UN-Speak Sure is Annoying

Posted: September 1, 2010 in United Nations
Tags: , , , ,

What the heck is a Plenary Session?

and can we please omit the phrase “under the auspices of the United Nations” from the English lexicon?

here’s a small sampling from a sortof  UN dictionary of terms:

PLENARY SESSION: A term used for those sessions with no competing sessions and where all (or more likely, most) members are in attendance.

NONGOVERNMENTAL ORGANISATIONS (NGOs): Organisations formed by people outside of government. NGOs monitor the proceedings of human rights bodies such as the Human Rights Council and are the “watchdogs” of the human rights that fall within their mandate. Some are large and international (e.g., the Red Cross, Amnesty International); others may be small and local (e.g., an organisation to advocate for people with disabilities in a particular city). NGOs play a major role in influencing UN policy, and many of them have official consultative status at the UN.

WORKING GROUP: A collaboration of NGOs/researchers working on activities that would be difficult to develop under traditional mechanisms. Goals to be achieved may include the creation of an informational document, the creation of a standard, or the resolution of problems related to a child rights system or network. For example, the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict.

CONSULTATIVE STATUS: Refers to a status that NGOs and other organisations may gain in order to participate in the work of the UN. Consultative status enables qualifying organisations to serve as technical experts, advisers and consultants to governments and Secretariat. Sometimes, as advocacy groups, they further UN themes, implementing plans of action, programmes and declarations adopted by the United Nations.

In order to obtain consultative status an organisation’s application must be reviewed by the Committee on NGOs of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) which meets twice a year. The Committee recommends to the ECOSOC which organisations should be granted one of three categories (General, Special, and Roster).

*General Category organisations must be “concerned with most of the activities of the ECOSOC and its subsidiary bodies”. These tend to be fairly large, established international NGOs with a broad geographical reach.

*Special Category is granted to NGOs “which have a special competence in, and are concerned specifically with, only a few of the fields of activity covered by the ECOSOC”. These NGOs tend to be smaller and more recently established.

*Roster organisations “can make occasional and useful contributions to the work of ECOSOC or its subsidiary bodies”. These NGOs tend to have a rather narrow and/or technical focus.

from another glossary of terms:

OBSERVER STATUS: As the name implies, observers do not participate in debate nor help to shape policies drafted at official meetings.

ACCREDITED: This is being officially recognized as an organization affiliated with the United Nations.

here are a few examples from this Glossary of UN Peacekeeping Terms:

United Nations high-readiness brigade [proposed by Denmark; brigade on stand-by to intervene immediately when a peace-keeping operation is established by the Security Council, until it is actually deployed; short name for “Multinational United Nations Stand-by Forces High-Readiness Brigade”] see also: United Nations rapid deployment brigade; Group of Friends of Rapid Reaction; Multinational United Nations Stand-by Forces High-Readiness Brigade

United Nations rapid deployment brigade [proposed by Netherlands in a ‘non-paper’ (A/49/886); a standing international all-volunteer ‘fire brigade’ (a light infantry brigade of up to 5000 men), distinct from the stand-by forces and made up of individually recruited soldiers, which would be under direct control of the Security Council and would be used for preventive deployment or be sent in advance of, and preparation for, the deployment of stand-by units or of an international peace-keeping force] see also: vanguard groups concept; rapid reaction capability; rapid reaction force (note 3)

Working Group on a Multinational UN Stand-by Forces High Readiness Brigade [established by troop-contributing nations to explore the option of creating a rapid deployment force within the framework of the UNSAS, and thus safeguarding national sovereignty issues; a number of Member States can, by forming an affiliation between appropriate contributions to the UNSAS, make a pre-established Multinational UN Stand-by Forces High-Readiness Brigade available to the UN, thus providing a rapid deployment capability for deployments of a limited duration; employment of the Brigade mandated by the Security Council will be subject to approval by the participating nations for their individual troop contributions, thereby satisfying the government’s national obligations] see also: Group of Fiends of Rapid Reaction

Multinational United Nations Stand-by Forces High-Readiness Brigade [establishment proposed by Denmark; long name for “United Nations high-readiness brigade”; it would be pre-assembled from appropriate contributions to the UNSAS, and used for peace-keeping (Chapter VI) missions] see also: affiliation; Brigade Pool; vanguard groups concept; United Nations high-readiness brigade

United Nations Ration Scale [the UN ration scale incorporates two Basis of Provisioning (BOP); BOP A has been developped to reflect non western tastes and dietary patterns and BOP B is the western equivalent]



The UN entities and its specialized agencies Acronyms: such as UNITAR, UNESCO, UNICEF, UNIFIL, etc…

check out this example of the pure tedium of the United Nations

from the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR):
Multilateral Conferences & Diplomacy: A Glossary of Terms for UN Delegates

from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO):
Key terms concerning migration matters and multicultural policies as well as important terms of international legal documents.


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