School of International Relations and Diplomacy Public Lecture

Riara University’s conference on diplomacy and International Relations set a spark that is bound to light up this country in the near future. Faculty, students and a host of ambassadors interacted in an informative 3 hour session that showcased the changing phases of International Relations from independence to the 21st century. The history lessons amalgamated with the political discourse which raised eyebrows, brought about bouts of laughter and sighs of disbelief. Of course Africa was at the fore front of most of the discussions and there was a call for action for the support of liberation in Africa. Pan Africanism was emphasized and the need for the appreciation and recognition of the state, at least by some intellectuals, was mentioned.

The Panel speakers were:
1. Mr. Daniel Gachukia (Chairman, Board of Trustees, Riara University),
2. Amb.Simon Nabukwesi (Director Foreign Service Institute),
3. Major General C.Tai Gituai (Joint Chief of Staff EASF),
4. Prof. Makumi Mwagiru (Professor of International Relations and Diplomacy),
5. Amb. P. Ogego Deputy Commandant (civil) National Defense College.

Accompanying guests were: Amb. D.Afande, Mr. B. Mayaka, Amb. B. Kisula, Amb. D. Simani, Brigadier J. Mweu and Amb. C. SriLanka. Also in attendance were students from the Technical University of Kenya.

Topics discussed included: Kenya’s Inaugural Diplomacy: A presentation of a long serving Diplomat’s experience, Kenya’s Foreign Policy in Changing Regional and Global Environment and Implications Of Military Engagement In Regional Conflicts.

The relevance of teaching international relations, the mode of teaching and the structure with respect to the globe today, was the focal point. Ambassador Simon Nabukwesi alongside envoys both past and present offered their insight and expertise. It is worth noting that, but for the usual social, economic and political circles of IR, the environment is also a crucial factor. Environmental diplomacy more so in Africa, where political boundaries were enforced in the 20th century, is indeed fundamental to achieving civility and understanding among neighboring nations.

International relations in the face of globalization need to foster an appreciation of different opinions, respect for sovereignty and peace keeping efforts. However, and most importantly international symbiosis is need for survival and an avoidance of dark events that marred the 20th century. Amb. Nabukwesi was quick to point out the essence of integrity and ethical practices in the face of international politics. Kenya’s stance to be non-aligned during the cold war, respect for other countries’ politics and peace keeping efforts are examples of how the country has remained firm on the policy aforementioned.

Involving young people in this conference has opened a vast avenue for further that allows for a second look at various issues including: democracy and its relevance to the young partitioned nations of Africa, at civil wars in Africa, at failed states and their crises, at refugees, at America and the unwavering power of the state among others. These are plethora of issues and subjects indeed that require modern day solutions to solve. These are solutions that can only be obtained through events like this one. It was almost like a caucus, whereby, everyone had something to contribute regardless of the background or their conformity.

The conference being the inaugural one was highly informative. The ambassadors were a good source of history, with the three regimes well represented. At the auditorium, faculty and students, in spite of their inquisitive nature, seemed satisfied with what they received in the few hours. Guests, including members of the public, were highly appreciative of the collaborative effort championed by the Riara University administration. The participants were lively and a lot was discussed- the vast nature of the theme meant that there was still more to be discussed. It was agreed that more conferences will be organized as the school seeks to further expand and become one of the best in the field of international relations and diplomacy in Africa.

The forum certainly ended on a high note- a promise that more public lectures will be organized. There was an aura of hope among the young students as they took a photo against the backdrop of a beautiful sunset. Perhaps Riara’s school of International Relations will actually be a beacon in this region, comparable to the glamorous Fletcher School in Boston.

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Author:
Job Ogutu, Business Executive, Nation Media Group
jogutu@ke.nationmedia.com
 

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