A conversation with Umberto Vattani

In this volatile and difficult world full of technology, it is increasingly complex having a proper dialogue; it is easier chatting on social media with a text instead of real words. Interpersonal relationships are changing and so international challenges can be fought with new instruments. In this context, a particular field that in changing its way of performing is diplomacy.

Umberto_Vattani_1Mr. Umberto Vattani was born in Skopje in 1938. He studied in different parts of the world and then he obtained a degree in law at La Sapienza University of Rome. He has worked as Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; he was also the last president of the National Institute for Foreign Trade. He is an Italian diplomat and his first experiences brought him to New York City, Paris and London.

The work of diplomats lives in parallel with the developments of society: the effects on diplomacy and how it performs its main objectives is the result of the dynamic way of proceeding in a crowded world.

A tangible proof of this “new era” of diplomacy is how the news are spreading during COVID 19: the international relations among countries, (European Union, China and United States are the biggest examples) need faster responses and quicker actions; this is not to say that this new way of action is more effective than the traditional one.

This new era is represented by a multilateral diplomacy: in complex frameworks there are different perspectives that need to be taken into account, especially if we have to deal with more than one State and their internal dialogues; The traditional bilateral feature is no longer useful.

In the past, Italian diplomacy played an important role in various occasions but these days new relations are opening a new dimension. The turning point was the mission of NATO to create a special committee to discuss issue of terrorism with Russians.

Today, dealing with new big goals, such as mitigate climate change, ending poverty, advancing Human Rights, developments of third world countries, represent a new series of challenges for diplomats. In a global community these topics require an answer and adoption from everyone; a creative approach is the most important instrument to carry out “fresh air” for the diplomatic field.

Innovative ideas don’t come out only from foreign governments or the ministry : they come out also from students, workers and universities which have a complete view on world.

We must recognize that NGOs, business leaders, people of the press, can contribute to solve problems, how can we develop clean energy is a clear example or prevent that diseases continue to create chaos around the world.

Mr. Umberto Vattani posed some interesting questions to GG students:

“What has changed the most? What really matters in this new century ? “

Invent, create, innovate and fail are human abilities that are everywhere in every profession.

The new goal for diplomats concern finding out some ways to unleash the new power of human resources.

During his period in international affairs, he has met lot of people: he had some interesting discussions with artists, ambassadors, diplomats and students. Everyone has offered a key instrument to find answers and solutions for problems.

“How can we better connect with innovative people to make this world healthier and wiser?”

After a long discussion, Mr. Vattani admitted that passion and energy of students are relevant parts of new diplomacy; the traditional one was mostly related to peace management, crisis, conflict management.

Concerning the past euphoria of the first years of Europe, has changed: Europe is living a difficult period of life. It can be seen as a failure of diplomacy due to the lack of dialogue. In the opinion of the famous diplomat, starting from the bottom, a serious preparation to fight against the virus could be elaborated due to the past experience with diseases: Ebola and SARS. But, even if a proper preparation could be held, the doubt is:

“How to make sure the proposal will reach decision makers to the top?”

After a long discussion, Mr. Vattani affirmed that the main goal of diplomacy is creating trust; Without it human relations are not realizable.

“How create it?” The use of new social media, more and more used by diplomats, on one side may have the ability of engaging public on different problems. But when it comes on negotiation, communication is lacking. Trust requires long-term relationships.

In the end, our special guest, has offered an advice to future diplomats:

“The voice of Italy needs to be heard across the world. there is an immense area to work from different perspectives; multilateral diplomacy is just the beginning. New opportunities need to be created and with your energy and passion; don’t be afraid about the world. It could become a better place thanks to dialogue and positive communication. “




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