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Monday, August 8, 2022

Congress-Maoist Marriage of Convenience

 Yuba Nath Lamsal

 “Geography has made us neighbours. History has made us friends. Economics has made us partners. And necessity has made us allies. Those whom nature hath so joined together, let no man put asunder,” said former US president John F. Kennedy on the necessity of international alliance and partnership. Alliances are made both national and international level not as a choice but borne out of compulsion. 

Power is the principal motive of politics. In the modern era wherein democracy has been a global lingua franca, the road to political power is popular consent which is expressed through elections. Countries having majoritarian or first past the post-election system, a particular party is generally expected to win majority, barring a few exceptions. In countries where election system is proportionate, electoral and post electoral alliances are necessity as no single party is likely to win absolute majority. Pre-election alliances are common in countries of the Nordic region where a group of parties flock together to form blocks and contest the election based on the common minimum programme. In countries like Germany, post-electoral negotiation is more in vogue based on the position of parties in parliament. Such alliances are made primarily based on ideological similarity, though it is not always the case.  

With parliamentary elections announced for November 20 this year, guess works are doing the rounds as to what will be the electoral alliance among parties and the make-up of the post-election government. Given the electoral system of Nepal, which is a mix of the first past the post and proportionate system, no single party is likely to win majority necessary to form the government. The coalition government is, thus, our fait accompli. 

Exercises are already afoot for electoral alliances. The parties in the present ruling coalition have formed a task force to work out the possible seat sharing in the November 20 election. If at all come into fruition, it will be basically Nepali Congress- communist alliance, which on ideological ground is not a natural choice but a product of necessity. Nepali Congress and communists are diametrically opposed on ideological perspective and their alliance appears politically odd, that too against another dominant communist faction.

In the politics of Nepal, there has always been a triangular political equation. History is witness to the fact that if two of the three dominant forces join hands, the third force is automatically gets marginalized. This is historical truth. Now Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and CPN-Maoist Centre are the three dominant political forces at present, of which Nepali Congress and CPN-UML are the principal rivals. If the Nepali Congress forms alliance with CPN-MC and others, it is expected to have upper hand in the upcoming parliamentary elections serving a big blow to the CPN-UML.

In the last parliamentary election held in 2017, two key communist blocs joined hands and they not only won close to two-third majority in federal parliament but also captured six of the seven provincial governments. Nepali Congress was so badly pushed to the corner that it did not figure anywhere in the political competition. Things got worse when the two communist blocs merged into one party. However, their unity could not last long due to egos and ambition of two principal leaders namely KP Oli and Prachanda that led to the split of the party into two. This proved to be a huge political boon for the Nepali Congress that led the government brining splintered left groups.

The Nepali Congress emerged as a dominant force in the local bodies winning largest number of local representatives due mainly to the electoral alliances with the Maoists and others. Encouraged by the success in local election, Nepali Congress seeks to form similar alliance in the federal and provincial parliamentary elections. If they form the alliance in the election, CPN-UML is expected to be marginalized in the central and in the provincial politics for at least another five years.

CPN-UML is hard-pressed to foil the Nepali Congress-Maoist alliance as it knows that it will have to pay a big price in the election. However, CPN-UML has limited options. There is a huge trust deficit between KP Oli and Prachanda and thus their electoral coalition is not feasible at the moment, although, given the past tract record of the communists, nothing can be said with certainty as to what they will exactly do.  In the last parliamentary elections five years ago, CPN-Maoist abruptly broke coalition with the NC in the last hour and formed alliance with the CPN-UML.

Given the trust deficit between Oli and Prachanda and their feelings of vengeance against one another, communist alliance appears far-fetched at least in the upcoming election. Congress-Maoist alliance is close to reality, despite the desperate attempts of the CPN-UML against it. CPN-UML is, thus, weighing different options targeting the parliamentary elections in case of Congress-Maoist electoral arrangement.

CPN-UML boasts to contest the election both at the federal as well as provincial level, alone against the five-party alliance and accordingly win. This is CPN-UML’s tall claim but difficult to accomplish given the combined strength of the rival forces in the present power equation in the country. One likes it or not, Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML are the two principal political rivals which have almost similar level of strength nationwide in terms of organization and popular support. The support of the third force namely the Maoists will tilt the balance towards the Nepali Congress and CPN-UML will definitely have poor showing in the election. To counter the Congress-Maoist alliance, CPN-UML will seek to make electoral arrangements with other smaller groups including Madhesi and Rastriya Prajatanra Parties based on the local conditions. But it is not likely to have significant difference in the election.

