Archive | February, 2013

16. Challenges of the diplomatic representation

28 Feb

Challenges of the diplomatic representation

1. The survival of the embassies in the midst of global changes could be explained by their  versatility as essentially to provide organised professional diplomacy, and also because they are the only institutions capable of guaranteeing permanent representation abroad of States and continuity in the care of their international interests. However, the complex agenda of the new century requires a careful balancing of the qualities of the embassy with its diplomatic activity that a state must develop.

2. Effective public diplomacy requires clear and precise targets, in addition to the skilful use of the modern media and adequate perception of the current international context. Depending on whether the international projection of a country often corresponds to the quality of its diplomacy, strengthening and professionalization of the departments in the foreign service (and the Foreign Ministry) are matters of national interest.

3. In this context, the responsibility assumed by the diplomatic representative of the State today requires the faithful observance of principles, rules and procedures that provide consistency and respectability in conducting his duties. More and more, these duties involve the expansion of cooperation leading to the channelling of foreign investment into their countries, and to promote trade, tourism and various exchange activities.

4. The diplomatic representative shall also disseminate the values, art and national culture and, above all, to properly develop friendly relations, but as part of diplomatic law, not to interfere  in the internal affairs of the host State as he applies necessary firmness in defending the fundamental interests of his own State. Naturally, he should always keep in mind that he has the inescapable responsibility to safeguard, protect and promote the dignified image, reputation and interests of the country he represents.

5. Clearly, today’s diplomacy involves working on a new stage that demands a multi-disciplinary approach where problems of coordination and strategy require more than ever, sustained diplomacy in internal consensus and a clear vision of the current international situation.

6. Similarly, the follow-up and institutional coordination constantly push the agendas of the embassies in their continuous diplomatic actions, including the normal functions of the Mission, such as representation, negotiation, observation and information gathering, and protecting the interests and nationals abroad.

7. The envoy of the State in exercising his responsibilities must not have conflicts of interest which could bring harm to the sending country with unpredictable consequences. Not incidentally, conventional precepts and domestic legislation of States, in essence, reflect that requirement, in addition of course to the recommendation that the appointed diplomat should have the relevant qualifications for the efficient performance of his vital work.

8. Likewise, the diplomat of today, as the worthy representative of his country, must possess a reputation of honesty and loyalty to the State itself.

© by Odeen Ishmael

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15. Cultural diplomacy and diversity

28 Feb

Cultural diplomacy and diversity

1. Currently a significant part of the difficulties that exist in the global dialogue is due to ignorance (real in magnitude) of certain cultural factors existing in various States. Such ignorance often leads to various levels of inconvenience in the context of relations between States.

2. In this context, professional diplomacy, in the on-going quest for reconciliation between civilizations facing the possible threat of violence, works for mitigating the barriers and cultural antagonisms and effectively applies various strategies to facilitate the necessary harmony between civilizations.

3. The diplomatic approach should contribute to respecting the dignity of States and to understand and appreciate the natural reaction of people in establishing links with nations of other cultures. In doing so, diplomacy will have to rise above the arbitrary simplifications, stereotypes and artificial national prejudices, taking into account procedures, beliefs, traditions, and even the pride of the people.

4. While tolerance is necessary for the freedom of human beings, it is also a significant factor for communication between countries (governments and peoples). Diplomacy has to have a keen awareness of any changes in cultural concepts by examining and utilising new data in developing global strategies. The level of this aspect is so great that it eventually requires governments to now even participate in diplomatic negotiations with individuals or groups or entities whose representative character is in process of emergence and are not subjects of international law.

5. The preamble of the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity explains that culture is at the heart of contemporary debates about identity, social cohesion and the development of a knowledge-based n economy. It adds that respect for cultural diversity, tolerance, dialogue and cooperation in a climate of trust and mutual understanding is the best guarantors of peace and security. It also defines culture as the set of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features of society or a social group and encompass in addition to art and literature, lifestyles, ways of living together, value systems, traditions and beliefs.

6. It further states that cultural diversity is a source of development, understood not simply in terms of economic growth, but also as a means of access to intellectual, emotional, moral and spiritual existence.

7. In the framework of diplomatic relations, diplomats have to conveniently expand their knowledge of the culture of the country they represent, and also learn very quickly of the cultural characteristics of countries which are seeking closer. Understanding and appreciating the culture of various countries usually breeds greater confidence in promoting trade, economic cooperation and integration projects with those nations.

8. In the development of “public diplomacy,” “cultural diplomacy” is a privileged resource for external relations that since it assists in projecting conveniently the image, prestige and trust required of nations in the international arena. For instance, Brazilian foreign policy uses its cultural diplomacy to achieve goals in the wider diplomatic field through the linkage of culture and foreign policy through the projection of the country’s cultural diversity.

9. The prestige generated by the projection of the cultural heritage of the respective nations has become a core component of “soft power” which is essential for building an international image consistently and naturally conducive to their national interests.

© by Odeen Ishmael

14. Challenges of “cyber” diplomacy

14 Feb

Challenges of “cyber” diplomacy

1. As societies develop, new scenarios arise in international relations and pose new priorities which require methods consonant with the achievements and the significant changes that are evident in this area. The exercise of diplomacy is thus transformed but continues to take into account the interests of the respective States in the face of the challenges, risks and opportunities posed by the changing international environment.

