The duties of a diplomat
A diplomat at the U.N. has a multi-faceted role. The diplomat’s duties include:
Working out mutually agreeable solutions with other diplomats in a complex multinational arena.
Finding the best possible means of achieving the instructions of their foreign ministries and presenting the foreign policy of their governments.
Keeping their foreign ministry abreast of important developments at the United Nations and submitting recommendations and suggestions for initiatives or changes in policies or positions when circumstances suggest such iniciatives and changes are both expedient and necessary.
Promoting understanding and stability among the members of the international community in spite of tensions and constant political change.
U.N. diplomats perform their duties at the U.N. through intense communication and regular contact with other delegates. The exchange of information allows diplomats to parade their interests in the hope of finding endorsement by others. Cliques abound and caucuses emerge as the political landscape at the United Nations changes in response to international political events. Information and knowledge are the most important tools of a diplomat. The most influential diplomats are recognized for their particular talents in communications, analysis and judgement.
Information gathering constitutes an important part of a diplomat’s daily routine. All diplomats analyze the atmosphere at the U.N. where they frequently encounter new trends and developments in the multilateral sphere. They provide their foreign ministries with information that facilitates the formulation of foreign policy, and in turn utilize this same information to pursue new opportunities in their efforts to achieve national objectives. Accurately analyzing, interpreting, and predicting trends requires expertise in the substance of the issues at the United Nations, as well as a certain amount of intuition. However, even the most intuitive diplomats must have some ability to judge the political implications of their analysis. Also, they should have exceptional knowledge of the institutions and fora of the U.N. as well as the political realities outside of the United Nations, to be successful.
Effective diplomats spend considerable time preparing for the arduous work they face at the United Nations. The milieu of a U.N. diplomat involves a complex mixture of issues and personalities and involves constant adjustment to the fast pace of the U.N. diplomatic scene. Diplomats need to know who are the important players on an issue, and how to find opportunities to influence or become involved with those “calling the shots“.
When a diplomat’s government decides to take the initiative or assume leadership on an issue, he or she us expected to know where contentions lie and with whom to discuss the matter. Of course, the most important people to negotiate with are individuals who can deliver votes or exert influence on a given resolution or issue. Networking is thus an essential part of a U.N. diplomat’s professional life. If a diplomat lacks the skills to build networks and relationships, he or she will find it difficult, perhaps even impossible, to effectively realize his or her government’s instructions and foreign policy objectives.
Obviously, no one can be everywhere and do everything at once, so knowing where and when to sacrifice attention is essential. An experienced diplomat compensates by structuring relationships within the missions, the delegations, or the caucus groups so that other can fill any gaps. Yet it is difficult and time-consuming to develop these relationships unless one has a good insight into human nature and considerable international experience to know what works and what does not. Many countries have a small diplomats staff in their missions. This adds to the already heavy workload of the men and women representing these countries at the U.N. In the case of the smaller missions, the diplomats are forced to carefully select the issues and meetings they will deal with. It is common not to have enough personnel to make individual assignments to an issue or committee, but instead to have each staff member cover several issues at the same time.
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