Celebrating International Day of Diplomats

Updated: Oct 24, 2020 10:23 AM

Diplomats play a key role in maintaining a peaceful world order by means of effective communication among states, initiating memoranda of understanding, agreements and treaties, implementing them and advising their political bosses on critical foreign policy matters.

Diplomats of some countries have their own days to celebrate their National Day of Diplomats, while many countries do not have a day dedicated to their diplomats.(Photo Credit: Abhay K)

By Abhay K

Across the world, diplomats are stereotyped as elites with glamorous lives in the world’s capitals of London, Paris and New York. In fact, most of the time spent during a diplomat’s career is spent serving one’s country in difficult geographies across the world. Very few know about the realities of their daily struggles in dealing with a new language, cuisine and cultural shocks. Travelling long distances frequently too has adverse effects on a diplomat’s health. Spouses of diplomats have to give up their careers. Diplomats’ children often feel disoriented as a result of the frequent displacement. A majority of diplomats are unable to be by their families’ side when they need them the most. An IFS officer myself, I got the news of my father’s death over the telephone while serving in Moscow, which was emotionally devastating for me.

Diplomats play a key role in maintaining a peaceful world order by means of effective communication among states, initiating memoranda of understanding, agreements and treaties, implementing them and advising their political bosses on critical foreign policy matters. They are at the heart of bringing and keeping the world together. In fact, war ensues when diplomacy fails, bringing death and destruction upon societies and civilisations. A country that has skilled diplomats does not have to go to war.

Diplomats of some countries have their own days to celebrate their National Day of Diplomats, while many countries do not have a day dedicated to their diplomats. Russian diplomats celebrate February 10 as Russian Diplomats Day while Indian diplomats celebrate October 9 as the Indian Foreign Service Day. Brazil celebrates April 20 as Brazil’s Diplomats Day. However, there was no common International Day of Diplomats, which could be celebrated by all diplomats, irrespective of which country they belong to.

In order to celebrate the contributions of diplomats–peace warriors without boundaries, endeavouring to make the world a better place, I organized the first International Day of Diplomats in Brasília on 24 October 2017 with the participation of diplomats from Bangladesh, France, Ghana, India, Israel, Italy, Mexico, South Africa and Turkey. It was also the United Nations Day. I chose this day to celebrate the International Day of Diplomats because I see the creation of the United Nations as a victory of diplomacy. Later in 2018, the International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace was established on 12 December 2018 through UN General Assembly resolution A/RES/73/127 and was first observed on April 24, 2019. Its goal is to “preserve the values of multilateralism and international cooperation, which underpin the UN Charter and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, is fundamental to promote and support the three pillars of the UN – peace and security, development and human rights.”

Diplomats from Austria, India, Brazil, Egypt, Netherlands, Zimbabwe among others took part in the celebrations of the second International Day of Diplomats in Brasilia. Ambassadors of the United States, European Union, African Union, India, South Korea, Algeria, Turkey, the Charge de Affaires of Russia, Egypt and diplomats of the Vatican, Switzerland among other countries celebrated the third International Day of Diplomats in Antananarivo, Madagascar.

A number of diplomats around the world are celebrating fourth #InternationalDiplomatsDay on 24th Oct 2020 to highlight the contributions made by diplomats in shaping our world since ancient times and in making our planet a better place. They are going to post a short video or text of what does it mean to be a diplomat, serving in different geographies, navigating diverse cultures, languages among others, a high point in their career as a diplomat etc. while people can post their impressions of interacting with a diplomat or perceptions of a diplomat, what do they do, how do they help in safeguarding your interests, a poem on diplomats etc.

It is an idea that is growing and hopefully, one day will become universal.

(The author is a poet-diplomat. He is India’s ambassador to Madagascar. Views expressed are personal.)

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