Participants at Ministry of Foreign Affairs consultative session on re-engineering of the Foreign Service Academy (FSA) in Nairobi (Photo, UNDP Kenya)

 

[Salutations]

I would like to take this opportunity, on behalf of the United Nations Development Programme, to convey compliments from the Regional Bureau for Africa Director, Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa and the County Office team.

I wish to join the hosts of this meeting, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in welcoming our esteemed guests to this very significant occasion.

This meeting is a significant milestone because it testifies to the vitality of Africa in international affairs, as seen by the diversity of the 12 countries represented here today: Nigeria, Algeria, Djibouti, Sudan, South Africa, Ethiopia , DRC, the Central African Republic, Gabon, Egypt and the hosts, Kenya: Representing The Maghreb, Eastern Africa, West Africa, Central Africa and Southern Africa. Welcome!

This assembly is truly an African face, reflecting that dream of a united continent from the Cape in South Africa, to Cairo in Egypt, from the African East to the West Coast.

CS Juma, Ladies and Gentlemen,

We at UNDP appreciate the continued strong partnership between the Ministry and UNDP in Kenya and acknowledge the existence of similar partnerships in your own countries. The partnership here is well known to our colleagues in Kenya, and need only be mentioned for the benefit of our distinguished guests: we have collaborated in hosting the first ever Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) on the African continent in 2016, we have supported the hosting of the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference (SBEC) in 2018, and the Blue Economy side event at the recent TICAD VII in Japan.

The successful leadership of Africa in these landmark events are a reminder of what African countries have to offer in international affairs for the benefit of their citizens and the world at large. This is no mean feat, given the diversity of issues in our time, ranging from building inclusive and resilient economies, accelerating climate action, to transforming international and regional trade, just to name a few, to address contemporary development challenges.

CS Juma, Ladies and Gentlemen,

And that brings me to the point of my remarks this morning. Africa is increasingly positioned to take a more decisive place in international diplomacy and global governance. The growing recognition that for Africa to claim its rightful leadership role, the vision of a rising Africa has not only reinvigorated latent energies in statecraft, society and the economy but also African peoples themselves. That is what informs some of UNDP’s regional initiatives such as the African Influencers for Development a platform of African change makers across a range of disciplines, and the African Women Fellowship Programme, a partnership between UNDP and the AU to support young women leaders, and other similar interventions aimed at transforming African ideas into transformative development results.
 
It is in this light that the role of the foreign service official will continue to undergo rapid transformation for which individual countries, and Africa, must be prepared. If it is a valid observation that effective outcomes from international diplomacy, including development outcomes, depends on the quality of diplomats that states send to international forums to represent their interests and points of view, the changing responsibilities in international affairs summon the foreign service official to be equipped with substantive knowledge of their subject matter, and no less practical diplomacy skills, innovative but practical thinking, and strategic adaptability in effectively projecting, promoting and advancing foreign policy in economic, social, and political fronts to achieve the SDGs. 

This matter of building the “quintessential foreign service official” as the Honorable CAS, Mr. Namwamba mentioned, when we were last together in Amboseli at a MOFA strategic leadership retreat to reconfigure the FSA, is something of supreme importance, and this regional meeting of eminent directors of foreign service academies from Africa is a fitting occasion to call to your attention the responsibilities that devolve upon each of you in realizing this objective. It is ultimately a call to investment in foreign service officials, which is the true test of whether we succeed or not in articulating our interests in the rapidly burgeoning international arena.

In recognition of our comparative advantage and practical experience as the lead global multilateral development organization, UNDP has an interest in working with each of your countries, to strengthen your capacity to assume the leadership role in international diplomacy in the 21st century.

CS Juma, Ladies and Gentlemen,

This noble imperative cannot be confined to so few, neither can it be accomplished at one fell swoop, but we must start somewhere. It is against this backdrop that UNDP, with funding from the Regional Bureau for Africa, is supporting the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to convene this meeting, bringing together such an eminent convening to complement ongoing interventions.

This capacity building initiative links with past and current interventions supported by UNDP, including the project on accelerating ratification and domestication of African Union (AU) treaties, which itself underscores the critical role of Africa in standard setting. Some recent key activities may be highlighted, such as the training of legal officers from Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies on treaty law, a sensitization forum of Members of Parliament (MPs) and Senators on AU treaties, and a legislative drafting workshop to streamline treaty making procedures, currently underway in Kisumu, Western Kenya. We applaud the Ministry for its commitment to all these initiatives.

UNDP is honoured to be part of this regional consultative meeting as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs ventures into a re-engineering of the Foreign Service Academy to reinvigorate learning, reflection and innovation to enable it’s foreign service officials and diplomats to serve their country better.

Let me underscore here that we see this not only as a Kenyan event but a significant African moment, underlined by a commonality of responsibility. Your presence here today underscores the existence of capacities in Africa, and the responsibility towards even more concerted action to establish regional mechanisms that would harness these resources through South-South exchanges.

This is something we must do not merely to build capacities of individuals or institutions for their own sake. It aims to enable us transform the continent for the benefit of present and future generations. UNDP is particularly interested in reflections and actions that would ensure that such capacity building initiatives will contribute to nurturing greater freedoms and capabilities for the young people of Africa, a human resource that only awaits a spark to turn it into a development force. This linkage is becoming ever more clear as the ‘youthful thinking’ in some of the most recent international events highlighted above have demonstrated. This, however, is just the beginning.

CS Juma, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It will be worth noting that preceding this occasion were three benchmarking and learning visits by Foreign Service Academy officials to similar Academies in India (New Delhi, Mumbai), South-Korea (Seoul) and USA (Washington D.C.) from the 26th November to 12th December 2019. We await to learn more from the delegation, but note at this point that the visits provided for interactions and learning from among others:  The Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA); The India Foreign Service Institute (FSI), Gateway House Policy think-tank, India;  Korean National Diplomatic Academy (KNDA); Sejong Institute; and the   Foreign Service Institute (FSI) of the United States of America. We are aware that requests have been made for similar visits to Egypt and South Africa and we hope that these could materialize before the end of the year.

The learning areas ranged from institutional mandate and structure; core functions and operational models; training programmes for various categories of staff and other government agencies; curriculum development and review processes; institute funding and programme financing; partnerships and collaborations to mention the six parameters that guided the visits.

UNDP notes that part of the funding for the visits has come from its regional programme, and looks forward to learning from African countries, to tap from the rich capacities that abound in the continent, to support the Ministry in re-engineering of the Foreign Service Academy and strengthening of diplomatic cooperation and partnerships, more particularly among African countries. That is why your presence here today is of immeasurable importance.

CS Juma, Ladies and Gentlemen,

In closing, this is ultimately a call to greater commitment to the dialectic of thinking and doing, reflection and action, which only can inform our positioning in thought leadership. I have no doubt with the diverse representation in this meeting that the next two days shall be full of boundless learning exchanges and networking among colleagues from as far as the Cape, to Cairo, not to forget West Africa and Central Africa.

UNDP remains committed to this partnership with the Ministry, in line with the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) and the Country Programme Document (CPD): 2018-2022. Through the current CPD, UNDP is working through three pillars of Governance, Peace and Security; Inclusive Growth and Structural Transformation; as well as Environmental Sustainability, Climate Change and Resilience to ensure that young people in this country can look forward to expanded opportunities and a brighter future. We are confident that the support to the FSA would be one crucial avenue to help us achieve transformative development results.

Thank you for your attention and wishing you fruitful deliberations and a memorable stay in Kenya.

 

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