By: Josephus Moses Gray |
Through the tireless efforts of international peace brokers with incredible principles, Liberia has chosen peace to conflict and eventually on the road to development, a task which goes with painful decisions since transformation and reform are very costly. The country has undergone extensive and profound changes and the path of peaceful development of post-war Liberia is not a choice influenced by the outside world or big powers, but a result of learning from its immediate past and other civilizations of the world and a big contribution to the progress of human advancement. Liberia cannot develop itself in isolation from the rest of the world, as the state actively promotes the international cooperation of mutual benefits on the basis of win-win cooperation since no nation can develop itself with its doors closed. Assistant Professor of International Relations at the University of Liberia Graduate School, Professor Josephus Moses Gray offers insight into contemporary Liberia’s foreign policy, its development impact, and the dividends of the current administration international relations.
Liberia’s ties with states of the international realm principally neighboring countries demonstrate the cordial and unique friendship the current administration attached to other governments, regional and continent bodies of the international system. Liberia’s national reputation between the epochs of 1989 to 2005 was viewed in the international realm by global players and international actors as a failed state. During the eras, the nation’s reputation in the international sphere was tainted internationally. This affected the country’s ability to build coalitions and alliances to achieve international political objectives, to influence perceptions and purchase decisions, and to attract foreign investments. While those who were in possession of the nation’s traveling documents, especially passports, were subjected to all sorts of malicious treatments at various ports of entry.
But since the end of the 14-year civil conflict, the domestic political and economic situations have undergone great and profound changes, a new structure of Liberia contemporary politics is still emerging, but two trends are clear. On the one hand, the country is stable, but moving towards economic torpor, and the overall political situation in the country has been centered around power politics, as a result, hegemonism and power politics continue to exist and have new manifestations. The inauguration of President George Weah in 2018 was the turning point of Liberian history entered a new era, and a new chapter was unfolded in Liberia’s foreign relations and diplomacy. The peacefully transferred of power by ex-president Johnson-Sirleaf to President Weah was the first time in Liberia’s 74-year of history.
But how effective is the nation’s current international relations, diplomacy and foreign policy under President Weah’s administration regarding the nation’s image in the global sphere? What is the Liberian state interaction with other sovereign states including state actors and non-state actors? And what are some of the dividends of contemporary Liberia’s foreign policy and its social, economic, political and development impact on the nation? In order to discuss these concerns in detail, the author deems it appropriate to adopt a qualitative analysis to discuss the similarity and disparate of ex-president Sirleaf and President Weah’s doctrines and interactions with international actors. The article on one hand-reviewed international relations, diplomacy, and foreign policy and analyzed President Weah’s diplomatic modus operandi, international relations, and revered foreign policy.
Between the periods 1989 to 2005, the state was portrayed very negatively with various descriptions; for some Liberia was the epicenter of cannibalism, war, failed state, rebel’s paradise, scoundrels, and criminals’ sanctuary, just to name few. The unhealthy situation prompted numerous calls in the international arena for the country to be placed under the United Nations Trusteeship; on grounds that there was a breakdown of law and that Liberians could no longer govern the state and protect the innocent population. For other international actors, the UN Trusteeship was never the best solution to have brought relieved to the suffering population, instead they advocated for the peaceful resolution of the Liberian civil war through diplomatic engagement.
Other nationals and foreign capitalists took advantage of the 14-year insurrection to perpetrate distasteful acts, as a resulted of theses ugly practices, countesses number of innocent Liberians became victimized, to the extent that some are deceased, handicapped, traumatized or detained. Unfortunately, other Liberians whereabouts still continued to be a mystery, while the country’s natural resources were abused by foreign capitalists, so-called investors, and other states. On the other hand, ex-warring factions took advantage of the uprising to have enriched their selves and committed carnages against the innocent population.
During the 14-year dark period, Liberia was no longer a beacon of hope and was no longer being judged by the world as a peaceful society and the pioneer of democracy on the African Continent, despite Liberia is the first state in Africa to conduct a democratic election the African continent, the 21st September 1847 election in which former president Joseph Jenkins Roberts defeated Thomas Buchanan upon Independence in 1847.
