|» Conference report|
On 25 and26 October 2011, the Department of EU International Relations and Diplomacy Studies at the College of Europe, Bruges campus, organised a conference to discuss new challenges facing diplomats today. States and other international players interact through the mechanisms of representation, communication and negotiation, and all three functions of diplomacy have in the 21st century increasingly been challenged. There are more actors, more channels and more issues to deal with, and these challenges need to be reflected in diplomatic training as well.
- there are more actors represented: what are the challenges of multi-stakeholder diplomacy? What is the likely impact of the European External Action Service on EU diplomacy, what role for the BRIC countries in global governance or what does postmodern economic diplomacy imply? Can multi-actor simulations help prepare 21st century diplomats for these challenges?
- there are new channels of communication available: what challenges does modern public diplomacy face, how important is intercultural communication, and has political reporting changed in the post-WikiLeaks era? How can 21st century diplomats be prepared for e-diplomacy?
- there are more complex issues to be negotiated: how to deal with the challenge of integrating multiple issues into coherent diplomacy? What about global health diplomacy, conflict prevention diplomacy or raw materials diplomacy? And should 21st century diplomats rather be trained as specialists or as generalists?
The two-day conference addressed these questions in three panel sessions. Each session opened with a general introduction to the topic by the Chair, followed by presentations illustrating specific examples, and it concluded with a discussion on training diplomats for the challenges discussed. By bringing together academics, trainers and diplomats the conference not only examined the challenges facing 21st century diplomacy but also provided some answers.