An unusually heterogenous group met in the new Westfields Conference Center at Chantilly, VA, outside Washington, DC, in February 1991. There were diplomats and climate experts, people from capitals and permanent UN delegations, old hands at multilateral negotiation as well as newcomers. They came from almost a hundred different countries, with divergent objectives and negotiating goals. And there was considerable uncertainty in the air.
Nonetheless, in the late afternoon of May 9, 1992, just fifteen months Later—as Chairman Jean Ripert of France concluded the negotiation and received well-deserved applause—many of the negotiators had become friends and would regret the unavoidable separation. Group dynamics had worked wonders throughout the many negotiating sessions and late-night drafting meetings. It was a special human experience and an example of what multilateral negotiation can achieve, if the conditions are right.
One reason for our success was the structure of the negotiations: they took place within the general framework of preparations for the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), sometimes called the Earth Summit, working under an implied pressure to produce a Convention before the Rio Conference in June 1992. With that sense of urgency came an overriding concern for the global environment and the conviction that important issues, critical to the future of mankind, were at stake. Without pressing the argument too far, even the most experienced or cynical negotiators had to be sensitive to this kind of reasoning.