Training and Education in International Affairs - Seminar on
Diplomacy and Protocol
The increasing prominence of Palestinians on the international political scene, in the peace negotiations and in exchanges with diplomatic corps and visiting government officials in the Occupied Territories, has highlighted the need for Palestinians to be skilled in the art and practice of diplomacy. Owing to the historical and political circumstances of the Palestinians, formal education and practical experience in these areas have never been sufficiently developed. This risks impeding the Palestinians in their relations with the international community.
PASSIA, in an attempt to begin to meet this need, initiated a three-part seminar programme to train and educate active and promising young Palestinian graduates. The first part of the programme, a course on Diplomacy and Protocol, was held at PASSIA between September and December 1992. The second course, on Strategic Studies and Security, will take place in April 1993; the subject of the third, to be held in September 1993, will be the European Community.
PASSIA's history of joint projects with other Palestinian institutions prompted it to approach the Arab Studies Society, and its Director, Mr. Faisal Husseini, with which it shared in the selection of candidates for the course on Diplomacy and Protocol, in promoting the project before the diplomatic community, and participating in the opening sessions.
Regarding arrangements for the course on Diplomacy and Protocol, PASSIA's Academic Committee chose to approach the Swedish Consulate General in Jerusalem, not only because of its committed role in the community, but also because it represents a neutral country, recognised for its diplomatic skills but not taking an active part in the current peace process. The Swedish Consul General, H.E. Mikael Dahl, was very responsive to PASSIA's idea and made every effort to arrange for lecturers from Sweden to address the course.
Below we present a summary of the seminar's opening addresses and lectures.
II. Opening Remarks
Establishment of a state does not depend only on the results of negotiations but also on our actions. Jerusalem is our capital not merely as a result of slogans but through our practice and actions in the city. We must establish and build institutions, in order to make Jerusalem a visible and recognisable capital three years from now.
Israel rejects our right to deal with foreign affairs, but in practice foreign affairs are already in our hands. Therefore, we should train cadres to the required standard and to be able to work as a team. A state is inevitable, and we should reassure the Israelis that we are able to bear the responsibility that comes with it. There is a declared strategy for and various constraints on the political agenda, and we should consider the regional and global balance of power and understand our geopolitical position.
A politician is supposed never to declare his or her strategic negotiating maxima nor request the opposing side to lower its maximum demands. Today's priorities are to freeze all settlement activity and to create better political circumstances for the younger generation and to make a home for them. Our political task is to lay cornerstones in order to build a future state, and not to accept autonomy alone. Diplomatic work is conducted 24 hours a day. It is not easy. A diplomat does not represent him or herself in meetings but his or her people.
The U.S. letter of assurances and the invitation to negotiations were very clear regarding our right to choose our delegation from Palestinians inside and outside. According to the letter of assurances, Jerusalem is part of the Occupied Territories. Israeli annexation is illegal and the future of both East and West Jerusalem is to be determined by negotiation. Israeli settlement in Jerusalem is an act which negatively affects the negotiations and their outcome and will continue to be a major obstacle in the negotiating process.
III. Welcome and Introductory Comments
Dr. Abdul Hadi began by welcoming guests and participants to the seminar. In particular, he acknowledged the invaluable assistance of H.E. Mikael Dahl, the Swedish Consul General, and of the guest speakers from Sweden. He proceeded to give an introduction to PASSIA's work and to explain the background to and details of the seminar. Dr. Abdul Hadi then offered an analysis of the current Palestinian political situation, stressing regional developments such as the retreat of Pan-Arab thought and the rise of pragmatic and technocratic leaderships, the normalisation of Arab-Israeli relations, U.S.-Syrian rapprochement and Egyptian passivity on the Palestine question. He assessed the impact of international ousting of the PLO in favour of the local leadership, and that of the U.S. and Israeli election results. Finally, Dr. Abdul Hadi asked Palestinian participants to consider the Palestinian political position after five years of uprising, particularly the positions of inside and outside, Palestinian institutions, the negotiating team, factional leaderships and the Unified Leadership of the Uprising, and the higher councils in the Occupied Territories.