However, Liberia’s transformation from a war-torn country to a peaceful nation has proven to be an amazing achievement for Africa especially the people of Liberia, but the current unfavorable economic is not healthy for the nation. The county’s melancholy economic to some extent can be attributed to the hegemonic internationalism and global economic hegemony of which developing states including Liberia are victims of a political concept in which a single state has a decisive influence over the international system. At the same time, it should be noticed that the influence of globalization on counties and various economics at different stages of development is entirely different. This is due to disparities in the economic strength and the level of development and the equanimity of the contemporary international economic order, the dividends derived from globalization are not fairly distributed between developed and developing countries.
The ultimate weaken of Liberia’s economic development is the weak agricultural substance which remains the prior obstacle for Liberia’s economic and industrial development. The weak agricultural foundation has created serious pressure on the nation’s scarce resources or economy. For example, Liberia imported million tons of rice from China and India which amounts to around US$160 million yearly, and imported several millions tons of gasoline and diesel from Ivory Coast cost the state about US$170 million yearly, besides the two commodities, Liberia also imported million tons of vegetal oil and sugar.
A concrete effort needs to be made to set up a strategic objective of establishing an innovation-oriented country, as a strategic direction of achieving sustainable development, strategic local point of grasping economic, and technological commanding height. This will make the strategic emerging economy to be a dominant force promoting economic and social development in the country. Let us be reminded that transformation isn’t the simple change on the surface, but involved the fundamental changes in structural forms, operational models and especially people’s attitudes-love for country and respect for rule of law. Even though reform usually faces unprecedented difficulties, it starts from the easer part to the difficult one, which requires sacrifices of some people’s interests to meet the interests of others for the greater good of the states and its people.
Liberia actively participates in the globalization and merges itself into the international order so as to develop interdependent and mutually beneficial relations with developed countries. However, there is still a big gap between Liberia and developed countries in economic structure, technology, innovation, industrial development, especially agricultural efficiency.
For more than a decade, the Liberian populace experienced the scourge of vicious circle armed uprising and endured the hardships of the wars and lawlessness, and paid a heavy price for the scourge. In contemporary Liberia, nobody in the country and refuge in other countries wishes to see any new war or turmoil break out in the country again, or pursuit of neo-hegemonism and power politics by any group. Since war and conflict widening development gap between regions, districts, cities, towns, communities, or the poor and rich, Liberia since made an affirmation and stands ready to join hands with all countries and peoples who cherish peace and crave for development and progress to secure an international environment of lasting global order.
But how effective is the nation’s current international relations, diplomacy and foreign policy under President Weah’s administration regarding the nation’s image in the global sphere? What is the Liberian state interaction with other sovereign states including state actors and non-state actors? And what are some of the dividends of contemporary Liberia’s foreign policy and its social, economic, political and development impact on the nation? To discuss these critical issues, let me provide some details and the understanding of international relations, diplomacy and foreign policy.
Quintessentially, international relations, diplomacy, and foreign policy are often conflated and used interchangeably, mainly because both terms describe the interaction between actors in the international sphere. The terms diplomacy, foreign policy and international relations are diverse but are mutually joined and principally defined: Diplomacy plays an important part in shaping what happens in international relations, it provides the spokes for one state’s political interests to interface with those of another without resorting to force, and is used to manage the goals of foreign policy mostly by implementing goals focusing on communication.
The three terms are essential ingredients of national reputation globally, rooted in international public opinion, signifies the presence or absence of international legitimacy accrued to a certain state. Diplomacy is generally used with the aim of achieving specific objectives through negotiation acceptable practices and it is often explained in relation to foreign policy. The term “foreign” depicts the policy as targeting actors beyond the borders of the territorial state. While Foreign policy consists of the objectives of a nation regarding external interests based on the strategy adopted by a nation to deal with other foreign countries; foreign policy is the content of foreign relations, comprising the aspirations and aims a country wants to achieve in its relations with other states and international governmental organizations. A developmental foreign policy is pro-engagement; it is not isolationist. It is fundamentally concerned with addressing domestic, continental, and global disparities and inequalities. Some countries formulate and publish their foreign policy goals.
According to Adam Watson (1982), national reputation is fundamentally an instrument of power which also signifies a nation’s power strength. It all about having a good name in the world of nations and it reflects and affects the country’s standing in the global arena. It refers to the collective judgments of a foreign country’s image and characters that are then used to predict or explain a nation’s culture, policy, conduct, and future behavior. National reputation, along with economic resources, is a pivotal force in international relations.
The opinion of the given nation as expressed by foreign publics is one of the reliable indicators of a nation’s reputation in the international sphere. Having the desired image and reputation can often be of greater use than a significant increment of economic power. This is because nation’s reputational capital may affect the country’s ability to build coalitions and alliances to achieve international political objectives, to influence perceptions and purchase decisions, and to attract foreign investments (Adam Watson, 1982).
