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.