The Congress-Maoist coalition, too, is not likely to go a long way. Firstly, this alliance is not based on ideals and ideology but merely a marriage of convenience with singularly targeting to teach KP Oli a lesson. Secondly, their ideological ground is so diametrically opposed that they cannot cohabit for long as Nepali Congress believes political legitimacy comes from ballots whereas the Maoists pledge allegiance to the dictum “power flows out of the barrel of gun’. 

 (Publiched in nepalminute.com on Aug 8, 2022)

Communication, Diplomacy and Language

 Yuba Nath Lamsal 

All human activities are communication. Communication is a technique of transmitting messages, ideas and feelings in a way that is correctly received/understood by the other end. If the receiver either does not receive the message or wrongly receives, that is not communication but miscommunication. The pattern and form with which a message is understood in the same way by both the sender and the receiver is communication. The communication is executed through various means and mediums like sound, graphics, gesture, facial expression, use of signs and signals, body language and eye movement etc. This is non-linguistic or non-verbal communication. The language is the powerful and most effective instrument of communication, which is referred to as linguistic communication.[i]  Linguistic communication is accomplished at various levels—individual, government and state levels. Communication between two governments or two states is diplomacy. 

Evolution of diplomacy

The practice of diplomacy has a long history. Diplomacy is said to be the second oldest profession, which has been in practice right from pre-historic time. Since the rise of civilization, more particularly the urban civilization, followed by the formation of the city state in ancient Mesopotamia, diplomacy has been an important part of the statecraft that seeks to establish and maintain communication with other states or governments. But the nature, scope and modus operandi of diplomacy have undergone a sea change over the years. 

Originally diplomats were sent as a messenger for negotiation on specific topics and for specific purpose, and would return after the mission was accomplished. The Mahabharat epic states that Lord Krishna went to the court of Dhritarastra or Kauravas as a peace envoy of Pandavas to prevent possible war between the cousins implying that diplomatic practice as a peace mission prevailed in South Asia even in the prehistoric period.[ii]

In Europe, history of diplomacy goes back to the pre-renaissance period. Greece and Byzantine were powerful empires of that time which occasionally used diplomacy to deal with other powers in Asia and Europe in the ancient time. The Treaty of Westphalia, which was signed in 1648 seeking an end to the long-running war in Europe, was the first documented history of diplomatic practice that provided a foundation for non-violation of sovereignty and interference to internal matters of other country[iii]. However, the Congress of Vienna convened from November, 1814 to June, 1815 was the first formal and practical initiative in modern diplomacy[iv]. The Congress of Vienna set rules, norms and standard of diplomacy, including definition of ambassadors, ambassadors extra ordinary and plenipotentiary and charge de affairs. The Vienna Convention, which is ratified by all but a few countries, has codified international law providing a foundation for modern diplomacy, which clearly defines the framework of diplomatic relations between the countries and also the roles, rights, duties, privileges and amenities of diplomatic missions and diplomats.[v] The Congress of Vienna is also one of the milestones in defining the language of diplomacy and diplomatic communication.

Diplomacy has a wider role and a bigger responsibility for peace and just world order. Diplomacy plays a key role in preventing wars and establishing peace, but its scope extends quite beyond that. Apart from maintaining and institutionalising peace and creating a just world order, the scope of modern diplomacy even covers dealing with some very pertinent issues that have direct bearing on humanity like democracy, development, human rights, environmental, climate issues, economic and trade issues, labour and migration and alike. Diplomatic negotiation ‘consists of discussion between officially designated representatives with the object of achieving the formal agreement of their governments to a way forward on an issue that has come up in their relations’[vi].

In the modern diplomacy, a diplomat has to play multiple roles like representation, negotiation, and facilitation of treaties and agreements and carrying out all activities for the protection of country’s national interest. A diplomat, therefore, has to be well versed in wide-ranging issues. In other words, a diplomat has to be a generalist having general knowledge of almost everything. According to Vienna Convention, the functions of a diplomatic mission consist, inter alia, in: (a) Representing the sending State in the receiving State; (b) Protecting in the receiving State the interests of the sending State and of its nationals, within the limits permitted by international law; (c) Negotiating with the Government of the receiving State; (d) Ascertaining by all lawful means conditions and developments in the receiving State, and reporting thereon to the Government of the sending State; (e) Promoting friendly relations between the sending State and the receiving State, and developing their economic, cultural and scientific relations.[vii]

