Diplomatic Career, Episode 2, Range of Opportunities
Independent Films, Web Series, Talk Shows, Social Responsibility Movies, Interviews
diplomaticallyincorrect.org A diplomatic career or just in the service of fellow man as global citizen, Part 2, "Diplomatic Career" Web TV is an introduction for the more experienced or those just starting out. Working at the United Nations in diplomacy or as journalist or on behalf of NGO are only but a few of the options you should evaluate. There is also work in the field in many of UN missions or at UNESCO in Paris, World Food Program, (Rome), International Atomic Agency, (Vienna), UNHCR, (Geneva), or even International War Crimes Tribunal(s) and World Bank are many of the avenues that can be openned. Ambassador Muhamed Sacirbey and long time UN based journalist Tom Osborne introduce the opportunities. This episode focuses on the range of opportunities, from field service to NYHQ, from journalism to United Nations staff.
Transcripts / Production notes / Scripts
Tom: Welcome to our Second Episode of DiplomaticCareer.com at DiplomaticallyIncoorect.org
With Ambassador Muhamed Sacirbey, I'm Tom Osborne, looking to open a window on how to enter through the door into the world of diplomacy or global activism.
When most people think of diplomacy, they see the cliche of stoic faces in dark suits, overwhelmingly male.
Mo: I guess, we fit at least part of that cliche. Nonetheless, the world of diplomacy has become much more open over the last couple of decades, even if not necessarily transparent. And, one other stereotype persists: Defining diplomacy to me when I suddenly found myself as Bosnia & Herzegovina's first United Nations Ambassador, one of my more established colleagues from a big power described the job, "as lying on behalf of one's country." However, this to me was troubling on several levels. Integrity is an incredibly critical aspect of one's credibility as a professional and person. Perhaps lying is confused with cleverness? Or maybe the representatives of big power states could afford the luxury of not being candid with colleagues as the arrogance of overwhelming power seems to be frequently the overbearing rationalization. However, the United Nations environment seems to be a new platform which differentiates multilateral diplomacy from its original setting in a bilateral setting. A UN diplomat now must manage relations with over almost 200 other states and territories as well the UN and its agencies and other international institutions, NGO's and especially the media representatives, like Tom Osborne.
Tom: As part of the media covering the UN over more than the last 2 decades, I have witnessed the evolution of diplomats along with the nature of the work at the United Nations. The institution has started to function ever more like a global Parliament and the diplomats increasingly have to work like the very visible face of the countries that they represent. This means lobbying other representatives and interacting with rather than avoiding the media. It was one of the ways you were most effective Mo.
Mo: Thanks Tom. You have to see the media as your asset, even if not always your friend, and especially when you represent the underdog, a country besieged, and you must get the message out. Most of the big powers have substantial resources to deal with the media. They can create and then write their own headlines. They have the ability to spin the news to deflect accountability even when presuming the authority.
Tom: A representative office to the UN ideally should have many talents among its diplomats.
Mo: This means that a diplomat at the United Nations may be one with a business background representing the economic interest of his country in addressing the many multilateral treaties and development agencies, from the agreements dealing with navigation and exploitation of the seas to the United Nations Development Programme. We should note that institutions like the World Bank are also considered part of the broader UN network, although not under its direction.
Tom: A Representative office to the UN, what we call a "Mission," may also have military attache, more than likely to work with the UN Peacekeeping Department on peace keeping or even peace keeping missions mandated under UN authority. Good examples of those are the UNPROFOR mission in Bosnia or the current missions to Darfur, the Middle East, Cyprus, Congo and many other observer missions.
Mo: Most larger Missions will also have a "legal expert" or attorney to address the many treaty and related international legal considerations. The United Nations is venue for most although not all multilateral treaties and acts as formal depository for such.
Tom: A media relations representative is part of the Mission team, both to write the many press releases and nurture relationships with the UN press corps. Jammie Rubin, who started his stint as media relations person in the US Mission under then US Ambassador Madelline Albright, became her most trusted adviser and followed her to the State Department in Washington when she left NY to become US Secretary of State. Jammie ended up marrying across the front lines, when he wed then premier CNN reporter Christian Amanpour.
Mo: Related UN agencies and institutions, such as UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organization may call upon the talents of artists to scientists to educators. UNESCO is headquatered in Paris. the World Food Program is in Rome and the International Atomic Energy Agency is housed in Vienna, each requiring not only its own in house experts but also capable country representatives to interact with such agency personnel, at HQ and potentially in addressing potential debates and resolutions before the UN Security Council, the UN General assembly and its various committees and related bodies. (We will try to address most of these in some greater detail in future episodes).
Tom: How about the Human Rights Commission and the many other agencies homed in Geneva, including UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. These all require their own particular expertise or experience. Again, we will look to address most of these in future episodes.
