Archive | April, 2013

30. Public diplomacy today

18 Apr

Public diplomacy today

1. In the field of international relations as a result of the evolutionary process of international society, priorities arise that require new methods in the field of diplomatic practice.

2. In this regard, public diplomacy has become a useful tool for achieving important foreign policy objectives. One of its main strengths is to enhance and consolidate the prestige and image of the country in order to generate the trust needed to facilitate the effectiveness of actions previously established. This form of diplomacy includes prominently projecting the values of the nation and disseminating its views.

3. Public diplomacy generates constructive dialogue (and other actions) in the long term among nations and creates better understanding. It not only involves shaping the message that the diplomat wants to display outside his country, but also within. This exercise should be analysed to understand the ways in which the message can be interpreted by various sectors of the society to which it is aimed. By this new strategy, States can promote important aspects of international relations through the media and especially when it is dealing with a wide range of non-governmental organisations.

4. Basically formed by a series of initiatives aimed at influencing public opinion abroad, this form of diplomacy seeks to establish effective and essential foreign policy actions. It proposes to provide empathy and adherence to a particular issue or to any act or important statement. Public diplomacy is also aimed at influencing the international community to achieve the peaceful acceptance of a particular point of view, or justify a certain action of the respective country.

5. Public diplomacy, of course, expands the boundaries of traditional diplomacy. In this regard, it is worthy to note that the United States’ National Security Strategy of 2006 set out its purposes as:

a) Strengthening public diplomacy in order to defend American policies and values in a clear, precise and persuasive manner to a world that is watching and listening.

b) Actively addressing audiences abroad, expanding opportunities for Americans to learn foreign languages and cultures and encouraging students and scholars from other countries to study in the United States.

c) Empowering the voices of American citizen as well as foreigners who share the commitment to a safer world, with more compassion, seeking private sector support, increasing channels for dialogue with Muslim leaders and citizens and confronting propaganda quickly, before myths and distortions take root in the hearts and minds of people in the world.

6. Internally, public diplomacy has an important role by providing local audiences to understand international affairs and foreign policy through public dialogue. This also facilitates the ability to develop domestic policies and may involve key segments of the population by allowing them to implement and develop actions to strengthen aspects relating to national identity.

7. Considering that knowledge is one of the elements of power, the first duty of those responsible for external actions of States is to have efficient mechanisms, both to learn and to be informed and also to inform. Public diplomacy serves these functions to a high degree.

© by Odeen Ishmael


29. Foreign policy and diplomacy

10 Apr

Foreign policy and diplomacy

1. The Head of State (or Government) is responsible for the formulation and conduct of foreign policy. In this context, diplomacy is the instrument for implementing the foreign policy of the State.  

2. Foreign policy today is an expression of the complex organisation that operates within each State: the purpose and quality of its leaders, the level of its economy and social stability it has, its social and political pluralism and it firmness in the expression of public opinion.

3. An important part of the international activities of States is support for the stability of relations between nations. However, these activities are constantly modified. In this continually developing, sometimes unpredictable environment, each government agrees to a series of obligations to act and react, and these together now constitute a large extent of its foreign policy

4. The foreign policy of countries is active, voluntary and reflexive at different periods. But that policy is composed of a set of decisions and actions that are proposed to adapt the behavior of the country to the needs or opportunities presented by the international environment.

5. Each State aims to act as freely as it can in terms of a discretionary assessment of the motives and objectives of the actions of other States. A performance of one is answered by the actions of others either by reconciliation or conflict of interest. However, they tend to adapt to each other in a perpetual interaction in the dynamics of international politics.

6. A coherent foreign policy involves a body of doctrine which imposes a discipline on the wills, orders and operations suited to a purpose consistent with enabling the peaceful coexistence of nations.

7. As a clear consequence of having foregone “the myth of the state secret,” with which States in the past escaped the public examination foreign policy, in the days these are analysed without limitation with regards to its foundations, aims and strategies.

8. The terms “foreign policy” and “international politics” are not synonymous. The latter refers to the international policy processes of interaction between States, subject to international law, to act according to their political interests that are controlled by their government bodies. In contrast, the term foreign policy refers to the set of goals (or planned programmes of activities) agreed upon by decision-makers of a State with respect to the behavior of other States or international bodies in order to achieve specific goals defined in terms national interests. It can also include the set of strategies and techniques to make these goals possible.

9. Foreign policy involves a dynamic process of implementation of interpretations of national interests to the various developments in the international arena. In the dynamics of the global situation, the foreign policy of a State also reflects the pattern of foreign relations of that State with others. It is also reflected by State actors, notably the Head of State and the Foreign Minister, whose actions and public statements impact on the international political situations.  

10. The conduct of foreign policy must remain a full coordination so that all the planning and subsequent activities remain within the broad structure of the pattern of national interest. It must also be applied this way with all the essential principle of unity of action outside the State.

© by Odeen Ishmael

28. Mediation in the international arena

6 Apr

Mediation in the international arena

1. In a world as interconnected and interdependent as it is today, peaceful conflict management is one of the great contemporary challenges, especially if one considers that in the present international legal order, the use of weapons by a State or a group of States is allowed for self-defence. Also, in the event of a threat to international peace and security in accordance with the UN Charter, the Security Council can impose interim measures or sanctions, which may range from military to economic and diplomatic.

