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My two-month internship in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation was a worthwhile experience as it helped me gain considerable and Professional knowledge about the way Moroccan diplomacy is exercised by carrying out different ministerial tasks and witnessing the way work is done in the ministry from translating documents to writing reports. My interest in International Studies and Political Science as an area of study goes back to my high school when I was keen on studying Philosophy, History and Geography. Although when I went to university I picked English Studies as my major, my growing interest in International Relations was reawaken after my three years of taking English Studies at Hassan II University, when I went to study Political Science at Beloit College under the PLUS Scholarship. The internship that I took in the ministry corresponds to my carrier interests and school major; it was also an opportunity to compare my experience as an intern at the Office of Tammy Baldwin in Beloit, Wisconsin that dated back to 2008 with my current internship in the ministry. My internship report is divided into four main sections; the first one is concerned with giving brief information about the ministry and its missions, the second one is concerned with duties and tasks that I was assigned to do in my internships, the third one is devoted to the knowledge and experience that I learned and finally the fourth section includes my critical assessment of my internship in the ministry by identifying the things that I want to change if I am to work in the ministry and comparing it to my previous internship in the USA.
The Ministry Of Foreign Affairs
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation is one of the four ministries in Morocco in which the ministers are directly appointed by the king. It is concerned with the foreign policy of Morocco and managing its diplomatic relations with foreign countries and non-state actors like the UN. The current Foreign Minister is Mr. Taieb Fassi Fihri and his secretary general is Mrs. Latfia Akherbash.
The ministry undertakes various operations that can be summarized into six missions: The first one is to drive the diplomatic action of Morocco by representing its interest at the international level, insuring the development of international cooperation and coordinating the foreign relations of Morocco. The second point is to serve as the official representative of the monarchy in front of foreign countries and international and regional organizations, therefore any communication or agreement between a foreign country and Morocco must first go through the ministry before reaching its direct destination in the kingdom. The third mission is to be involved in the preparations of conferences and meetings at the international level and represents the monarchy in those manifestations. The fourth missions are to conduct negotiations of agreements, conventions and treaties that have political and diplomatic character and to coordinate the economical, political and social engagements of Morocco. Moreover, with the exception of treaties, the ministry has the power to renew or reject any argument if it is deemed to not be in the interest of the kingdom. The fifth mission is to afford the protection of the rights of Moroccans living abroad and foreign citizens taking refugee in the monarchy, in addition to that the ministry also coordinates the activities of the public services situated outside of the country. Finally the ministry has the responsibility to inform regularly the government about the status of Morocco's foreign relations.
As far as the structure of the ministry is concerned, it is divided into two main sections: the direction of bilateral relations and the direction of Multilateral relations and global cooperation, the former directions is further divided into five divisions according to geographical locations such as Arab and Islamic Affairs Division , African Affairs Division, and American Affairs Division….while the second direction is concerned with Morocco's relations with non-state actors, international organizations and multilateral cooperation. This direction contains many sub-directions like Protocol, Cultural and Scientific Cooperation Direction…My assigned department was the American Affairs Division which is divided into two main services: Political Affairs Service and Bilateral Cooperation Service, I was assigned to the Political Affairs Service practically in the American and Caribbean section. The way the American continent is divided in the ministry is based on linguistic rather geographic criteria, where Central and South America speak Spanish and Portuguese while in North America and the Caribbean it is English that dominates as the official language. As a result, two sections exist within the department of American Affairs one concerned with the region of Northern America and the Caribbean and the other concerned with Central and South America. The Political Affairs Service is mostly involved in the political and diplomatic aspects of Morocco's foreign policy in harmony with its relations with the American continent. it was interesting to notice the that Morocco before starting or renewing any relation with a country a huge emphasis is put on the Sahara issue which represent the national cause number one in the ministry. The main tasks of the direction are the diplomatic and political negotiations of bilateral accords and the coordination of the exterior engagements that can be economic, commercial or social.
The Tasks That I Accomplished In The Ministry Of Foreign Affairs And Cooperation
Mr. Abderrahim Errehali, who is responsible for the political affairs of the Americas, was my supervisor who introduced me to the personnel that work in the division, the most prominent characteristics that I noticed in the American Affairs division is the hierarchical structure that the ministry follows where the director of the American division, Mr. Fouad Yazourh, is at the head of the department followed by chief of the Political Affairs Division, who is my supervisor, and with an equal status is Mrs. Farida Loudaya Who is the chief of the Bilateral Cooperation Service, then followed by Mr. Mostafa Rezzouk. And finally the hierarchy ends with the personnel and the secretaries.