The 2005 general elections was the dedicated period of the state and its people, the collective judgments of the country’s image and characters was then used to predict or explain a nation’s political situation, policy, conduct, and future behavior, while national reputation became a pivotal force in international relations, as condition later improved for the better due to foreign intervention.
Based on a critical analysis of President Weah’s doctrine outlined in his inaugurate address, one can state that Liberia’s foreign policy in the 21st century under the current administration is towards a peaceful international environment of long term stability, security, coexistence, mutual trust, mutual benefits, equality and collaboration with countries of the world. Liberia has also established and maintained various types of partnerships with global powers and multilateral organizations, properly handling its relations with all major forces of the world including the U.S., China, Japan, France, European Union, UN, IMF, World Bank, African Union, ECOWAS, and G77. Liberia pursues an independent foreign policy of peace, respect for sovereignty.
Liberia promotes friendly and cooperative relations with all the other states on the basis of the principles of coexistence. Some of the dividends of President Weah foreign relations include the presentation of letters of credence by ambassadors accredited to Liberia, the presence of foreign embassies and missions near Monrovia, foreign aid assistance from friendly countries and multilateral institutions and organizations including continue support towards road rehabilitations, constructions of infrastructure such as public building, support towards electricity and water supply, security, funding towards social institutions such as health and education, especially budgetary support, among others.
Analysis of Liberian foreign relations shows that Liberia foreign policy opposed to the practices of the big countries bullying the small states and the strong oppressing the weak states; it calls for the setting of disputes and conflicts through talks and consultation and by seeking common ground. From the point of the nation’s foreign policy objective, Liberia does not impose its own will upon others and acts in the fundamental interests of the Liberian people and the common interests of all people throughout the globe.
In these connections, Liberia’s international image and reputation are improving, the country has strengthened relationship and cooperation with developing and developed states, which has always been the cornerstone of the nation’s foreign relations. Today, Liberia still remains a standing member of the United Nations, AU, ECOWAS, and a stable environment. The country’s foreign policy, international relations and diplomacy, have always fulfill its international duty to the world evident as must actively supported the movements for national independence and liberation of African states, the establishment of numerous global institution and organizations, and a standing signatory to international treaties, conventions, instruments and the just struggle of the people across the world. Liberia has regained its status and the nation’s reputation in the international sphere due to the role of ex-president Johnson-Sirleaf’s distinctive international relations and foreign policy. Madam Johnson-Sirleaf has since left the political scene, with President George Weah in charge of the affairs of the state.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Liberia’s Foreign Policy is firmly rooted in its political ideology of liberalism, democracy, and capitalism. This foundation is copied after the pattern adopted by the United States of America from where the founding fathers of Liberia had come as ex-slaves and free men color. Generally speaking, the guiding principles of Liberia’s foreign policy has been the maintenance of national security and the preservation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country, the promotion of peace and harmony based on the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other states, and unity in the national community based on the virtue of liberal democracy.
The fundamental thrust of Liberia’s foreign policy objective before the Tubman era was predominantly the maintenance of national independence. Since the Tubman administration to date, the foreign policy objective of the country, in addition to the maintenance of national independence has been the devotion to economic, social and political development. Liberia’s survival as a state in the face of difficult challenges posed by colonial powers like Great Britain and France have been the skill and maturity with which her leaders conducted her foreign policy and foreign relations( MOFA, 2018). Thus the mastery of the act of diplomacy has remained the hallmark, and one of the most credible achievements of Liberia in the comity of nations.
Just like Madam Sirleaf, President Weah’s diplomatic modus operandi and interactions with actors in the international sphere has produced dividends and tangibles visible through the countless international good wills and the participation of the President at international acclaimed gathering such as FOCAC, TICAD, UN General assembly, AU and ECOWAS Summits, where Liberia’s needs have been propounded. The visitations of several presidents and other high profile leaders of foreign governments, states, and multilateral institutions, demonstrate the nation’s reputation in the international sphere among the comity of nations. Such unique international relations and diplomacy have given rise to the nation’s foreign policy objectives, with the visible dividends including international goodwill, developmental programs, and constructions of multimillion public facilities such as newly constructed RIA terminal and Ministerial complex by the People’s Republic of China.
