Evidence, persuasion and power: Diplomats in international organisations

Did you know that each of the OECD’s 35 member countries is represented by a mission with full diplomatic status? The size of these OECD delegations varies by country size, but each one has a permanent representative at ambassadorial level, including this author. Together we make up the OECD Council that oversees the work programme set by member countries for the organisation. But our role goes beyond mere representation.

The OECD’s experts–those discreet international civil servants who produce data, analysis and insights in great volumes, not to mention guidelines and recommendations on a broad range of government concerns–have an important influence on designing, implementing and monitoring public policies, from the global economy, jobs and tax to education, the environment and public governance. Our inputs affect states, corporations and other national, regional and transnational actors.

It should therefore be no surprise that member countries wish to be as involved as possible in influencing the design and likely outcomes of such proposed policies, and they strive to achieve this through their ambassadorial missions. In representing member countries, unlike business and labour stakeholders, we diplomats have the privilege of exerting our influence from within. Still, we must compete for influence, for instance, to maximise the benefits of a proposed reform and minimise the costs, while co-operating in such a way as to preserve the organisation’s independence and quality as a precondition to effectively address common problems.

The full article was published in: ©OECD Observer No 311 Q3 (November) 2017

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