The main tasks that I was assigned to do in my internship tend to fall on clerical duties that vary from translating documents to writing reports. One of the most frequent tasks that I was asked to do during my internship in the ministry was to translate documents mainly from English to Arabic or to French and vice versa, the task is of an immense importance to the ministry especially within my department, Since the monarchy has special relations with the US and it is crucial to make its points of view understood in America and vice versa. The documents that I was assigned to render, include official correspondence with various embassies of Northern America and Caribbean countries, conferences reports and the framework of future conferences... The translation was a rewarding experience because it did not only make me sharpen my English vocabulary but also my French and Arabic ones, especially in the domain of diplomacy. the internship was also an opportunity to have an experience in making formal translations by paying attention to the salutations and giving each political figure his own respect, a point which has to do with cultural difference between Arabic, French and English that must be carefully considered to avoid any misinterpretations and fatal errors .
One of the most frequent tasks that I was assigned to undertake are conducting research and summarizing official documents and reports, the research process was an enriching activity as it was an opportunity me to learn much information about issues that demand thorough understanding in the ministry. I made research about various subjects like the speech that Obama delivered in Cairo in June 4, 2009, the economic crisis and its effects on governance and the new American ambassador Mr. Samuel L. Kaplan in Rabat…
It is also very important to be aware and have a critical analysis of the international events that does only have to do with Morocco but also with different countries in the world. For instance, in my department the expulsion of two Canadian diplomats by Russia in and its aftermath was an important event to write a report about and impart it to the director. hence, One of the tasks that are crucial in the ministry is to be updated of any report or article that mention Morocco, mainly from the American think tanks, and during my stay I was asked to prepare summaries about the main points mentioned about the kingdom in the human trafficking report published by the UN, the Economic Freedom Index published by the Heritage Foundation and also about two reports that appeared in the International Crisis Group website: one about the issue of Sahara and the other about the issue of Algerian armament.
Furthermore, I was also asked to write congratulatory letters to congratulate particular countries for the celebration of their national days, my colleague in the office introduced me to the way congratulatory letters are written and I drafted three congratulatory letters for Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and Saint Kitties. He also showed me other kinds of letters that are usually drafted in the ministry: like a letter to congratulate a particular country upon such events as winning elections or to express condolences for a sad event.
In the second half of my internship I asked my supervisor if I can work on a project or an issue that is related to the American Department and he assigned me to do some research about the Free Trade Agreement between Morocco and the USA. In order to get access to the archives my supervisor introduced me to Mrs. Houda Zemmouri, the person responsible for the FTA agreement in the department, who provided me with access to the archives and showed me the summaries of the seminar “Maximizing Trade with the United States” that was held in Casablanca in 9 and 10 June, 2009. Mrs. Zemmouri advised me to make a general research about the FTA while paying attention to the current performance of the Moroccan economy and contrast it with similar Middle Eastern countries that signed free trade agreements with the USA, particularly Egypt and Jordan. The aim of utilizing comparison is to find Morocco's strong and weak points and culminating it by drawing recommendations in respect of the comparison results so that Morocco would efficiently benefit from the agreement. As far as my research methods are concerned, I relied on the documents from the archives that were provided to me by Mrs. Huda Zemmouri who was very accommodating and ready to lend a hand, I also relied on the internet, mainly the website of the FTA that provided the agreement's articles online. In addition to that, the websites of the Moroccan newspapers such as La Vie Economique and L`Economist, were very useful. I began my research by giving a historical perspective of the US-Moroccan relation that dated back to 1978, when Morocco was the first country to recognize the independence of the United States, a fact that was mentioned by President Obama in his Cairo speech. Then I talked about the implementation of the FTA, its rules and how they are meet and my last part was devoted to contrast the performance of Morocco with the ones of Egypt and Jordan upon their signature of Free Trade Agreements and based on the comparison I made a conclusion by stating the importance of the FTA for both Morocco to make its economy more competitive and for the USA to take advantage of what Morocco offers and make an example to lead the MAFTA that is schedule to start in 2012. In the end, I presented my finished work to my supervisor who took a look at it and ask me to make some alteration to the final version.
The Knowledge I Obtained From My Internship
It was very interesting to notice the use of language in the ministry, although the official language in Morocco is Arabic, the language that is still frequently used in the office is French with some differences from one department to another, and what I have noticed is that whenever a letter from the US embassy is sent to the ministry that is concerned with the parliament or the place it is very important to follow the formal correspondence with Arabic equivalent. However, when the letter is directed to some other ministries, like Ministry of Finance, it is very important that a French translation must accompany the letter while the use of Arabic is rare, a thing that I also noticed when I was delving in the archives of the FTA between Morocco and USA where I seldom come across an Arabic document whereas there was a plethora of French files.
When I was working on the project I noticed the way conference summaries were executed, mostly in French, with the first page being dedicated to the headings (subject, date...) and the center is a summary of the main points that were discussed in the conference while the last page includes the names of the participants and their titles, phones and emails. Working on the project was very valuable because it made research an issue of utmost importance to Morocco and gain knowledge in it. For instance, the project added to my learning that the FTA was signed in 2004 but did enter into force until 2006 due to the issue of Morocco's concern about its economy and society to meet some US standards that are delicate to the kingdom, mainly the copyrights laws (TRIPS) and the consequences of the inflow of US agricultural products on Morocco's economy such as wheat and meeting the WHO SPSS requirements. It is interesting to notice that Morocco is the fourth country to sign an agreement with the US, upon the initiation of the FTA with the USA the volume of bilateral trade exchange between the two countries experienced an increase. The targeted industries in Morocco are textile, leather and agriculture. Furthermore, Morocco signed many free trade agreements countries with 54 countries.
