Diplomacy exported to and from Africa

27 August 2018

Dr Yolanda Kemp-Spies, Visiting Fellow at the Asia-Pacific College of Diplomacy, has applied over three decades of academic and professional experience to draw much needed attention to the diplomatic relations of the Global South.

“Diplomacy has always been a bridging endeavour focused on communication and connecting seemingly irreconcilable parties… it is obsessed by definition with conflict resolution”, says Yolanda.

Dr Yolanda Kemp-Spies has a lifetime of diplomatic experience, both professional and academic. Serving as a diplomat for nineteen years across four different continents, followed by another decade of teaching and writing on practical and theoretical diplomacy, Yolanda has identified a critical gap between what is required to practice diplomacy and what is taught to the future leaders of this sector.

“Diplomacy is an understudied area of international relations, it has always been seen as inaccessible, the preserve of elites, of government executives, something that was always kept under wraps… it has this secretive aura about it”, explains Yolanda.

This gap has become the basis of her latest two book releases - Global Diplomacy and International Society and Global South Perspectives on Diplomacy. The first book highlights the theoretical history of the practice of diplomacy, which complements the second book, which aims to highlight diplomacy in a historically unrecognised geo-political arena, both in theory and discourse.

“If you don’t pay enough attention to a whole continent, which is engrained with violent conflict, how are you going to solve it?”

Yolanda’s passion for the African continent shines through when talking about historical challenges relating to the ‘global south’. She cites how the African continent dominates fora like the UN Security Council, without being a member.

“Our biggest challenges now are in countries where we are bewildered at the catalysts and causes of war… you cannot attempt to solve problems without the expertise of the locals”, she says.

When asked what impact her new books will have, Yolanda wishes for a re-adjustment of diplomat’s perspectives in the modern world dominated by populism; “Diplomacy is an asset of global society, it does not belong to anyone specifically, it should be liberated from this pressure that has taken hold of global politics”.

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