The tenth presentation at the Fletcher Summer Institute (FSI) for the Advanced Study of Nonviolent Conflict focused on how diplomats can assist democratic movements and what role the diaspora plays in the democracy movement.
The Diplomats Handbook is designed to give diplomats options regarding what they can do vis-a-vis diplomatic intervention. The golden rules for diplomats include listening, respecting, understanding and sharing. Guidelines are provided on how to demarche governments (like Iran’s currently) and how to inform the media (like in Burma); providing a space for meeting; attending rallies (like Ukraine) to act as a witness; ultimately to protect (like Italian embassy in Tehran).
The diaspora plays 4 important roles in the democratic process:
- Act as the voice of conscience to the world.
- Lobby diplomats for internationa support and cooperation.
- Mobilize activists for grassrooots involvement both inside and outside the country.
- Provide psychological and financial support to the movement.
In building a partnership with the international community, diasporas call for the:
- Protecting human rights.
- Spreading democracy.
- Building of civil society.
Actions are also needed from foreign diplomats. These include:
- Promoting the cause within one’s own government.
- Sending a unifying message regarding human rights and democracy.
- Exert pressure against human rights violations.
- Engage democratic groups.
- Support grassroots independent organizations.
One participant noted that the diaspora can also play a negative role by acting as spoilers in a particular process. Cuba doesn’t really qualify but I’m struck at how different the perspectives of Cubans in Miami are from those of Cubans on the island. Once the Castros are gone, how will the relationship between the diaspora and Cubans on the island be managed?
In the case of Vietnam, the nonviolent opposition groups in the diaspora make a point to go back to Vietnam on a regular place to work side by side with counterparts in country.
Another conversation that ensued was on the role of the US State Department, and specifically how nonviolent movements can manage that relationship. In one case, a participant mentioned that the State Department has been one of the most frustrating impediments. Another participant volunteered guidance: with the State Department, you need to apply a lot of pressure and make friends with the right people in State.
One final observation emphasized the need for the diaspora to be the voice of conscience both outside the country and also within the country.