Diplomacy & Foreign policy are important concepts in the international system and they have important roles. Every independent country has engaged in diplomacy and foreign policy in one way or another.
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In an anarchical world like ours, states must be able to protect and preserve their interests in the most peaceful way possible.

Diplomacy ensures that misunderstandings are well settled and do not escalate while foreign policy ensures that countries are satisfied with the settlements/treaties implemented. This research has covered the definitions of both Diplomacy and Foreign policy.

Individuals who take part or represent countries on the international scene are called diplomats. In most countries like Zambia, the head of state is the chief diplomat/ambassador. Diplomats are appointed on merit by the head of state.

They make sure that their countries are well represented and their interests are well preserved. This research will discuss in detail the concepts of diplomacy and foreign policy.

It will discuss the different types of diplomacy as well as the determinants of foreign policy. Thereafter, it will also discuss the link between foreign policy and diplomacy.

What is Diplomacy?

Diplomacy is the peaceful conduct of countries in international relations. This is usually done by the representatives of the countries, international organizations as well as other international actors. Diplomacy is about representation; Costas gives his definition of diplomacy by combining the concepts of representation and communication.

In his definition of diplomacy, Costas says; At its basic level, diplomacy is a regulated process of communication between at least two subjects, conducted by their representative agents over a particular object.

Diplomacy as Transnational Communication

Murthy also defines diplomacy as; the process of transnational communication among the elites in the world arena. Diplomacy has to take place between two different countries or international organizations.

In other words, Trans Van Dinh explains the importance of diplomacy as; communication is to diplomacy as blood is to the human body.

He explains that when communication stops, then the body of international politics, the process of diplomacy, is dead and the results are violent conflict or atrophy.

States need to maintain good communication as misunderstandings can bring about unnecessary conflict.

Constantinou also describes diplomacy as the regulated process of communication. Most diplomatic discussions are scheduled and certain individuals are appointed to participate.

Diplomacy can also be seen as a form of negotiation. Quincy Wright states that the art of negotiation is to achieve the maximum group of objectives with a minimum of costs, within a system of politics in which war is a possibility.

Diplomacy involves negotiations, especially during conflict. The parties involved have to reach a mutual agreement after several negotiations.

Diplomacy as Management of International Relations

Hendley Bulls looks at the management of international relations by negotiations. Diplomacy should be held in an organized manner. Diplomacy involves the agreement of countries that need to work together.

It is considered an alternative to war where countries can peacefully settle a conflict. Therefore, it involves a lot of bargaining and negotiation.

Types of Diplomacy

Diplomacy is very wide because international relations include many issues. From economic issues to social issues to humanitarian aid. This means that different issues need a different form of diplomacy. There are many different types/forms of Diplomacy and these include;

Politics of Pacification

This type of diplomacy involves small and insignificant issues. This type of diplomacy aims to pacify or rather appease a hostile country.

Gunboat Diplomacy

The name Gunboat comes from a small ship equipped with artillery armament. Gunboat diplomacy aims to show the strength of a country to accomplish foreign policy objectives.

There is legal authorization to use military force to fulfill the foreign policy. An example of Gunboat diplomacy in the 20th century is the Great White Fleet which toured the world for 14 months.

In 2011, Barack Obama also sent the aircraft carrier George Washington to the Yellow sea for combined exercises with South Korea.

Dollar Diplomacy

Dollar diplomacy uses economic means to accomplish foreign policy objectives. Unfortunately, many small states end up in economic enslavement.

They tend to borrow large sums of money in form of loans and grants to achieve their foreign policy. Dollar diplomacy also puts small countries in political dependency.

For example, large banks such as the International Monetary fund give conditions for countries for them to be eligible for loans.

Most of these conditions tend to the political aspect of the country’s operations. An example of this is the Structural adjustment programs introduced in Zambia between 1992-1994.

Public Diplomacy

Public diplomacy happens when the government of a particular country tries to influence the community of another country. Therefore, public diplomacy seeks to achieve its objective through the use of special gifts and offers.

An example of public diplomacy was in 2015. In 2015, there was a rise in terrorist attacks in Paris, Nigeria, Egypt, and Iraq.

Many countries including the United States(US) opened social media campaigns to expose ISIS’ messaging and find the root of extremist recruitment. Public diplomacy also includes exhibitions and tours.

