Friday, June 19, 2009

H.R. 2410: A New Multilateral Diplomacy Cone?

TITLE IV—Section 402 of H.R. 2410 also provides for the promotion of FS assignments to international organizations and what looks like the possible establishment of a 6th Foreign Service cone (in addition to Political, Economic, Consular, Management, and Public Diplomacy):


(b) Establishment of a Multilateral Diplomacy Cone in the Foreign Service-

(1) FINDINGS- Congress finds the following:

(A) The Department of State maintains a number of United States missions both within the United States and abroad that are dedicated to representing the United States to international organizations and multilateral institutions, including missions in New York, Brussels, Geneva, Rome, Montreal, Nairobi, Vienna, and Paris.

(B) In offices at the Harry S. Truman Building, the Department maintains a significant number of positions in bureaus that are either dedicated, or whose primary responsibility is, to represent the United States to such organizations and institutions or at multilateral negotiations.

(C) Given the large number of positions in the United States and abroad that are dedicated to multilateral diplomacy, the Department of State may be well served in developing persons with specialized skills necessary to become experts in this unique form of diplomacy.

(2) REPORT- Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report--

(A) evaluating whether a new cone should be established for the Foreign Service that concentrates on members of the Service who serve at international organizations and multilateral institutions or are primarily responsible for participation in broad-based multilateral negotiations of international instruments; and

(B) that provides alternative mechanisms for achieving the objective of developing a core group of United States diplomats and other Government employees who have expertise and broad experience in conducting multilateral diplomacy.

I have read the reported version of this bill more than once and except for one area when it talks about enabling “members to obtain advanced and other education that will increase the capacity of the Foreign Service to complete its mission” and under this section where it talks about assignments in international organizations; it does not talk about reforming the promotion process in the Foreign Service. And that will unavoidably undermine the good intent under these two sections. If employees feel that their careers will be negatively impacted by taking a year or two out for advanced schooling or assignments in multifunctional areas or multilateral organizations, there may not be many takers. Click here to read the details.

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