The Pact’s concerns about professionalizing diplomacy


News Team

David Racero is a promoter of a project that aims to professionalize the diplomatic career in Colombia. The project seeks to change the way ambassadors and consuls are appointed, with a focus on merit rather than political appointments. Currently, 80% of appointments are made on a discretionary basis, while only 20% are based on merit. The new legislative proposal aims to reverse this ratio, making 80% of appointments based on merit and only 20% on discretionary basis.

The goal of the project is to ensure that appointments to high positions in the foreign service are based on merit and experience rather than political favors. This is seen as a necessary step to improve the efficiency and preparedness of Colombia’s representation in the international arena.

The project has received support from both members of the government coalition and the opposition, indicating a broad consensus on the need for professionalization of the diplomatic career. However, there are concerns about the effectiveness of the bill due to the lack of political will. The Union of Diplomatic and Consular Career Officials (Unidiplo) has expressed concerns about the bill’s technical flaws and the potential for it to strengthen provisional appointments rather than career diplomats.

One of the key points of contention is the use of the term ‘trust’ in the project, which has raised concerns about introducing subjectivity in the selection process. There are also concerns about the possible creation of two separate competitions for career and provisional diplomats, which could undermine the principle of merit.

Despite these concerns, the project aims to prioritize merit over other factors in the assignment of positions. It also seeks to reduce the number of provisional appointments in order to privilege officials with experience in public administration.

The debate around the project reflects the current challenges in strengthening a career system that values experience without sacrificing transparency and fair competition. The resolution of these issues will be key to the consolidation of a public administration based on meritocracy and professionalization.

In the context of this reform, there are proposals to demand minimum requirements for provisional ambassadors, including being professional, having Colombian citizenship, and command of a second language. However, there are differing opinions on whether these conditions are sufficient, with some arguing for the need for 25 years of experience in foreign policy, similar to those required for career ambassadors.

The project still faces three debates in the House of Representatives for its definition and possible adjustment. The discussion focuses on the difference between provisional and career ambassadors, emphasizing the importance of merit and professionalization. The participation of Unidiplo in this process is seen as crucial in ensuring that political interests do not predominate in the final decisions.

Overall, the project represents a significant step towards professionalizing the diplomatic career in Colombia and ensuring that appointments are based on merit and experience. The outcome of the legislative phases will determine the future of Colombian diplomacy and the direction of the country’s representation in the international arena.

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