The Weah’s foreign relations has witnessed some dividends including the protection of nation’s image abroad that one can present Liberia passport at any port of entry without being discriminating against or harassment, maintains Liberian diplomatic missions abroad and role in international organizations, and the presentations of official letters of credence by foreign states missions accredited near Monrovia. The former government of Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and President George Weah’s administration desired credit for the unique displayed of diplomacy, foreign policy, and international relations.
These core issues of international goodwill and development projects are linked to general domestic policy for their pursuit is dependent not only on Liberia’s foreign policy with her neighbors and countries which Liberia maintained its diplomatic ties with, but also Liberia’s internal political stability and security. President Weah administration has inherited a task of removing a greater number of poverty-stricken Liberians from abject poverty, provide electricity and safe drinking water to the greater population, ensure paved roads across the country, and create jobs and quality education and affordable health care, among other pressing necessities.
Other areas on the domestic front include the ongoing construction of the famous 14 Military Hospital, the Construction of feeder community roads and construction of housing units in Grand Kru County, the continuation of the former regime major projects such a major roads, ministerial complex, the new terminal at RIA, tuition weaver at all public universities and colleges, pavement of WAEC’s fees. Other areas of gains including keeping the country stable, peace and security, rule of law and justice and human rights protection.
In his thrilling inauguration address, President George Weah said: “I am a humble today to be at this stadium that made me, I have spent many years of my life in this stadium, but today is a feeling like no other, I strive to be excellent, and I can be successful. The exciting speech was greeted with thousands of Liberians waving flags and dancing through the various streets and communities across the country while others from the homes and entertainment centers followed the historic occasion via radio and televisions transmission. In an astute speech of optimism, President Weah used the remarkable inauguration to set forth his administration foreign policy and domestic agenda constructively as he reached out to friendly countries and Liberia’s international partners especially to Washington, Beijing, European Union, ECOWAS, African Union, United Nations, World Bank International Monetary Fund and Arab League countries, among others.
Further analysis of the inaugural address showed that President Weah’s foreign policy to some degree is contrary to that of former president Johnson-Sirleaf regime’s foreign policy. Ex-president Johnson-Sirleaf’s doctrine was focused on poverty reduction strategy, while President Weah’s major doctrine is the people-centered oriented pro-poor agenda. The deviation of the two leaders’ foreign policies is mainly in the areas of implementation, projection and strategic areas of focus. However, bother leaders’ foreign policies centered on the cultivation of cordial friendly relations with governments, the United Nations, Multilateral institutions, regional and continent bodies and members of the global system.
An analysis of the inaugural address shows that the CDC led-government foreign policy is formulated solely for national interests and its primary and obvious objectives entailed the maintenance of national security and the preservation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country, the promotion of peace and harmony based on the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other states, and respect for international orders. It also centered on securing the much-needed strategic partnerships with international players. It can be recalled that during the occasion, the president reiterated that his administration will build on the gains made by the former regime of Johnson-Sirleaf especially in the areas of free speech and press freedom, stability, and peaceful co-existence but vowed to root out corruption. President Weah used the profound address to praise his predecessor Johnson-Sirleaf for laying the foundations on which he said Liberians can now stand in peace, stressing that “United, Liberians are certain to succeed as a nation, warning that divided we are certain to fall.
The president used the occasion stress the maintenance of closer and stronger ties friendship and economic partnership with traditional allies and friends in the Middle East and revealed that Liberia is going to open new avenues of engagements and mutual solidarity with other states. Interestingly, the speech touched the relations between Liberia and the United States of America and seeks the United States to continue to support in various aspects based on both interests that tied to Liberia and America. The speech recounted Washington’s support to Liberia, describing the United States as Liberia’s oldest and reliable partner. According to the President, Washington led the international efforts to end the armed conflict in the country.
President Weah’s foreign policy also reflects Liberia’s relations with the European Union and reiterates his administration’s desire to continue ties with the EU, attributing his achievements to Europe. He also detailed some assistance the EU has rendered Liberia and continues to render the state; he has committed his administration cardinal ties with the EU. Still, on foreign policy, the address documented Liberia-China productive and mutually rewarding relations, reflecting on the numerous supports Beijing has rendered Liberia in the areas of general economic cooperation, infrastructure development, agriculture, energy, education, culture and health, and security development.