People’s Diplomacy

People’s diplomacy involves the historically continuous process of communication, mutual knowledge, influence, and enrichment of cultures and peoples. Another name for this diplomacy is people-to-people diplomacy.

This type of diplomacy emphasizes the need to build strong relations between countries.  This includes supporting trade and economic cooperation that enhance prosperity. Diplomats not only meet with official representatives but also with citizens of their host country.

Intermediary Diplomacy

This type of diplomacy happens when a third party helps to settle disputes between two conflicting countries. An example of intermediary diplomacy is Angola’s president Jaoa Lurenco’s intervention in the DRC-Rwanda conflict.

Economic Diplomacy

Economic diplomacy focuses on activities that enhance economic growth. This includes increasing exports, attracting foreign investments as well as taking part in international economic organizations.

The economic state of a country influences its diplomatic relations. Some of the objectives include:

  • Economic diplomacy seeks to protect and enhance economic security through diplomatic means
  • Economic diplomacy also strives to accomplish the economic interests of countries on the international scene.
  • It also aims to promote countries’ international competitiveness.

Economic diplomacy tries to increase the economic development of a country, and preserve economic security. It also aims to create conditions that enhance economic cooperation.

Economic diplomacy also eliminates the threats to the balanced development of the economy and promotes economic activities that bring economic growth.

Digital (Electronic) diplomacy

Digital diplomacy involves the use of the internet, information and communication technologies to settle diplomatic conflicts.

It helps share foreign policy interests and information propaganda. Digital diplomacy uses new media, social networks, blogs, and global media platforms such as Twitter.

Digital diplomacy involve the maximum use of technology for diplomatic purposes
Digital diplomacy involves the maximum use of technology for diplomatic purposes
What is Foreign Policy?

Foreign policy is the language of diplomacy. It determines how countries relate to one another in international relations. The foreign policy ensures that every country is on good terms with other states.

Every country in international relations formulates a foreign policy that ensures that its national interests are fulfilled. Foreign policy is the channel through which country translates can their interests and goals.

Foreign policy safeguards a country's national interests
Foreign policy safeguards a country’s national interests

Many factors determine a country’s foreign policy. These factors are called determinants of foreign policy. There are primarily seven determinants of foreign policy.

These include; Geographical location, Population, History, Economic resources, Development, Public opinion, Decision-makers, and Domestic Instability.

Geographical location

This plays an important role in the formulation of a country’s foreign policy. The size of a country needs to be in such a way that it helps citizens live a decent standard of living. A country’s geography determines the temperature, resources, frontiers, and neighbors.

The geographical location is very cardinal in forming a foreign policy. For example, the geographical location of the United Kingdom has played a big role in its foreign policy formulation. It has affected the overall character of British foreign policy.

The geographical location of the United States affected its foreign policy. The location has given the US a sense of security because of its large area.


Another determinant of foreign policy is the history of a country.  A country inherits a lifestyle and characteristic which can shape its foreign policy. History keeps the record of events in a community, the good, the bad, successes, and failures.

If some foreign policies in the past have had many successes, policy-makers will stick to the same type of foreign policy or will make new ones similar to the old ones. They can also use a foreign policy that dealt with the same situation in the past.


Another determinant of foreign policy is a country’s population. The size, character, and distribution influence the type of foreign policy a country will adopt.

It is said that the larger the population of a country, the greater the power it possesses. This is because the workforce will determine the standard of life, values, way of life, and even a country’s expectations.

The quality of the population lies in the educational level, skilled labor, technical know-how, health, and strong national character. The population’s quality also determines the type of political system, and public administration that a country has.

Natural Resources

Natural resources have a big impact on the type of foreign policy a country adopts.  They include food, minerals, metal, coal, crude oil, and water resources. These natural resources enhance the relevance and significance of a country.

For example, countries with petroleum are particularly important in international relations. Most countries in west Asia have an abundance of oil production.

Countries that lack natural resources adopt a foreign policy of international cooperation. This helps them to access the natural resources they need.

Countries that have an abundance of natural resources are likely to be very popular in international relations.  Therefore, they will have a strong foreign policy.

Economic Factors

A mutual dependency on economic resources influences the foreign policy of a country.  Economic interdependence results in international economic activity.

This can be expressed in terms of tariffs, import quotas, trade agreements, and other financial arrangements.  Changes in international economic relations often result in tensions.

States formulate their foreign policy in a way that supplies them with the resources it needs. For example, in times of war, a country will pursue a foreign policy that ensures it never runs out of war materials.


