Diplomacy can be defined as the way of conducting International Relations, particularly using negotiations and dialogues to promote peaceful relations.
It can be best described as the art of obtaining an agreement of cooperation in which each side is getting its interest fulfilled.
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Conventionally diplomacy is equated with negotiations to resolve a conflict or bring two rivals to a table-talk and find a middle way. It is said to be an alternative to war, which war is considered a failure of diplomacy.
When diplomacy is mostly assumed to be a nonviolent bargaining process, it involves incentives that can be value-additive and coercive at the same time.
While observing the latter, it sometimes includes threats or the application of force or sanctions. This is to assess the adversary’s compliance with the agreement and affects the cost of accepting or rejecting the particular agreement.
Diplomacy is not self-contained and has evolved since the international political systems have prevailed.
It has grown from a secretive deal-making and system of maneuvering in monarchical rule into a public democracy and an intertwined system of foreign and public politics.
The new diplomacy also involves not just governments but international organizations and non-governmental actions. Today, the most important requisite of effective diplomacy is successful international and transnational coalition-building.
Who is a Diplomat?
A diplomat is an essential element of practicing diplomacy in International Relations. Representatives are sent from country to country to exchange dialogues and present opportunities for mutual interests on behalf of their country.
These representatives represent their heads of state in different countries and on different occasions. These are the Diplomats.
History of Diplomacy in International Relations
The early societies developed the attributes of states; a group of people ruled by a chieftain or a ruler. These societies and tribes negotiated trade regulations, water distribution, and boundary demarcations.
Envoys’ considerations were inviolable and accredited. The significant knowledge of diplomacy comes from Mesopotamian, Chinese, and Indian histories. There are traces of Assyrian diplomacy and Jewish tribes with each other reflected in the Bible.
Chinese history contains several leagues, missions, and a whole organized system of diplomatic discourse between their ‘warring states’ and kingdoms.
They included resident envoys considered hostages to the good behavior between the both. Chinese classics represent a description of this tradition, specifically Zhuangzi.
Indian diplomatic discourse is presented in one of the most sacred books of Indian classics; Artha-shastra was written by the great Indian political philosopher Kautilya from the famous Mauryan Empire.
He described three types of diplomats, first the consular agents in charge of managing commercial relations, and second, two types of spies.
One of the types of spies was for the collection of information and the other one was appointed for reconnaissance and covert actions.
The duties of an envoy that were described by Kautilya were to send information to his king, ensure the implementation of the treaty, instigate dispute among the allies of the enemy, and bribe the king’s officials.
The birth of modern diplomacy that took place in the Post-Renaissance was influenced by the diplomatic relations between Greece city-states.
The Greeks significantly created archives of their diplomatic vocabulary and principles of International conduct that anticipated International Law.
Their envoys enjoyed diplomatic immunities. Treaties, alliances, conventions, and conferences were common in Greece city-states.
During the Middle Ages, forms of diplomacy intensified. Eastern Roman Empire known as the Byzantine Empire, impressively had a department of foreign affairs and a bureau to deal with foreign envoys.
The Roman Catholic Church played an active diplomatic role, with Popes being the arbitrators, especially in times of struggles between Holy Roman Emperors.
After the fall of the Byzantine Empire, the major aspects of its diplomatic traditions remained in the Ottoman Empire.
A Nuncio was the legal messenger of the Pope. They were the envoys who could negotiate the draft agreements of the treaty.
Crusades not only brought Europeans in contact with people of the Eastern Mediterranean in battlegrounds but also revived the trade between the two continents, which developed an extensive diplomatic model of relations.
The first great international congress of modern history was the Peace of Westphalia in 1647 which brought an end to a deadly Thirty Years’ War.
After the war, larger states started emerging which led to the crisscrossing of a network of embassies and legations in Europe.
Most important of all, northern Italy represented the most revolutionary form of diplomacy. The Renaissance period produced a group of small and active city-states that were sharing borders directly.
Territorial power was not their concern rather they focused on trade expansion. During this period full-fledged diplomatic missions, diplomatic reports, and diplomatic privileges were established.
By the 18th century, diplomatic practices had new contours. Most of the Renaissance thinkers argued to be effective and diplomats to be trustworthy and intelligent having foresightedness, courage, a sense of humor, and sternness.