2. In this context, such changes could be seen prominently in the importance acquired by “Hard Power” versus “Soft Power.” “Hard Power,” which refers to the traditional methods of coercion through the use of force (economic or military), is losing ground against “Soft Power,” the more subtle and effective art of persuasion and influence. This is the consequence of a number of factors which essentially have been identified as the so-called “interdependence complex,” which includes the empowerment of public opinion, the so-called revolution in mass media, the flow of ideas and information through the electronic media and, prominently, the cultural phenomenon known as globalisation.

3. These are elements that require States to reformulate its foreign policy structures and implement and develop the so-called mass diplomacy or “cyber” diplomacy, as a new focal point in international efforts.

4. In the light of the new global environment, States require effective strategies to inform and influence foreign audiences in order to create greater empathy, as a prerequisite for achieving its policy objectives abroad and as a strategic aspect of their diplomacy.

5. The development of this type of mass diplomacy leads to greater facilities to achieve goals that correspond to national interests. Also, this kind of diplomacy can advance more quickly and consistently when it has specific security objectives and economic and political purposes in mind.

6. Mass diplomacy contributes effectively to traditional diplomacy in implementing plans and achieving the objectives of foreign policy issues. In that sense, the so-called public diplomacy of the United States to spread American values and ideas internationally is now one of the priorities of the strategic plan of the Department of State. For American diplomacy this is a natural adaptation to the revolution of the mass media and the growing influence of culture which is now more closely tied to political and social change.

7. Programme evaluations conducted by the Department of State have shown that foreign populations exposed to mass diplomacy develop greater empathy for that country. The ability to reach populations with mass diplomacy increases with strategic communication programmes specially designed for foreign audiences and supported by a wide range of technological facilities, such as the Internet, printed publications, talk shows and processed electronically transmitted information resources , among others.

8. In the same direction, French diplomacy has prioritised to make France’s voice heard in the world to disseminate and share its core values, beliefs, norms and practices. For Germany, culture, information and communication are strategic assets in the field of security policy. That country sees the impact of mass diplomacy as stronger when people have as partners groups of individuals and institutions that have an influential role in the society targeted by forms of mass diplomacy.

9. With respect to “cyber” US diplomacy, the “Cyber Diplomacy Office” was created in 2002 to strengthen the capacity of communication and information dissemination internationally. This office has been incorporated into the Department of Information Management of the Department of State. The general strategic objectives of the “cyber” US diplomacy cover five aspects:

a)      Providing the right information;

b)      Connect to diplomats anywhere at any time and ensuring their involvement in decision making;

c)      Coordinate external partners in cooperation;

d)     Safe and effective risk;

e)      Innovations in practical work to create a highly specialised unit in information technology that can effectively serve the diplomatic missions.

10. It is noteworthy that “cyber” diplomacy, by its actions, has become a prime effective and consistent tool for “Soft Power.” Undoubtedly, the so-called “cyber” diplomacy is an innovative and highly effective factor for the full exercise of contemporary diplomacy.

© by Odeen Ishmael

13. Challenges of cultural diplomacy

14 Feb

Challenges of cultural diplomacy

1. Under the development of so-called public diplomacy, “cultural diplomacy” now has the challenge of properly projecting the nation’s image, prestige and trust in the international arena. It is a valuable tool in the field of foreign affairs, whose purpose is increasingly explicitly articulated as having economic and business goals and also development cooperation. This new strategy of cultural diplomacy basically uses the cultural potential of the nation for the benefit of its external relations. , counting for that purpose, in the framework outlined, with the creation, development and promotion of a “country brand” project.

2. “Country brand” projects are aimed at creating a visual identity of the respective country using differential factors to place the country in a special position in the world in order to obtain, among other benefits, greater global recognition and a significant increase in its international respectability. Moreover they will attract more foreign investment, increased tourism, adding value to their exports and effectively disseminate the quality of the nation’s culture and sport.

3. In recent years, nations have made great efforts to enhance its image abroad by using experts to establish their “country brand” projects. In this regard, the “branding” (creating and promoting the “brand”) is usually a routine action when states project an international image consonant with achieving the objectives of its foreign policy

4. Public diplomacy is in essence a set of initiatives aimed at influencing public opinion abroad. Because its purpose is the promotion of the national image, the projection of its values, and also the efficient dissemination of their views, public diplomacy often has the scope of influencing public opinion in third countries, the business world, and also to civil society in general. Public diplomacy reassesses the diplomatic function today beyond a certain extent of the rigid pattern inherent in purely intergovernmental ties, and it also contributes significantly to the actions of the so-called traditional diplomacy.

5. With regard to cultural diplomacy, the term was coined decades ago by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the then Federal Republic of Germany, Willy Brandt, and it was considered as the third pillar of the foreign policy of nations, together with the essential aspects of political and economic diplomacy.

6. The current universe of cultural diplomacy is immense in size and wealth, and is naturally related to the cultural heritage of countries, with their on-going cultural development and also with its historical past. However, these alone are not enough as a starting point of a foreign cultural policy. It is also imperative that countries are able to know how to use these essential factors for the benefit of the proper projection of their image and prestige.

7. Cultural diplomacy requires the formation of teams composed of experts with high level academic training in cultural matters. Likewise, diplomats who participate in it must broaden their knowledge on the culture of their own country and know how to properly relate it with the cultural characteristics of other countries with which they intend to strengthen relationships of trust.

8. Building a positive image and trust is crucial country’s in the international promotion of its cultural heritage and its cultural riches to attract investments in economic and technological development. At present, the cultural prestige of a country is a basic component of the so-called “soft power” which is essential for building an international image favourable to the national interests.

© by Odeen Ishmael