Highly developed like the US tend to pursue an independent foreign policy. Meanwhile, less developed countries often have a dependency on foreign policy. Less developed countries often rely on other countries for economic resources as well as military protection.

However, even developed countries need to be secure. Therefore, they make up regional organizations that offer protection. An example is the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1949.

Britain and France are part of NATO. NATO was formed as a retaliation for the formation of the Soviet Union. It was formed to protect against Soviet aggression.

Japan is also an economic power yet; it depends on the US for its security. Most developed countries are most active in international affairs as they are financially capable.

National and Military Capacity

The national and military readiness of a country also influences its foreign policy. How ready a country’s military will determine its foreign policy. Countries with great military capacity will pursue an aggressive foreign policy.

A country having a strong national capacity will determine and implement foreign policy effectively. For example, after the second world war, the US changed its foreign policy because of the high economic rate.

Public Opinion

Public opinion influences the foreign policy of a country to a higher extent. In countries that follow a democratic system, public opinion is important.

For example, public opinion in US politics made the government withdraw the American troops from Vietnam. Public opinion also forced Krishna Menon to resign in 1962 after Chinese aggression.


The type of leadership in a country also influences the strength and direction of foreign policy. Leaders are responsible for the type of foreign policy a country adopts. What ideologies the leadership believes in will determine the foreign policy.

The psychological habits, personalities, and predispositions of leaders play a big role in foreign policy. Their perception of external affairs will determine the ways they choose to secure their national interests.

Domestic Instability

Domestic Instability is yet another factor that determines foreign policy. For example, in 1974 people believe that India was responsible for the nuclear explosion. This happened to take the attention of Indians from local challenges and promote the image of Mrs. Gandhi.

In 1973, President Nixon’s opponents criticized him for overemphasizing the Russian threat in the Middle East. According to them, he turned to nuclear alert because he was escaping Watergate which wanted to overthrow him.

There are many more factors that determine foreign policies such as International organizations such as the World Bank, The International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the United Nations(UN).

For example, it was difficult for communist countries such as China to join international organizations and interact in political affairs. It was only until China made some changes in its policies that it joined the UN in 1971.

China finally joins the United Nations in 1971
China finally joined the United Nations in 1971
Link between Diplomacy and Foreign policy

According to JR. Childs, Foreign policy is the substance of foreign relations whereas Diplomacy is the process by which policies are carried out. Diplomacy is the conduct of relations between states. It is the method that executes foreign policies.

Foreign policy is the things you do while diplomacy is how you do them. That is the technique/method of doing those things.

Diplomacy is the vessel that executes foreign policy. Diplomacy involves processes and procedures whereas Foreign policy involves substance.

Foreign policy consists of strategic plans that a country uses to interact with other countries. Foreign policy is used to achieve national interests. Countries use foreign policy to enhance the standard of life of their citizens.

On the other hand, for a country to achieve this foreign policy, skill is needed. That skill is called diplomacy. Diplomacy is a skill used by a country to come into agreement with other countries. Diplomatic bodies such as the UN help countries interact on a diplomatic level.

United Nations
The United Nations consists of 193 independent countries that meet and discuss diplomatic issues

Foreign policies deal with the processes by which countries pursue their national interests in international relations. Whereas diplomacy deals with the management of international relations through negotiations.

Challenges of Foreign Policy: An Analysis of the US

The foreign policy of the US has recently faced many challenges. The confrontational relationship that the US has with China has raised great concern and worry for the international community.

Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic is another issue that is affecting every country and its foreign policy.

Climate Change and Energy

The negative effects of climate change have forced the US and other countries to adjust their foreign policies.

These changes in foreign policy need to reduce carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gases. This is to ensure that no further damage is done to reduce global warming.


The COVID-19 pandemic has had severe negative effects on the world at large. Many economies have dropped drastically and the US is not an exception.

Many people their jobs and lives leading to a decrease in the production of goods and services. Countries have to come up with foreign policies that can remedy the negative impacts of the pandemic.

Cybersecurity and Digital Policy

There is a high risk of interference in US politics due to a lack of cybersecurity. For example, Russia interfered with the US elections in 2016. This risks national security and poses a threat to the US government.

The Economic policy affects how the US government influences events abroad. The healthier their economy, the stronger their influence. Other challenges include immigration, the Middle East, North Korea, Trade, Venezuela, and Latin America.