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Submitted by M Woolcock on
Thanks. I agree that there are inherent limitations to the metaphors (and categories) deployed in this piece. Still, I think you raise two separate issues, perhaps the most important of which -- for present purposes -- is whose interests we're acting on behalf of (since "diplomats" aren't free agents or neutral third parties). Perhaps mediators, negotiators or envoys is better... In any event, as Bank employees we're presumably paid to uphold the Bank's interests, but these may not always be consistent with the interests of marginalized groups, and yet most of us come to the Bank because we believe it provides an unrivalled platform on which to advance the causes of such groups. Doubtless at various points in our careers we'll find ourselves on multiple sides of the same issue. My general point here was simply that being an uncritical/unwitting cheerleader of modernity, or a well-intentioned technocrat committed to bringing "best-practice solutions" to bear on inherently vexed issues (such as governance and legal reform) is unlikely to have a happy ending. Its metaphorical limits notwithstanding, diplomats (in principle) seek constructive solutions that both sides can own and uphold; they are not overly discouraged by initial setbacks, even apparent failure; they take the other party seriously, seeking to discern not just its interests but its history and aspirations. It's the very possibility of equitable negotiation on these terms that is denied if we merely (but primarily) are rewarded for meeting global 'targets' or disseminating universal 'tool kits' that can be 'scaled up'.