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NECESSARY QUALITIES FOR MULTILATERAL DIPLOMACY
[ ] 27.02.2009, 00:07
NECESSARY QUALITIES FOR MULTILATERAL DIPLOMACY

In order for multilateral diplomacy to function properly, dip­lomats must possess several qualities. Kaufmann cites ten quali­ties that he believes are most important. He considers truthful­ness and honesty to be of prime importance in diplomacy. This does not mean that diplomats need be open and frank about their tactics or that their positions can never be adjusted. It does re­quire that references to historical, legal, and statistical data be correct and that agreements and pledges made earlier be hon­ored. Although honesty is considered to be an important virtue, its definition has been more than once stretched to the limits. For example, it is not uncommon for apparently solid endorsement of a member state's candidacy for an important position on a UN committee, or for a proposal drawn up in a "non-paper", to sud­denly evaporate, sometimes even in the first round of voting. This can lead to only one conclusion - that some of the pledges made were untruthful (or that a delegation "forgot" to inform the sponsors of their withdrawal of support). Because voting proce­dures in international organizations are never transparent and opinion polls do not exist within the UN (if opinion polls were used, I  am certain the number of proposals made and candidacies announced, with all the prestige attached to them, would be reduced significantly), it is of the utmost importance for all par­ticipants to have a thorough understanding of the common dip­lomatic vocabulary in order to be able to make a sound judgment of the actual support one's proposal or candidate can expect. In­deed, the mere show of sympathy for a certain delegation is of­ten misinterpreted as endorsement of proposals or candidates.

A feel for accuracy is therefore a second important quality every diplomat should have, but especially one involved in mul­tilateral diplomacy. Kaufrnann states that "ambiguity and vague­ness are probably as frequent in conference diplomacy as preci­sion and single-minded clarity". Hence, effective communica­tion in multilateral forums calls for both active and passive precision. This means the ability to get a message across to del­egates who do not necessarily share the same cultural background and are not as proficient in commonly used languages like En­glish or French, and the talent to listen to and interpret material, to judge its merits and report them in both letter and spirit. How­ever, delegates sometimes feign ineptitude in languages or in a particular expertise in order to hide their political objectives or to achieve other gains. Moreover, the fact remains that compro­mise is still diplomacy's middle name, and accuracy thus remains only an ideal. Nonetheless, it should be remembered that metic­ulously spelled-out texts are often of little practical use to the people who must implement their instructions, since such detail tends to limit maneuverability.

In order to work in an environment that to an outsider might seem frustratingly intricate, a player in multilateral diplomacy needs the right attitude as well. Kaufmann mentions commend­able but sometimes contradictory human qualities like calm, good temper, patience, modesty and zeal. Of course, being overly out­spoken will not be an asset to any negotiator, particularly in multilateral diplomacy, but the inability to show any emotion will likewise be a hindrance. Granted, attending meetings of seem­ingly trivial committees and plenary sessions filled with long, arduous monologues by jaded officials may not be the most ap­pealing activities on a rainy Friday afternoon, but, as Kaufmann puts it, "exaggerated placidity will provoke its own kind of irri­tation"; or, in Talleyrand's words, "surtout pas trop de zele". Dip­lomats need to be able to exercise patience in order to know when to introduce a proposal and when to wait. Since multilateral di­plomacy involves a larger audience, some actors develop an in­clination toward vanity. Sometimes, this is not restricted to indi­viduals alone; entire delegations can become convinced that ev­ery UN member state should be made fully aware of the exceptional vision set forth in their proposals. When other dele­gations do not share this opinion, irritating and shameful specta­cles can result.

Given multilateral diplomacy's inherent complexity, a dip­lomat needs to be adaptable as well. This means that one has to be able to work on several problems and in several locations' simultaneously. One of the most distinctive features of multilat­eral diplomacy is the constant mental leaps one has to make in order to determine the reasons why particular representatives adopt certain views because of national interests, personal convictions, or the need for bargaining chips for negotiations in other forums. Indeed, conference diplomacy often calls for the ability to play chess on different boards at the same time. Yet Kaufmann states that adaptability is perhaps best demonstrated through psychological flexibility, the ability to listen carefully to other delegates while suppressing the usual urge to constantly place oneself at the center of attention.

Language versatility, as Kaufmann calls it, can be consid­ered an important aspect of adaptability. Although English has ousted French as the predominant means of communication in diplomacy, the latter's use and that of other languages is still very important and useful. The effort to try to address a counter­part in their native tongue can yield instant credit, which might otherwise not be obtained. Moreover, the ability to shift instant­ly from one language to another gives any person an edge. When colleagues are less capable in this respect, it places them auto­matically in an intermediary position, which can be subsequent­ly exploited.


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