Monday, October 12, 2009

Future Diplomats and the Future of Diplomacy

The following link leads to an intersting article by Ernst Sucharipa, Director of the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna.

The article was written a couple of years ago, but many conclusions are even more relevant today.

There are two points that I'd like to bring to your attention - one talks about the transformation in information sharing between the diplomats and the institutional consequenses of this change, the other deals with the characteristics of a future diplomat/

1. Information sharing"

"The introduction of Intranet-systems has brought about most important changes for the diplomatic service. Among them:
- direct contacts between all officers, without the need for prior authorization, to get a message, an inquiry, an information note out or to get it received. The welcome results are higher motivation, no loss of time and greater sense of responsibility among younger colleagues;
- development of an informal reporting style;
- teamwork: officers can – independently from their geographic location – work together on a report to the minister, a draft statement, a position paper. The strict delineation between central authority and missions abroad is slowly vanishing;
- ministerial structures and lines of command at missions are being redefined, flatter authority, more delegation of responsibility are necessary by-products;
- introduction of task-oriented structures independent of the physical location of the diplomats involved: limited and geographically dispersed experience or academic background in particular areas (e.g. international law) can more easily be pooled together electronically, thus also creating incentives for the continuous upkeep of specialisation (particularly important for smaller services);
- the introduction of Intranet systems leads to flatter lines of authority and increased possibilities for team working. Task-oriented organisation will change the relationship between the ministry and missions abroad;
- missions ought to be better integrated into the overall structure of the ministry, including decision making;
- integrated resource management needs to preserve the standard functions of missions abroad in relation to their geographic location and combine these functions with new tasks relating to the available expertise in individual missions, which can be employed for specific projects."

2. Characteristics of diplomats:

"What then constitutes the ideal ”new age” diplomat? I think a thorough mixture of traditional and not so traditional characteristics:
· a pluridisciplinary education;
· linguistic skills;
· patience to listen and observe;
· proficiency in intercultural communication;
· sensitivity to socio-cultural differences;
· feeling comfortable with the latest communications technologies;
· ability to perform at ease in public;
· free of elitism;
· service orientation;
· a high level of tolerance;
· neither a ”softie” nor the ”elbow type”;
· readiness for life-long learning, mid career training;
· stress resistance, coolness in crises;
· management skills;
· ability to work in teams; collaborator instead of competitor;
· a keen interest in global issues."

How you do you like this definition: "Free of elitism"? I do...

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