Monthly Archives: February 2013

One consequence of globalization: many people feel that their lives are shaped by external events that are outside their control. Crisis has many faces. Take the global recession of 2008, producing economic insecurity, loss of jobs, decline in incomes, and slowdown in production, virtually in every country. Terrorism is another pervasive concern, with subterranean roots in foreign lands. Climate change affects all of us, threatening the very existence of small low-lying island states. Other dangers are more insidious, such as the infl ux of foreign cultural infl uence, viewed with alarm by those that struggle to conserve their own heritage. Migration is another interconnected issue, of the “home-external” kind, both for countries from where the migrants originate and for the destination states. Each of these is a new kind of security threat, a consequence of interdependence among states and peoples. These are products of relentless globalization.

Why globalized diplomacy? About two generations ago, politics was in command and was the prime focus of foreign ministry work; the best diplomats specialized in this fi eld. Then, commencing around the 1970s, economic diplomacy began to emerge as a major component of external relations, in some ways overshadowing political diplomacy; export promotion and foreign direct investment (FDI) mobilization became the priority activities of the diplomatic system. More recently we have seen the rise of culture, media and communications, education, science and technology and even consular work as some new priorities in diplomacy. Taken together, this third tranche is seen as a manifestation of soft power and as “public diplomacy”. Paradoxically, after the end of the Cold War, political diplomacy has also regained salience, becoming more open and complex. The techniques of relationship building and confl ict resolution have also become more sophisticated and require measured but rapid responses. Overall, diplomacy has become multifaceted, pluri-directional, volatile, and intensive.

Diplomacy has globalized in other ways. For one thing, with a breakdown in Cold War blocs, there exists no predetermined matrix of relationships. The West and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) are now the dominant groups, but their former adversaries are also their networked partners, even while rivalries subsist. These are “normal” situations of contestation, driven by self-interest, as expressed through a search for resources and energy, and markets, to name only a few of the drivers; ideology is no longer an issue. The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) has been hollowed out, and remains as a loose coalition of have-not states; its ritualistic biennial summits persist, but NAM members are much more preoccupied with smaller, issue-based groupings. In essence, every country fi nds value in working with networks that stretch into far regions, in pursuit of common or shared objectives. Often, economic opportunity provides the driving force, and this too is subject to globalized concerns.

Regional diplomacy has taken on a life of its own. Virtually every country is a member of multiple groupings, many of them geography driven, besides those that have their locus in some other kinds of shared objectives. The membership pattern of such groups takes on a kaleidoscopic character; the names of the groups and abbreviated titles make a veritable alphabet soup. Even seasoned specialists fi nd it hard to keep up with the profusion. Managing membership of such communities, and joining hands with different domestic ministries for this purpose, is a new challenge for foreign ministries (MFAs).

We should consider another change element. Some large and economically successful countries are seen as today’s “emerging powers,” joining the high table of the world’s major and nearmajor powers. One such small group is known by its acronym IBSA, that is, India, Brazil and South Africa; none of these states is quite a major power, but seems to offer the potential of reaching this rank. Another putative group is BRICS, consisting of Brazil, Russia, India, China and now South Africa; two of the fi ve are permanent members of the UN Security Council, but only one is a member of G-8. Both IBSA and BRICS have emerged on the international stage as groups that pursue mutual cooperation at multiple levels, ranging from summit meetings among their leaders to functional collaboration among researchers and business groups, along mutually benefi cial trajectories. Behind these small clusters are other states, such as Egypt, Indonesia, Mexico, and Nigeria that aspire to recognition as emerging powers. Each seeks through its external policy to reshape the international environment in consonance with its own interests. Since 2008, G-20, which began as a gathering of fi nance ministers, is now a major politicoeconomic forum. The international process is more kinetic and more volatile than ever before, resembling a large, multi-arm mobile, constantly in motion, continually reshaping interrelations among its composing elements, large and small.

Another element merits consideration. Some countries—be they large, medium-sized or small—manage their external relationships in distinctly better ways than others. What is the key? This issue dominates the analysis presented in this book. Briefly, the success factors are clarity of objectives and mobilization of all available resources to attain these, clearly prioritized. In diplomacy, effectiveness hinges not on the money spent, or numbers of people deployed, but on well-considered actions, nimbleness, and sound calculations of risk and gain. The best foreign ministries optimize the talent that resides within diplomatic services—the only real resource that they possess—and pursue reform and adaptation. Public-private partnerships (PPP) also contribute; governments have seen the utility of joining hands with non-state actors, both at home and abroad. Benchmarking and mutual learning are among their regular practices. They also manage knowledge in a calculated and consistent manner.


