Twitter

The concept of "Creative Diplomacy" in international conflicts 

– Why we have to rethink diplomacy as a collective responsibility

 

"Now, we see that we are threatened ourselves. We are not watching a conflict, we are part of this conflict. If we want to end it, we have to do something together", as Ruprecht Polenz put it during a Q&A session with GDL members to discuss the Ukraine conflict on 24 February.

 

The current situation is deeply worrying the entire world. It triggers fear, insecurity and disbelief. But it also triggers a sincere hope and strong desire for international communication and cooperation to put an end to this war. It should not only shed light on the Ukrainian victims, but on all victims – Russian ones included, so that international cooperation is more inclusive and innovative solutions can be developed. 

The urgent need to bring everyone to the bargaining table is more present than never – and it can be a symbol of collective responsibility. Especially since the war is being framed as a European one and racist narratives such as categorising war victims are spreading through the media, the focus on collective action has been lost to some extent. Not everyone is yet aware of the need to jointly take responsibility. Negotiation attempts with Putin reflect the challenge of resolving the conflict collectively – Putin is by now unpredictable and the power he can leverage has become more visible; he will apparently stop at nothing to achieve his aims. The bigger picture, though, can’t be seen until currently unheard voices of civil society have been included. It’s important to remedy asymmetric power structures by including experts from the civil society. Of course, an end to the conflict should be primarily negotiated with Putin, but without leaving behind experts from civil society, so as to get further input for solving this diplomatic bottleneck and to develop possible, previously not yet considered solutions. Because Putin has made specific demands relating to security policy, the goal should be to involve him in all political debates and to remain fully aware of all political issues. The situation should not be made worse for NATO countries by them wandering into Putin’s crosshairs.

This article aims to broaden our perspective by proposing an inclusive-diplomacy approach – the concept of "Creativity in Diplomacy" by GDL member Eirliani Abdul Rahman. There obviously are no borders in civil society, so the goal should be to address experts on, and representatives of, both Ukrainian and Russian civil society in addition to the traditional discussions. With civil society included in the dialogue, new and previously disregarded perspectives can be made visible by developing discussions and solution-focussed approaches through people-to-people exchange. Furthermore, by encouraging diverse traditional and non-traditional experts to engage in interdisciplinary exchange, innovative perspectives can be gained that may enable new solutions to be found. The aim must be to take international, collective and solution-oriented action. By using the war in Ukraine as a current example, the key questions for more inclusive diplomacy are: What are the most effective tracks for de-escalation, i.e. for inclusive coordination? And how does inclusive diplomacy need to be acted out in an effective way, by involving all necessary actors, traditional and non-traditional? 

 

Taking one step back – using the Global Diplomacy Lab to determine what a creative-diplomacy approach can look like 

Eirliani Abdul Rahman – from her point of view and experience – reflects on her involvement in the Global Diplomacy Lab in the fourth chapter, titled "Creativity in Diplomacy: The Case of the Global Diplomacy Lab”, of the new releasing book "New Horizons in Creativity" by Prof Shulamith Kreitler. She stresses the importance of “Creativity in Diplomacy" – an approach that is required especially in times of diplomatic failure, when there is a greater than ever need for inclusive diplomacy. Particularly in an increasingly complex world of globalization and fragmentation at the same time, we should take a closer look at diplomacy as an active concept to create and act out and therefore rethink it. Whilst Eirini didn’t coin the concept herself, she is a strong advocate for it. The chapter therefore describes interdisciplinary ways to pursue multi-track diplomacy. This approach has the potential to establish trust, peace and collective responsibility in a sustainable way.

Harnessing 'creativity' as a tool for more inclusive diplomacy means mobilising different perspectives from several disciplines in new permutations. By establishing flat hierarchies where all expertise is valued, a 'positive-sum' game for all participants can emerge. The approach consists of two pillars – co-creation and co-facilitation – with pluralistic, interdisciplinary involvement through multi-level participation being the goal. State-level solutions sometimes don’t take civilians’ interests into account. Actors of civil society need to step up give impulses for innovation so that change can be implemented in society. With all of these different approaches to multi-track diplomacy, sustainable trust, peace and cooperation are collectively tackled and collective responsibility is sparked. It means having the sensitivity to recognize specific issues as being relevant in specific societies, and therefore creating open and safe spaces for discussing them.