The contemporary era in the nation’s history presents a challenge to President George Weah’s administration to put its diplomats to work, as the government seeks international partners as the country emerges from the current economic. That is why those tasked with economic and political activities at the various embassies and diplomatic missions of Liberia must be sharp, cognizant of global prevailing dynamics political and diplomatic issues to drive the desired results back home, and not just sit and wait to be tele-guided .
While the current administration primarily focused on development diplomacy in the formulation of foreign policy and the practice of international relations, indisputably, economic, trade and commercial diplomacy should be paramount in this era. This requires a strong background of the diplomats from a multidisciplinary perspective since professional diplomacy is an appropriate instrument to perform this synthesis, to the extent that it can use its persuasive techniques in favor of businesses and investments and, simultaneously, prove to be politically and economically profitable to Liberia.
Karpeh (2011) revealed that Foreign Policy formulations and implementation take into consideration the Domestic Policy of a state because of politics deals not only with government or state but also with the following: social, cultural, demography and economic interactions that occur at other states levels. Foreign Policy and Domestic Policy are both interconnected because Foreign Policy formulation is originated from the INNER of State Programs. But considering Liberia’s present poor economic situation, economic diplomacy should be given greater priority in our international relations with powerful states and government since economic diplomacy is now a key factor in the development of contemporary international politics. It is clear that economic and commercial interests, particularly those related to investment, trade, exports, protection, and assistance could be essential aspects of the diplomatic activities of a considerable number of countries.
The landscape of contemporary diplomacy in terms of practice may have lost some of its image of exceptional ingredients, in the sense that it has to compete and interact with a much wider dynamic of the international system, conduct itself in a more time-sensitive manner, and be applied with a greater technical orientation and to a far greater extent than in the past, diplomacy is wrapped up with domestic policy-formulation and political demands about governance across an extended spectrum of issue areas.
The practices have changed from the old practices to a contemporary system; beginning with the advancement of technology and education that makes it imperative to adapt to the many demands evolving from the introduction of advanced hi-tech communication and continuing transformations of the international system. Those who are accorded the dedicated task to positively drive president Weah’s regime foreign policy and international relations should understand that diplomacy goes far beyond sparkling red and white wines, champagne, ceremonial dinner and soliciting financial and other hand-outs for personal enrichment.
This requires hard work, a strong background, and good negotiation skills as regards emerging contemporary issues, and multidisciplinary perspective since professional diplomacy is an appropriate instrument to perform this synthesis, to the extent that it can use its persuasive techniques in favor of businesses and investments and, simultaneously, prove to be politically and economically profitable to Liberia. The noble profession which goes with greater demands is not an end but a means; not a purpose but a method. It seeks, by the use of reason, conciliation and the exchange of interests to prevent major conflicts arising between sovereign states and other civil organizations. Diplomacy goes far beyond sparkling red and white wines, champagne, ceremonial dinner and soliciting financial and other hand-outs for personal enrichment.
Contemporary diplomacy in terms of practice is carried out through several processes such Shuttle diplomacy, Multilateral Diplomacy, Public diplomacy, Economics diplomacy, Hi-Tech diplomacy, Conference diplomacy, Instant Media diplomacy and Resident diplomacy which is also called Track diplomacy; Track One refers to the standard form of diplomacy involving negotiations between officials of two or more. According to a leading twentieth-century figure in the study of international politics, Hans Morgenthau, diplomacy will naturally decline with the onset of modern communication technologies such as the telephone, telegraph, cable and communication satellite.
Occasionally, telephone diplomacy some time experiences problems due to tech-glitch, on the largest scale hi-tech diplomacy is wildly used by world leaders to get a quick result (Gray, 2014), The Practices of Hi-Tech Diplomacy in an Advanced Technically World). Studies have shown that the Hi-Tech diplomacy is used mainly by world leaders and emissaries to by-passed their ambassadors to put their calls directly to their counterparts or other high ranking officials of another state to discuss issues. This form of diplomacy, unlike the traditional one, is very effective, it gives instant results.
Also, technology has rendered the difference in time, space and distance irrelevant and meaningless in contemporary diplomatic intercourse. Besides, the almighty internet with its many sophisticated features including the e-mail segment cannot be denied center-stage in the community of diplomacy (US State Department report 2003). Another factor is multilateral diplomacy which also brought in its wake new forms of diplomatic activity like public debates, extensive committee work; parliamentary procedures that back in the home country are the provenance of politicians.
