Diplomacy is an art form that pays a lot of attention to dates. This year is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall in Germany and Josef (I think that's what his name was) my new classmate at the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy who is actually from Berlin, tells me how so much is going on this year, just because it's an anniversary. It is well known that diplomatic momentum is heavily dependent on symbolic deadlines and negotiators favour these when they are anxious to bring negotiations to a conclusion. The anniversary of the outbreak of war always serve as a good date for the signing of peace agreements. A good example of the pressure of a symbolic date on negotiations is the proposal by the Cuban government in May 1988, that the negotiations of the Angola/Namibia peace negotiations be completed by 29th September (Crocker, 1999, p. 229). This was the tenth anniversary of the UN Security Council resolution on the arrangements for independence of the South African controlled Namibia.
As a Christian, I am also aware that dates in the calendars of great religions are always very significant not just in international politics and diplomacy, but in everything and every aspect of life. Christmas is the most notable of these serving as a virtual deadline. Every year, "We need to get this done by Christmas", is on the lips of many. The book of Ecclesiates talks about seasons and a time for every event under heaven. Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring come and go and God gives men and women visions, "for a season such as this".
Today is the first day of a new season. How long it will be, I'm still unsure but I am excited. The beggining or end of something important creates yet another anniversary. And who knows which one of these anniversaries will be instrumental in accelerating diplomatic momentum for some crucial negotiation to change the world.