Assessment Three: 2500 word brief (55%) due 5pm Wednesday 8 June
This should be written in the form of a briefing to the Australian government for a UN conference convened to determine a response to, or review progress made on, specific goals agreed by the United Nations, or specific reviews mandated by UN Commissions, or the report and recommendations of a major high-level international commission or panel. With the approval of the Subject Coordinator or Seminar Assistant the briefing may be on one or more parts of such a report rather than the whole of it. A choice may be made for this purpose from one of the following commissions, panels, UN bodies or UN Goals:
1. Analysis of and progress made in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), agreed by a United Nations Summit in 2015 (select one to three of the seventeen agreed goals.) See:http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/librarypage/corporate/sustainable-development-goals-booklet.html .You will be expected to research input into and the debate to establish the SDGs as this will help frame your briefing. Useful background can be found by consulting A New Global Partnership: Eradicate Poverty and Transform Economies Through Sustainable Development, 2013 at http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/policy/untaskteam_undf/HLP%20P2015%20Report.pdf, by the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda. The 2016 Progress report is at http://unstats.un.org/sdgs/report/2016/The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2016.pdf
2. The United Nations Human Rights Council conducts a rolling series of reviews of human rights in all member states of the UN, known as Universal Periodic Reviews (UPRs). Examine a national report submitted by a member state (e.g. Papua New Guinea, Thailand, Syria, Zimbabwe, Sudan, South Sudan) in 2016 and write the brief for the Australian government to submit to the Commissions discussion of the report (select two or three of the most important points in your chosen country report and bear in mind that the aim of the submission is to scrutinise and expose human rights practices and to encourage the country under review to meet where necessary its human rights obligations. See: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/UPRMain.aspx
3. The (previous) United Nations Secretary-Generals Eighth report on the Responsibility to Protect, Mobilizing collective action: the next decade of the responsibility to protect, UN Document A/70/999-S/2016/620, dated 22 July 2016. The report is accessible through: http://www.responsibilitytoprotect.org/SG Report 2016- Mobilizing collective action- the next decade of the responsibility to protect.pdf This process was the outcome of the report by the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) (Gareth Evans and Mohamed Sahnoun, Co-Chairs), The Responsibility to Protect, 2001, accessible at: http://responsibilitytoprotect.org/ICISS Report.pdf
4. Independent international commission of inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, report They came to destroy: ISIS Crimes Against the Yazidis to the UN Human Rights Council (15 June 2016) UN Document A/HRC/32/CRP.2 See: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/CoISyria/A_HRC_32_CRP.2_en.pdf
5. International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (ICNND) (Gareth Evans and Yoriko Kawaguchi, Co-Chairs), Eliminating Nuclear Threats: A Practical Agenda for Global Policymakers, 2009 www.icnnd.org/reference/reports/ent/pdf/ICNND_Report-EliminatingNuclearThreats.pdf
B. Further Information on Task and Topic Selection
Your briefing should assume that the Australian delegation will use the briefing as a guide to inform their interventions on behalf of the Australian Government at a UN conference convened to discuss progress of the recommendations contained in the report, at either ministerial or officials level. You should assume the conference is convened at the present day, i.e. in 2017 (to discuss progress/development of the issue(s) and of the implementation of the reports recommendations since the report was initially published). It should clearly outline the response (as you believe it should be) that Australia should make to the key findings and recommendations of the commission or panel you have chosen, or to the country report, or to the goals established and provide justifications, including from national interest and policy perspectives. Normally such a brief would contain a short section on what the Governments established policy position is on the subject matter in question, and a reference to this in your brief will help establish the basis for your proposed response.
As indicated in the Subject Guide, to make the task more manageable it is permissible to choose to write a briefing on some part of a commission or panel or country report rather than the whole of it, given that a number of such reports (for example, ICNND on nuclear weapons) cover a very wide range of issues. In this case, permission should be sought from the Teaching Assistant, Scott Clarey (by email: email@example.com).
You may also wish to seek permission to write your briefing on a report other than one of those listed. In this case permission should be sought from the Subject Coordinator, John Woods, or the Teaching Assistant, Scott Clarey.
You are expected to use citations and provide a bibliography as you would a normal research essay, even though such referencing is not usual in official briefing documents. A guide to referencing can be found on the LMS.
In Australian government practice there is no precise template for conference briefings of this kind: what is required will vary with the subject matter and the occasion. The following is a guide to the section headings and content that are likely to be appropriate for most purposes, with a rough indication of word-lengths, which you may wish to draw on. The overall limit, excluding headings and sub-headings, is 2,500 words: however your material is organised, please ensure that this total is not exceeded.
Brief for Australian Delegation to UN Conference to Consider [name Report, identifying particular sections or items if you are limiting your brief to part of the whole]
Brief background to the formation of the commission/panel, its aims and methodology; succinct summary of key issue(s) arising from the report (these may be drawn from the content of the report as well as other key issues related to it): 400 words.
Outline whether and why the key issue (s) is/are important to Australia; and what the Australian Governments or governing partys established policy position, if any, is (optional): c. 300 words.
Evaluation of Key Issues
Detailed assessment, using sub-headings as appropriate, of the key issue(s), and all the factors which Australia should take into account in determining its position, including wider international/ geo-strategic implications (could the report, or implementation of its recommendations, have a major impact on global/regional/bilateral political/economic dynamics?); other Australian activities/policies that may be affected by acceptance or rejection if the recommendations are to be implemented; and other potential international and domestic risks/rewards/challenges. Basic theme: extent to which national interests in widest sense traditional security and economic interests, but also value-based and reputational would be advanced, hindered or not affected.
Consideration in the light of these factors and also whether the recommendations likely to fulfil their aims if accepted/implemented, and to what extent should that determine government response whether the Australian Government should support the commission/panels recommendations in full, or seek to strike a different balance. Aim for the implementation of a limited number of recommendations, or their partial implementation? Or aim to have the commissions/panels recommendations rejected entirely? : 1500 words (maximum)
Response to report recommendations
Summarise, in light of this evaluation, in abbreviated point form, using subheadings as appropriate to separate recommendations or themes, the positions the delegation should take in response to the report as a whole, or your selected individual recommendations or issues from the report and/or the particular issues discussed in this briefing. This section (or another section somewhere in your briefing) should clearly articulate the response the Australian delegation should have, and any interventions they should make, at the conference with regard to the reports recommendations and themes. This can be divided thematically, by report chapter or by recommendations. You may wish to cover only certain, relevant recommendations of the report (or chapter you have chosen) rather than the report (or chapter) as a whole. Please remember to make a brief risk assessment if you consider by other key countries might not agree with or contest your proposed responses/recommendations. c.300 words
The purpose of this assignment is to give you experience in analysing an international commission or UN report against national interest criteria and to increase your awareness of the role played by international commissions and panels, or UN bodies and the challenges they pose for foreign policymaking, as well as to develop your foreign policy analysis, briefing and professional writing skills.
You will be marked on the following criteria:
your written expression;
your ability to distil relevant key points;
your analytical skills;
your ability to target your writing and evidence to the intended audience (Minister or delegation);
your ability to identify challenges and risks involved in responding in a certain way to an international commissions recommendations or UN recommendations or country performance (in the case of a UPR); and
the clarity and consistency of your response to your chosen reports recommendations.
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