Managing Diplomacy: Julian Assange

This morning I had planned to continue my ‘Health Systems…’ series by looking at healthcare in Ecuador. Then a moment of rebellion struck me. Call it a thought rebellion but I thought,  “You know what, let’s spice things up a little today!”.

So instead of discussing healthcare I’m going to discuss the pitfalls of management strategy when it comes to international diplomacy. It just so happens that I have a wonderful piece of political soap opera going on on my doorstep here in London.

For those of you unaware of the situation (where have you been?!), Mr Assange, the chief proprietor and star of Wikileaks is wanted in Sweden for questioning in regards to alleged crimes of a sexual nature. At the same time he’s wanted in the United States for alleged crimes related to Wikileaks. Mr Assange has been in an ongoing battle against being extradited from the UK to Sweden for fear that he will then extradited to the States where he may face the death penalty.

Straight forward eh? Well it got even more interesting two months ago.

Following, exhausting all his legal appeal options in court he sought asylum in the two room, share office space that is the Ecudorian embassy.

Today, he was granted asylum.

President Correa. Mr Assange’s New BFF

William Hague, the British foreign minister quickly made a forthright declaration that Assange would not be given safe passage out of the United Kingom. There were even stirrings that the the British government has threatened to storm the embassy after possibly enacting a rare law that would waive the embassy’s diplomatic status (Diplmatic and Consular Premises Act 1987).

Clearly, the foreign office, its strategists and the minister’s advisors are working overtime to find a solution. Some have suggested that this is a debate about whether we value the relationship with Sweden or Ecuador more. Some say that it’s obviously Sweden, others suggest the burgeoning growth of Latin America would make Ecuador the obvious option as it represents a much wider set of relations.

There’s then the threat of precarious effect.

Storm the Ecuadorian embassy and what will that mean for the sovereignty of British embassies around the globe? I mean they are certainly not a world power and the last thing I can imagine they want is to be in the bad books of the UK let alone the US of A. However, they may stand for a genuine fear of human rights and ethics or Mr Assange, who knows?

Options that have been put out there include making Assange a member of staff to grant him immunity (not legally viable) or even to dispatch him in a diplomatic bag or case to Ecuador (breaching the Vienna Convention).

Get ready to be raided.

Then there’s Sweden, a nation which is considered neutral and a beacon of democracy and justice as far as stereotypes go. This quadrumvirate of nations faces an unprecedented battle that scales the heights of strategic chess playing which may eventually end up in the International Courts of Justice.

Regardless, the ramifications could ripple for years to come. That is unless Mr Assange does indeed give his planned speech ‘outside’ the  embassy this Sunday in which case he will be arrested instantly for breaching bail. Maybe he’s planning to become some kind of political martyr?

Who knows? I certainly don’t have the answer but I can’t wait to see how this all turns out.

What would be your strategy? Have Your Say, [RE] Tweet me @Saif_Abed

Dr Saif F Abed
Founding Partner
AbedGraham Healthcare Strategies Ltd




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