By: Hertha Ekandjo
The deputy minister of international relations and cooperation, Jenelly Matundu, says it has become necessary for diplomats to have specialised marketing skills and to sharpen their understanding of the world order.
According to her, this would ensure efficient and effective functioning of their administration and management systems in Namibia and their diplomatic missions.
Matundu said this during the official opening of the Namibia Diplomatic Academy Workshop on Tuesday in Windhoek.
“Over the years, new issues have come to the fore, such as the environment, blue economy, human trafficking, piracy and cybercrime, issues that did not feature prominently on the global agenda at the time,” she said.
She added that these issues have become prominent and that they needed to align themselves with the international community in addressing what has become major challenges and a threat to international peace and security.
She said that given emerging developments and the need for the international relations framework and policy to be more robust, dynamic and forward-looking, the demand was more pressing for establishing the Diplomatic Academy.
“The establishment of this academy is especially timely, as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to put a strain on the conduct of diplomacy and hampering people-to-people diplomatic engagements that cannot be replaced by virtual meetings,” she expressed.
On 12 April 2022, the international relations and cooperation ministry and the University of Namibia (Unam) signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the parties to cooperate in education, training and research in international relations and diplomacy.
According to Matundu, the MoU opens doors for collaboration in the academic, training and research fields to enhance the professional skills of their Foreign Service practitioners, in the fields of foreign policy, from economic diplomacy and political analysis to geo-political situations, international law and consensus building.
The deputy minister mentioned that It was of utmost importance for them to have an effective Foreign Service comprising of professional men and women adequately equipped to promote and defend national interests at all times without fear or favour.
“To this end, people to be employed in MIRCO as Foreign Service Practitioners must have appropriate fields of study. Similarly, diplomatic training and retraining will become an integral part of our Foreign Policy implementation,” she emphasised.
She highlighted that the academy would provide the much-needed skills and capacity building to grow their Foreign Service into a compatible workforce for the 21st century and beyond, to ensure that our staff are equipped to withstand and adapt to the changing global environment.
Moreover, she noted that the academy would also enhance new conceptual thinking and develop applicable frameworks to measure Namibia’s influence on the international arena.
“Regionally, the Academy will contribute to fostering intellectual collaboration among countries both regionally and internationally,” she said.
“Our first minister of foreign affairs, Dr Theo-Ben Gurirab, impressed on the need for improved diplomatic training to have Foreign Service personnel who will be thoroughly competent, loyal and professional, and which will enable Namibia to exert an international presence and influence in the interest of the Namibian government and its people. Hence the Curriculum should be designed to meet our peculiar needs,” Matundu mentioned.
According to her, geopolitics has evolved, and several challenges have come up which require a new approach and cannot be solved by traditional diplomatic practices.
“Therefore, now more than ever, the practice of international relations must be combined with several stakeholders in order to effectively address these challenges collectively,” she concluded.