Language in diplomatic communication

Communication is a fundamental part of diplomacy. As Sir Earnest Satow puts ‘diplomacy is the application of intelligence and tact to the conduct of official relations between the governments of independent states’[viii], language is essential foundation and powerful instrument in conducting diplomacy. According to Christer Jonsson and Martin Hall, “communication is to diplomacy as blood is to the human body. Whenever communication ceases, the body of international politics, the process of diplomacy is dead, and the result is violent conflict or atrophy.”[ix] The principal role of diplomacy is negotiation and a diplomat is a key negotiator. Since negotiation is one of the fundamental tasks of diplomacy and a diplomat, language skill and ability plays a strong and effective role in the pursuance of the diplomatic tasks more effectively. There used to be tradition in the ancient period to assign someone as envoy who is better conversant in multiple languages other than his/her mother tongue. There is an old joke concerning languages to be spoken on different occasions and with different people to be properly understood, which goes as: One has to speak “Latin for speaking to God, German to military, Greek and Arabic to merchants, Italian to musicians, Chinese to cook, English to sailors and engineers, Russian to artists, Spanish to friends, Dutch or Hungarian to enemies; French to girl-friend, and Japanese to wife”[x] . Diplomatic practitioner is, thus, required to understand cultural and social values while using language of negotiation and diplomatic communication especially for salutations, which are ‘essential part of diplomatic language and help the speaker to create a positive atmosphere among the audience’. [xi]

The language of diplomatic communication has its own rules, norms, styles and structure that is sometimes different from the language used in other areas of communication. The diplomatic language is, in some cases, different in both content and structures. Diplomatic language is often subtle, more polite, formal and direct. Informal language is often avoided in the diplomatic communications and interactions. But in certain circumstances, a diplomatic communication demands the use of ambiguous language having binary meanings which can be interpreted both ways. In such a case, words like ‘may, might, could’ and phrases like ‘watching closely’ ‘ has grave concern’, ‘concerned’ ‘ will not remain silent’ etc are more frequently used rather than using direct verbs.

Diplomatic language is more circumstantial and its forms and formats may differ depending upon the context and situation for which there are distinct approaches. As a functional international language of politics, diplomatic language appears different from general communicative and literary languages. “Diplomatic language is short and precise, no-frills and classically simple. The diplomatic language is characterized not only by accurate evidence but also by deeper analysis and summary of government policies and actions. The diplomat’s main weapon is his language. He speaks a lot and more visually and gives little information”.[xii]

The root of modern diplomacy goes to pre-renaissance period in Europe. When the practice of diplomacy started and developed, French was the principal language in Europe and used mostly in diplomatic communication, which continued to be ‘the dominant diplomatic language in the first half of the 20th century’.[xiii] The Treaty of Westphalia, which was signed in 1648, was written in Latin language despite the fact that French had still continued to reign as a dominant language of diplomacy mostly in Europe. But the medium of negotiations and other communications was either in French or in English. The influence of British Empire was spreading far and wide around the world, so English became the medium of diplomatic communication in British colonies and countries of British influence.[xiv] English then started dominating as the medium of communication in international diplomacy.

 The Treaty of Versailles, which was signed in 28 June 1919, after the World War I, was written in French and English language.  In the World War II, English speaking countries namely the United Kingdom and the United States had central role which together defeated the Axis powers (Nazi Germany, imperial Japan and fascist Italy). After the World War II, English, therefore, became lingua franca of diplomacy replacing the French. 

More than 6500 different languages are in use in the world. However, only six languages are recognized as the official languages in the United Nations. They are English, French, Russian, Chinese, Arabic and Spanish. But English is widely and commonly used language in the diplomatic communication in the world. “According to the statistics, currently around the world, there are more than 60 countries using English as their official language, 85% of
international organizations using English as their common language, and 75% of the world’s mail are written in English”.[xv]

“Diplomacy is often seen as a special form of government action through official communications to realize the goals of foreign policy and the interests of the state”[xvi]. In communication and negotiation, diplomats puts forth his/her arguments some times in a direct, clear and stronger or sometimes indirectly and through body languages, that may help to convince their counterparts and get things done. According to Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, “a diplomat who says “yes” means “maybe", a diplomat who says “maybe" means “no”, and a diplomat who says “no” is no diplomat.” This refers to the positive language and posture a diplomat requires while conducting diplomacy and diplomatic communication and negotiation. However, in the modern diplomacy, it is said that messages should be given in a clear manner without any ambiguity that makes negotiation easier. With the advent and use of modern technology, both sides across the negotiating table already get sense of one another’s position. In such a case, negotiations are just packaging and processing their positions through cleverly chosen words and sentences.  People like Aldo Matteuucci, a senior fellow at the Geneva-based DiploFoundation, is of the view that diplomatic language should be clear with precision that leads to better understanding with parties in negotiation.[xvii] . Kishan S Rana, an Indian diplomat, too, says language as the medium of negotiation conveys ideas and concepts, and offers the means of understanding the thoughts and expectations of the other side. Thus, precision and good linguistic craftsmanship are the high quality of a diplomat.[xviii]

