Few emerging Liberian diplomats, including staffers from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, have undergone a two-week intensive training in Diplomatic Practices in Belgium, Brussels.
The training, which was requested by the Liberian Embassy in Belgium, took place between June 24 June and July 5, 2019, under the sponsorship of the Government of Belgium and administered by Belgium’s prestigious Egmont Royal Institute of International Studies.
The training is part of efforts to strengthen and deepen subsisting diplomatic relationships between Liberia and Belgium. It is expected to also allow for exchanges of expertise between the African delegations and their European counterparts.
The participants who attended the two-week international diplomacy training were drawn from Liberia, Sudan, South Sudan and Sierra Leone.
The Liberian delegation nominated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and subsequently vetted and selected by the Government of Belgium included Pawala Janyan, Administrative Officer, Office of the Chief of Protocol, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Liberia and Mr. Johnnie F. Fallah, First Secretary and Consul, Embassy of the Republic of Liberia in Brussels.
The training module was divided into three pillars and provided participants deeper understanding and insight into workings of Belgium’s foreign relations, the European Union and other structures of the foreign policy setup.
The first Pillar of the training dealt with Belgium and its External Relations, its policies in Sub-Saharan Africa, role of a Special Envoy for Belgium, challenges of bilateral diplomacy, and discussion with the desk officers & Visit of the Belgian Federal Parliament.
There were also highlights on Belgian institutional system, functioning of the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its diplomatic network, its migration policy, practices of diplomatic and consular privileges and immunities, development strategy in Africa, promotion and protection of human rights in Belgium’s foreign policy, as well as the country’s defense policy.
The participants were drilled through the functioning of the EU, modernization of the ACP-EU Partnership, presentation of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly and Visit to the European External Action Service.
Other areas of focus were UN Security Council simulation explanation and exercise, recognizing and questioning unconscious gender bias, training in lobbying and strategic communication, diplomatic report writing, introduction to public diplomacy, training in public speaking, and diplomatic negotiations (learning through practice).
As part of the training, the African diplomats visited the Belgian Parliament, Belgian Permanent Representation to the EU, European External Action Service, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Royal Museum for Central Africa, and the Port of Antwerp. During these visits, there were presentations made by these organizations and deliberations held with the view of deepening their understanding of Belgium and its foreign policy in the context of Africa – EU relations.
During the reporting period, members of the Liberian delegation were very outstanding and strongly engaged with various presenters; thus facilitating the exchanges of expertise and perspectives with their European counterparts.
In his opening remarks, the Director General of the Egmont Institute, Ambassador Johan Verbeke, welcomed the African diplomats to the Training Session and stressed the longstanding relations subsisting between the two continents and peoples.
Ambassador Verbeke said the training was focused on the “what and how” to understanding diplomacy and diplomatic practices in the conduct of both bilateral and multilateral relations in the 21st century.
According to Ambassador Verbeke, it also answered specific needs of the beneficiary countries such as diplomatic practices, the European Union institutional architecture, negotiation strategies and techniques, mediation, strategic and crisis communication, public speaking and diplomatic reporting.
The Belgium diplomat expressed deep gratitude to the beneficiary countries and the African diplomats for the dynamism and positive exchanges of expertise, stressing that the overall objective of the training was achieved.
Ambassador Verbeke said the future of Africa was bright considering the depth of knowledge and expert exchanges espoused during the course of the training.
On behalf of the Liberian delegation, Hon. Adonie Z. Greaves, Assistant Minister of Foreign, thanked Mr. Didier Reynders, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Affairs of Belgium for the training and brotherly relations over the years.
Assistant Minister Greaves said the Kingdom of Belgium remains a longstanding and strategic partner of Liberia in Europe, recalling that Kingdom of Belgium is one of the first countries to recognize the Republic of Liberia as a free, sovereign, and independent state in 1847.
He pointed out that the brotherly relations subsisting between the two countries heightened in 1858 when former President Steven Allen Benson of Liberia visited Belgium and signed the Treaty of Amity and Commerce with King Leopold I of Belgium. He stressed: “The Kingdom of Belgium and Liberia committed to treat each other as favored nations with strong bonds of strategic partnership, trade and diplomatic relations.”