Challenges For Envoys

Madhavji Shrestha

Recently, some of selective persons - a mix of career ones and non-career ones - have been already recommended for appointment as ambassadors to several countries, including the important southern neighbour India. Recommendations for the position of ambassadors are a normal process as a routine work of the government. But what is important is the eclectic method of selection to suit the situations existing in various political and economic spectrums of the host countries. Also good knowledge about and familiarity with the country for which recommendation is made matters significantly and enable the persons to work as envoy for the improvement of relations as also for benefits that accrues to Nepal and heighten its image.

Global context
Diplomacy and diplomatic practice play crucial role, albeit sometimes visible and sometimes invisible. Doubtless, global diplomacy today is irrefutably dominated by economic strength and trade concerns. Naturally, powerful and economically affluent countries have upper hands in navigating diplomatic maneuvers to manage global economic and trade relationships. When seen and analysed in the global economic context, the current economic situation in Nepal is indeed miserable with the IMF recording Nepal’s share in the global economy around 0.04 per cent in 2017.
It is hard to find Nepal in the global economic map although the country is visible in terms of the territory and population with its own political identity existing since its unification about two-and-a-half centuries ago. Directionless political situations, caused by the foreign elements in the last seven decades of its history, had heavily cost Nepal with economic stagnation and even degradation prevailing continually. Hence, the lamentable economic situation of the country has to be arrested, and boosting up the economy should be the strategy to put Nepal in the picture commensurate with its territory and the resources it possesses both above and beneath its soil.
The current government might have taken into deep consideration of the dire need of external resources for the speedier development to lift out the poverty-stricken people while recommending persons for the positions of ambassadors to friendly countries with their expertise, knowledge, skill, and personal qualities to meet challenge of fetching foreign resources. Nepal needs more competent diplomats equipped with the practical knowledge of functioning economics and entrepreneurship than cosmetic political envoys to meet demands of the day.
If vetted well, no one would raise eyebrows when capable persons are appointed to correctly represent Nepal abroad and face uphill tasks that confront them. Ambassadors are sent abroad to make better relations, not stagnate, nor dampen those relations. Also they are assigned abroad to appropriately explain policies of national importance and need before the host government not beyond, nor below degrees and requirements of the government as announced through its policies and strategies adopted for the betterment of diplomatic relations and the improvement of the socio-economic life of people. Observers have noted the failure of the past governments to appoint able envoys to perform diplomatic activities as demanded by Nepal’s current requirement.
Let us get into the intricacies and uncertainties of economic diplomacy now rebranded as development diplomacy by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The responsible senior staffers themselves have got grappled with and mangled beyond necessary standard as to what clear pathway it has to adopt abroad, and how and where coordination and convergence has to be put on a clearer traction toeing with the home government. Under circumstances as such, no ambassadors would be in a position to move in the proper direction with confidence and certainty. Hence, challenges remain non-faced and needs non-met.
The successful handling of development diplomacy (better say economic diplomacy) by diplomats abroad calls for the trustworthy and confidence-inducing situation at home. Domestic atmosphere must be shored up by the hassle-free bureaucratic process with the clear legal provisions. Physical infrastructure and dependable and appropriate work forces are essentially required to attract foreign investments in the country. They come for benefits and profits not for any other else. Foreign investment-friendly culture at home needs to be well-rooted to make them stay for long. Internal situations, if stable and reliable, would help and enable Nepali diplomats abroad to meet challenges.
Meanwhile, diplomats need to be well acclimatised with prevalent situations in the host country. Better would it be if diplomats concerned know the history and culture of the host country. It would be highly rewarding if they are better familiarised with the bureaucratic functioning system and work culture of the country. They should keep themselves close and understanding with the inner political functioning and also they need to know the economic health of the host country with the entrepreneurs and business people kept in contact, and their mindset and inclination towards foreign venture and investment well-measured.
Of course, diplomats abroad should exhibit their ability of advocacy and persuasion combined with the lobbying practice in the foreign culture and foreign environment. Preciously, important is also witty and quick responding nature of diplomats which is considered appreciable capabilities for success. The knowledge and proficiency in the local language would certainly be useful to interact and mingle in foreign societies for the inter-cultural communication and cross- societal contact. Highly crucial is the ability to remain in contact and interact with the political leadership and political class of the host country which must be continually sustained by the interests of business and corporate leadership.
The old desk-bound official diplomacy represents the characteristics of the by-gone era. Public spirit and public contact abroad is the mainstream of diplomacy today. Its art and techniques need to be learnt to contribute anything substantive. Predisposition to cultivate with the people of different layers of society and mobility to make travel rounds of the host country also ensures the success of diplomatic activities. A good student of diplomacy knows them well.

These are the general challenges Nepali diplomats face abroad considering the current diplomatic capability and mechanism Nepal has at its disposal. The questions of conducting economic diplomacy, science and technology diplomacy, digital diplomacy, cyber diplomacy, etc. for Nepali diplomats are still beyond the purview of the diplomatic ability and built-in mechanism. Nevertheless, let diplomats be realistic and practice- oriented to efficiently perform diplomatic activities, especially development diplomacy amidst the lag and lack of diplomatic capitals and diplomatic mechanism.


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