In pursuit of development diplomacy


Part III: Development Diplomacy Agenda

[Every Saturday, the Philippine Ambassadors’ Foundation Inc. contributes an article to the Times OpEd section.]

In my view, the agenda should include the following specific actions:

1. Foreign policy initiatives involving economic concerns shall be focused and limited only to those which are directly related to our development goals or responsive to the policies, strategies and programs specified in our development plan. This will put an end to a blind involvement or participation in just any economic issue that crops up in multilateral or bilateral discussions.

This will also rationalize energy and resources invested in foreign policy undertakings in as much as irrelevant activities or initiatives will have to be abandoned. This must figure in our strategic plan which timeline must coincide with a normal tour of duty of the President. We must appreciate where our heart lies and these areas must occupy top priority in our program of work.

2. Efforts shall be exerted to determine which relevant issue-areas or concerns this approach is designed to inject wisdom and logic in our selection of subject areas of interest which are to be considered in bilateral or multilateral negotiations on the basis of their chances for successful resolution. For instance, certain trade matters concerning the Philippines and the United States are perhaps better dealt with in bilateral framework.

This negotiation is in conjunction with the overall bilateral discussions, covering security arrangements, among others, while discussions on debt problems may be pursued in appropriate international fora. It is imperative that any negotiation must proceed from an indivisible approach. All issues today are inextricably linked.

3. Taking cognizance of our inability to influence the courses of actions on some issues, we should continue to align ourselves with the efforts of other developing countries, particularly the ASEAN and our Group of 77 partners, in attempting to achieve resolution of issues which have direct bearing on our development efforts. This will be simply riding on the collective efforts of developing countries that may be relevant to our development goals, policies, strategies and programs. This strategy carries a political impact of considerable magnitude since the G-77 constitutes the absolute majority in the UN.

4. Functional offices of the DFA should examine carefully the development goals, polices, strategies, and programs and determine appropriate and supportive initiatives. These strategies and programs could be enhanced or pursued with appropriate assistance through foreign policy activities or presentation.

5. Foreign Service establishments shall, in their representation with their host government and in all other related functions and activities take every possible opportunity to contribute to the overall efforts of the national government for poverty alleviation economic recovery and development. In this regard, these Establishments should take full cognizance of our development goals, policies, strategies and programs in such a way that they can quickly perceive opportunities in their host countries that can be utilized to support our development efforts.

6. Development diplomacy should be part of the curriculum of the Foreign Service Institute and conversely all training schools of government agencies should include in their curriculum the interconnectedness of domestic and foreign policy.

7. Closer coordination between the DFA and other sectoral agencies of the government should be fostered in a manner that the DFA is immediately briefed on the specific and practical translations of sectoral strategies and programs so that appropriate action could be pursued. This will ensure that the DFA is updated on the activities that are relevant to the development plans resulting in the enhancement of the DFA’s effectiveness in assisting national development efforts.

8. Functional offices of the DFA and the Foreign Service Establishments shall be required to submit a year-end quantitative and qualitative report on their projects or activities that are implemented in direct reference with the development goals, policies, strategies and programs. This report shall cover a host of activities such as export promotion, assistance extended to loan negotiations, arrangement for the promotion and protection of the welfare and human rights of overseas Filipino, and tourism promotion. This report can also serve as the gauge on how well such Foreigner Service Establishment has performed its functions given the level of its budgetary allocations. There should be significant return on investment.

9. I wish to add also the pursuit of a kind of diplomacy that I should like to refer to as resource-sourcing on the basis of competitive edge. Concerted efforts may be exerted that would aim at locating and securing appropriate sources of resources, be it financial; technical or otherwise, which take into full account strategic advantage or superiority of certain sources over the others.

Initially, we have to identify our specific needs on the basis of what are spelled out in the development plan and subsequently amplified by the clarification of concerned sectoral agencies. Then we can match these needs with what other countries or international agencies can offer, recommending for acceptance only that form of cooperation which demonstrates strategic advantage. Successful implementation of this diplomacy of resource-sourcing on the basis of comparative advantage will require a massive activation of every unit or component of the DFA, acting together to give full effect to the art and skill of diplomacy for development.

Finally, I should like to re-affirm the basic tenet of diplomacy that is Philippine sovereignty and the life of a Filipino are not negotiable. On the other hand, although nations may be different in many ways, there is a point of convergence called “common interest” that is: preservation of the human race rooted in peace and progress.


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