Created by sovereign states, intergovernmental organisations (IGOs) are entities established by way of a treaty or other form of formal agreement. These transnational institutions represent one of the embodiments of what we call “global governance” as their main purpose is to create a mechanism for the world’s inhabitants to work more successfully together in areas of peace, security, economic, social and environmental issues.Read More
International relations isn't just about governments, think tanks and grassroots societies. Opportunities are growing in a wide range of employment sectors and locations that are not the most obvious choices for a diplomatic career. The exciting news is that international relations graduates are exceptionally fit to embark on a path to help us understand and develop solutions to the complex, vexing, and ever-changing array of global challenges and opportunities.Read More
The primary focus of a think tank is to improve government policy. Think tanks generate policy-orientated research, analysis, and advice on domestic and international issues, which enable policy-makers and the public to make informed decisions about public policy issues. As a result, think tanks are a bridge between academia and policy-making and represent various global challenges that play a critical role to international relations.Read More
Peace and conflict is a fundamental part of international diplomacy. In many cases, there is no peace without conflict, and sadly jobs do arise from them. In today’s modern society, there are many government organisations and agencies that ensure peace is sustained in all pockets of the world.Read More
Broadly speaking, human development is defined by the process of enlarging people’s freedoms, opportunities and improving their well-being. The concept gained popularity in the 1990s, as a result of the United Nations Development Programme publication entitled “Human Development”. This new approach developed as a response to the almost exclusive emphasis development policymakers had given to economic growth and stabilisation.Read More
With politicians and diplomats serving a term of 3-5 years, their solutions and thinking tends to be short term. Their goals may include re-election or being sent to a more attractive and comfortable mission. The effects of long term planning can be clearly illustrated through the example of South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who is an excellent advocate promoting work-life balance.Read More
Human behaviour is complicated. One minute you think you know someone, and in a second, they can become someone completely different. It takes many us even a lifetime to figure out who we are, why we do and think in the ways we do, and sometimes, never really figuring out this spectacularly important puzzle. If we don’t understand ourselves, then how are we supposed to understand others, and truly take the time to appreciate their circumstance and emphathise with them in times of joy and crisis?Read More
Working in international contexts implies operating in truly complex and delicate settings with high levels of cultural diversity, collaboration styles and frequently within globally scattered teams. This entails the possibility of some diplomats malfunctioning from time to time, both in the execution of tasks and in the cooperation between teammates.Read More
The mental health of diplomats is often a taboo topic. Young graduates wanting to move into the Foreign Service need to bring excellent record of performance, which includes passing a very challenging set of assessments of their health. The old adage “survival of the fittest” comes to mind” which automatically qualifies diplomatic positions as one that requires a high level of stamina and persistence.Read More
When United Nations Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold re-opened the meditation room in the UN New York headquarters in 1957, a milestone was set. Hammerskjold recognised that world leaders needed a quiet room to bring back “the stillness which we have lost in our streets, and in our conference rooms, and to bring it back in a setting in which no noise would impinge on our imagination”.Read More
In a world troubled by seemingly intractable and overwhelming challenges, virtually every global, national, and regional conflict is organised around group-based difference. The practice of “othering” supports territorial disputes, sectarian violence, military conflict, the spread of disease, hunger and food insecurity, and even climate change. How can we understand this trend and do we have the tools to counter it?Read More
A large home, a corner office and a healthy bank balance. These are traditional markers for success in many Western societies. Over the decades, society has become accustomed to equating success with wealth and power. This was supported by and based on the American Dream, the belief in upward social mobility deeply rooted in the experiences of first American settlers’ during the frontier times.Read More
When you are expected to uproot your life every four years, how do you stay motivated and emrabce change? Diplomats are required to do this as part of their jobs so as not to get too attached to their houst country. Naturally, while international diplomacy is a fascinating career, it contains several challenges and severe working conditions which means having strong mental and psychological fortitude. Moving to a new home is one of the most stressful situations to be placed in. Imagine doing this more than ten times in your life. In addition to moving, you need to learn the local language to operate effectively, ensure your family needs are taken care of and embrace a host of political and cultural change. Your decision has immense consequences, but preparing a road map to help manage with such changes can be a gamechanger.
Here are a few helpful reminders on how to maintain self-motivation in times of extreme change and stress.
1. Look at any situation as an opportunity to learn
Turning obstacles as an opportunity for lifelong learning is a useful attitude to have, even if you are facing the same hardship over and over again. When in this situation, think of Nelson Mandela who was imprisoned for fighting against social injustice and abolished him from society. As a political prisoner, Mandela used his time in captivity to find resolve in his situation, mastering a path to his suffering.
In his book, ’A Long Way to Freedom’ Mandela described his lifelong imprisonment as hopeless with no light of a new government to shift the course of his future. However, as a law graduate, he understood that his legal right for trials and with the help of the outside world and his relationship with prison management, his rallied support to get his case heard. In such a desperate situation, Mandela could have given up, but he used his solitude to rethink of his circumstance as an opportunity to learn and re-strategies, even under the worst circumstances.
