What Is Diplomacy?

A career as a diplomat allows you to meet with people from different parts of the world. It brings to your knowledge issues of global concern that people outside of the diplomatic world do not typically have access to. These fall under the umbrella term “diplomacy.” Just what exactly is diplomacy?

The Discover Diplomacy website of the U.S. Department of State defines diplomacy as “a complex and often challenging practice of fostering relationships around the world in order to resolve issues and advance interests.” This typically entails conducting negotiations and talks with representatives of various nations on matters concerning peace, war, international trade, economy, culture, human rights, environment and other pertinent issues.

While promoting the cause of international peace and unity, diplomacy also ensures the interests of the people of a particular country. Thus, while the United States works to advance the cause of freedom around the world, it also sees to it that the interests of the American people are safeguarded. This is best summed up by the U.S. State Department’s mission statement which appeared in its Fiscal Year 2010 financial report which stated that they will “Advance freedom for the benefit of the American people and the international community by helping to build and sustain a more democratic, secure, and prosperous world composed of well-governed states that respond to the needs of their people, reduce widespread poverty, and act responsibly within the international system.”

International treaties and agreements are the tangible effects of diplomacy. The contents of these agreements are typically negotiated in advance by diplomats before they are endorsed to the political leaders of their respective countries. Since these treaties are typically about sensitive matters that may be divisive to one or both countries, diplomats must consider all points carefully and come to an agreement that is mutually beneficial to them both. Diplomats must also word agreements tactfully so as to make sure that it is acceptable to the citizens of both nations.

In the United States, the State Department is responsible for advancing foreign policy. Although these can change depending on the advocacies of the current administration, there are policies that U.S. Presidents have continued to uphold through the years. These include protecting the country and its citizens wherever they are in the world from threats like terrorism, drug trafficking and environmental degradation; promoting democracy and decrying world leaders who don’t give their citizens this right to freedom and protecting human rights. The foreign policy of the United States also promotes international understanding of American culture, arts, education and science through the sponsorship of various events around the world and the promotion of economic growth and prosperity through investments and exports. The latter is also carried out by programs that seek to reduce poverty and combat disease which are implemented by the U.S. Agency for International Development.

The process of becoming a diplomat is arduous and lengthy. It can also be potentially dangerous especially when one is assigned on “hardship” posts. However, for those who are passionate about promoting the foreign policy of the United States to the world, this is a very fulfilling position.

Career Spotlight: Diplomat

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