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2020 May June


THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE COVID-19 pandemic extend far beyond the realms of a typical health crisis. Indeed, the headlines at the time of writing announce that in March, the UK economy shrank at the fastest pace since the 2007 financial crash. In his article, our new contributor former UK Health Secretary Rt Hon Stephen Dorrell says it “is increasingly clear that the questions we now face concern the shaping of a new world, not the restoration of normality.”

Following the tricky logistics of corona diplomacy (repatriations and PPE), the BBC’s James Landale says the next major role for diplomats is to help the world cooperate as it faces a global recession. He says that although countries have chosen to tackle the pandemic by themselves, “it will be much harder to rescue their economies without more collective action.” Our colleagues at DRD, a strategic communications consultancy specialising in international government relations, state that the daunting task facing the diplomatic community will be “to renew the case for a common and cooperative response to what is the single greatest moment of shared human experience.”

The consensus certainly underlines the renewed importance of international collaboration in this new COVID world. For this reason, Diplomat magazine along with Public Policy Projects will shortly bring you a new global virtual forum for Heads of Mission to open a dialogue between countries about these new priorities, sharing thought leadership and innovation from around the world. We invite you to join our new video conference series: The World Economic Series: Rebooting the World Economy, launching in early June. Further details to come.

On the practical side of crisis management, APCO’s Simon McGee offers readers his top tips for diplomats who find themselves in the hot seat during a crisis thousands of miles from home. He cites various enlightening examples from his time as press secretary to two British foreign secretaries and Foreign Office head of news.

Former Director General of the Defence Academy of the UK and Director of UDSS, Vice Admiral (Ret’d) Duncan Potts CB explains why governments should turn to military expertise in times of national crisis. He says the raison d’ être of the armed forces “is contingent response when the normal diplomatic discourse between nations fails.”

Aside from COVID-19, many European countries put on a good show for the 75th anniversary of VE Day, even if in most cases this was a virtual effort. You will know him well from his time as Her Majesty’s Vice-Marshal of the Diplomatic Corps (2015-17), and the FCO’s Director of Protocol, so we are thrilled to have a contribution from Julian Evans, as Director of International and Community Engagement for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC). The CWGC maintains 23,000 cemeteries, burial plots and memorials to the missing in more than 150 countries and territories around the world. Earlier this month, CWGC launched a virtual wall of remembrance, a digital space where those people who cannot access sites to lay flowers or a wreath can leave a tribute to those who fought (and died) for peace. Do visit it the website at www.cwgc.org

On these special anniversaries, Ambassador of Slovakia Ľubomír Rehák writes that it has never been more important to remember heroes of the past. His research reveals the extraordinary life story of Marína Paulínyová, which can now be used to inspire a young generation of Slovaks.

I have been lucky to interview three impressive female heads of mission in the past couple of months: the Ambassadors of Georgia, Panama and Senegal. While these interviews were conducted online, I look forward to a time when I can meet these Ambassadors face-to-face, along with all other Heads of Mission that have arrived in the past couple of months.

And finally, you will notice this is our first digital edition of Diplomat magazine! While so many diplomats continue to work from home during lockdown, unable to pick up your copy of the magazine from the embassy, it seems to be the wise choice for now.

Please do stay in touch and send me article suggestions, new appointments and mission news that you would like covered. Follow and contact us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook – we are happy to share your news on social media too.

Please stay safe in the meantime.

Venetia de Blocq van Kuffeler






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