Each age believes its time is unique, a paradigm change from the past. But as ancient Indian sages proclaimed, “Change is the only constant”. What then is so special about the twenty-fi rst century? These essays provide an answer. I believe we are justifi ed in the assertion that the start of the twenty-fi rst century is a time of paradigm change in the way international relations are conducted. We examine the change elements, looking at the way states deal with one another, in what has become globalized diplomacy. Today, “world affairs is about managing the colossal force of globalization.”

In the midst of a regional summit meeting, the head of government of a Southeast Asian state sends an SMS (text) message to another leader in the same room. Obtaining his concurrence to a proposal that he has just thought up, he then sends two more SMSs to canvass support from other counterparts; before his own offi cials realize it, a new initiative has been launched, with no offi cial record of the exchanges, or how they came about. A number of major Western leaders are in frequent direct contact with one another via text messages, cutting through diplomatic formalities.

On another continent, a Western envoy is frustrated with stonewalling by the local government, in his attempts to prevent local action that seems to hurt the interests of the receiving country’s minority indigenous native population; even his own government seems reconciled to this impasse—perhaps appreciating that this is a matter for that nation’s domestic policy. Not satisfi ed, this envoy uses the internet to “unoffi cially” alert several international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that work in that country; they in turn quietly warn their partner agencies in that country that they will hold back some aid projects; that does the trick, and the action that triggered the problem is scrapped.

Elsewhere, a developing country association of industries, after gaining credibility in support of the home country’s ecopolitical diplomacy, launches a series of bilateral country dialogue groups, where captains of industry, former offi cials, and public fi gures meet annually to discuss the full spectrum of that relationship, to recommend initiatives to the two governments. Their motive: a realization that sound economic relations are intertwined with politics, security concerns and soft power; this industry body sees itself as a stakeholder, with ownership in the nation’s foreign policy.

The common thread in these three incidents—each factual—is that diplomacy now involves many different players; it works in ways that were not envisaged by the framers of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, the bedrock of interstate diplomacy. The modern foreign ministry, and its diplomatic service, has to accommodate itself to the changed circumstances, in the knowledge that it remains answerable for failings, even while control over the diplomatic process has been fragmented.

Now that the deadline to the switch Facebook to their new Timelines format is upon us, it is important for nonprofit organizations be prepared for these changes. Beth Kanter, once again, can help us through these changes. She has compiled a list of Tips and Cheat Sheets To Help Your Nonprofit Plan and Implement FB Brand Page Changes.

Kanter offers some helpful suggestions for making this switch as smooth as possible for your nonprofit organization. The crucial first step in this process, in Kanter’s words, is to identify, “how you will integrate your branding strategy, revise your editorial/content strategy, and administrative work flow.” It is first important to make sure that you integrate these new apps and features as seamlessly as possible into your current brand strategy.

It is also important to familiarize yourself with these changes and how they will work to your organizations benefit before actually making the switch. This is why Kanter’s next step is to “ Take the Tour” through Facebook’s Product Guidebook, which is essentially a map of the new features and applications to come.  Make sure that as you go though the guide you are thinking of ways to format your page to adapt to these changes, while keeping your organizations unique look. At the end of the guide is a checklist as well as tips to get your organization started on creating an effective Facebook Timeline.

Another big change for nonprofits is the fact that default landing tabs are being replaced by “Pinned Posts.” Pinned Posts stay at the very top of your timeline for seven days and should be used, according to Kanter, as your “call to action” for that particular week. Kanter also points out that this is shifting from the default landing tabs intended purpose of gaining a wider fan-base to engaging with the fans that you currently have.

Profile photos will now be accompanied at the top of the screen by a cover photo (851 x 315 pixels) that will be almost 70% of your top screen. It is important that this photo represent your organization’s mission and voice. It is also important to note some of the rules of cover photos found in Facebook’s help center. The rules state that cover photos may not contain price or purchase information, contact information, references to “liking” or “sharing” of content, or calls to action. This is where viewing other pages, like Livestrong, can be beneficial for seeing what images other organizations have chosen for furthering their messages.

Facebook is now providing page administrators, or “admins,” with dashboards to quickly review their pages metrics as well as fan activity on one screen. Though the kinks are still being worked out of Facebook metrics measuring systems, this is a great new feature that will at least have to hold us over until “real time” metric data is available.

Another new feature that all nonprofits should be ready for is private messaging between page administrators and fans. When talking with fans through your organizations voice it is important that you remain consistent, and do not differentiate from the tone of your page. Kanter suggests that you plan out how your organization will direct private conversations with their fans before engaging in a private dialogue one-on-one. This would be an excellent opportunity to drive attention to the organizations website since people would, presumably, ask questions to the administrator that could easily be answered by going to the website.

Finally, it is time to prepare for launch. Make sure that before you launch your fans are aware of some of the changes to come to your page and some of the new features that your page now offers. As if she hasn’t already helped enough, Kanter has also created a Pinterest pinboard, Facebook Brand Pages: Useful Resources and Tips, to help your nonprofit “design, plan and implement” these new applications and features to your organization’s page.

Thank you Beth Kanter for all of your help getting ready for the new Facebook Timeline!

Has multilateral diplomacy overtaken bilateral diplomacy in importance? Such assertions are made from time to time, but this is really a nonissue. Each plays its role, as processes through which countries pursue their objectives. Some issues are best handled in a multilateral forum. But as someone observed, all diplomacy is bilateral, in that countries take positions on global issues on the merits of the case and on the basis of the quality of relations with the country sponsoring the issue under debate. Simply put, bilateral and multilateral processes are the two legs of the international system. We should not leave out regional diplomacy, which is a special form of multilateralism.

Multilateralism has grown dramatically in the past three decades. The start of the annual UN General Assembly session, in the third week of September, has become a global forum that draws 60 to 80 heads of state and government, and scores of foreign ministers. Several thematic global summits meet each year. Regional summits have also multiplied, with the proliferation of new groups. MFAs deploy their best diplomats in multilateral diplomacy.

  • When complex functional issues are debated, it is the line ministries that take the lead; MFA diplomats play a supporting role. Over the years, these agencies have built considerable subject negotiation expertise.
  • Professional diplomats bring to the table wider relationship management expertise, including knowledge of interconnections between different issues that are in play with a partner country, allowing leverage and tradeoffs.
  • Mastery of conference technique is part of the professional’s compendium of skills, honed through training and frequent exposure to bilateral, regional, and multilateral negotiations.
  • Most working diplomats blend bilateral and multilateral skills, each reinforcing the other; they rotate between bilateral and multilateral posts. The Chinese are among the few that treat multilateralism as a distinct expertise area for their personnel.
  • A multilateral diplomat should, ideally, master two languages besides English; possess sharp drafting ability; excel at people skills and intercultural communication.

The skills involved in multilateral work are as follows:

1. Liaison, negotiation, representation, and confl ict resolution, involving the craft of communication, advocacy, and persuasion.

2. The work is labor-intensive, with great effort in building personal ties, aimed at getting colleagues to tilt in one’s favor, within their “zone of discretion”.

3. The envoy often has latitude for local improvisation; good MFAs ensure that this is given to their representatives on the spot.

4. Committee or conference management is a special skill, aimed at getting into the “inner group” that plays a key role at each.

5. Chairing a meeting needs sensitive judgment of the mood, a special “listening” sense, and anticipation of problems before they emerge—of course, fairness, humor, and a winning personality are taken for granted.

6. Knowledge of procedures and rules, which makes it possible to manipulate the conference to one’s purpose and block others from doing the same.

The range of entrants into diplomatic services the world over is increasingly diverse in the subjects studied, regional and personal background, as well as age (intake age has risen in most countries). Yet, they are elites in talent quality, chosen as the best among a large number of applicants.17 Effi cient management of this resource is the hallmark of the best services. This entails the following:

  • Objective, transparent management that carries conviction with the cadre; oversight of this process is usually a major responsibility for the MFA permanent head.
  • Career management that tolerates individuality and facilitates early selection of high flyers.
  • A calibrated promotion system, ideally a blend of in-depth tests, transparent selection, grooming the best for high office.
  • “Bidding” methods for assignments, via an open process.
  • Inculcation of language, area and thematic expertise to match actual needs, as they evolve.
  • Extensive “in” and “out” placement at all levels, breaking down network insularity, real and perceived, including assignments with non-state (business associations, think tanks).

The best services use elaborate methods for talent identification and selection of high value assignments.

Examples: The British FCO uses a “Job Evaluation Senior Posts” system to assign a numerical value to each (a JESP score of 8 for the head of mission (HOM) at Port Moresby, 9 for the deputy chief of mission (DCM) in Lisbon, 20 to 22 for the top six directors general at the FCO, 22–23 for the envoys to Delhi, Moscow, Berlin, and Paris, 25 for the UK permanent representative at Brussels, and 28 for the permanent under-secretary, among the 450 senior jobs). All the posts are up for bidding, with a single page application, to be considered by the “No. 1 Board,” final approval by the Foreign Secretary. Singapore uses an annual “Current Evaluated Potential” (CEP) method (borrowed years ago from Shell), which calculates the level that all offi cials with more than five years of service are expected to reachafter about 20 to 25 years of service and then guides the offi cials’ career tracks accordingly. The score is not communicated to the offi cials, but those estimated as the best are groomed for high office. Australia demands that those aspiring to promotion must apply. The US, with a like method, demands that applicants who fail to get promoted for six years must leave the service. Mexico requires promotion applicants to write out why they merit promotion; they take a written exam in several subjects; the board that interviews them includes a professor from a reputed university (the applicants pay their own travel cost). In 1995, Nepal opened up 10 percent of posts to lateral entry by qualified specialists; contrary to initial doubt, this has worked well.