IV. Introduction to International Relations
The speakers began by explaining that because mechanisms of international relations have everywhere many elements in common, the Swedish experience is relevant to the Middle East. Defining diplomacy as a skill designed to facilitate communication between politicians, the art of "getting along with" others, they proceeded to outline the basic concepts in international relations.
Change has been rapid and has altered fundamentally the art of diplomacy, the origins of which lie in relations between ancient city states. The revolution in communications has led to direct contact which replaces messengers. NGOs have become much more important. Summit and "shuttle" diplomacy, previously restricted to matters of war and peace, are increasingly common.
International law is a set of norms and practices by which nations are asked to abide. It is respected voluntarily and there are few remedies for violation of it. Diplomats must deal with the increased importance of economic and commercial relations in the political field. Self-interest of states is the raison d'etre of foreign policy. International cooperation is therefore a basic requirement for survival, especially for small countries. Major powers act in their own widely defined national interests, often against those of small countries. Giving examples of Swedish practice, the speaker concluded that Sweden serves as a good example of international cooperation by a small state.
V. A Brief History of Diplomacy
After considering various definitions of diplomacy, the speaker gave a fascinating and colourful history of diplomacy from earliest times. Many of the Greek customs, he noted, were transferred to western Europe, Egypt and elsewhere. International law, the foundations of many legal systems of today, and use of trained archivists were the most important Roman contributions. During the fifteenth century, interest shifted to the mini-states of the Italian peninsula. Diplomacy as a profession was by then generally recognised, but was a middle-class rather than aristocratic profession, and its status improved only gradually. From the early seventeenth century, French influence became dominant. Versailles became the model for other European courts and remained so until the early nineteenth century. The Congress of Vienna of 1815 tackled the important question of precedence and defined classes of diplomat.
Since 1815, the focus has shifted from the court to the cabinet. Diplomatic life is dependent on the political culture in which it exists. Three factors in particular have changed diplomacy: the growing sense of a community of nations; increased importance of public opinion with increased democracy, especially in Europe; and the rapid improvement in communications and the tendency towards summit and shuttle diplomacy.
VI. International Law
After describing the structure and functions of the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the speakers began their discussion of international law and its basic concepts. International law they described as a reflection of social phenomena: thus state practice establishes patterns which become laws.
Private international law is concerned with individuals and countries with contracts over borders. Public international law covers U.N. matters, laws of the sea, laws of space, etc. and consists of obligations from custom and from treaties. Customary law is independent of treaties, therefore a state that is not party to a treaty cannot excuse itself from respecting customary international law. Because international law tends to be vague, difficulties may arise when customary law tries to deal with specifics but, the speakers noted, this leaves leeway for progressive development and for parties to press for particular interpretations. In this context, the speakers outlined the main tenets of the main schools of legal thought, the Natural Law school, Positivism, Functionalism, the Newhaven School, Idealism, and the Non-Occidental School.
There are an increasing number of subjects of international law; they include almost any actor in international relations: liberation movements, political and territorial entities which are not recognised as states, and nations without a state or a liberation movement. Even if not states, subjects of international law do have rights under international law, for example against non-intervention and aggression.
Despite its lack of sanctions, the speakers argued that international law should be promoted and upheld, and gave examples of its "successes". They then turned to the U.N., its limitations and advantages, concluding that sanctions can be effective and should be used to demand respect for international law.
VII. Sweden and International Law
Swedish interest and policy in the Middle East is based on several considerations, the speaker explained. As the world grows smaller, countries are politically and economically increasingly dependent on each other; Sweden has traditionally played a role in peace-keeping in the Middle East; Swedes have sometimes played the role of mediator in the Middle East; and Sweden, especially as a small country, has an interest in respect for international law and human rights. He proceeded to summarise Swedish policy on the Palestine question. Sweden believes that Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 form the basis of a lasting solution; that the conflict in the Middle East should be solved through self-determination leading to a two-state solution; and that "land for peace" follows from resolutions 242 and 338. Sweden believes that since Palestine is subject to international law, Palestinians may not take up arms to solve the conflict. It also regards the Fourth Geneva Convention as applicable to the Occupied Territories.
