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Communication and building efficient diplomacy

Real diplomats proficiently prepare an agenda that includes the most important affairs that they seek to discuss and market

Hassan Al Mustafa

Published: Updated:

The UN General Assembly (UNGA) meeting is annually held in September. It is a universal occasion that presidents and diplomats attend in New York to deliver speeches through the UN platform and convey their countries’ opinions about different matters, particularly controversial ones.

Dr Vali Nasr discusses prominent politicians’ interest in this global event in his book “The Dispensable Nation: American Foreign Policy in Retreat.” He wrote: “It is not the speeches that draw these diplomats to New York. It is the chance to see and be seen, to exchange ideas and compare notes, to talk shop and even gossip. And it is an ideal place for a diplomat looking to drum up support for his country’s plans to get things done.”

Nasr’s practical vision is based on the idea that diplomatic work is the basis of political work between countries and groups. This cannot be achieved by just delivering speeches, like some leaders did, such as late Libyan leader Moammar Qaddafi, who randomly delivered speeches without benefiting his country in establishing a convincing diplomatic vision.

Real diplomats proficiently prepare an agenda that includes the most important affairs that they seek to discuss and market. They also examine the names of leaders and politicians who will be present at the meeting, and with whom they are interested in communicating, to create a network of political, economic and diplomatic support, or to have them adopt and support the proposals they make.

Communicating with others, and creating active and efficient diplomacy, can contribute to resolving disputes between countries, decreasing tensions and reaching agreements

Hassan Al-Mustafa

Richard Holbrooke

Late US envoy Richard Holbrooke, whose last post was special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (2009-2010), used to practice this diplomatic approach. Nasr, who was a major member in Holbrooke’s special team, narrates how Holbrooke told him he intended to talk to their allies’ representatives during the UNGA meeting about his plan for peace in Afghanistan.

Holbrooke did what he intended to do, regardless of different viewpoints and criticisms. His first meeting was with Egypt’s then-Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit. He then met with several other figures. Nasr recalls how during one of their meetings with an official, the latter told Holbrooke: “It is much better you buy local warlords to keep al-Qaeda out of Afghanistan. I figure that will cost you $20 billion, which is what, one fifth of what you spend every year in Afghanistan? Spend that and then just go home!”

Nasr noted: “The diplomats on the other side of the table made it painfully clear that they thought we were way off in la-la land” regarding Afghanistan. Despite all this, Holbrooke continued to take the notes of those with whom he met, even though they were harsh, as this did not prevent him from continuing to promote an idea he believed in.

Communicating with others, and creating active and efficient diplomacy, can contribute to resolving disputes between countries, decreasing tensions and reaching agreements that constitute a protective umbrella from violence and fundamentalist movements.

This article was first published on Al Riyadh on September 23, 2016.
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Hassan AlMustafa is Saudi journalist with interest in middle east and Gulf politics. His writing focuses on social media, Arab youth affairs and Middle Eastern societal matters.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.