Foreign Diplomat Teaches Students about Conflict Resolution

October 20, 2014

At the October “Consular Connect” event, Kennesaw State University students gained valuable insight into how foreign diplomats help resolve crises around the world.

Hosted by the University’s Division of Global Affairs, the event featured British Consul General Jeremy Pilmore-Bedford speaking to a classroom of students about the UK’s conflict prevention and response efforts. Pilmore-Bedford is the second consul general to visit the campus as part of Kennesaw State’s “Consular Connect” initiative, which invites members of the consular corps to speak with students, faculty, and staff.

His lecture, titled “Working Toward Peace,” focused on the ongoing international crises in Somalia and the Ukraine.

He described how Somalia has been an “ungoverned space” for the past 25 years following its 1991 civil war, and how the UK government has taken the lead in reconstruction efforts. During the last three years, the UK has provided training and funding to African Union Force soldiers, hosted international conferences to support the establishment of a strong central Somali government, and combated piracy off the Somali coast. Last year, the UK became the first nation in 25 years to open a foreign embassy in Somalia.

Pilmore-Bedford also discussed the UK’s role in helping defend the Ukraine against a potential Russian occupation. The UK pushed for maximum sanctions against Russia and worked with its European neighbors to pump $20 billion into the Ukrainian economy.

The key theme Pilmore-Bedford wanted the students to take away was that there is no one way to resolve a crisis. Resolution can come from diplomacy, economic sanctions, or, when necessary, military action. “Even medium-sized countries like the UK can make an impact on a conflict,” he said. “Different conflicts need different responses.”

Following the lecture, the consul general fielded student questions about a variety of topics, including the Scottish bid for independence and the growing hostilities in Iraq. The Q&A session gave students a rare opportunity to learn about international affairs directly from a key player.

The event ended with a public reception, where Pilmore-Bedford encouraged students to apply for the prestigious Marshall Scholarship, which pays for American students to study in the UK. Pilmore-Bedford is on the committee that reviews applicants from the southeastern United States.

“It’s a great privilege to interview such a wide array of young people,” he said. “I’m looking forward to interviewing students from this university.”

-Patrick Harbin