The Inquirer (Monrovia)

Liberia: Monie Captan Coaches Foreign Service Students

Former Foreign Minister, Monie R. Captan has identified several steps for those wanting to work in the diplomatic cycle. Speaking recently when he served as Keynote Speaker at ceremony marking the induction of officials-elect of the Gabriel L. Dennis Foreign Service Institute at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Captan said, "The fact that you find yourself not only in a post-conflict state, but also in a Sub-Saharan African state, is a clear indicator of your country's national interest."

Mr. Captan said a Liberian diplomat must have a clear understanding of the views of the international community, including that of the donor countries, multilateral organizations, investors and transnational corporations, and international civil society organizations adding, "A Liberian diplomat must understand which international interventions can facilitate development, and by whom."

He added that the road to development begins with the domestic stakeholders who are tasked with creating those internal conditions that are conducive for growth. "You must understand what these conditions are? What your government's agenda is and what the challenges are with the political-economy dimension of the challenges. What are the achievements of your government? You must understand the diagnosis and prescriptions of donors, and the expectations of investors," he told the students.

According to Mr. Captan, as a Liberian diplomat, their role transcends the traditional role of diplomats noting, "Your role is enhanced by the development priority of the country's national interest, especially within its current context. In order to support and promote the development agenda of Liberia, you must acquire basic proficiency in development economics and political economy. You must be conversant with current and relevant trade- related issues, on-going regional integration processes, and global economic trends."

He called on them to be responsible as Liberian diplomats pointing out, "You will be responsible to convincingly convey and defend the Liberian story in the context of the government's development agenda, its challenges, its successes, the country's comparative advantage, investment opportunities, and growth outlook."

Mr. Captan among other things said, "You may have to negotiate with donors, trading partners, and investors. You will have to effectively communicate your country's case. You must be informed and have relevant data available to make your case."

For his part, the President of the Gabriel L. Dennis Foreign Service Institute, Baba Sillah informed his colleagues that as diplomat trainees they must be ever elated by the fact that they have the opportunity and the capacity being provided them through the trainings received from four-thirty to eight-thirty, six days a week to transform their country.

" We must cultivate a spirit of selfless duty to our country if we must and find hope and pleasure in doing only the things that would promote a positive image of our country. Now to the Administration of the Historic Gabriel L. Dennis Foreign Service Institute, an institution of cherished tradition of theoretical excellence and practical competency, I would like to recommend that the program be expended to incorporate regional specialization trainings. This will enable our foreign affairs architecture to boast Liberians specially trained to comprehend the historic, socio-cultural, economic, and political issues of regions in Africa, Europe, Asia and the Pacific, and the Americas," Captan intimated.

Mr. Sillah said, "With specialized area, trained diplomats will be able to make thorough and deep reflective analysis of the conditions prevailing in regions of the world and to realistically gauge their future trends with a view to pursuing our national interests and being knowledgeable of and accommodative to the interests of other states."

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