Sunday, November 07, 2010

Sir Ivor Roberts edits Satow's Diplomatic Practice

Sir Ivor Roberts, former Ambassador of UK to Italy, has recently edited a new edition of the famous book Satow's Diplomatic Practice. This book was first published 90 years ago and has been revised four times since. This is the first revised edition for thirty years, during which time the world and diplomacy have changed almost beyond recognition.

The new edition provides an enlarged and updated section on the history of diplomacy and revises comprehensively the practice of diplomacy and the corpus of diplomatic and international law since the end of the Cold War. It traces the substantial expansion in numbers both of sovereign states and international and regional organisations and features detailed chapters on diplomatic privileges and immunities, diplomatic missions and consular matters. It examines new forms of diplomacy from the work of NGOs to the use of secret envoys and commercial security firms; it furthermore highlights the impact of international terrorism on the life and work of a diplomat.

The Author
Born in 1946 in Liverpool, Ivor Roberts was educated at St. Mary's College, Crosby and at Keble College, Oxford. He graduated in Modern Languages in 1968 and took his MA in 1972. He entered the Diplomatic Service in 1968 as a Third Secretary in West African Department. His first postings included the Middle East Centre for Arab Studies in Lebanon, the Arabian Department of the FCO and the British Chancery in Luxembourg. He was transferred in January 1978 to Canberra as First Secretary in the British Chancery and returned to Canberra as Head of the Economic and Commercial Department and Agricultural Adviser until 1982. From 1989 to 1993 he was Minister in the British Embassy in Madrid. He was appointed Chargé d'Affaires and Consul - General in Belgrade in March 1994, and after recognition of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia by the United Kingdom, he became Ambassador. During his time in Belgrade he conducted negotiations on behalf of the international mediators (Lord Owen and Carl Bildt) with both the Yugoslav authorities and the Bosnian Serbs. He was also involved in the negotiations for the release of British soldiers held hostage by the Bosnian Serbs in May/June 1995. He left Belgrade at the end of 1997. From February 1999 to March 2003 he served as British Ambassador to the Republic of Ireland and from May 2003 to September 2006 as Ambassador to Italy and to San Marino. He retired from the Diplomatic Service in September 2006 on his election as the President of Trinity College РOxford University.

This classic guide to diplomacy has been stylishly updated and remains a masterly description of the way in which foreign policy should be conducted. It covers comprehensively the diplomatic challenges of a new century in the sort of prose that we must all hope will continue to be an attribute of the best Foreign Office officials. It is in all our interests that the exigencies of public spending control do not constrain the ability of diplomats in Britain and abroad to practise the arts so well surveyed here. (Chris Patten, Chancellor, University of Oxford; Former British Governor of Hong Kong )

Satow's Diplomatic Practice has been the diplomat's bible for nearly a century and the publication of the first new edition for thirty years will receive a much deserved welcome. This new edition of Satow is a treasure trove of information, all of it presented in a wonderfully readable form. It will be indispensable for all practitioners of diplomacy. (Judge Sir Christopher Greenwood )

Having clarity over the rules of the game, developing experience in separating duty from stupidity, finding the right words when the sword might be the alternative, are all part of the practice of diplomacy at its finest. This book is a treasure for illustrating what that is. (Jeremy Greenstock, The Times Literary Supplement. The full interesting article of Greenstock is available at

Sir Ivor Roberts, editor, SATOW’S DIPLOMATIC PRACTICE, 730pp. Oxford University Press. £110.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Herman Portocarero, Belgian Diplomat and Novelist - All Demons' Day

The book All Demons' Day by Herman Portocarero rich in historical facts, is filled with intrigue, adventure, and suspense. Its narrative concentrates on the adventures of Rey, a pirate that sets ashore in San Cristóbal de La Habana, finding it afire with raucous music, dancing, and drunkenness. A free soul between the worlds of land and sea, Rey gets caught up in the yearly African carnival of Epiphany-All Demons' Day to soon become hunted by pirates and locals across the whole island.

Herman Portocarero, All Demons' Day: The Havana Pirate Manuscript, IUniverse, Bloomington, 2008. 

Herman Portocarero is a Belgian diplomat born in Antwerp of Spanish ancestry, with a distinguish career within the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. After joining the diplomatic corps, he served first in Addis Ababa, then in Kingston and La Havana. Nowadays he is Consul General of Belgium in New York. In 1978 Herman Portocarero debuted in the French novel La Combine the Karachi. His Dutch debut, The Anagram of the World, appeared six years later. Of note the trilogy of novels New York Nights (2006), Jamaican Nights ( 2007), Haitian Nights (2008).

Marco Davi'

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A successful novelist: the Indian diplomat Vikas Swarup

Vikas Swarup is one of the most famous Indian diplomat-writers, very well known for his two novels "Q & A" and "Six Suspects".
His first novel Q&A (published in 2005) is particularly famous because the film version of the book, titled ‘Slumdog Millionaire’, directed by Danny Boyle, has won more than 70 awards including four Golden Globes and 8 Oscars, including Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture. The novel has also been adapted for a stage musical and a radio play.
The book "Q&A" (already translated in 42 languages) opens in a jail cell in Mumbai, India, where Ram Mohammad Thomas is being held after correctly answering all twelve questions on India's biggest quiz show, Who Will Win a Billion? It is hard to believe that a poor orphan who has never read a newspaper or gone to school could win such a contest. But through a series of exhilarating tales Ram explains to his lawyer how episodes in his life gave him the answer to each question. Ram takes us on an amazing review of his own history -- from the day he was found as a baby in the clothes donation box of a Delhi church to his employment by a faded Bollywood star to his adventure with a security-crazed Australian army colonel to his career as an overly creative tour guide at the Taj Mahal.
The second novel "Six supects" (2008) is a multi layered story about crime and corruption in modern day India and it is based on true life events. Vivek 'Vicky' Rai, the playboy son of Cabinet Minister is dead, killed at his farmhouse at a party he had thrown to celebrate his acquittal. Six guests are discovered with guns in their possession - and each one is equally likely to have pulled the trigger. Who are these six suspects? And what were they doing in the farmhouse that night?
Vikas Swarup was born in Allahabad (India) in a family of lawyers. After his schooling, Vikas attended Allahabad University and studied History, Psychology and Philosophy. After graduating with distinction, he joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1986, motivated by an interest in international relations and a desire to explore different cultures. In his diplomatic career, Vikas has been posted to various countries such as Turkey (1987-1990), the United States (1993-1997) Ethiopia (1997-2000), the United Kingdom (2000-2003) and South Africa (2006-2009). Since August 2009, he is the Consul General of India in Osaka-Kobe, Japan. He has written for TIME, The Guardian, The Telegraph (UK), Outlook magazine (India) and Liberation (France). Apart from reading, he enjoys listening to music and playing cricket, tennis and table tennis.
Personal website: