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The role of the diplomat and diplomacy in a world of global transformation

Miguel Ángel Moratinos, GCSP Associate Fellow and former Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, was at the GCSP today for an Executive Conversation on the role of diplomacy in a world of global transformation. He shared his views on how and why diplomats must capitalise on the complex tasks at hand in order to address contemporary challenges.

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GCSP - Maison de la paix

Miguel Ángel Moratinos, GCSP Associate Fellow and former Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, was at the GCSP today for an Executive Conversation on the role of diplomacy in a world of global transformation. He shared his views on how and why diplomats must capitalise on the complex tasks at hand in order to address contemporary challenges.

Over lunch at the GCSP, the former Foreign Minister led invited guests from national representations and international organisations and other professional sectors through the overarching history of diplomacy in the 20th century, replete with personal memories sparked by being in Geneva, as well as passionate exhortations rooted by the dedication of previous decades of diplomacy. Mr Moratinos reminded the audience of the initial vision behind our current collective diplomatic and security architecture and the founding shared frameworks for engaged responsibility. Invoking U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, Mr Moratinos outlined the UN and connected agencies as a creative solution to the challenges facing the world in the old century.

“Currently, diplomats are used at 10% of their potential. But this leads me to believe that the time is ripe for great contributions from diplomats in addressing the complex challenges facing the world.”

Within the new, complex, global and uncertain world he depicted, the challenges we face are, arguably, fundamentally different. In response, and among other responses, reform of the UN is necessary, especially as regards its key organ, the Security Council. However, responsibility cannot be handed off to international community capitals of Geneva, New York, or Brussels. Instead, it is precisely because of the complexity of the challenges and lack of initiative on the part of domestic politicians that the time is ripe for contributions as diplomats.  

Mr Moratinos touched on the contemporary issues of mass migration and refugees, the Iran nuclear deal, and UN Security Council reformation. Not satisfied that matters of such key importance and complexity be dealt with solely in international capitals and at infrequent summits, the former Foreign Minister said refugees should not be seen as an internal matter to be dealt with by a Minister for the Interior, but by Foreign Ministers as well, actively engaged with nations and regions in conflict, and he bemoaned the lack of senior national representatives on the ground engaging with the root causes of mass migration. Similarly, at the UN Security Council, issues should be placed on the agenda beyond the traditional mandate: health security and food security should be brought to the Security Council in order to broaden the discussion and find areas where vetoes are not the first course of action. At the same time, leadership must be demonstrated, he insisted, and the new UN Secretary General chosen next year must have the reform of the Security Council prioritised on the agenda.

“Talking to those who are troublesome, and with whom you do not agree, and with whom you may not even share key values; those are the hallmarks of diplomacy, regardless of the state of the world we inhabit.”

Ultimately, Mr. Moratinos pointed out, the core duty of diplomats is for dialogue to prevent crisis and avoid uncertainty. “Talking to those who are troublesome, and with whom you do not agree, and with whom you may not even share key values; those are the hallmarks of diplomacy, regardless of the state of the world we inhabit”, he noted. For those at the GCSP Executive Conversation, Mr Moratinos’ constructive message was clear: the world today, with the Iran nuclear deal and reestablishment of U.S.-Cuba relationships, is one filled with hope for the success of diplomacy. However, for diplomacy to prevail, diplomats must lead from the front, where they will be best placed to understand complexity and act on creative new ideas to implement the collective security and engaged responsibility.

 

About GCSP’s Executive Conversations
These high-level and exclusive networking events are a reflection of the convening role of the GCSP as a forum for dialogue on key security and peace policy issues. Join, in a prime location in the heart of International Geneva, a diverse group of prominent professionals from different cultures, business sectors and organisations. 
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