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SOME REQUIREMENTS FOR THE MULTILATERAL DIPLOMAT TODAY
[ ] 27.02.2009, 00:04
SOME REQUIREMENTS FOR THE MULTILATERAL DIPLOMAT TODAY

SOME REQUIREMENTS FOR THE MULTILATERAL DIPLOMAT TODAY

(by Ambassador Don Mills)

 

What, then, is required of individuals engaged in diplomatic work in multilateral organizations? Brian Urquhart has put the matter as follows: "The art of multilateral diplomacy consists to a large degree in long and intricate negotiations, contacts and conversations. Multilateral diplomacy is usually a laborious and nerve-racking process that requires great stamina as well as intuition, intellect, understanding and negotiating ability".

And what type of person is best suited to this kind of work. Perhaps it ought to be said at the outset that some persons discover, on being sent to the United Nations, that they have a natural aptitude for the multilateral environment, which is different in important respects from a bilateral forum. Of course, some diplomats have worked in both environments, as well as in their own national ministries, and this three-dimensional experience is useful, if not essential, particularly in the matter of coordinating work on specific issues. This coordination is especially helpful to smaller countries with relatively limited resources. It is inevitable that some persons will be posted to work in multilateral organizations without having had much experience in diplomacy in any form. But experience - for example, in government agencies whose work has international dimensions - can be an asset to the new diplomat as well as to the multilateral organization itself.

In the multilateral system, diplomats play multiple roles. First and foremost is their function as the representative and promoter of their country s interests. But the United Nations seeks to serve the interests of the global community, and its members must also contribute to that broader endeavor.

In some instances regional interests are involved, and this will also demand consideration. Not to be overlooked is the fact that there is often a measure of positive fallout for a country in this process. Johan Kaufmann notes that "a country can build up its influence in the UNO to be used in pursuit of its own objec­tives in the future". — whether these objectives are related to UN issues or to matters outside the organization. Another of the multilateral diplomat's roles is to serve as political adviser to national authorities on particular issues, but the diplomat must at the same time be guided by the instructions of national authori­ties. On some issues where special knowledge is required, the diplomat must be both student — tutored by the appropriate national ministry on a particular issue — and researcher — able to delve into the subject independently.

The community in which the UN diplomat operates is com­posed of representatives of other governments, UN staff at all levels, and representatives of the media and of NGOs. Within each group there is great diversity with respect to nationality, culture, race, and interests. And contacts between and among members of this community can take place at any time, formally or informally, in committee rooms or lounges, at receptions, lunches, dinners, and other events.

It would be difficult to develop a profile of the typical diplo­mat at the United Nations or any other multilateral organization. In fact, they present an infinite variety. But it is possible to list some of the most desirable characteristics for those who aspire to such work. Fluency in a second language, one of the six offi­cially used in the organization, is an important asset for the mul­tilateral diplomat. Even more important, perhaps, is an advanced education and a capacity for continued learning, for there is much to learn in such work. Today, some special knowledge of inter­national economics (including trade matters) can be a very use­ful asset, as can a background in international law, since there is so much technical content related to these fields in the issues that diplomats sometimes have to address. Then too, since many issues and relationships in the international sphere have long-standing roots, a background in history can be useful. Of course, formal training in international relations offers a good basis for diplomatic work. In an increasingly complex and changing world, all training programmes for diplomats must keep abreast of developments in the UN system. In this respect, training programmes, offered by the UN Institute for Training and Research have been of special value.

For work in the United Nations especially, it helps to have any outgoing personality and a capacity to establish strong personal relationships — even with representatives of countries whose positions on important issues are opposed to one's own. These characteristics will also go a long way toward overcoming dif­ferences of culture, race, and national interest, and are especially helpful for diplomats who are new to a multicultural milieu. The ability to speak convincingly at meetings and to prepare statements for oneself and for one's seniors is essential for diplomats: at the United Nations, as are negotiation and arbitration skills, since these are the dominant activities of multilateral diplomacy today. The UN's seemingly endless series of meetings, committee sessions, working groups, regional caucuses and other encounters are the venue in which these skills are most demanded.

Diplomats have extraordinary opportunities to practice their leadership skills at the highest level in the UNO, because the presidents and chairpersons of the General Assembly, the Secu­rity Council, and other bodies, agencies, and committees are drawn from the ranks of member states' representatives. This calls for a sound understanding of structure, workings, and evo­lution of the organization, as well as a command of its procedures and rules.

The increasing role and presence of NGOs at the United Nations requires diplomats and their governments to understand this dimension of multilateralism: the nature of the participation, of such interests at both the national and global levels, their interaction with delegations, and the fact that in some instances individuals from such organizations are included into national delegations. Moreover, NGO-sponsored seminars and conferences outside the UNO provide UN diplomats with opportunities to broaden their horizons — and with platforms for expressing their views on particular issues. These venues also provide a chance to correct the public's misconceptions about the United Nations and even, in some cases, about the diplomat's own country.

The fact is that diplomats today will find work at the UNO just as demanding as did yesterday's diplomats. Nevertheless, the experience is a broadening one, which can be of real benefit in the development of a career.


Категория: English docs | Добавил: gtuwizard | Автор: Max
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