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It was 20 years ago today: Two decades of the increased research, education, and digital development of diplomacy

Published on 20 September 2022
Updated on 04 April 2024

My experience with Diplo is twofold: personal and academic, and the two are intertwined.

In 1990, I was working at the Yugoslav Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Belgrade. One morning, a representative from Human Resources introduced us to our new colleague. ‘This is Jovan. He will be working with you,’ was his very brief presentation. The newcomer was nice, a bit reluctant, but eager to become part of the team. After a day or two, Jovan and I had more time to get acquainted, and have remained good friends ever since.

In 1991, I left for Klagenfurt where I was posted as consul, and Jovan left for Malta to study diplomacy. A year later, I was still in Klagenfurt, but now as the Slovene consul, and Jovan stayed in Malta. He was the first one who understood that the internet is the perfect tool to learn about and teach diplomacy.

Academically, I have been working with Diplo during the last decade. Our cooperation started after we met at Diplo’s headquarters in Geneva for the first time since 1991, and it was as if nothing had changed.

Working with Diplo has been a most thrilling exercise, and one which I highly enjoy, from teaching diplomacy and writing blog posts, to being part of Diplo’s highly active community of discussants. In my personal and academic view, Diplo is the perfect place to discuss diplomacy and exchange views with world-leading experts. It offers expertise, know-how, and an enthusiasm for learning.

When you are part of the Diplo community, you are always up to date. Diplo covers the complete spectrum of diplomacy in its numerous online courses and postgraduate programmes. It acquaints you with diplomacy as a profession, a set of skills, and a process, and covers both traditional and 21st-century diplomacy (which I define as a postmodern).

To upgrade your knowledge about this traditional and highly flexible profession, you only need to join Diplo’s vast and continuously growing international alumni. I was, and still am, fascinated by the diversity and dynamics that Diplo students bring to the courses.

There are three dimensions to the Diplo phenomenon.

First: Jovan 

Jovan is a ‘prince’ (thank you, Geoff, for this omen), as well as a brand. He has not only moved ‘from plenipotentiary to chief executive’ (thank you, Kishan, for your groundbreaking book), but has also skilfully managed to combine, merge, and advance both of these dimensions. Additionally, he has an endless amount of creativity and a talent to connect with others. I believe this is why Diplo has grown into an international and flexible network, open and encouraging both for new and experiences practitioners. It is a diverse and forward-thinking community where everybody can contribute and gain knowledge. 

Second: Diplo

During its 20 years, Diplo has become an inspirational think tank, NGO, and research institute, and a network of experts, associates, and ad hoc contributors. It has an ever-growing alumni community and promotes innovation and creativity.

Third: Diplo’s online expert community

Diplo remains at the forefront of diplomatic studies in both theory and practice. Indeed, the founding of Diplo coincided with the emergence of diplomatic studies. It was the end of the Cold War and the beginning of a new millennium that provided the needed conditions.

One can learn about diplomacy in various institutions, but it is hard to find a more comprehensive, contemporary, and innovative approach to diplomacy as at Diplo, since its experts rank highly, some at the very top of the international diplomatic community.

Generally speaking, Diplo is an international diplomatic hub and a driver of diplomatic change. It is an actor as well as a structural result of the 21st-century global community.

And diplomacy? Diplomacy is about human contact – direct, personal, and lasting. It depends on chemistry and empathy, as well as psychology, sociology, legal issues, history, political sciences, theoretical input, and practical exercises. It stands in the service of people, and their understanding and progress. Diplo mirrors all of this.

In short: Diplo provides inspiration. Inspiration provides Diplo.

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