IFA organized a meeting with ex-Executive Directors of IFA on May 8, 2012 at IFA meeting room with the objectives of sharing their experiences while with IFA; their views on ways and means to enhance IFA activities and providing feedback on tentative work plan of IFA.
Executive Director welcomed all the participants and expressed appreciation for their presence and their willingness to share their experience at IFA and for their suggestions to enhance the activities of IFA in the days to come. He also requested to provide their candid comments; suggestions on the action plan of IFA to be presented by the ED. ED presented the draft action plan of IFA.
Gist of the issues discussed and suggestions put forth on the meeting objectives are as follows:
- It seems ED’s half time is going to be spent on administration as he is engrossed on approval of niyamabali, hiring staff etc. But he must go ahead with his programme activities parallelly.
- On the possibilities of establishing Institute of Strategic Study (ISS) as part of IFA, it was stressed that it needed full commitment from the government. Including ISS within IFA seems good idea. However, precaution must be taken that IFA may be swamped with agenda of ISS and lose its primary objectives.
- Publishing journal by IFA is very good idea. But it requires experts and time and resources. In the mean time, there are many journals that are being published in Nepal that include international relations, diplomacy and security etc.
- IFA has flexibility and can trap the donors, more permanent ones, such as FES, Conrad Eisenhower Foundation etc.
- The present board must include some members who are real expert and working in Foreign Relations.
- The board must contribute IFA by supporting the ED to achieve its objectives.
- Background of IFA must be checked as to what objectives were set up earlier including those in the report of High Level Task Force set up in 1998.
- Foreign Secretary should be the contact person for IFA. With good relation with Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) IFA can work effectively otherwise it cannot. MOFA must trust and own IFA, which in turn must be worth it. IFA must convince Foreign Minister to play active role. Relationship with Foreign Secretary must be very cordial as s/he is very important and must be supportive to IFA as Ministers are political and may be in and out frequently.
- IFA must reach out to obtain the support of concerned agencies including MOFA.
- IFA can bring experts even from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh for which each embassy will support their travel and logistics.
- Training on languages such as Arabic, Chinese etc. must also include their culture, tradition etc.
- Meet Rt. Hon. PM along with Ex-officio member of the board from Parliamentary Committee on International Relation and Human Rights to discuss and convince on expanding IFA to include ISS.
- IFA has one problem that the outsiders such as donors and partners feel IFA is part of MOFA and has enough resources. Whereas, MOFA feels IFA is not the part of MOFA and should work more independently.
- Training is and must be the main component of IFA. IFA should focus on training at all levels of the MOFA staff.
- Continue with the work of the past and such as small group discussions etc.
- It was felt that IFA has not progressed and it seems at the same position since 1998.
- Dependency of MOFA and the government on IFA must increase once the training it imparts carries marks for the promotion of the MOFA staff.
- Training of MOFA staff at various levels and interested outsiders can be done on continuous basis on different languages (Chinese, Arab, Malaysian etc.) besides on diplomacy and foreign relations.
- FES is dependable partner.
- Publication be of high quality and be sold.
- IFA budget is too low and must be allocated more. Mean time IFA can implement programs jointly with other institutes and organizations.
- Find out whether as per financial regulation IFA can participate in bidding of the requests for proposal from donors etc.
- IFA board must include one of the former IFA EDs to make it more effective.
- ED must have red passport to have recognizable position with other countries as ED is at par with the secretary level. Embassies can be of great support to IFA’s growth. Some embassies in the past were approached and which in turn were positive in contributing on IFA development. IFA needs to follow up.
- IFA has one strength that it is with MOFA and it is recognized and felt outside.
- Update list of experts on various related fields including national and regional. Business community be involved in IFA activities.
At the end ED expressed his gratefulness for the candid and useful comments on the action plan and their overall suggestions for IFA to follow.