ABOUT THE BANDARANAIKE INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC TRAINING INSTITUTE
The Bandaranaike International Diplomatic Training Institute (BIDTI) was established in September 1995 under the guidance of Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike for the purpose of offering advanced training courses in diplomacy and international relations. The institution, the first of its kind in Sri Lanka, was a manifestation of her vision to hone the skills of Sri Lanka’s Foreign Service. This is in accordance with the aims of the Bandaranaike Memorial Foundation to promote international peace, understanding and cooperation through such studies, discussions and dissemination of knowledge. The task of founding the BIDTI was rested on the shoulders of its first Director General, Deshamanya Dr. Vernon L. B. Mendis, who joined the island’s newly formed diplomatic service in 1949. He was at the time, the first entrant to the then titled Ceylon Overseas Service. His endeavor of launching the institute was facilitated by the patronage of President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga. The dedication and hard work of Dr. Mendis paved the way for the BIDTI to launch training programmes for both foreign service members as well as for the general public.
Courses for the general public were open on 1st November 1995. A comprehensive foreign service training programme at the BIDTI was conducted for the first time for 14 cadets recruited to the Sri Lanka Foreign Service in 1996. BIDTI training programmes focus on enhancing professional skills and encouraging discussion on global economic and political issues. Besides regular courses, the BIDTI also conducts specialized programmes to meet the requirements of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Since the early 2000s, under the Technical Cooperation Programme of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, an initiative was launched to familiarize foreign diplomats on Sri Lanka’s history, culture, foreign policy and other attractive attributes. This program can be traced back to the Minister of Foreign Affairs Lakshman Kadirgamar’s desire to acquaint foreign diplomats on various aspects of Sri Lanka. In addition, to the training of members of the foreign service, the BIDTI also conducts training programmes for officers belonging to other organizations designated to represent Sri Lanka overseas.
Today, training courses conducted at the BIDTI have been sought after by people from all walks of life. Those who have successfully followed the one-year Diploma in Diplomacy & World Affairs could join the Post Graduate Diploma course conducted with the collaboration of the Department of International Relations of the University of Colombo provided that they possess a degree recognized by the University Grants Commission. The Post Graduate Diploma enables students to submit a comprehensive research project on a selected topic which is consistent with the themes of international relations and diplomacy.
The BIDTI has a panel of eminent resource persons comprising of academics, Ambassadors and High Commissioners both foreign and Sri Lankan, visiting scholars as well as professionals from the public and private sector. Special guest lectures by Ambassadors and High Commissioners accredited to Sri Lanka have become a regular feature at the BIDTI, giving an invaluable opportunity to disseminate information on the foreign policy of their countries and other attributes. Because the BIDTI is able to draw from a diverse faculty of the highest caliber, the institution is able to blend academic approaches with a practitioners’ perspective.
BIDTI, a proud member of the International Forum on Diplomatic Training (jointly chaired by the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna and the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at the Georgetown University) has always strived to produce a competent diplomatic service, well versed in diplomatic skills and knowledge. Since 2006, the BIDTI has been vested by Parliamentary Act No. 32 of 2006 under the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies (LKIIRSS).