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Learn Diplomacy at BIDTI


Diplomacy is often interpreted by most only in the conventional sense – the art of statecraft. To the common man: the sensitive world of well dressed, serious men and women discussing matters regarding politics, international agreements or something of a similar nature. The first image that comes to mind are the dark suited officials who shake hands with some political figure or speak at an international forum like the United Nations. It isn’t entirely a wrong image – but there’s more to it than that.

What most people don’t realize is that diplomacy is something we all employ on a daily basis. Humans, as the world’s most social creatures cannot avoid interactions with others. Regardless of whether it’s family, friends or complete strangers, we will interact. At home, school and work; or even on the road, we rely on diplomacy to bargain for a better outcome. Diplomacy is about being sensitive to the needs and expectations of another and acting with tact. It is about using one’s awareness to make decisions that provide favourable results. A well-reasoned explanation to a being late for work, thus avoiding a pay-cut, is diplomacy. Convincing the mother to allow you to spend a few hours outdoors with friends, in exchange for some chores, is diplomacy. Intervening in a lovers’ quarrel to settle the matter and bring peace to both parties, is diplomacy. It is probably the most well used but least identified skill in any social setting in today’s world.

My experience with BIDTI runs 6 years back. I had just left school and was expecting to commence my higher education in the field of medicine. Model United Nations had been one of my interests in school, and even though medicine ultimately became my career choice, I could not give up easily on being a diplomat – a problem solver, a negotiator, a solution provider. The Bandaranaike International Diplomatic Training Institute provided me with the opportunity to further my aspirations. It remains Sri Lanka’s premier diplomacy training institute, providing guidance and training for many local and foreign trainees since 1994.

Throughout my time there, initially as a school leaver and later a medical student, the atmosphere created at the BIDTI was itself a stimulus. The lectures were based on topics that were vital in understanding diplomacy – not only for utilization in understanding statecraft but also as a means of training oneself. Amidst lectures of world history, regional conflicts and the Sri Lankan legal system, we experienced first-hand how to face media interviews; learnt about personality development and even how to host the perfect dinner – down to laying out a menu and proper table etiquette. It isn’t just a series of lectures at the BIDTI, it is an experience. Engaging with eminent senior professionals, both local and foreign, who have years of experience in their disciplines, discussing and sharing their know-how in an optimized learning environment is what BIDTI provides.

As interesting the topics of conversation were, the connections made at BIDTI were truly special. People from various walks of life were touching shoulders regularly – students of multiple disciplines, diplomats in training, ministry officials, journalists, pilots, lawyers, doctors, career military personnel, various other government and private sector employees – the list goes on. Discussing and debating sensitive and relevant topics over coffee and being exposed to facades that we had no prior knowledge of, was a regular occurrence. We’ve passed put now, but some of those bonds initiated by BIDTI, last a very long time.

With the distinguished multidisciplinary panel of lecturers including multiple ambassadors, high commissioners and other dignitaries, the well suited and structured curriculum and an optimized teaching and learning experience provided by the highly trained staff; the increasing number of diploma and postgraduate diploma holders of Bandaranaike International Diplomatic Training Institute remain a testimony to the quality education it provides.


Isuru Anushka Perera

Recipient of the Sirimavo Bandaranaike Award and Distinction holder of the Diploma in Diplomacy & World Affairs (Batch XVIII)

This article originally appeared on the 'Sunday Observer' Newspaper, December 8 2019, page 47.  



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