There are, the speaker noted, two exceptions to the principle of peaceful resolution: the U.N. charter gives a country the right to self-defence in case of aggression against it and gives the Security Council the right to use force. Although it could act against Israel because of the 1967 occupation, the Security Council is also a political body and has not done so. However, land occupied in 1967 is not considered internationally part of Israel. He concluded by describing how Sweden takes up in the U.N. and E.C. issues of violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and supports human rights groups in the Occupied Territories and in Israel.
VIII. Diplomacy and Mass Media
In the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the need to consider carefully relations with the media is now recognised. There is a general belief is that the image of the country is determined less by words than by deeds. After outlining the history and role of the Ministry's Press and Information Service, the speakers discussed the importance in this context of the Swedish Freedom of the Press Act. Sweden's Ministry of Foreign Affairs is still doing its best to manage the media, they asserted, thus its Press Service has both offensive and defensive media strategies and considers confidence building between itself and journalists important. However, in Sweden nothing is done to influence what the foreign press writes, beyond trying to ensure as wide an access as possible. As a result of the effort to divorce government from the dissemination of information and so avoid propagandist overtones, the Ministry's Bureau of Information does not actually produce material; the lecture concluded with an explanation of the workings of this Bureau.
IX. The Organisation and Role of a Ministry of Foreign Affairs: The Swedish Example
The functions of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are: executing and formulating foreign policy; administering international relations abroad; advising government, formulating proposals and preparing decisions; projecting a convincing image of policy at home and abroad; explaining and gaining support for policies through contacts with other governments and the public; conducting negotiations in the political, economic and trade fields; furthering trade and commercial interests; looking after the interests of nationals who are working and/or living abroad; managing missions abroad; and maintaining relations with foreign Embassies. Following a description of its functions, the speakers turned to the structure of the Ministry. Other issues considered included relations between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and intelligence services; its relationship to its missions abroad; the Ministry's administrative system, and its interests and concerns. The latter include regional and global security; peace-keeping and peace-building; economic cooperation through direct promotion of multilateral negotiations; immigration; global governance and common security and responsibility; and development.
X. The Role of a Diplomatic Mission, International Organisations and International Civil Service
Different Embassies have different tasks. A "standard" Embassy, however, has the principal task of conducting bilateral relations. An Embassy, the speakers explained, must give its Foreign Ministry information from all available sources for analysis, takes care of nationals abroad and carries out other administrative duties. Representation is made to accredited international organisations such as the U.N., and to regional and local organisations such as the E.C. A Consulate is subordinate to an Embassy and tends to concentrate more on culture, trade and service to nationals. Looking specifically at the eight Consulates in Jerusalem, the speakers noted that they are very different from others: their existence is the result of international law and U.N. Resolutions, specifically the 1947 Partition Resolution; they are not in Israel and report directly to their respective home countries, not to Tel Aviv. Functions of the Swedish Consulate include political contacts with Palestinian groups and institutions; international witness and peaceful opposition to the occupation; administration of bilateral development programmes; and service to Swedish citizens and Palestinians in consular matters.
XI. Requirements and Qualifications for a Diplomat
Historically, a loud voice and retentive memory plus good oratory have been the qualities of the good diplomat. Today, according to the speakers, a diplomat also needs powers of observation, clear judgement, and experience. Additional requirements include precision, moral and intellectual accuracy, calmness, patience and detachment, national loyalty, and honesty. When a diplomat is reporting s/he must be cautious, but at the same time be able to form an opinion. Modesty about one's role is important. Personal vanity has always been frowned upon. Knowledge, charm, industry, tact and courage are all taken for granted. Modern management techniques are now considered important.
