International relations: The making of a modern diplomat

The meteoric development of Information Technology and rapid globalisation, reinforced by human inquisitiveness, has brought about far-reaching changes in all spheres of human life, thereby also bringing about considerable changes in local, national and international fields. They have indeed revolutionised both human thinking and actions. Even the age-old concept of sovereignty of the nation-states has been affected and as a consequence, the conduct of diplomacy, long considered an exclusive domain of the state, is now openly discussed, keeping people’s interest in mind. This trend has become popular in the initial years of the 21st century.

The complex interdependence among nations and the unstoppable movement of the people across the borders have unmistakably transfigured political and geographic landscape of so-called independent states. Close contact and interactions among various cultures and ethnicities are on the rise, albeit not without frictions and troubles. This will be the

trend unless some disastrous event of unimaginable magnitude takes place. However,

the acknowledged supremacy of the common people in democratic environment around the world means that untoward manmade catastrophes are unlikely.

Against such a backdrop, the need to conduct diplomacy on both bilateral and multilateral levels simultaneously has become a great concern for a fledging democracy like Nepal. Newer challenges lie ahead on diplomatic and international fronts. However, these challenges can be met if necessary measures are taken and improvements made as per the needs of the emerging situation.

A well-known expert on diplomacy writes that the processes of diplomacy - the whole gamut, from communicating, negotiating, reaching and formulating agreements, collecting, creating, transmitting and recording knowledge - all depend on skills and language abilities of diplomats. For this, diplomats must be equipped with Diploportals (defined as comprehensive and interactive information sources on specific topics related to diplomacy and international relations).

To a young diplomat, Diplodictionary is of utmost importance as it gives him a list of terms used in diplomacy and international relations. It provides resources that reflect different national, cultural, religious and professional background of participants in international affairs. Similarly, Diploknowledge is of immense value. It means a combination of information, training, experience and intuition that enables a diplomat to act appropriately in unpredictable situations. The knowledge used in diplomacy appears in a variety of forms, starting from general knowledge, knowledge of particular subjects such as international relations and international law, training, and knowledge accumulated through experience such as knowledge of regions, knowledge of how to react in particular situations and appropriate procedures.

A diplomat must forever be on Diploalert and have the ability to effectively manage his acquired knowledge, as well as human and material resources at his disposal in an economical and timely manner. He will then be able to travel abroad as an exemplary diplomat promoting and protecting national and societal interests of the country he represents, whether in a particular country or in an international organisation. He may then well be on his way to becoming a Diplowizard.

When we sit down to take stock of the situation of the existing diplomatic service in Nepal, we see that it is underdeveloped and unsuitable for the country’s interest, despite the awareness among those who understand the situation. The reason for this is not hard to fathom. Decision-makers, especially at the political level, have never been interested in making diplomacy up-to-date. These people are self-serving and carry out their hidden interests at the cost of the diplomatic service.

It’s high time politicians at the helm paid their attention to reform diplomatic service in order to make it capable of handling all bilateral and international affairs in an efficient and effective manner. The measures for reform and improvement must be defined in their objectivity. Prompt action is required for the development of a convincing Diploproject, one well-connected and managed through the internet to single out defects in it and make suggestions for future improvements.

The much-needed Diploproject must incorporate portals for Diplodictionary, Diploknowledge, and Diploalert as minimum requirements for producing Diplowizards. A successful implementation of the project will be useful for the initiation of post-modern diplomacy that is well-suited in a fast-changing world. Any initiative taken now needs to be aimed at addressing this primary concern. The country cannot afford the project to go wrong: A well-knit Diploproject is hence the need of the hour.

Shrestha is ex-foreign ministry official