Diplomatic Performance

Madhavji Shrestha


Experts and the media often hurl criticisms at the performance of the Nepali ambassadors abroad. Whether they are political appointees or career foreign service nominees, critical remarks are pointed towards them without any exception. Currently, 50 per cent of the Nepali ambassadors are the ambassadorial representatives sponsored by various political parties, and the rest 50 per cent are drawn from the civil servants working at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The political appointees mostly occupy the seats in the sensitively and strategically important capitals like New Delhi, Beijing and Washington. It is also true that some of the plume postings also have gone to the political appointees. To the capitals with less importance the career service ambassadors are assigned. However, irrespective of their political alignment and long career service, their diplomatic performance is not assessed satisfactory, because no concrete outcomes seem to have come out from their services, even though a very good amount of expenses has been incurred out of the state coffer. This is where critics have pointed out to express their opinion as regards to Nepal’s diplomatic functions and businesses abroad.

One thing to be noted carefully is that no visible and immediate result will come out of the diplomatic efforts made by the ambassadors except in some urgent cases. In other cases, energetic efforts combined with patience and capability are required to fetch good results for the benefits of the country to purposefully serve the national interest and to build the national image of Nepal abroad.

Introspection for fair weighing of advantages and disadvantages of this mixed system of diplomatic appointments of the ambassadorial rank is urgently needed to reinvigorate the diplomatic performance abroad, because the image and dignity of the country is reflected abroad through the dealings of our ambassadors. This point is crucial for the country if the government of Nepal sincerely wants to behave as a responsible member of the international community.

It is well known that young officials with the rank of section officers are recruited through various processes by the Public Service Commission (PSC); other higher officers with the ranks of the under secretaries and joint secretaries are also appointed and promoted through the vetting processes of written and oral tests as also through administrative processes. But when the relative dispensation including syllabuses adopted by the PSC is carefully examined, it does not likely look to produce genuine diplomats as are required to meet the new and fresh challenges. The system tends to produce hybrid officers; they are neither diplomats nor bureaucrats but placed in between. Nepal, as is now emerging as a democracy, needs good and able diplomats with the clear mindset and capability to work for and promote the honour and dignity of the country. Their personality must be as such that their proclivity and inclination to endearingly engage in genuine diplomatic businesses must be present in their inner personality. Superficial knowledge and outward look do not serve the purpose for which they are assigned abroad. Sincere efforts with true sense of devotion, and equipped with practical knowledges and skills come to occupy eminent spot in any concrete diplomatic venture.

An extensive study stuffed with essentially needed components of diplomatic domain and value must be carried to make recommendations for the PSC to enable it to select and sponsor appropriate candidates. So far such step has not been undertaken. This writer honestly feels this need to be done if some positive step in the right direction is to be initiated.

One thing realised by all experts is that Nepal perceptibly lacks a well-run institution that can spread knowledge on the latest development of the techniques and methods of diplomacy and diplomatic practice. Of course, Nepal now has some faculties of international affairs and diplomacy. However, they are not sufficiently equipped with highly research oriented teaching staff and adequate materials and necessary resources. To fill the void, there must be an appropriately managed Academy for Diplomacy and Diplomatic Practice that can infuse and defuse deeper and broader knowledge on the recent diplomatic trend and its evolving pattern.

In Nepal until today, there is no name-worth training institution as well. A so-called autonomous organisation, Institute of Foreign Affairs exists in Kathmandu. This institution is not truly run as a training unit under the government of Nepal. It has no adequate number of good trainers, neither does it have sufficiently managed logistics and  regularly allocated resources to meet the genuine needs of the country at present. Hopefully very recently, some efforts have been made by thoroughly examining its structure to prepare its own department to make it as a well organised training unit.

Nepal is a poor and weak country. Its sole power and attraction is the diplomatic knowledge and skills of higher order to maintain and improve Nepal’s multi-dimensional relations with big neighbours, and other great and influential powers of the world. As an independent and sovereign country existing since two and half centuries ago, Nepal must possess eminent and successful diplomats of good and proven capability.

In the present- day Nepal, the ruling political parties and their coalition partners have adopted the practice of appointing their cadres and workers as ambassadors to the capitals of influential powers. But those selected cadres and cronies are hardly experienced on diplomatic jobs and their relative duties. They are not appropriately educated and trained people to successfully perform diplomatic functions to the satisfaction of the society of Nepal for which they are assigned abroad to serve them. This has raised a question if the political parties wish and adhere to the practice of appointing their closely affiliated political functionaries, the parties must maintain their own diplomatic department to educate and prepare them for the assignment of ambassadors to various countries.

Diplomatic functions demand subtle quality and capability to represent the nation abroad. Without a good deal of training and experience, no ambassador, whether they belong to the party of the Prime Minister or Foreign Minister would be able to successfully discharge their duties in an efficient manner.

If the ruling parties desire to stick to such practice, they need to have their own diplomatic department to equip them with necessary knowledge of diplomatic courtesies, protocol manners, diplomatic regulations and conventions accepted and pursued worldwide. To correctly represent the country abroad as well as to efficiently work, the negotiation skills and diplomatic drafting skills are invariably required. These core skills do not come themselves. They could be acquired only through long experience and rigorous training process. Additionally, the ever growing democratic way of life demand good quality of public speaking and art of public relations as well to keep in touch with the people, and their clubs and associations to win their good opinion and favour for Nepal. This would be a great asset for their own-selves and for the home country they represent abroad.

In the modern world which is intricately riddled with myriad issues and problems, the value and significance of diplomacy is ever rising. The following two quotes from eminent experts would explicitly present its current kaleidoscope.  The first runs- “Diplomacy, the institution and process by which states and, increasingly others represent themselves and their interests to one another in international and world societies, is back on center stage”. The second is- “Diplomacy is now clearly relevant in world politics, and it may in fact be becoming more so. In addition, diplomacy is more complex today than it has ever been-- diplomacy has taken on a complexity never before seen”.

More recent trend in diplomatic practice on the global arena dictates and directs us all to devote our time and energy to study and research diplomatic evolution with seriousness, by and through which practitioners especially Nepal’s ambassadors abroad would be visibly re-invigorated to objectively serve the national interests and societal demands.



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