In her work "A need for collaboration rather than competition", together with Suzanne Goodney Lea, Eirliani pointed out her conviction that a 'my country first' perspective in negotiation should be viewed critically because it establishes asymmetric power structures and unspoken conflicts which, as a whole, prevent real cooperation. That is what should also be avoided in the case of the war in Ukraine. 

The Global Diplomacy Lab and its strategic goal of Diplomacy 4.0 is an example par excellence of how to bring diplomacy to a higher level by connecting creativity and innovation. Every individual, who is part of the diplomatic network, gets the opportunity to reflect on current global issues. That in turn leads to everyone growing and evolving through mutual learning. At the institutional level, this fosters a process of producing concrete proposals for bringing change to the world. Regular events, e.g., activities, labs and feedback sessions, offer spaces for innovative exchange in which each perspective is equally respected and included in discussions. By involving people from all socioeconomic backgrounds and thus enriching the community with interdisciplinary perspectives, the concept of "Creative Diplomacy" is really a reflection of vertical as well as horizontal diversity.

Regarding the Ukrainian conflict, multilateralism has to be interpreted in a different and less confrontational way, by highlighting the call for cooperation. Keeping a critical eye on the invasive powers, e.g. Russia at the state level, and simultaneously enabling people-to-people exchange with the civil society, will be desirable. From an institutional point of view, the EU has come to the conclusion that collective action is needed and that the unheard voices of Ukrainian and Russian civil society must be included in the discussions, so as to support trust, a range of perspectives and common desires. 

 

What values and goals do all societies have in common, and how specifically can Putin be brought to the table, along with civil society? 

It’s definitely a difficult question, but worth thinking about in more detail. Moreover, it’s an open question with an open-ended outcome, so various perspectives and inputs can contribute in important ways to creating and harnessing an inclusive-diplomacy approach!

Further Articles

Coffee Break Podcast: ElsaMarie D’Silva on fighting Gender-based and Sexual Violence
In this episode, host Khaldun Al Saadi speaks with ElsaMarie D’Silva about sexual and gender-based violence and her project Safecity.
Peacebuilding that Ignores the Environment is Not Complete
Climate and conflict are interrelated. GDL member Diego Osorio has been thinking about "Adaptive Peacebuilding." He writes about how to address climate-related security risks through repeated experimentation and learning, and how real-time data and analytics can help.
AI Governance: A Unique Challenge for the Global South
Gaurav Sharma not only writes about the benefits of artificial intelligence, but also highlights its risks and challenges and explains what is needed to use it in a target-oriented way.
Coffee Break Podcast: On Education
The fourth episode of the GDL Coffee Break Podcast is up! Host Khaldun Al Saadi talks with Dulguun Batmunkh about education policies and her Knight-Hennessy Scholarship at Stanford University.
Gender is way more than just women’s rights
Camila Gomide writes about how working with the Gender Alliance helped her do more to achieve gender equity.
The story of GDL’s strategy development
GDL developed a new strategy, titled "GDL 2025: Diplomacy 4.0". Experience the journey towards this strategy through the eyes of GDL's Knowledge Partner. The story begins in the summer of 2019, in warm and colourful Accra, Ghana.
dean-ruprecht-polenz4

