Abu Dhabi Diplomacy Conference is a platform for knowledge exchange

The lessons learnt today will help find effective solutions for tomorrow, writes Bernardino Leon

Bernardino Leon
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In the words of the late Sheikh Zayed, the founding father of the UAE: “Education is like a lantern that lights your way in a dark alley.”

It is this fundamental truth that the Emirates Diplomatic Academy is committed to uphold. It is also this wisdom that forms the premise of our Abu Dhabi Diplomacy Conference that will not only shed light on the solutions to today's most pressing issues but also look at ways to implement them to ensure successful conclusions.

As hosts of the conference, the Academy will initiate stimulating conversations in the spirit of the Year of Zayed, and hope that it serves as an ideal platform for the development of new concepts that strengthen and contribute to the effectiveness of the field of diplomacy not just for the UAE but for our international counterparts as well.

Since our inception in 2014, it has been the goal of EDA to provide students with a clear understanding of international affairs and train them to build the capabilities necessary to deal with the numerous and ever-changing challenges they will face while representing the UAE in diplomatic offices abroad.

This conference is a testimony to this priority.

It will offer our students an amazing opportunity to network with some of the field’s top thought leaders by allowing them to participate in interactive panel discussions and practical workshops. The lessons learnt today will help them find effective solutions that can be implemented across the world tomorrow.

The Future Diplomats PeaceGame, which is being staged during this conference, is another way we can help students gain insights into what is required of them in their chosen field. This follows the EDA’s mandate of empowering our next generation of diplomats with the abilities and opportunities to achieve their full potential.

However, the fact remains that regardless of our efforts in preparing for the external issues our field faces, there are internal ones we need to address as well if these future diplomats are to scale unprecedented heights.

So along with understanding what competencies diplomats need and how to train them, we must learn how to make the best use of technology to enhance the impact of diplomacy, or find the most successful way of conducting effective cultural and public diplomacy.

We must also discover a way to empower female diplomats in their careers to help them reach the highest rung on the ladder.

This is why we need events such as the Abu Dhabi Diplomacy Conference, that serve as a platform where all our participants can share their own experiences in the field of diplomatic practice – both successful and otherwise – in a relaxed setting. Such interactions inspire fruitful debate among participants and can lead us to finding innovative paths for field references.

And these lessons will help us develop new ways of enhancing the effectiveness of diplomacy.

We all understand that modern diplomacy and international relations are constantly evolving.

The reality is that this interconnected world we live in can make our jobs easier but it also presents obstacles, for what is available for us to use as instruments of diplomacy is also available to others who will use them for far less noble purposes. This is the reason why it becomes important that we continually update ourselves on these instruments and the best methods in our field through learning, training and development, whilst discovering and sharing new procedures and practices.

True to our calling, it is through the exchange of ideas that diplomats seek to find common ground. This approach will undoubtedly stand us in good stead in building a better future for generations to come.

Bernardino Leon is the Director General of the Emirates Diplomatic Academy. The Abu Dhabi Diplomacy Conference begins today, November 14, and concludes tomorrow