What I learned: International Diplomacy Forum (Part 1)

William Lam_Profile

Written by William Lam, UTS Bachelor of Health Science student

To work towards the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, Humanitarians Affairs Asia invited young leaders from around the world to visit the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok. This event was a 3-day intensive training in diplomacy, leadership and policy development.

William was invited to travel to Bangkok and participate. In this first blog, he shares some of the lessons he learned with us.


As a health student, I felt that this forum was a great opportunity to learn about the diplomatic collaboration of different international stakeholders and countries in the processes of policy negotiation, implementation and representation. When effective, these can lead to the introduction of a national health program in one country or an international effort to stop disease outbreaks.

Here are some of the key lessons I learned during the trip

I believe these are applicable in all sectors in health care:

  1. Social media and digital communication are the most powerful tools that an institution or organisation can own. Managing the chosen channels well can create leverage for long-term successful programs and events.
  2. Empathy and respect are fundamental when dealing with any stakeholders in the global context. Sometimes, cross-cultural understanding is more important than the missions.
  3. It is always challenging for government at any level to deal with ethical tension in public governance when introducing a new policy. At the federal and international level, it is more important to not hurt the economy and to not raise the risks of terrorism with any political tension, as it could significantly impact millions of lives in the long-term.
  4. “Who are you? What do you believe in? What do you represent? Whom do you represent?” These are the questions that a diplomat should be able to answer.
  5. Choosing the right media channel can build trust and strengthen relationships between governments and civil society. However, not having a media channel can cause a lack of engagement with the community by the government.

Health is a highly political industry. Understanding diplomacy and the role of a diplomat will be a valuable asset for young people like us when going forward in this space.

There are three important traits of a diplomat:

  1. Be able to understand his/her country: A good diplomat should be able to rationally describe the honest truth about the country he/she is living in and representing.
  2. Be a “salesperson”: A diplomat should be able to market his/her country as the best in the world
  3. Have the ability to solve problems: A diplomat should be able to assess problems  that exist and find solutions based on his/her profession and field of expertise.

In Part 2, I will share a framework of using technology for managing public information, the role of United Nations and their focus on youth development.

Watch the full highlights of the International Diplomacy Forum

Find out more about Health Science at UTS

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