Week 1 of Plenipot is largely about elections, food and gifts. The food and gifts are direct results of Member States trying to convince other Member States to vote for them in the countless positions that are up for election here in Busan. I asked one Member State if rich food diplomacy really convinced others to cast votes in a certain way. I was told that it didn’t, but it did help raise awareness of who was running for elections, particularly for those running from less well-known States.
We will also hear a lot more five-minute policy statements from Member States and do a lot of general preparation for the following two weeks where the real work will take place. While the policy statements can seem a little mind numbing to listen to, given the general similarity of their content, they can also be useful indicators of the general positions the States will maintain in the following two weeks. You just have to find the nuggets of gold from amongst all the national ICT facts and figures, “vote for us” and thank you and congratulatory messages that they contain.
Week 1 is also a chance to build relationships between delegates, which will help with negotiations in Weeks 2 and 3. Never underestimate the power of inter-personal connections to bridge geopolitical divides.
A lot of delegates will disappear once elections have taken place at PP14 as they came to Busan to help with the lobbying for votes and won’t have a role to play once participants begin the hard work of drafting updated resolutions. The delegates remaining behind will then have two weeks of late nights and early mornings in drafting groups without much access to food to work off the weight gained at all the receptions held this week.
There will also be an influx of new delegates arriving toward the end of the week and early next week. These new delegates will be focussed on doing the less glamorous, but substantive, work of the conference: drafting resolutions and other key documents that will steer ITU’s path over the next four years.