By Ivan Simic
In the contemporary world, the word diplomacy has assumed a broad dimension or wider use other than the classical usage. In fact, modern day diplomacy has become all-involving that we can talk about it in terms of entertainment, parade, show of power, imposition of will/hegemonic play, among others.
So dynamic and dramatic has been the change to diplomacy over the centuries that it has lost its original meaning both in theory and practice; it now represents power - which country or State is more powerful or influential in the international system, so that every State must submit to its will.
These days diplomacy is "my way or no way" there are no negotiations, only the stronger wins. Every country is led by interests; bigger countries have bigger interests, whilst smaller countries have little influence and do not stand any chance of survival. In short, modern diplomacy has been used by bigger States to gain strategic advantage over other smaller States in the international system.
Multilateral diplomacy - as practiced at the United Nations provides the forum for exchange of experiences, conducting negotiations, exchange of thoughts in a culturally-diversified arena. Unfortunately, however, the United Nations has not lived up to the expectations of its founding fathers, there top of which were:
- to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and
- to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations, large and small, and
- to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and
- to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,
- to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours, and
- to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security, and
- to ensure, by the acceptance of principles and the institution of methods, that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest, and
- to employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples.
One can easily recall the wicked and crude manipulations of the UN system by several Member States to get their will through, such as: the Afghanistan war, the Iraq war, NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, among others.
Going back to the evolution and practice of diplomacy, it is pertinent to remind ourselves of the manual guide for the conduct of modern day diplomacy - the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961
The States Parties to the present Convention,
Recalling that peoples of all nations from ancient times have recognized the status of diplomatic agents,
Having in mind the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations concerning the sovereign equality of States, the maintenance of international peace and security, and the promotion of friendly relations among nations,
Believing that an international convention on diplomatic intercourse, privileges and immunities would contribute to the development of friendly relations among nations, irrespective of their differing constitutional and social systems,
Realizing that the purpose of such privileges and immunities is not to benefit individuals but to ensure the efficient performance of the functions of diplomatic missions as representing States,
Affirming that the rules of customary international law should continue to govern questions not expressly regulated by the provision of the present Convention.
From the foregoing, it is evident that diplomacy is conducted by diplomatic missions, diplomatic representatives, envoys, etc... The word "diplomat" which was held in high esteem and admiration, these days more or less represents corruption, self interest, scandal, abuse of power, among others. Take for instance William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton former President of the United States, Jacques Rene Chirac former President of the French Republic, Silvio Berlusconi Prime Minister of Italy, United Nations oil for food fraud, among others. Unfortunately, very soon the word diplomat will be associated with shame.
A real diplomat is a true servant of his people and country, he is a hard working, competent person, dedicated to his work, a person who cares, a person who follows the development of international relations, the current state, the needs of the country in which he resides or negotiates with, a person who needs to find right and peaceful solution for both sides no matter what. One of the old rules from international relations is "si vis mittere, mitte gratum" (if you want to send somebody to represent you, send a nice person) because many things depend on that person. Diplomats should express the will and interest of their people on the international political stage in a peaceful and understanding way. Being a diplomat is a very noble profession, so if you are not noble, don't do it.
Therefore, the most frequent asked questions are: how to present our way of living and our way of conducting politics to the other side?
The best way is through diplomacy, and that's why we need diplomats, astute ones of course! Being a diplomat and representing one's country and nation is therefore a great honour, let's not forget that.