Mo: Let's not forget the ICTY, International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, or the various other ad-hoc war crimes tribunals established by mandate of the UN Security Council. The International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice are permanent and not necessarily subject to the authority of the UN Security Council, but are part of the United Nations related institutions. Well, you get the point, and we have not even addressed the more regular work of the UN General Assembly and particularly its many committees and councils which are manned, (or woman-ned if you prefer), by small battalions of diplomats.
Tom: Some countries have staffed their Missions in NY with as many as a hundred or more personnel, from drivers and secretaries to diplomatic counselors and ambassadors. Just to cover all the formal and informal meetings only at New York Headquarters, a Mission may need around 5 to 10 capable and dedicated diplomats. If that country is a member of the UN Security Council add another 2-3 maybe up to 10 diplomats, as specific issues, particularly those that have been most contentious and on the agenda of the UN for some time. These issues may have fostered their own small teams of "experts" in NY as well as in the home capitals. Ambassador Mo, how did you manage to cover all of these requirements, especially when you became Bosnia's first Ambassador with no staff, office or funding? If I recall, Bosnia & Herzegovina's first UN Mission was housed in your private business office's out of necessity when you were first appointed.
Mo: That's correct, and it was a time of great urgency and demands. I aged a decade in that first year, but luckily I was only in my early 30's then so I had a few years to go before I would lack the energy. My age was both a plus and a disadvantage, but let's save that one for another episode. What I would emphasize for this show is that I had to initially rely upon the voluntarism and commitment of many people who were moved to work on behalf of BiH.
Tom: Were all of those serving at your Mission Bosnian citizens?
Mo: No, and that brings up an important point to make about diplomatic service. Most diplomats are citizens of the state that they represent. The Foreign Minister may even be an elected official. Otherwise, most of the professional foreign service workers have gone through some form of state training and security regiment. A few of the Ambassadors may be political appointees serving because of their loyalty or links to the prevailing party. However, there are exceptions, and especially when working in a multilateral rather bilateral setting at least in part due to the demands of the work. A mission may bring into service the expertise of non-citizens, especially under extraordinary times and circumstances.
Tom: You yourself are a dual citizen, US as well as Bosnian.
Mo: Yes, and several many of those that served in the Bosnian Mission to the UN were dual citizens and a few not even Bosnian/Herzegovinian. However, let's leave more of that story for a future episode.
Tom: The point to make is that a diplomatic career most often, or at least in the orthodox fashion, means working for one's own country and government. However, that is not necessarily the absolute rule. In need of expertise and resources, some states do open the doors for non-citizens.
Mo: Particularly individuals with legal backgrounds were needed as we have witnessed the recent development of international judicial and legal institutions, such as the ICC. During the defining moments in 1998 of the drafting and signing of the Rome Treaty on the ICC, I worked closely with Bosnian but also a volunteer network led by an NGO, "No Peace Without Justice." There are also similar institutions serving the need for broader diplomatic expertise and providing non-citizen volunteers or temporaries, such as "International Diplomat."
Tom: The new international atmosphere especially after the collapse of the Iron Curtain, has introduced individuals of dual citizenships, perhaps even identities, into service as diplomats, even politicians. Lithuania and Georgia have had presidents who had also been US citizens. They had to give up their citizenships but you did not.
Mo: Heads of state generally are not recognized to share allegiances to more than one state. Fortunately, the same standard generally does not apply to diplomatic service, ambassador or even Foreign Ministers.
Tom: Did you have a problem with the either the US or Bosnian government serving as Bosnian Foreign Minister or Ambassador?
Mo: Neither at first. Ironically, US diplomats become most uncomfortable dealing with another American across the table. The dual citizen sitting across from them maybe less intimidated by the military and political power that US diplomats frequently wag in the face of smaller states. It can even be more unsettling if the dual citizen is more American than his counterpart representing the US. I choose to become an American and even in my service on behalf of Bosnia, I was motivated as much by my American values as by my Bosnian genetics. While I was not trained formally as a diplomat, nonetheless I had both an intellectual motivation and passion for the responsibility. People were dying, they were being ethnically cleansed, exterminated because of their religion, ethnicity, and I was moved perhaps even more as a true believer in the universality of what are frequently defined as American values of democracy, open societies, human rights and the rule of law.
Tom: If you are interested in developing a career in diplomacy, international service, maybe working for a cause rather than a country or are just motivated by issues of international relevance, then join us on Face Book at Diplomatically Incorrect or follow us on Twitter at Diplomatically X.
Year of Production: 2010
Length: 12 minutes
Country: United Nations
Diplomatic Career, Episode 2, Range of Opportunities by DiplomaticallyIncorrect is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 License.
- Mo Sacirbey, Tom Osborne & Semyon Maltsev
- Susan Sacirbey