Diplomacy has its own language and terminologies. There are specific words, which may have a particular semantic connotation. These are some of the terminologies used in diplomacy and diplomatic language to denote specific connotation like: Treaties, Protocols, Memorandum of Understanding, Note Verbale, Aide Memoires, Demarche, Accession, Accords, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Ambassador-Designate, Attaché, Bilateral, Bout de Papier, Communique, Consulate, Consul General, Honorary Consul, Convention, Credentials, Declaration, Delegation, Détente, Diplomatic Illness, Accreditation, Duel Accreditation, Entente, Envoy, Exequatur, Ex-gracia, Extradition, Letters of Recall, Persona Non Grata, Order of Precedence, Protocol, Ratification, Communique, Joint Communiqué, Press Communiqué, Memorandum, Non-paper, Pro Memoria, and Resolutions etc.[xix]

Countries and authorities assign certain people to other countries as their representatives, who are called diplomats. In modern age, the word diplomat covers personnel including ambassador, who is the chief of mission (embassy), deputy chief of mission, minister, counsellor, attaché, first secretary, second secretary and third secretary and alike. Attaches are of different natures. Civilian attachés are junior officers, while others are of higher ranks including defence or military attache, labour attache, cultural attache and commercial attache etc. In the absence of ambassador, deputy chief of mission acts as ambassador who is called Chargé d'Affaires ad interim.

The offices or posts established to provide services are called consular offices. Consular offices are established by one State (sending State) in another State with which it wishes to maintain consular relations (in receiving State). “There are generally four categories of consular posts: consulate-general, consulate, vice-consulate and consular agency. The title of the head of consular post reflects in principle the category of the consular post in question, for example, a consulate-general is headed by a consul-general”.[xx] There are two categories of consular posts – one is headed by career officers of the foreign ministry and the other one is headed by honorary consuls. Honorary consuls can be citizens of either the sending State or the receiving State. They are not salaried but may charge fees for official services”. [xxi]Consular duties include public relations and the promotion of economic, cultural and political relations as specified by the sending country. The general practice is that honorary consul is appointed either in countries where the sending country does not have its own embassy or the sending countries feels necessary to have such posts in cities other than the capital city where embassy is located.  Prior to appointing someone as honorary consul or consul general, acceptance of the receiving country is sought and the acceptance letter from the receiving country is called exequatur.
The ambassador is called Ambassador Extraordinary and plenipotentiary. The ambassador is addressed as His/Her Excellency. But in informal occasion, ambassador may be simply called as Mr/Madam Ambassador. There are procedures in appointing the ambassador. This is called the accreditation procedure. Prior to formally appointing any ambassador to certain country, his/her name is sent to the host country to acquire whether that particular person is acceptable or not. The receiving country after studying the background of the nominated person sends back its decision stating acceptability of the person, which is called agrément. The agrément is generally received within three months. If agreement is not received within three months, it is understood that the host country is not willing to accept the nominated person as an ambassador. However, that is not the rule of thumb but there are cases when such agréments have been received even after three months. After receiving agreement, the sending country appoints the person as ambassador. Until he/she presents credentials or letter of credence to the head of the state of the receiving or the host country, he/she is called ambassador-designate.  After presenting the letters of credence, only then one can fully and formally function as ambassador. Credentials or letters of credence are documents or the instruments from the head of the sending state to the head of the state of the receiving country confirming the appointment or accreditation to someone as the ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary.

Demarche is a term used by a diplomat to officially raise a matter either seeking support or action on particular issue with the host country or officials. Sometimes a country or a party proposes something to the counterparts and circulates in an informal way during negotiation for the purpose of conversation without formally disclosing the source and identity. This is called aide memoire. The more informal means of conveying written information than the aide memoire is called Bout de Papier. Communiqué is the statement issued after bilateral or multilateral talks. If it is issued jointly by both the parties in meeting is called the joint communique.

Ambassadors and diplomats have their own code of conduct, which has been specified by the Vienna Convention. If the host country feels that activities of certain diplomat are not in commensurate with the diplomatic codes and conventions and also the national laws, it may declare the diplomat as Persona Non Grata, which means he/she is unacceptable and unwelcome. If declared Persona Non Grata, he/she has to leave that country and return home. [xxii]

In the diplomatic communications, there are some specific words, forms and standard formats, which denote particular things. Failure to follow the standard format in diplomatic communication is construed as undiplomatic, which may sometimes cause embarrassment and have negative impact in bilateral relations. Most diplomatic communications are conducted in the third person on official letter head which is called the Note Verbale and also a third person note. The Note Verbale is the formal communication between the two states.

