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Advocacy for Diplomatic Entrepreneurship

Société | Les individus

Paul Valéry defined the art of war as “a massacre of people who do not know each other for the benefit of people who do know each other but do not massacre each other.”

How many deaths will it take to sound the alarm and call upon humanity, as a whole, to engage in reflection on international geopolitical governance?

This is what “diplomatic entrepreneurship” aspires to, which is not at all antithetical to traditional diplomacy.

Similar to what Americans call “civil diplomacy,” it involves initiatives from civil society that directly influence international diplomatic relations. The American approach is based on the engagement of individuals like physicist Robert W. Fuller, who dared to visit the Soviet Union in the 1970s to mitigate the effects of the Cold War.

By adding the “entrepreneurial” dimension, I highlight the importance of creativity inherent in the fact that the initiative comes from civil society with real knowledge of the field. These initiatives can thus be cultural, artistic, sporting, or even commercial.

Consider, for example, the importance of ping-pong in this diplomatic approach, which allowed for exchanges of ping-pong players between the United States and China in the 1970s. This “diplomatic entrepreneurship” paved the way for a renewal in Sino-American relations and led to the visit of U.S. President Richard Nixon to China in 1972.

Talking about “commercial diplomacy” in this context of “diplomatic entrepreneurship” is not just about trying to promote a country’s diplomatic influence to promote its investments. It is about envisioning the capacity for a relationship between countries agreeing to enter into financial agreements beyond a relationship predetermined by politics.

This is stipulated in Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, as the European project survived the Cold War and the wars in the former Yugoslavia because it took advantage of the opportunity that commerce offered to work together to address political challenges and more global issues to avoid disputes and conflicts.

Finally, let’s talk about “feminist diplomacy.” The expression has nothing to do with an extremist claim excluding men from governments. The initiative of Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström aims to reduce violence against women, promote girls’ education, help women access strategic governance positions, and place more women at diplomatic negotiation tables. The participation of women in governments is crucial to proposing a more comprehensive reflection, especially on field issues. For instance, in 2003, the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace, starting from a small group of seven women, became a mass movement where Christian and Muslim women united to stop the war and find lasting peace. Initiatives like “Women Wage Peace” and “Women of the Sun,” movements of Palestinian and Israeli mothers, open a dialogue space to end violence in Israel and Gaza.

The “Road Home” initiative by Russian mothers and wives created a Telegram channel with hundreds of thousands of followers to stop the war in Ukraine and bring their soldiers home safely.

The International Feminist Diplomacy Agreements and the African Feminist Diplomacy Agreements I have signed can also be mentioned, based on the Icelandic example linked to the “Sarah and Hajar Accords,” a feminist equivalent of the “Abraham Accords.”

Let us remember that the word “diplomacy” etymologically comes from the Latin “diploma,” meaning “double,” as under the Roman Empire, all passports and official certificates for travelers were engraved on double metal plates.

But isn’t this double also the other who looks at us during a negotiation with the awareness of preserving humanity? Let’s hope that “diplomatic entrepreneurship” will allow diplomacy to “step out of political correctness” to bring about an “ethically correct” future with fewer ego calculations, fewer influence strategies, and more respect for human dignity.