Science diplomacy – new mode of foreign policy in the 21st century

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HISTORICALLY, foreign policy can be assumed to have emerged when contacts between the earliest human societies took place. It refers to the actions sovereign states take towards each other. It is significant to note that these actions generally are not taken as ends in themselves but are joined in some way to larger principle from long run aspirations to more immediate aims that national leaders hope to achieve in their dealings with other countries.

Sometimes the two terms, foreign policy and diplomacy create confusion. The most appropriate way to distinguish between the two terms is to consider foreign policy as the legislative and diplomacy as the executive phase of the foreign relations of a country. It is believed, foreign policy is an extension of internal or domestic policy and is planned to defend and promote national interests of whom domestic policy is a fundamental part. Often domestic policies have to be made deferential to foreign policy for the reason that without success in foreign policy, there would be no domestic policy left to pursue.

Globally, science and technology is playing a critical role in international affairs, largely through its contribution to technological supremacy. In the well networked world of today, science and technology can play an innovative and positive role in foreign policy issue since SandT serves as a common language and a link amongst peoples when they strive to address both the technical and technological disparities of the 21st century.

Science and technology are judged by many developed and developing countries to be of essential importance to their national development, not only in terms of intellectual achievement, but also, as an economic driving force. Ultimately, this is reflected in the mounting importance of “Science Diplomacy,” i.e. the building and management of international relations based on science, higher education, and technology. Scientifically developed countries have been active in this arena for decades, now developing like Pakistan are also expressing greater interest in implementing science diplomacy. According to Vaughan C. Turekian (Editor-in-chief of Science and Diplomacy), nations are looking to science to achieve some or all of the three Es of science diplomacy:

a) Expressing national power or influence,

b) Equipping decision makers with information to support policy

c) Enhancing bilateral and multilateral relations.

It is necessary to recognize that science diplomacy is not new concept, but factually it has never been given due attention by policy makers in developing countries. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the Royal Society noted that science diplomacy refers to three main types of activities.

1) “Science in diplomacy” – Science can provide advice to inform and support foreign policy objectives,

2) “Science for diplomacy” – Scientific cooperation can improve international relations, and,

3) “Diplomacy for science” – Diplomacy can facilitate international scientific cooperation.

It is whispered that Pakistans foreign policy is always branded as policy of self-abnegation. It is also blamed that external factors predominantly USA play a central role in the shaping of foreign policy of Pakistan. Paul Kennedy, a famous British historian at Yale University, in an essay “Pivotal States and U.S. Strategy”, named Pakistan as one of the nine pivotal states whose future evolution would not only determine the fate of their region, but also, affect international stability. It is significant to note here that upright relations with neighboring countries are important for any country and are measured as strategic policy in international arena. Across the world, foreign policy of every country rotates around two main axles; the first is having good relations with the neighbor countries and the second one is establishment of cordial ties with those who can help the country meet its national interests.

In the region Asia as a whole, and particularly South Asia, Pakistan is most suitably situated in terms of geopolitical, geostrategic and geo-economic parameters. Thus, science diplomacy can contribute a lot to the establishment of reliable relations to South Asian and Central Asian states for the socioeconomic and technological supremacy of Pakistan. In the modern period of swiftly globalizing world, Pakistans foreign policy considerably needs a fresh look. The development and execution of foreign policy based on science and technology i.e. “Science Diplomacy” must be most important concern for not only the government but also other institutes that contribute key role in the formation of foreign policy of land of Pakistan.


Published in: Volume 06 Issue 15

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