In short, it depends. Okay, but it depends on what? In the traditional sense of diplomacy, Liberia remains strong and continues to shoulder with giants in participating in global affairs in this 21st century while protecting her sovereignty. A small nation state like Liberia is by default forced to master the art of diplomacy to survive. The art of diplomacy in which nation states follow protocols and treaties to build and or maintain relationships while advancing their interests. On this note, Liberia has been one of the best in using international diplomacy to protect and foster her existence among other nation states. Different governments have used their diplomatic relations and skills to leverage some form of goodwill for Liberia and Liberian home and abroad. Although diplomacy remains center around the art discussed, it is crucial to point out that diplomacy has evolved into Science and Technology as well.
Liberia, like many African states are not ready for diplomacy for the 21st century in terms of Science and Technology (ST). The harsh reality is that many African states are solely focus on begging for resources to main their fragile peace and security, which gives them little room to incorporate ST into their diplomacy. However, ST play an important role in many foreign policy issues, such as economic development and growth and protection from cyber criminals etc. Part of Liberia’s current foreign policy states “devotion to economic, social and political development” is one of Liberia’s goals. However, this cannot happen without a comprehensive strategy that includes science and technology. Although Liberia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs is one of the most visible ministries online, it remains clung to the old style of diplomacy. For instance, there is no course on the importance of science and technology in diplomacy on Foreign Service Institute (FSI), which is the home of future career diplomats. There is also no mention of integration of science and technology into foreign policy development on the ministry website or official documents that are accessible.
However, it is not too late. Liberia remains strong in lobbying for her interest. President Weah is not a stranger to advocating for Liberians internationally. Hence, the government can do some quick fixes while working on a comprehensive plan.
- Foreign Affairs staff must be trained to understand the potential of science and technology and how it can present new opportunities for international cooperation and capacity development.
- Students at the Foreign Service Institute must be trained on the role of science and technology in international diplomacy.
- The President must continue pushing for partnership that will bring in human capital development in the science and technology. For instance, a scholarship scheme for Foreign Science Officers to learn how to use science and technology to advance their work.
- Hire technicians who are technologically savvy to help educate the diplomats on the plus of using technology to make their cases.
- Have a science and technology focal person or department that will have the mandate to develop a strong and futuristic science and technology team for Liberia. The person could be an Assistant Minister for Science, Technology and Development or something like that.
- There must be a deliberate effort in changing the culture by encouraging nontraditional students like those who studied biology, chemistry and other sciences to join the diplomatic community.
Diplomacy picture in China Daily.