Result Oriented Diplomacy
Distinctly as it stands now, diplomacy has assumed greater dimension and larger area of activity. This has happened because of increased interaction and interstate relationship not only at the government-to-government level, but at the people’s level and their innumerable groupings as well. The trend has come to stay as unavoidable despite the current rise of nationalism and protectionism with their global impact in the last two-and-half years in the West.
Experts on foreign affairs, however, think the other way around. They point out that the unquenchable needs of humans and essential resources spread over the world remain deep-rooted, and co-dependency among nation-states being inseparable. The world today has emerged more complex with the socio-economic linkages taking their global roots and also with the fourth stage of techno-industrial revolution brandishing its unstoppable progress across the planet.
Against such global backdrop, each nation-state of the international community stands for and pursues its own trajectory of maintaining and advancing its identity and image without jeopardising its freedom and liberty. This stance calls for highly cautious and careful conduct of national diplomacy as a principal tool of managing foreign policy. Deviation from the adopted route of the freely chosen liberty and freedom would certainly become hazardous.
Diplomacy, in fact, is not a concern to be taken in light vein. It requires perspicacity, prudence and above all, hard-earned experience. It also unquestionably demands for patience and perseverance on the part of those who handle them. The ability of advocacy and persuasion is of immense value and carries significance in dealings with diplomatic counterparts at home and abroad. During the past three decades Nepal could not produce any able and well-known diplomats of calibre and charisma who have rendered any notable contributions to the nation and its aspiring and demanding citizens.
Diplomatic dimension and its outreach has now stands far from what had been three decades ago. In addition to the governmental and official authorities of the central institutions, numerous sub-state, non-state actors, myriad professional organisations and groupings have now come to occupy the positions of indispensability in the inter-state, inter-society and inter-profession relationships around the world. This trend is unmistakable. Far better would it be to describe the modern diplomacy of these early decades of the 21st century as truly degovernmentalised process of diplomacy. The obsolete practice of the centripetal conduct of diplomacy has been now given space to the centrifugal process in the global milieu. To make the diplomatic dealings both wide-ranging and down to earth, new approach needs to come to contribute to the diplomatic activities and functions worth noting. In fact, it should adopt the strategy and tactic of people-centric diplomacy now visible and concomitant with the amazing development of information technology and internet with automation and robotics gaining ground. This development has innately touched every aspect and activity of humans.
Unfortunately though, Nepal is still far behind to conduct the much needed public diplomacy abroad even during the era of the people-centric diplomatic intensity. Sadly, Nepal has not yet initiated diplomacy meant to work for the advancement of science and technology. Both public diplomacy and science diplomacy have now prominently figured in the diplomatic businesses of not only advanced West and Japan, but our big neighbours have already walked miles forward in those two areas of most recent diplomacy and its practices. These trends have occupied entrenched diplomatic spaces.
The time and situation has now been ripe for embracing both practices. Setting concerns aside for those two recent diplomatic practices of the 21st century would certainly be an unpardonable mistake. Nepal has lost three decades without gaining any substantive achievement although the governments under the frequent political instability had doubled foreign service personnel in the foreign ministry and increased the number of diplomatic missions abroad without proper evaluation. Billions from the state coffer have been spent to meet expenses for the foreign ministry and missions abroad. What needs of the nation have been met is the serious question now.
What is now-essentially needed is the serious mind to put the diplomatic track on its proper trajectory with the foreign ministry manned with highly needed professional skills and talent for its efficacious management to exhibit its high status of iconic calibre. Also, there is a great need to appoint ambassadors only those people with sincerity and commitment to work and achieve for the nation as true representatives not only of the government of the day alone but of the Nepali society as a whole. Would it not be better to put in place a judicious search mechanism for selectively appropriate ambassadorial candidates? This novel practice could be of standard-bearing norm and value. The public media would not find any excuse to spot stain or sort of other weakness.
To meet the needs of the situational circumstances under the visibly transformed global diplomatic behaviour, the change of the mindset is required if any substantial change is to be made in the style and modus operandi of diplomatic dealings to match the changing global and regional settings. If change is not perceived and sticking- up to the same obsolete practice pursued, then that would certainly incur huge cost to be borne by the government and authorities responsible for all that. While reforming and strengthening both the foreign ministry and diplomatic missions, these two modern trends of diplomatic practices must be incorporated as an integral part of the diplomatic conducting style at home and abroad.
Unquestionably, the adoption would tone up the diplomatic mode of working. Improvement to match the recent trends can be achieved through retraining working diplomats, recruiting and appointing fresh minds for the purpose, and completely rethinking on the process of new recruits with the test on the inkling with and inclination toward public spirit- new recruits equipped with good knowledge about science and tech-savvy of cutting edge era wherein information technology (IT) play crucial role. Certainly new methods are required to meet the needs of the day.
(Madhavji Shrestha is senior resource person at the Institute of Foreign Affairs, Kathmandu)