Report on the 1st Executive Seminar on the Impact of Geopolitical Developments on Global Economy and Security by James Brandon (Ireland)

At a time of overlapping and seemingly endless crises, the simple act of sitting down in a room together and seeing people, rather than just policies, can be utterly invaluable. This was certainly the case for the 1st Executive Seminar on the Impact of Geopolitical Developments on Global Economy and Security, as eighteen diplomats from around the world descended on a wintery Berlin to discuss some of the most pressing issues of today.


The challenges facing the world are both complex and multifaceted; something that was reflected in the broad programme for this seminar. From the Middle East and China to Climate Security and the Law of the Sea, with time even found for a study visit to Hamburg, no stone was left unturned as we took stock of the myriad of challenges confronting all of us today. Having eighteen countries from five continents represented in the room for each topic ensured for a fascinating confluence of opinions and positions, and meant that every moment was a learning experience, with new perspectives being offered at every opportunity.


During this period, we had the privilege of being in Berlin for the 9th of November, a day which uniquely delves into the complexities of history; which commemorates the good alongside the bad; and which invites all involved to reflect honestly about their pasts, ensuring they serve as lessons for the future, rather than blueprints for repetition. Three decades on from Fukuyama’s provocative declaration of the ‘End of History’, the opposite appears to be true, as the constant and prevailing influence of history today remains undeniable. So too is the fact that no two histories are the same, and that history affects each person, culture and country in different ways. In such an environment, finding time to sit down with others and get to know them, their cultures, and their histories, can make a world of difference when confronting common challenges together.


As Diplomats, we understand well the value of words; but this understanding can often lead to overreliance, as we assume that words alone will be sufficient. In the spirit of ‘taten sagen mehr als worte’, this seminar necessitated taking the major action of physically coming together from all corners of the world – an act which holds so much more power than any of the subsequent words we spoke together.


The sense of connection with each participant, and with our German hosts, that this act created will outlive the memory of every word used during the three weeks. This, I believe, is the true value of such a seminar. The sense of intangible connection between each participant and with our hosts, now that it exists, will not easily be forgotten. Taking part in this seminar was an honour and a privilege; the lessons learned and friendships made are ones I will carry with me for the rest of my life.