The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way diplomacy was conducted and the transformation will see it practiced more and more through virtual meetings in the online world. The trend, which only look like escalating in the foreseeable future, is expected to have a significant impact on international relations going forward, and will require capacity building of diplomats and other foreign service officials for enhanced productivity and output.
The views were shared at a webinar titled ‘Emerging Trends in International Relations & Diplomacy and Pakistan’, which was organized by Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), Islamabad as part of its webinar series ‘Covid-19: Global Challenges, National Response’. The session was addressed by Ambassador (r) Syed Abrar Hussain and Ambassador (r) Tajammul Altaf as main speakers and jointly chaired by former secretary finance and member of IPS National Academic Council Dr Waqar Masood Khan and Executive President IPS Khalid Rahman.
The speakers were unanimous that the coronavirus pandemic has affected the world massively and its impact is already being felt at the local, regional and international levels in multifarious ways. International diplomacy is one area that is at the center of the whole phenomenon, and while it has a huge role in tackling the global pandemic, it may also have its shape, form and practices altered significantly in the post-Covid-19 world.
Ambassador Abrar viewed that diplomatic practices will change significantly in the post-pandemic world where online meetings, discussions and deliberations will become a norm. He pointed out that the European Council was the first major organization that started conducting its meeting online following the global lockdown, after which many international bodies like the UN Security Council, IMF, World Bank and G20 have started holding a lot of their activities online.
He said such developments will demand new, innovative ways to create a diplomatic impact, as well as a bit of capacity building at the practitioners’ end, as previous practices like VVIP reception and hosting of dignitaries will eventually wither away to some extent.Speaking of the impact of the pandemic on international relations, Abrar said the possibilities of a severe recession loom large.