics these past two weeks. Though I did go to a lot of interesting side events, the fascinating thing was watching the delegates work on the text. It was especially instructive as the week wore on and the night sessions lengthened (for the past two nights in a row they didn’t finish until six in the morning). You saw which nations were battling with which (we even had a few sparks between two particular nations on the floor of the General Assembly Hall) and soon caught on which issues were the hot ones. Trade, money promised and not given, the dumping of toxic waste in other peoples’ countries, and just generally the huge imbalance of power / distribution of resources between and among countries.
The playing field is a little more level RE negotiations because of alliances…for example, the 20-something countries of the European Union negotiate together. There are 77 small, less developed countries plus China (“called the G-77 plus China”) and they really have their act together. The US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand usually back each other up. Why? I’ll tell you about it sometime in some way other than a public blog!
At one point, after half an hour haggling over the word, “local” and three hours going back and forth on three small subpoints, I was about to go “EEEEEK” in frustration, and even the chair (to that point Mr Cool) commented on the fact that we had not completed anything that afternoon. It was interesting to watch the style of the different chairpeople–what negotiating skills! At one point a chairman said that it was obvious nobody was going to budge, so he told them to meet after the meeting and come to some resolution.
Well, it’s 20 minutes to suppertime (which is, in my honor, pasta and meatballs) and I leave at 7 in the morning to catch a plane. I still haven’t finished my report for Catherine, or finished packing, and I haven’t finished telling you about Rio plus 20, so I’ll have a wrap-up blog after I get home, how’s that? Kentucky, here I come!