Globalization, coupled with the freedom of movement enjoyed by the citizens of most countries, has made it imperative that national governments possess extensive and capable diplomatic networks to deliver services to their citizens and achieve complex foreign policy objectives. Moreover, many ministries of foreign affairs (MFAs) are facing increasing budgetary pressure while the need to deliver on multiple fronts is intensifying. While digital technologies have improved the ability of MFAs to deliver services, they have also increased expectations of innovative delivery of these services. One solution to these dilemmas is multilateral cooperation among the MFAs of different nations.

On October 16-17, 2017, in collaboration with the MFAs of Australia, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, Global Affairs Canada (organized the Global Common Services Forum to provide a venue for senior officials from select MFAs to share information and discuss common services provision in their respective international networks. Sweden and Estonia also participated while Mexico could not participate because of urgent domestic pressures.

This report summarizes the issues, insights, conclusions and areas of possible cooperation that emerged from the discussions held during the forum. Topics such as co-location/shared premises, regionalization versus centralization of common services delivery, information sharing (such as pay scales for locally engaged staff in a specific location), joint procurement (such as facilities management or security guard contracts) and performance measurement were all identified to be of particular interest.