Dean: Ruprecht Polenz

Ruprecht Polenz was a member of the German Parliament from 1994 to 2013 as representant of the City of Muenster. He was the Chairman of the German Bundestag’s Committee on Foreign Affairs from 2005 to 2013. He is currently special envoy of the German Government for the negotiations between Germany and Namibia about the colonial past.  The focal points of his work are foreign and security policy, with regional emphasis on the Middle East, in particular Iran and Turkey and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He is following the political effects of Islam both in this region and beyond with particular interest. Good transatlantic relations with the USA are especially important to him. Polenz became senior member of the CDU party on April 10, 2000 under the presidency of Angela Merkel. From April to November 2000, he was the Secretary-General of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). Ruprecht Polenz holds a number of voluntary positions: President of the German Association for East European Studies (DGO), German Co-Dean of the Turkish-Europe-Future-Forum (a common Enterprise of the Mercator-Foundation and TÜSIAD), Senior Adviser to the Bosch-Alumni-Program with the USA, member of the board of trustees of Grünhelme e.V. (“Green Helmets”, a humanitarian agency), member of the board of trustees of Münster University of Applied Sciences, member of the advisory council of the European Council on Foreign Relations.

Eirliani Abdul Rahman

Eirliani Abdul Rahman is a co-founder of YAKIN (Youth, Adult Survivors & Kin In Need), an NGO working in the field of child rights and child protection issues, and a member of Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council.

In September 2015, the #FullStop to #childsexualabuse campaign that Eirliani led on behalf of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Kailash Satyarthi reached 16 million people over six weeks. She won the BMW Foundation Responsible Leaders Award the same year.

Eirliani edited Kailash Satyarthi’s book Will for Children, a collection of essays on child labour published in 2016. Her own book Survivors: Breaking the Silence on Child Sexual Abuse, a collection of true accounts by survivors, was published by Marshall Cavendish in 2017. It won joint second prize in the 2020 Golden Door Awards. She also contributed a case study to the medical textbook Essentials of Global Health, co-edited by Babulal Sethia, Honorary Fellow and former President of the Royal Society of Medicine, which was published by Elsevier in London in 2018. The book won first prize in the Public Health category at the 2019 British Medical Association book awards.

Eirliani worked in Singapore’s Foreign Service from 2005 to 2015, serving in Berlin as First Secretary (Political) and then in Delhi as Political Counsellor. From June 2015 to November 2017 she was a member of the Advisory Council of the Global Diplomacy Lab. She is a Fellow of the London-based Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.

Eirliani is pursuing a doctorate in public health at Harvard University. She speaks Malay, English, German and Russian.

......................................................................................................................................................

Read more about Eirliani in her latest blog article. You can also read her articles about her polar expedition and about human trafficking and learn more about her workactivism and contribution to the Gender Alliance.

Eirliani Abdul Rahman

Eirliani Abdul Rahman is a co-founder of YAKIN (Youth, Adult Survivors & Kin In Need), an NGO working in the field of child rights and child protection issues, and a member of Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council.

In September 2015, the #FullStop to #childsexualabuse campaign that Eirliani led on behalf of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Kailash Satyarthi reached 16 million people over six weeks. She won the BMW Foundation Responsible Leaders Award the same year.

Eirliani edited Kailash Satyarthi’s book Will for Children, a collection of essays on child labour published in 2016. Her own book Survivors: Breaking the Silence on Child Sexual Abuse, a collection of true accounts by survivors, was published by Marshall Cavendish in 2017. It won joint second prize in the 2020 Golden Door Awards. She also contributed a case study to the medical textbook Essentials of Global Health, co-edited by Babulal Sethia, Honorary Fellow and former President of the Royal Society of Medicine, which was published by Elsevier in London in 2018. The book won first prize in the Public Health category at the 2019 British Medical Association book awards.

Eirliani worked in Singapore’s Foreign Service from 2005 to 2015, serving in Berlin as First Secretary (Political) and then in Delhi as Political Counsellor. From June 2015 to November 2017 she was a member of the Advisory Council of the Global Diplomacy Lab. She is a Fellow of the London-based Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.

Eirliani is pursuing a doctorate in public health at Harvard University. She speaks Malay, English, German and Russian.

......................................................................................................................................................

Read more about Eirliani in her latest blog article. You can also read her articles about her polar expedition and about human trafficking and learn more about her workactivism and contribution to the Gender Alliance.

Cookie Policy
This website uses cookies to help us customise your experience and to provide optimal functionality. To learn more about cookies and their benefit and how you can control them, please view our cookie policy. By closing this message, you agree to the use of cookies.