The old stereotype of diplomacy is that of an elderly and dignified gentleman who is engaged in negotiations with men of similar calibre. Diplomacy is not just negotiations and secret disclosures but a formal representation of a recognised nation. Back before globalisation, sending diplomatic envoys to foreign lands was the only way to ensure international engagement at a face-to-face level.Read More
Ever since President Obama’s Prague speech nearly two and a half years ago, it seems that the momentum on the talks of nuclear non-proliferation has dropped and is yet to gain full political approval.Read More
The 21st century brings a host of fresh challenges into the diplomatic world. The economic crisis is testing the strength of the most powerful nations. Climate change is extinguishing lands and inhabitants, proving to be more devastating than war. The rate of refugees is flooding cities that are already over-populated. New challenges require solutions provided by fresh insight from relatively new candidates. A male-dominated representation of diplomacy is no longer viable within an interconnected world where women matter. Diplomats must be able to represent the whole of society without remaining blinded to gender. As such, bringing women into diplomacy is a symbol of hope and modernisation for the 21st century.Read More
Diplomacy in Chile is perceived by the public as an eldery dignified gentleman who is engaged in dark backroom negotiations with others like him. Diplomacy is much more than negotiations and has certainly moved away from this stereotype, but very little is known about the conduct of diplomacy to ordinary citizens in Latin America.Read More
I just finished baking my “friendship cake” as passed on to me by a friend last week, and as I stirred the remaining batter into the greasy pan, I was outraged by the series of police sirens that wailed down the street in East London. London is bracing itself for one of the worst riots and it all began after a man was shot by armed police. Soon after, a second riot kicked off that same afternoon as a young woman claimed to have been assaulted by a police officer.Read More
Former British Ambassador Charles Crawford highlighted how "the double agent who did the most damage to British intelligence operations was George Blake, another person with ambiguous private loyalties: his mother was Dutch, his father a naturalised British subject of Turkish/Jewish origin. Blake ruthlessly betrayed dozens of agents who were working for the UK against the Soviet Union, many of whom were believed to have been executed.Read More
“Imagine this. You are a diplomat representing your birth country, but your heritage lies with two other states from your parents and you are married to a non-native national. You are proud of your heritage, you love your family, and you are a strong supporter of the country you declared yourself to. One day, your country starts a fight with your partner’s country, and you have to lead the negotiations which may split the country, create political refugees, and potentially turn to war. Where does your loyalty lie?Read More
A country without trade is like a person without friends. Dialogue becomes unnecessary. Communication is non-existent. Amicability ranks second best. With all this, diplomacy has no justification without trade. For Britain, commercial diplomacy has historically provided investment, stability, security and alliances and such a strategy still applies to contemporary diplomatic governance.
Commenting on the February White Paper, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said that "business is part of our commitment to inject a new commercialism into the Foreign Office, using our international influence to help British businesses secure new trade opportunities." In this, he refers to high technology defence exports including the sale of arms, aerospace and security equipment to overseas markets that do not have their own defence industry.
Defence export accounts for about 3% of Britain's manufacturing exports with a 20% market share second to the United States. According to a government dossier, the UK security exports are £1.5 billion with the value of defence contracts being £7.2 billion. UK defence and security industries have licenses with over 96 overseas markets, which helps to secure 300,000 jobs for British people. This may mean that 1.2 million people rely on the arms trade indirectly.
Although these figures are not as substantial during the Cold War, Britain is seeking to become more competitive by broadening out its capacity to selling defence and security equipment to a wide range of countries. The Labour Government elected in 1997 pledged an "ethical foreign policy" that theoretically placed humanitarian issues before arms trade. The Labour Government elected in 1997 pledges an "ethical foreign policy" which arguably didn't survive contact with reality. Today, to make a substantial improvement in outcomes, is it necessary to do business with countries that violate civilised human rights policies? And what is the non-monetary cost of doing so?
A former diplomat once said that “policies are like fashions - they come and go.” If so, then what is the point of negotiating a policy if its implementation is weak and ineffective?Read More