2. In recent years, the methods of peaceful settlement established in the Charter of the UN have been directed towards mediation. The UN has also applied the method of “Good Office.”

3. In this dynamic the mediator may be a Head of State or Government or an international outstanding personality, appointed by mutual agreement of both parties, and who can provide States in dispute with settlement alternatives. His proposals, of course, are not binding for them, but can help to find solutions in an atmosphere of good faith and goodwill.

4. The purely theoretical distinction between good office and mediation is that the former is limited to bringing the warring or disputing States to open direct negotiations, while the second goes further, proposing alternative solutions to the problem. The manager of good office, if it expresses its opinion on the matter of substance, became the mediator, which can occur frequently in the course of good office.

5. Mediation is halfway between the good office and conciliation because it does more than bring the parties in conflict, but fails to make a report with the proposed solutions after studying the situation on the ground.

6. Mediation is a method of diplomatic-political character, as are also direct settlement, good office, and commissions of inquiry and conciliation. Mediation differs from legal methods (arbitration and judicial settlement) because the latter judgements are binding on the parties. In mediation, a proposed settlement is in the opinion of the parties not binding. For a successful mediation, three factors are essential: a) the motivation of the parties in dispute to resolve the conflict; b) the opportunity for the mediator to be involved and to act; and c) adequate knowledge of the dispute by the mediator.

7. Mediation refers to the substance of the matter and proposes ways and means for a solution acceptable to both parties by establishing the facts based on law and comparing conflicting aspirations by both parties in order to move to a compromise.

8. The UN “Good Office” is more spontaneous, while mediation stems from an international understanding that the mediator is granted authority to proceed in a particular way. Although there is a State’s right to “Good Office” or mediation, unless it is contained in a legal instrument that obliges its signatories to resort to a specific method where differences occur, it is generally accepted as an act of a friendly nature in all cases.

9. As a method of peaceful settlement, mediation is entered in both the UN Charter and the OAS. Also, there is “collective mediation” by a group of States which has proven to be an effective tool to settle disputes.

10. For the effectiveness of mediation, it is essential for the mediator to have a wide knowledge of the dispute and a deep understanding while applying a systematic and consistent management of the mediation method to be applied. It is essential to effectively locate the right time for mediation.

11. The mediator should have a thorough knowledge of the states involved in the dispute (interest, history, culture, etc.) and also of the political leaders of the States involved. He must also be fully aware of the motives and background of the conflict. The mediator cannot in any direct way have a tangential interest in the conflict or on issues that are in dispute.

12. Mediation can effectively resolve conflicts and disputes, reduce hostilities and generally enable countries, organisations or individuals to address their differences peacefully, and even constructively.

© by Odeen Ishmael

27. Essential use of diplomatic language

4 Apr

Essential use of diplomatic language

1. The diplomatic communication is a privileged mode of work which is often complex, but which provides liaison in international dialogue between the States. While communications between the states are in constant development, they require the full enforcement of rules and procedures established for such actions, according to the nature and importance of the matters to be discussed and agreed upon. Unlike other communication systems, the diplomatic network is not neutral, since they further the interests, of wills, powers and rivalries, and for the conciliation of vital interests.

2. In essence, the diplomatic language is called a cautious form of expression that gives the opportunity to stay, to some extent, below the exacerbation of statements that can generate “hostility.” The exercise of diplomacy has created expressions and idioms which are essential to communicate with propriety not only in this task, but also in the diverse international settings.

3. The essential use in certain oral and written presentations of presidents, foreign ministers, diplomatic agents, referred to as the professional language of diplomacy, is the only instrument that allows, through cautious gradation, to make a serious warning to counterparts without using threatening words, in accordance with the rules of international coexistence. The language allows for properly handling conflict situations or critical foreign policy, even in conciliatory terms, and without being considered as provocation or rudeness.

4. Therefore, statesmen, foreign ministers, diplomats and international civil servants have adopted a series of conventional phrases that, however amiable they may seem, convey a message that their counterparts clearly understand. Thus, when one of those other high officials informs that his government “cannot remain indifferent” to certain international controversy, it is clear he means that, without doubt, his government will intervene in this dispute. If his letter or speech uses phrases such as “my government is concerned,” then it is obvious to everyone that his government intends to adopt a strong push in a particular case.

5. If it says “in that case my government would be inclined to carefully reconsider its position” it means that friendship is about to break down. When it says “my government feels obliged to express reservations with regard to . . ,” it actually can be translated to mean that “my government will not allow . . .” The term “in that case my government will be forced to consider its own interests” or “to declare itself free of compromises,” indicates that there will be a deterioration in relations.

6. If a foreign government warns that a certain action on its part would be considered “as an unfriendly act,” the government to which the statement is directed must interpret the words as a tacit threat to measures of retaliation recognised by the international community.

7. In this regard, saying that “it compelled to decline all responsibility for the consequences” means that it about to provoke an incident that would lead to enforceable actions. And if asked, even in terms of the most exquisite courtesy, for a response, for example, “before six in the evening,” such communication is considered an ultimatum.

8. While a professional diplomat will be very careful and selective in his diplomatic language, any careless language used by one who is inexperienced or ignorant of these forms of diplomatic communication, my exacerbate the gravity of a situation greater than it really is. Thus, diplomacy requires the application of intelligence and tact in the conduct of official relations between states.

© by Odeen Ishmael