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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Gambians Abroad (MoFA) in collaboration with UNDP ended a 3-day Training Workshop for the newly appointed diplomats and Foreign Service Officers from 12th – 14th September 2017.

The training availed the 66 participants the opportunity to interact and discuss foreign policy objectives and goals, multilateral diplomacy and media techniques, general protocol rules and etiquette, financial management of diplomatic missions, crisis management and mediation, trade promotion and investment opportunities in The Gambia, functions of a diplomatic mission and a roundtable discussion on Ecowas, AU, UN,EU and Senegambia among others.

Eminent Resource Persons presented papers on these subjects for the benefit of the participants. These included, particularly, former Gambian Ambassadors, Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Permanent Secretaries Ministry of Foreign Affairs namely: Mr Bolong Sonko, Dr Sedat Jobe, Mr Ebou Manneh, Mr Baboucar Blaise Jagne, Mr Ansumana Ceesay, Mr Sambou Gassama, Mr Darlol Tommy, Mr Habib Jarra as well as the Accountant General and GIEPA and Mr Abdoulie Touray of Sahel Investment.

In this context, the Hon Minister of Foreign Affairs highlighted the fact that the Training Session was unique as all the Resource Persons were our own citizens (Gambians) who had excelled academically and additionally had held highest offices in the Foreign Service of The Gambia, namely: Permanent Secretaries, Ambassadors and Ministers.

Significantly, many of them have also held equally important positions in major international organisations, including the United Nations, African Union, Ecowas and other regional and sub-regional bodies.

The Workshop was coordinated as in previous years by the Lead Consultant Ambassador Ebou Taal, assisted by professional staff of the Foreign Ministry ie Counsellor Mr Yankuba Ceesay, Counsellor Mr Nuha Manneh and Communications Officer Mr Saikou Ceesay.

Declaring the Training Workshop open, the Hon Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Gambians Abroad (MoFA), Hon Ousainou Darboe, congratulated the newly appointed Diplomats and Foreign Service Officers and also commended them for accepting the great mission and task that lie ahead of them.

Minister Darboe reminded participants that the principle aim of the Training Workshop was to create a platform where participants would learn, interact to share experiences, success stories and good practices.

In his statement, Minister Darboe gave a brief synopsis of the evolution of the Diplomatic Academy under whose aegis the workshop was organised and how it was conceptualised in 2002 with the aim to enhance the capacity of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and by extension the Public Service. He also recalled that the Ministry received strong and institutional support from the United Nations Institute for Training and Research(UNITAR) in the form of Resource Persons and materials.

He used the opportunity to thank the UNDP particularly the Resident Coordinator for the UN Systems in The Gambia, Ms Ade Mamonyane Lekoetje, for her support in securing funds for the Ministry to conduct the Training Workshop.

The Minister also emphasised that under the new dispensation it is imperative for the Ministry to put in place a permanent structure in an effort to have a fully-fledged Diplomatic Academy or Institute of International Relations to serve as a training facility especially for newly appointed Diplomats among others. The future Institution could conduct research, offer policy advice on issues of vital interest to the nation and could even have a regional vocation.

Representing the Secretary General and Head of the Civil Service, Mr Sesawo Ceesay, Permanent Secretary at the Office of the President, indicated that training Diplomatic Personnel and Foreign Service Officers is part and parcel of the ongoing reform process of the government, adding that their roles are important and relevant. He added that training is a critical factor for the Diplomats and Foreign Service Officers to become relevant in the present dynamic world characterised by globalisation .

Addressing participants during the opening ceremony, Ms Nessie Golakai, UNDP Representative, recalled that the recent transition in The Gambia has made it possible for the country to move from an autocratic regime to a dispensation that is based on democratic norms and values. She added that the role of Ambassadors and Diplomats in general is not only to ensure good relations with other nations and to promote and protect the political, social, cultural and economic interests of his or her country, remembering always that they are the face and image of their country.

She concluded by giving an assurance that UNDP was very pleased to be associated with this training for the next three days given their core mandate for capacity building.

The closing ceremony was officiated by the Permanent Secretary II, Ms Saffie Sankareh, who delivered the closing remarks.

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