Intranet” systems allow, among other benefits, presents a comprehensive and effective communication between the Foreign Ministry and diplomatic missions in their country. “Instant media” have a significant role in this area, especially the “chats” and social media networks like Face book, Skype and Twitter, which are used both by the foreign ministries and diplomatic missions to disseminate and receive data. Another effective form of diplomacy is Public diplomacy which has grown in the world and in the age of reality TV which is used to mobilize public support, to sustain momentum in negotiations, or to sabotage negotiations by leaking details of concessions contrary to individual preferences.
Another area of diplomacy, which has brought great development to other nations is economic and trade diplomacy, as well as economic and commercial diplomacy. Nowadays, economic diplomacy and trade are now being given greater priority; these areas are now the key factors in the development of contemporary international politics. In the contemporary world, the issues of economic interests, trade, protection of nationals, and security have become much more difficult, with major challenges affecting the practices of diplomacy being influenced by major actors and powerful states, and some time the continued experiment of global, continental and regional groupings.
In an advanced technological era, diplomats sometimes are merely the messengers of their governments rather than important advisers and policymakers, since technology has brought about psychological warfare and propaganda that has become a powerful weapon to diplomacy and foreign policy. At present, diplomats are engaged in an expanding range of functions, from negotiation, communication, consular, representation, and reporting to observation, merchandise trade, and services promotion, cultural exchange, and public relations. Diplomats restrict their interactions and deal solely with other members of an exclusive club, comprised of governmental officials, fellow diplomats, and, occasionally, members of the business community.
In contemporary diplomacy, the issues of economic interests, trade, protection of nationals, and security have become much more difficult, with major challenges affecting the practices of diplomacy being influenced by major actors and powerful states, and some time the continued experiment of global, continental and regional groupings. Furthermore, a leader’s willingness to use the telephone has carried communication a step further. In the Persian Gulf crisis of 1991, former President George Bush, Sr., and former President Mikhail Gorbachev conducted an unprecedented 75 minutes telephone conversation including the time needed for translations.
Also the Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu made a telephone call to the former UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon dissuading him not to go to Iran, former US secretary of state, Colin Powell conducted an unprecedented about 95 telephone calls under the rubric of diplomacy to his colleagues around the world while former Foreign Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan on several occasions took advantage of this modern system of tech-diplomacy. Occasionally, telephone diplomacy some time experiences problems due to tech-glitch. According to reports, former Secretary Colin Powell by-passed his ambassador and put a call through directly to the Secretary-General. Study shows that technology has rendered the difference in time, space and distance irrelevant and meaningless in contemporary diplomatic intercourse. And now the almighty internet with its many sophisticated features including the e-mail segment cannot be denied center-stage in the community of diplomacy.
A nation’s diplomat required functioning as his or her country’s eyes, ears, and voice abroad, must be aware of national interests and values while being able to understand foreign politics and cultures. At the same time, the skills required of professional diplomats include intelligence, tact, discretion, circumspection, patience, self-control, teamwork, adaptability, creative imagination, the ability to signal and communicate messages precisely to the target audience.
In certain cases, diplomats also give occasional speeches to members of the community of their host country. It is an admirable profession of integrating, intelligent, honesty, political and edification elegance, free of corrupt and other unwholesome practices especially greed for financial gains. But, now new issues such as technical matters are coming to the forefront. Out of this sphere of unfolding developments and uncertainties a diplomat, in this modern era, should obtain the ‘requisite tools’ of education, skills, and a marketable reputation. Evidently, diplomat presents his or her government’s policies to the foreign and domestic publics in a persuasive and persuading tone, not a demanding one, as such; a diplomat always represents the interest of the nation but at the same time cannot ignore the public opinion on national and international issues that go beyond defined borders.
Another factor responsible for the low productivity of African diplomacy is the serious issue of diplomats negotiating which missions to be assigned, instead of getting posted to counties by those with the appointing powers. It is common for these so-called influential diplomats to lobby for posting to prestigious diplomatic missions in Europe, Asia, America, and multilateral organizations, as greater numbers are not willing to be posted to African missions, especially the underdeveloped ones.
The problem of concern is the existence of too many diplomatic missions abroad, which places a heavy financial burden on the scarce resources of these poor African Countries, decisively maintaining more contacts with non-African states. Studies have shown that Washington, Paris, London or Beijing wouldn’t post diplomats to countries of their choice or where diplomats do not have command over the language of the host state or uninformed diplomats to countries of strategic importance in a particular region or continent.
By: Josephus Moses Gray/ Assistant Professor of International Studies/ firstname.lastname@example.org