On March 13, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres ordered New York-based personnel to start working from home as of March 16, to last until April 13. His announcement came one day after the UN confirmed that a diplomat from the Philippines who represents her country at the UN in New York had tested positive for Covid-19.
In this latest podcast episode, we explore the question: How is working remotely affecting diplomacy? To answer that, we talked to four diplomats from four countries, all based in New York, about how their respective missions to the UN are handling the crisis. We also look at how the UN itself is transitioning from operating at the UN headquarters to . . . well . . . living room couches!
In the episode, we talk to Rodrigo Carazo, the Costa Rican ambassador to the UN; Deputy Permanent Representatives Dmitry Polyanskiy of Russia and Odd-Inge Kvalheim of Norway; and Mohamed Ali Jalardi, a counselor for the Lebanese mission.
Kvalheim, for one, said that diplomats meeting virtually “can never really completely replace the interaction we have across the table,” but for now, they are getting business done.
We also look at how the Security Council, the Social and Economic Council and other essential UN bodies are managing the transition — as the Costa Rican ambassador said, “adapting to new systems for which we were not fully prepared. . . . ”
But at least one country, Russia, dislikes the possibility of the Council’s meeting remotely.
We also try to look at the coronavirus outbreak on a positive note, because there can be some benefits to working from home and experiencing social distancing!