The Original Grassroot Diplomat Speaks!
Dr Paul Clark (Non-Executive Director) offers a quarterly summary of Grassroot Diplomat's latest activities and innovations from April to June 2016.
As an original Grassroot Diplomat board member, I have seen the determination and perseverance of its founder Talyn Rahman-Figueroa to create something that challenges the perceived wisdom of diplomacy. Grassroot Diplomat has come a long way, developing services including training programmes and our soon to be launched public diplomacy engagement services.
Calls of a Representative
I have spent more than 30 years in public service, invariably as an elected politician – as a local councillor and 13 years as a Member of Parliament and Minister in the Labour government; always believing that there is a duty upon all of us who hold representative positions – elected or appointed – to invest time and resources in communicating with and listening to our key stakeholders. Successful and engaged democracy is neither easy nor cheap.
A glance around the world today and we see that grassroots diplomacy is needed in so many arenas. Whatever the route of travel, diplomacy - that art of peaceful talking and negotiating – is the key to finding a sustainable future.
Around the World
Recently, Turkey has seen significant unrest with an attempted military coup and a resulting state of emergency. In South Sudan, more than 500 people are reported dead as the army have turned on each other in the civil war, and the new British Prime Minister, Theresa May MP has met with the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel following the British Brexit referendum. We know that ultimately diplomacy will be needed at all levels to resolve these situations. Diplomacy in the corridors of power, but equally diplomacy with the very people we seek to represent.
Diplomacy is built on trust which takes time to develop. Our world leaders have a duty to set the standards, otherwise we will see an ultimate collapse of society.
Diplomacy at Top Level
The newly appointed Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson MP is reported to have a significant mountain to climb for past comments about the current President of the United States, the possible next President, his description of black people and the French foreign minister branding his UK counterpart a ‘liar’. Theresa May’s first foreign visits as PM to Germany and France are all about building diplomacy – the ‘getting to know you’ – and the start of significant work on getting the best deal for the UK and for Europe following Brexit.
Finally to the United States and the unfolding tensions that exist in communities. Again, leadership comes to the fore and commentators are very clear about some of the effects of the language being used in the presidential race. The ‘leader of the free world’ has significant responsibility to set the diplomatic tone.
In my time as an MP and Minister, I hope I acted in a way that reflected a grassroots approach. As a Grassroot Diplomat board member I hope I have brought to the table some of that practical experience and look forward to its continued success.