Archive | May, 2013

32. Diplomatic responsibility of information gathering

24 May

Diplomatic responsibility of information gathering

1. In the field of international relations one of the first obligations of those responsible for external actions of States is to have efficient and appropriate mechanisms in order to be informed so as to produce timely reports. In this context, the diplomatic missions can be considered privileged and protected observation posts established under the relevant international legal instruments.

2. An essential role of the diplomatic mission is the responsibility to obtain as much information conveniently available in both host States and in international bodies. This enables the sending State to act with full knowledge on the initiatives and negotiation strategies of other governments. The professionalization of this work includes the systematisation of the information provided electronically, ensuring their ready availability and classification, analysis, updating and improvement.

3. In the search for information, diplomacy can collide with the secrecy surrounding certain matters of state and also with sometimes with the desire to influence people’s behaviour through persuasion. The diplomat usually pays special attention to properly and objectively interpret the “signals” under observation, especially those that concern the interests or somehow threaten the State he represents.

4. A diplomat should avoid distorting the truth since he does not want to run the risk of diplomats from other States doubting his word. Even though “lying” may be well organised and the diplomat can always issue a “denial,” his credibility and respectability will be questioned.

5. The diplomatic role of monitoring and reporting was established by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. Such monitoring and reporting should be centred on the host State’s economic reality, politics (internal and external), social, scientific, technological and cultural development, and on other relevant events occurred in that State, including administrative and legislative reforms.

6. The nature of such management requires that information is properly verified in terms of content and the sources of information, before being forwarded to the Foreign Ministry. With regard to the confidential information, it is essential to have specific and autonomous systems to channel it properly. These include encrypted transmissions, couriers and diplomatic bags, as stated in the Vienna Convention.

7. With regard to information gathering, the exercise in the era of “secret diplomacy” in the past was very different from today. Diplomatic missions were regarded as centres of espionage and intrigue. This is confirmed by the fact that in 1653 the England passed a law forbidding Members of Parliament to speak with foreign diplomats, and its breach was punished with the loss of his seat. At that time the international goals of the States were not like today; the limits allowed by later established international conventions now govern their excesses and empower the international community to act accordingly, within the framework of rights and duties of States.

8. Although these actions are proscribed in the course of the current open diplomacy, recent history has recorded cases of diplomats (and international civil servants) declared “persona non grata.” This is one of the defence mechanisms applied by States and justified by accusations of espionage and also of interference in the internal politics of the receiving State. Host States have also applied this measure against diplomats who have used their privileged status to commit acts deemed illegal and whose personal and public behaviour and professional conduct conflict with the rules of international coexistence.

 © by Odeen Ishmael


31. International negotiations

13 May

International negotiations

1. Negotiation in the framework of diplomacy is a characteristic of diplomacy itself and one of its crucial roles of the diplomat in the performance of their duties. , they must stand up for negotiation juvenile matters. Actually, diplomatic activity is negotiation itself, since this is the proper means of conducting diplomacy.

2. Diplomatic negotiation is now the most important part of foreign policy carried out by peaceful means. This task cannot be improvised; it requires knowledge, talent and experience, and by its very systematic nature, demands forethought and calculation.

3. Diplomatic negotiation is no different from any other negotiations that may take place in public or private, national or transnational. However, its special nature is because it is carried out between subjects of international law, through their representative bodies and formal officials working in the field of external relations.  In this sense, negotiation is proposed to overcome the stalemates and conflict situations resulting from political commitments. Its objective is to obtain political commitments as well as to conclude international treaties.

4. In any negotiation the exchange of arguments must be made through discussion, to which promises, “hard-line” positions, concessions and, finally, commitments tend to be added. To ensure success, the diplomatic negotiator must develop the ability to know the location and timing of specific actions.

5. Every negotiation requires careful evaluation based on its own merits. The analysis starts with the thorough and timely description of the case motivating the negotiation, to which are added, with sufficient precision, its specific objectives.

6. Accordingly, the skilled negotiator usually develops a comprehensive strategic plan with a timetable, which will take into account three major alternatives: reducing the largest cluster of demands from the other side; considering the minimum set of the demands from both sides; and striking a point of balance of the claims for each of the parties. 

7. The plan must include, among other important aspects, not just the presentation and defense of arguments, but also for possible replies to the arguments of the other party, while keeping in mind that there will be interest groups not involved in the negotiation but which may interfere with the results.

8. This method also suggests taking a contingency strategy to provide space for estimates, forecasts and changes in circumstances, i. e., to prepare in for any eventualities – not only what will happen, but those surprises and contingencies of force majeure. At the same time, the negotiator should exhibit humility to understand the dissent, the ductility to reach consensus, and determination to reach a final agreement.  

9. Negotiation is a mechanism through which the actors involved seek methodologically to reconcile their differences in order to arrive at the conclusion of an amicable settlement. The achievement of an agreement through negotiation actually depends on the willingness of the parties involved to make concessions that may be accepted by both parties on a quid pro quo basis.

© by Odeen Ishmael