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Foreign Policy Conference stimulates

The Otago University Annual Foreign Policy Seminar was held from June 24 to 26 at St Margaret’s College in Dunedin.

The theme of the three-day event, considered to be one of the most significant to foreign policy issues, was ‘Science Diplomacy: New Day or False Dawn?’

The importance of the Seminar was underscored by the participation of diplomats, academics, policy analysts, of officials of the Defense Ministry and Prime Minister’s Office and experts.

Dr Robert Patman, Director of Otago Foreign Policy School, which organised the event, said there was consensus among scientists and politicians on the principle of ‘Science Diplomacy.’

“There is a broad agreement, at least in the narrower sense, on the need to get more and better science into international negotiations. This is a desirable objective.

“There is less agreement, however, on how far the concept can or should be extended to embrace broader goals and objectives, in particular attempts to use science to achieve political or diplomatic goals at the international level,” he said.

Dr Patman said if international diplomacy was increasingly encompassing scientific issues, the central question was, “Does this mean we are moving towards a new type of diplomacy?”

Foreign Minister Murray McCully, US Ambassador David Huebner, Center for Science Diplomacy (US) Director Dr Vaughan Turekian, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (Japan) Associate Professor Dr Atsushi Sunami, University of Queensland Rhetoric & Science Communication Lecturer Dr Joan Leach, Newmont Waihi Gold External Affairs Manager Sefton Darby, Chinese Academy of Sciences (China) Professor Dr Ailikun, CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science Square Kilometre Array Director (Australia) Professor Brian Boyle and University of Otago Marine Science Department Head Professor Gary Wilson were among the speakers.

Established in 1966, the Otago Foreign Policy School has grown to become one of the most prominent Foreign Policy events in the Australasian region.

This year’s Conference evinced wider interest with New Zealand negotiating issues ranging from world trade to climate change.

Editor’s Note: Although based in Delhi, our Correspondent Balaji Chandramohan, a Journalism graduate from Waikato University, closely follows events in New Zealand and comments on them.

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