2. Be true to yourself
As a diplomatic representative, you must make challenging decisions and participate in different events, sometimes even for a day. Consequently, you need to be aware of your situation and emotions.
Former US President Barack Obama had an excellent reputation in self-perception and judging problematic situations accordingly. At a public rally, Obama started to cry when speaking about the terrorist attack at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. Experts concluded that his emotions were viewed as genuine which translated well amongst his constituents. His emotive display made him a caring leader that understood what many people were going through.
His example shines a light on how important it is to know yourself, particularly in a position of leadership. If you are too confident or not confident enough, your leadership might fail. If you are tired, delegates your tasks and ask for help. If your performance is at its peak, why not try going the extra mile for your team? This level of support will be beneficial in times of stress.
3. Manage your emotions so that you can think clearly and objectively
In times of stress, it is crucial that we have full control of ourselves so that we may be able to lead others effectively. President Obama took on a heritage of problems from his predecessor from managing securities from the 9/11 attacks to remedying consequences of the Iraq war. When diplomatic relationships stalled between the US and the Middle East, people from both sides became emotional and destructive.
In times of crisis, President Obama acknowledged the weakness of his country by opening his presidency with a note of friendship of his Middle Eastern counterpart. His famous speech in Cairo was thoughtful and constructive in asking for the hand of friendship. Throughout his speech, he reiterated the desire to have the Muslim World as an equal partner, particularly at a time when emotions were high
Having emotional intelligence supports answers to difficult questions of what one would do in a situation like that. If Obama, as a leading figure, had a vision of a peaceful world, he brought his vision to the table as a pro-active role model who was the first US president in history to have chosen to make such a symbolical gesture in the Middle East – a key achievement that brought him the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize.
4. Willingness to work in basic conditions
Diplomacy can mean a contradiction between very large and tiny missions. The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office offers diplomats the opportunity to work in mega missions with cross-government ‘mini-Whitehalls’ that has the support of hundreds of staff; as well as the change to work in very Small Embassy or Post (VSEP), which typically involves working with a handful of staff and minimal resources.
A blog under the title ‘The lonely death of a British Vice-Consul in Persia’ (Makepeace, 2015) recounts the short-lived 1902 posting of Captain Edward Boxer to the port of Bandar Abbas in Persia and quotes a report from The Times of India: "The consular office furniture consisted of an old desk, a tin box, and three chairs. There was not even a stool for a clerk, who sits on the floor. […] There is not even a Consular flagstaff, but […] a bamboo pole stuck in a baked mud base on the roof."
Some posts are very likely to be under-resourced and unchallenging, and this is something that all diplomats must consider carefully when deciding to relocate onself and the entore family. Decide if you want to make sacrifices by planning 10-30 years ahead. , you need to plan 10, 20 or 30 years ahead.
With 365 days in a year, you need to balance yourself well to perform at a consistently high level consistently. By understanding your needs, desires and yourself, you will ensure that your emotionl up for the challenge, whatever it may be. Emotions drive our actions. Without external help or self-reflection, we can quickly misbehave or harm others.Read More
Working in international relations, we must remain open minded to all languages, cultures, customs and systems, particularly when it comes to negotiating and making decisions. Sometimes, this can be difficult as we all have certain viewpoints and upbringings that hinders us from understanding or grasping a situation in its fullest capacity.Read More
How often do you catch yourself speaking negatively to yourself? When we constantly repeat that we can’t do something, it starts to become real. This internal dialogue can be detrimental to any progress we want to make because our mindset is fixed and we do not let allow ourselves to grow.Read More
A sense of belonging is something that is inherently important to us. Even if your ‘belonging’ means wanting to be left alone and forage in the forest, the likelihood of finding other people who think just like you is high. Your thought isn’t unique nor is your desire for success, belonging, wanting to feel safe and loved. We are all after something and we are bound to find others who want just the same thing as us.Read More
What does success mean to you? Does it have anything to do with money, fame or status? How we define success to important to building character. For instance, if having lots of money is important to you, then everything you do in your life will go towards wanting to make yourself rich.Read More
If you desire to work in international relations, then there is a pretty good chance that you have a pretty strong motivational driver. Its serves as our fuel to get up in the morning and trudge through difficult challenges. The drive that motivates you helps you to keep moving. Without motivation, our desire for action dries up and we end up quitting. Our efforts become stalled and our will becomes non-existent. Because when you know what your core motivation is for your career, you are able to establish whether you seek the role of diplomat, for example, for the right reason.Read More
When someone asks “Who are you?” what would you say? Who you are is more than the name you are given, or the place you are born, or the organisation you belong in. Who you are is a very complex matter, one that may take a lifetime to figure out as you evolve as a person.Read More
Who should we aspire to look up to in the world of diplomacy? There are so many leaders and inspirational people who have changed or currently changing our history. These leaders stand out because of their compassion, hard work, empathy, and their drive to make this world a better place.Read More