By Wan Arfan Wan Othman
Over the summer I was blessed to be able to attend the Young Diplomats Forum (YDF). An intensive week long programme of practical sessions, workshops, policy exercises and institutional visits delivered by world leading experts. Set up to recognise, enhance and develop the next generation of diplomats.
The forum held in London, United Kingdom with participation of more than 90 delegates from all walks of life and backgrounds. I had the pleasure to meet diplomatic staff, international relation students and even lecturers who were all there to learn on the diplomacy on the 21st century.
The main objective of the forum was to come up with a policy idea on the given topic. The topic my group was assigned was Management of the South China Sea. The others consisted of UN Reform, Post ISIS Middle East, Regional Integration in the African Continent, and the Future of the EU. By end of the week we came up with a working group one very similar to the Arctic Council. It’s main objective is that this working group will consist of the countries involved in the South China Sea crisis and discuss on a mutual topic. The sole purpose of this policy is to get the nations involved in the crisis to sit down and talk. Therefore this working group will focus on an agenda that everyone agrees on, such as environment and climate change, which will get all the parties to be in consensus. From there on this working group can also discuss other issues in the region and specifically on the Management of the South China Sea.
Over the course of the week there were plenty of activities involved that led up to our policy idea. There were many speakers that we had the chance to listen and apply in our thought process. The forum was addressed with a keynote speech on the topic “Diplomacy in the 21st Century” by Lord Hannay, Former Ambassador of the UK to the UN.
Then we went to the European Union Representation where we had a fruitful discussion on Brexit. Few blocks away we then had the opportunity to meet Her Excellency Patricia Scotland the Secretary General of the Commonwealth of Nations at Marlborough House. She enlightened us with the developments and works of the Commonwealth of Nations secretariat. Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) the think tank for the British Government that focuses on defence and national security, taught us the procedures on how they research for policy makers to implement in foreign policies.
Lastly we visited the Facebook Headquarters of Europe, Middle East, Africa. Where we had a session with the Head of Government & Policy, Sean Evins and discussed how he helps heads of governments and governmental institutions to maximize their capability using the social media platform to promote their policies. With the recent British Elections he talked about the steps he took to help the leaders throughout the period and the importance of digital platform.
The forum would not be complete without a visit to the Houses of Parliament where we had a session with the Members of House of Lords, Lord Anderson and Baroness Smith, and Member of House of Commons, Daniel Kawczynski on U.K. Foreign Policy Priorities and Parliamentary Diplomacy.
Not to forget the trip was thrilled with fun activities such as climbing the O2 Arena, sightseeing the prominent locations of London at Westminster, Cutty Sark, Greenwich Meridian Line, and the Old Royal Naval College also known as University of Greenwich.
The forum as a whole was a satisfying experience which I encourage all aspiring diplomats to go for this forum in the future because it was worthwhile through the knowledge gained and friendships made.