Page 23 - FSJ June 2012

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those of many others, including Am-
bassador Chris Ross today. During my
mandate, the only issue on which there
had been even a modicum of agree-
ment was a truncated, extremely lim-
ited program of confidence-building
measures (one-way phone service and
two-way mail service between the
refugee camps and the communities of
origin), usingMINURSO communica-
tions and transport assets.
FSJ:
In October 2008 you assumed
your current duties as director-general
of the International Organization for
Migration. What successes would you
cite in that position? And what are the
main challenges the IOM still faces?
WLS:
We have a paradoxical situa-
tion in the migrant world today. There
are more people on the move than at
any other time in recorded history:
about 215 million international and 740
million domestic migrants moving
within their own territory. That means
that about one out of every seven peo-
ple in the world is on the move.
You would think at a time like this
that migration would be something that
is very welcome. But instead, more and
more industrialized nations are turning
inward, borders are being closed, visa
regimes are being tightened and there
is less and less opportunity for migra-
tion to occur on a legal basis. So a lot of
people are being pushed into the hands
of human traffickers.
We at IOMbelieve that a major part
of the problem is miscommunication or
non-communication about the over-
whelmingly positive contribution of mi-
grants, historically and at present. So I
try to ensure that our organization has
a “voice in every conversation and a
seat at every table” at which migration
is discussed. I want to ensure that mi-
gration, as a cross-cutting issue, is in-
cluded in debates relating to develop-
ment, climate change, health and vir-
tually all other areas.
FSJ:
What changes do you think are
needed to the FS personnel system to
ensure that the Service has the abilities,
outlooks and organizational structure
to effectively discharge its role in the ac-
tive promotion of U.S. interests abroad?
WLS:
I spent four years in the Per-
sonnel Bureau at State, more than half
of that as principal deputy assistant sec-
retary under George S. Vest—who, for
me, was our finest director general. Of
course, that was 25 years ago.
Since then, both the world and the
profession of diplomacy have changed
dramatically due to the end of the Cold
War and the onset of globalization; the
rise of non-state-sponsored terrorism;
the digital revolution; climate change
and other environmental concerns; the
proliferation of U.S. agencies abroad;
and a serious decline in public trust of
government.
Yet some fundamentals don’t
change, and shouldn’t. The United
States still requires a diplomatic serv-
ice second to none: one that is disci-
plined, voluntarily shares the burden,
is passionate about its mandate and
our national interests and calm in their
advancement, and is committed to
maintaining the highest professional
standards and personal conduct. The
Foreign Service must be truly repre-
sentative in terms of gender and over-
all profile, and its members must
constantly strengthen and expand
their skills.
Toward this end, we must continue
to recruit and develop those who are or
can become the “whole person” —
combining intellectual and operational
ability with a commitment to excel-
lence in performance and comport-
ment, while also remaining compass-
ionate “people persons” with the abil-
ity to lead and inspire.
Over the past two decades, security
has assumed a disproportionate role in
our lives. As a result, we have perhaps
become too risk-averse. Foreign Serv-
ice personnel need to spend more time
on Capitol Hill, in board rooms, and
engaged with civil society, even if it
means spending less time in executive
branch offices.
FSJ:
What do you see as the princi-
pal challenges for U.S. diplomacy
today?
WLS:
It seems self-evident that
diplomatic resource requirements are
in no way commensurate with the
enormous stake our country has in the
field of international affairs. The po-
tential of “soft power” to advance our
national interests has been traditionally
underestimated, as have peacemaking,
peacekeeping and nationbuilding.
Moreover, as career diplomats we
have not done enough to enable our
lawmakers to help their constituents
appreciate how diplomatic engagement
— especially in the distant, little-
known, crisis-prone countries in which
I have served—protects and advances
our national interests, as well as their
own.
FSJ:
Are you optimistic about the
future of diplomacy?
WLS:
My half-century “love affair”
with diplomacy, Africa and societies in
transition makes me a congenital opti-
mist about the future of our profession.
That, in turn, leads to several purely
personal conclusions.
First, I consider diplomacy an indis-
pensable public service, a noble under-
taking to which a privileged few are
called. Second, diplomacy requires
sustained engagement to succeed.
And third, such a long-term process
must be buttressed by a corresponding
policy consensus, a commensurate
constituency and adequate resource
mobilization.
FSJ:
Thank you, Amb. Swing.
J U N E 2 0 1 2 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L
23
“Looking at the Congo
and Haiti, it seems that
everything is broken
but the human spirit.”