Grooming Liberia’s Premiere “Development Diplomats”

The four newly appointed Development Diplomats Officers
The four newly appointed Development Diplomats Officers
Photo Credit: IT/Public Affairs Bureau- MFA

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is in the process of implementing a major restructuring programme with support from UNDP intended to improve its internal capacity and delivery of service to its clients. This is in line with its new vision that blends the pursuit of development diplomacy and socio-economic development linked with a strong focus on consolidating peace and security in the sub-region and beyond. It stems from the desire to develop a corps of young people transforming them into agents of change, including promoting greater integration and economic co-operation in the sub-region and beyond. Grooming Development Diplomats arises from the Government of Liberia’s plans, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to fundamentally restructure the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) and subsequently redefine manner in which the Central Office engages with its foreign missions. The re-structured institute will include upgrading the caliber of existing officers in the Liberian Foreign Service while also attracting dynamic new entrants into the service. Ultimately, greater capability in development diplomacy will enhance Liberia’s negotiating position in a very dynamic global market place.
Capacity development Goal
The Development Diplomats Training Programme is an integral part of the National Capacity Development Program, a governmental-led initiative with support from UNDP that focuses both on the design and implementation of short-term capacity development interventions, as well as the elaboration of a long-term capacity-development strategy for the Government of Liberia. The overall objective of the initiative is to strengthen the capacity of the Government of Liberia to respond to the needs of national recovery and reconstruction. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been identified as a “focus agency” in which urgent “surge” capacity support is needed to demonstrate that Liberia is, indeed on a steady track to recovery in line with the Poverty Reduction Strategy.

Specific Objective
To help the Ministry realize its vision of development diplomacy, through the of Grooming of Young “Development Diplomats”, realized through the fielding of trainees in Development Diplomacy to enable the Ministry to build the capacity for its young professionals over one year, divided into two periods of six months each, after which they will be absorbed by the Central Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Terms of Reference for the Trainee Diplomats
Under the general direction and guidance of the ambassadors in the respective countries, the trainees will undertake a programme of intensive, practical training in development diplomacy, acquiring practical skills in areas such as development co-operation, economic diplomacy, political and economic integration, private sector development, regional co-operation, role of FDI, international organizations, crisis prevention,  conflict management and peace-building, etc. The specific political and economic situation of the MRU will be examined including opportunities for greater integration. Other key elements of the terms of reference are outlined below:
1. Strengthen Liberia’s relationship with country of attachment, working with Liberia mission staff and partner institutions.
2. Undergo learner-focused attachment with relevant international institutions (including, MRU, UNDP, ECOWAS) as assigned during the programme.
3. Maintain the necessary contacts with potential investors, and compile information for promoting trade and investment between Liberia and MRU countries.
4. Collect economic data and reports by the Liberian Government, and donor institutions such as the World Bank, UNDP and the bilateral and multilateral donors.
5. Liaise with relevant organisations and embassies in host countries to foster intra-MRU cooperation.
6. Liaise with the Liberia Chamber of Commerce, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in disseminating information on Liberia’s development needs to investors in the countries of assignment.
7. Under the guidance and the direction of the Ambassador, the trainee serves as liaison for commercial, economic and investment opportunities within the Mano River Union countries and Ghana.

Administration of the Project

The training will see the placement of four trainee diplomats within the Liberia Foreign Services missions in Cote D’Ivoire, Sierra Leone, Guinea (MRU Countries) and Ghana in the first year as entry level trainees for Foreign Service. This initiative is initially sponsored by UNDP. The trainees will be attached for two periods of six months each over a period of one year. In between, they will return to the central Office for feedback, lessons learnt and experience sharing. Eventually, they will be absorbed into the Ministry service.  During this period, they It is expected that over a three-year period, with subject to success in fundraising, 12 trainees will undergo such placement. UNDP Liberia in conjunction with the sister country offices of the host countries will support the implementation, management and achievement of project objectives.  Resources will be disbursed to the GOL for the trainees through the UNDP country offices of the respective countries in which the trainees are assigned.
Benefits to the Trainees
The benefits of participating in the program are both educational and professional. The trainees have an opportunity for a unique learning experience in the development diplomacy. In addition, each of the four trainees will receive monthly stipend commensurate with applicable rates set by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This will be done directly from the UNDP country office in their countries of assignment. However, air tickets will be received by trainees directly from UNDP Liberia.
Personal Requirements
It is expected that, as future diplomats, the trainees will act in a professional, diplomatic and mature manner during the course of the attachment. The will be expected to maintain the confidentiality of the workplace and respect confidences disclosed to them, and swear oaths to that effect. Trainees must behave in a non-partisan fashion and refrain from any activity inconsistent with the objectives of the programme for the duration of the program.
Schedule of Orientation and Deployment:
The maiden edition of the training programme will commence with the briefing / orientation by both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and UNDP ahead of their deployment in April 2009.