 

 

Note Verbale

 

The Embassy/Ministry presents it compliment to the (receiving state) and has the honour to inform/communicate/ convey that ( text of the message).

The Embassy/ Ministry avails itself of the opportunity to renew to ( receiving organization/ embassy/government) the assurances of its highest consideration

Kathmandu, Date, and official seal

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Some diplomatic communications are done also in the first person which should be addressed to a particular person like invitations, message of congratulations and condolence messages etc.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Invitation

March   , 20

 

Excellency,

I take great pleasure in informing Your Excellency that the ( event/ meeting) is

being held in (place) from (date) to   (date)

Your Excellency may be aware that this meeting will make review of the progress so far made in the  ( issue/matter)

I am therefore confident that the meeting will be able to provide further impetus to the core activities of our bilateral relations and cooperation.

I have the honour and privilege to extend to Your Excellency a cordial

invitation to lead the delegation of ----- to the meeting ---.

Please accept, Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.

 

Name of sender

Signature

 

Name of addressee

Designation address

 

Diplomacy is a delicate subject, which requires careful handling, for which language plays a vital role. The diplomatic communication is the wise manoeuvring of words and language, which is required to be, concise, precise, clear and courteous. Even silence has its own meaning in diplomacy. In certain circumstances, silence conveys stronger message than the use of verbal communication. In certain circumstances, ‘non-activity’ also gives particular message.  In diplomatic communication, words, sentences, language and posture carry especial meaning, messages and significance. Language is a strong tool in diplomacy with which a diplomat negotiates and conducts his/her tasks. The selection of words and mastery over language play crucial role in the pursuit of mission and objectives. Diplomats are generally said to be wordsmiths and particular in the semantic aspect of what is spoken and written. As Greek philosopher Epictetus said ‘we have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak’, a diplomat is required to listen more and speak the least. Economy of words, mastery over language and skill to manipulate arguments are the super quality of a diplomat. Diplomacy is a superior art of statecraft and communication, sanctity of which is preserved and enhanced through the artistic use of diplomatic language.

 

                                                 

 

References:



[i] https://www.uio.no/studier/emner/hf/ikos/EXFAC03-AAS/h05/larestoff/linguistics/Chapter%201.(H05).pdf

[ii] Lamsal, Yuba Nath, The Rising Nepal, oped

[v] Lamsal, Yuba Nath, The Rising Nepal, oped

[vi] Berridge, GR, Diplomacy Theory and Practice, DiPLO. www.diplomacy.edu

[vii] https://legal.un.org/ilc/texts/instruments/english/conventions/9_1_1961.pdf

[viii] Sir Earnest Satow, Guide to Diplomatic Practice

[ix] Christer Jönsson & Martin Hall, Communication: An Essential Aspect of Diplomacy, Department of Political Science, Lund University, Sweden.

[x] Stanko Nick, Use of language in diplomacy,  

(https://www.diplomacy.edu/resource/use-of-language-in-diplomacy/

 

[xi] Surendra Pokhrel, Diplomatic Language: An Analysis of Salutations from Speeches used in International Diplomacy, Journal of International Affairs.

xii Analysis of political and diplomatic language in linguistic, cognitive and pragmatic aspects, https://produccioncientificaluz.org › download

xiv Jiao Xue, Wenjing Zuo, Zhenjiang Watercraft College, Zhenjiang, China

www.academypublication.com/issues/past/tpls/vol03/12/16.pdf

xv IBID

xvi Analysis of political and diplomatic language in linguistic, cognitive and pragmatic aspects, https://produccioncientificaluz.or

[xiii] Aldo Matteucci, www.diplomacy.edu/resource/a-practitioners-view/

 

 

 

 

[xviii] Rana, Kishan S, Language, Signalling and Diplomacy, www.diplomacy.edu/resource/language-signaling-and-diplomacy/

://proje[xix] https cts.iq.harvard.edu/files/hks-communications-program/files/pp_sri_kulkarni_and_yotam_goren_4_10_17.pdf

[xxii] Bal Bahadur Kuwar, Very Important Terminologies in Diplomatic Usage, Principles and Strategies of Nepal’s Foreign Policy and protocol, Institute of Foreign Affairs in support from Friedrich Eber Sifting.