In my comparison I noticed that Morocco compared to Jordan and Egypt has higher labor cost in addition to its reliance on European countries to buy fiber in contrast with the geographic proximity of Egypt and Jordan to cheap fiber suppliers such as: India an Turkey.
I learned a lot of information by reading various reports that are published by different US think tanks like World Heritage and International Crisis
The issue of Sahara is vital to Morocco's foreign policy as it the national cause number one that the morocco is working to solve through diplomatic means by persuading countries to not recognize RASD or to suspend their recognition for countries that already have relation with Polisario. in my internships I went into discussions about the subject and the countries that recognize the Polis Rio while none of the major powers recognize it, of the 46 countries that recognize RASD, most of them come from Africa and Latin America particularly in the Caribbean where the only country that has never recognized RASD there is Bahamas and among those who recognized RASD only Saint Lucia and Dominica canceled their recognition in 1989 and Dominican republic in 2002. In addition to that, of the four 4 countries that does not recognize RASD were in favor three of them voted in favor of the Algerian proposal in 2006 a fact which portray to the need of more diplomatic relations. The fact that Caribbean countries recognized RASD did not hinder Morocco from establishing political and economic and cultural relations with the Caribbean. For instance, as afar as cultural cooperation is concerned, there is a program that is funded by the ministry that grants scholarships to Caribbean students to study in Al Akhawayn University. However, Morocco did only cut its diplomatic relations with two major countries in the region Cuba in 1980 and Venezuela in 2009 due to their recognition of RASD and establishment of its embassies in their countries.
The wide concern in the United States over the rise of the radical left in America particularly in Venezuela and Bolivia was also a shared concern for Morocco, leftist government mainly those forming alliance with Hugo or what is called the populist left in contrast with the center left of Brazil and Chile as they have the potential to support polisario.
I gain enormous knowledge of the Caribbean countries during my internship, although the region is geographical small with 17 countries. The most striking point that I learned, apart from the fact of being the highest place that support polisario, is the way it constituted, as many countries in central America and South America are also included in the area. Like Belize, Surinam, cooperative republic of Guyana which are belong to that area fro historical, linguistic and cultural reasons as most of those countries speak English and tend to have a rupture with the Spanish countries in Central and South America. In addition to Venezuela that has strong presence there. The region is untied under one regional organization called CARICOM (Caribbean Community) where only 2 countries are not included: Cuba and the Dominican Republic.
The Vienna convention: The two major incidents that marked the Ministry was when Ben abdellah was asked to come to Morocco and the case of Norwegian embassy and its complicity in the abduction of the two children of the former athlete Mr. Sekkah
Benefits of Translation the nature of working in public administration particularly in the ministry
The way diplomatic relations are conducted: length and time that treaties and agreements take, signing treating between two countries is very demanding process that takes a long time due to the aim of the two countries to avoid any misunderstanding that would jeopardize their agreement, and this is why the process of translation is a huge where the main task is to compare the original document and its translation to see if there are any words that might alter the meaning of the treaty.
The courses that helped me in the process: US-Maghreb Relations: FTA, Piracy,
The Elements That I Want To Alter In The Ministry
My internship in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation was a rewarding; however my experience in the ministry could have been more beneficial and effective if certain conditions were provided. First, the AUI should provide student who are willing to intern in the ministry with contact information of Alumni student working in the ministry so as to make the incoming interns aware of the nature of the work they should be expecting and provide them with sources to answer questions they have about their internship. Second, it would more effective if student know of their assigned department ahead of time so that they will not be surprised by their department on their first day in addition to make them avoid going through the transfer. Third, taking particular classes before doing an internship will be helpful, mainly the courses of Moroccan Foreign Policy and Research Methodology as many of the assigned task are related to doing research and writing reports and summaries.
Concerning the nature of work in the ministry I would make a list of think tanks and Particular newspapers to be checked out daily, Preparing some daily work that can be done daily like looking for articles that mention Morocco in newspapers. The personnel should have some seminars of latest innovations in computer and Information technology to keep them updated of what is new in this domain, therefore enhancing their performance.
To improve my research and writing report skills Comparison
The main points that I noticed in comparing both my internship experience in the USA with the one in Morocco has to do with the extensive of use such tasks as translation while they are quite absent in USA. In both instance I notice the importance of the media and checking it on daily basis to look for article that mention Tammy Baldwin and those that mention morocco
Responding to phone calls
Writing support letters, organizing the archives, faxing newspaper articles and call sheets, searching for grants and bills
The constituent call sheet
Clothes and formality
The internship was a golden opportunity to broaden my experience in diplomacy and morocco's foreign policy by witnessing how diplomacy is exercised in the ministry. I learned valuable information and gained a professional experience that is relevant and directly related to major.