Diplomat's Handbook

The Rationale for the Diplomat’s Handbook

 

In recent years, diplomacy as practiced by many democratic nations has taken on more of a human face. Whereas once the conduct of diplomatic relations was strictly on a state-to-state basis, today, Ambassadors and diplomats are much more likely to engage the publics of the host countries and not exclusively government officials. Embassies and Consulates are ready vehicles and brokers promoting contact and communications between the peoples and nongovernmental organizations and groups of the sending and host countries. Democracy development and human rights are among the most active topics of such communications.

 

Diplomats of CD member states are often approached by civil society activists with requests for assistance. Too often they are met by diplomats who are unprepared and untrained to help.  While there has been some progress, an enormous potential source of assistance is largely unrealized.  Embassies are present in large numbers in even the most closed countries, while foreign NGOs often are being squeezed out.

 

There is no codified set of procedures for diplomats to follow in order to respond effectively. Each situation is different, presenting unstructured problems and opportunities which diplomats need to interpret according to the merits of the issues and local conditions, the bilateral relationship and the foreign policy concerns of the home country. However, there has been considerable past experience which might be helpful on a case-by-case basis in the field.

 

A Diplomat’s Handbook for Democracy Development Support is meant to present a wide variety of case studies documenting and explaining specific country experiences. It also identifies creative, human, and material resources available to Missions, the ways in which Missions and diplomats have supported requests in the past, and describes how such support has been applied.  A review of these experiences bears out the validity of our belief in our inter-dependence. It will hopefully also provide practitioners with encouragement, counsel, and a greater capacity to support democrats everywhere.

The Role of the Community of Democracies

 

The idea of a Diplomat’s Handbook was proposed to the Community of Democracies Working Group #1 on “Democratic Governance and Civil Society,” by CCD Board member and former U.S. Ambassador to Hungary, Mark Palmer.  The project is directed by former Canadian Ambassador to Russia, the European Union and the United Kingdom, Jeremy Kinsman.  He is assisted by Kurt Bassuener, an NGO professional and enjoys the active partnership of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs of Princeton University.  CCD serves as Secretariat of the project.  The draft version of the Handbook was endorsed by the CD Convening Group and by the civil society participants in the 2007 Community of Democracies Ministerial meeting in Bamako, Mali  as part of the Civil Society Democracy Agenda for 2007-2009; the Working Group #1’s Report was accepted by the ministers attending the Bamako 2007 Ministerial.

 

Community of Democracies member states greatly value being able to respond to the need for support from reform-minded groups and individuals as they struggle to introduce and improve democratic governance and human rights in their own societies, and to work with governments and nongovernmental groups everywhere to improve democratic governance. As the Handbook will set out, the rights to help and be helped are consistent with the aims and obligations of the UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and CD’s own founding document, the Warsaw Declaration, adopted by 106 nations meeting in 2000.