XII. Protocol, Ceremonial Aspects, Diplomatic Immunity and Privileges
Rules of protocol are generally practical in nature, and are designed to simplify contacts between people and countries; they should, maintained the speaker, be strict and applied equally to all. After reviewing the development of rules of protocol, the speaker discussed in detail the procedures for state visits by Heads of State, including working and official visits, and visits by Heads of Government or Foreign Ministers.
XIII. Diplomatic History of the Middle East
Starting with the decline of the Ottoman Empire, the colonial control of the British and the French has determined the political shape of the Middle East. After a historical introduction, the speaker explored the three mechanisms used to try to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict over the last 45 years: bilateral negotiations, international conferences and third-party intervention. He considered the importance of the 1949-1951 Israeli-Jordanian negotiations, the 1979-1982 Israeli-Egyptian negotiations over autonomy for the Palestinians, and the 1982-1983 Israeli-Lebanese peace treaty; the 1949 Wisan Conference, the 1973 Geneva Conference, and the 1991 Madrid Conference; the role of President Carter, Baker and Bush. The success of third party intervention depends largely on the power of the country they represent, the personality of the third party, commitment to the issue, and genuine belief in the aim. Several third party interventions have failed in the Middle East because of the political situation at the time of intervention. Baker, the speaker suggested, appears to be committed to achieving success through negotiations. Moreover, he noted, many previous occupations in the Middle East have ended at the negotiating table.
XIV. International Development Cooperation: North-South Issues
Starting from the assumption that long-term peace and stability can only come with more equal development and an end to poverty, the lecturers described in detail the history of Sweden's overseas development cooperation policy. Its overall objective is to raise the standard of living of poor people, especially through economic growth, economic and social equality, economic and political independence, democratic development, sustainable use of natural resources and protection of the environment. Priority is given to the poorest countries. Nordic countries, as the speakers pointed out, are strongly represented in international organisations and often contribute more than the U.S.. Turning to the Occupied Territories, the speakers explained that although Swedish NGOs have been active here since before the occupation, Sweden has had a formal relationship with the Occupied Territories only since 1991. Now there is direct cooperation very similar to the bilateral relations between nation-states. Ideas for cooperation were implemented after the intifada, when government contacts were established with Tunis and with the West Bank and Gaza. Direct cooperation has four goals: to alleviate the situation of the Palestinian people and to reduce their dependence on Israel through health and welfare measures, to help create the basis of a future democratic society liberated from occupation, to stimulate economic activity, create employment and improve welfare, and to improve the human rights situation. It takes the form of assistance, especially in health and social welfare, through NGOs; support for U.N. activities in the Occupied Territories; direct cooperation between the Swedish government and Palestinian organisations; and emergency assistance.
XV. The U.S. Consul General in Jerusalem
Her Excellency Molly Williamson kindly agreed to address the seminar at short notice, but due to lack of time could give only a short presentation, inviting participants to continue the discussion at a future date. She gave a personal account of her time in Jerusalem and of her commitment to the region. On U.S. policy in the region, she stressed what she said was a genuine commitment to peace and security in the region, the chances of achieving which were at least tangible as a result of the current peace process.
Six Palestinian academics - Riad Malki, Mahdi Abdul Hadi, Sa'id Zeedani, Mohammad Jadallah, Tamer Essawi and Zahira Kamal - reflecting various schools of thought on the peace process and international relations, addressed participants on relevant topics.
PASSIA's Academic Committee was very satisfied with the seminar, feeling that its aim of assembling young graduates with genuine interest and potential had been fulfilled beyond all expectations. Palestinian participants displayed vigorous commitment throughout; the calibre of lectures was consistently high; the energy of the Palestinian participants was also evident in their attention to the seminar's writing assignment, although the overall standard of essays was disappointing. Palestinian participants assessed the content of the lecture programme in terms of the general interest and professional usefulness of each topic. On the whole, their evaluation was extremely positive. Evaluation by the Swedish lecturers was of each participant on an individual basis, in terms of level and quality of partcipation.