The Congress of Vienna of 1815, established an international system of diplomatic rank. It created new boundaries between international relations and, recreated the balance of power and a system of signing treaties.
Distinctions were between Great Powers i.e. Britain and Russia and Powers with limited interests; Italy, Austria, and Hungary.
This was the modern example of ‘Multilateral Diplomacy’ or ‘Conference Diplomacy’. Right after that the Great powers of Europe, their interests were through the power of negotiations.
Congress of Paris, Conferences of Berlin, and The Hague Conventions represented very successful examples of diplomacy, providing Europeans, the grounds to conquer each other, develop influence over the weakening powers of that time (Ottoman Empire-The sick Man of Europe), carving up Africa into European colonies and codifying the laws of war.
20th Century Diplomacy
However, the Secret Diplomacy that prevailed during this period, led to alliances and bandwagoning of states to gain influence over each other which led to these European powers fighting each other in a deadly First Great War.
This again led to the negotiation period of the Treaty of Versailles, which innovated the first permanent international organization i.e. League of Nations.
The League following the differentiation of powers with general interests and powers with special interests introduced ‘Parliamentary Diplomacy’. The League sponsored conferences and was the guarantor of the sovereignty of member states.
Of many weaknesses of this league was its incapability of incorporating the non-democratic regimes of Germany, Italy, Russia, and Japan. This again led to the failure of diplomacy and resulted in a Second Great War.
Where the United Nations emerged as an international organization and presented global norms of International relations generally, other multilateral engagements kept going on.
It was the period of decolonization, fueled by the Cold War due to which diplomacy turned the shape of winning the newly emerging independent states of the world. The introduction of Economic incentives such as the Marshal Plan, SEATO, and CENTO.
It also gave birth to the idea of regional cooperation resulting in economic cooperation e.g. European Economic Community, religious cooperation Organization of Islamic Countries OIC, and Defense cooperation e.g. Warsaw Pact and NATO.
Conference Diplomacy prevailed to address issues of disarmament, nuclear proliferation, combating communism, and establishing a joint Western economic model of Bretton Woods.
Diplomacy in the 20th century gained a cover of peaceful negotiations of providing the adversary with either incentives, conditions, threats, or creating discourse about mutually assured destruction, to fulfill national interest at every possible cost.
Functions of Diplomacy
There are many functions making it an important element of peaceful relations. The ultimate end is always the same i.e. to have better relations and fulfill national interests.
Over the evolution of diplomacy, its structure changed from a loose one to a more organized institute made for a specific purpose.
Generally, diplomacy serves four functions. Firstly, diplomacy serves as a channel of ‘representation’ of states’ interests.
States use diplomacy to position themselves in international relations. Their diplomats through negotiation and discussions designed to identify common interests as well as areas of disagreement.
Mostly in international relations states after negotiations develop a consensus and portray the practices and values that are considered ‘satisfactory’ as well as profitable for both. This is called soft power as these practices are not imposed forcefully.
Secondly, diplomacy serves as a means of gathering information. This information is to identify and evaluate the state’s foreign policy goals.
Diplomats send diplomatic reports consisting of this information to their native country’s Foreign Minister, who evaluates the data and determines what foreign policy to apply.
Moreover, diplomacy is a tool for expanding cultural, economic, and political cooperation. This cooperation provides suitable avenues to fulfill the national interests of their states.
For example, diplomats of the United States engage international audiences in democratic political norms, security, and such values that create an environment suitable for US interests.
Lastly, Diplomacy is used to observe International Law that shapes policies for countries regarding their conduct and cooperation with each other.
The law provides guidelines for maintaining jurisdictions over diplomatic missions, proceedings of treaties, and government-to-government interactions.
Conclusively, diplomacy can be defined as a crisis managing tool in international relations that can define a middle way for cooperation profitable for all the parties involved in it.
Types of Diplomacy
The diplomatic exchanges that take place privately between non-official ambassadors of different nations are referred to as civil diplomacy. Civil institutions are used to conduct civil statesmanship.
For Example; Civil institutions are used to conduct civil diplomacy, including UN Women, UNICEF, and other organizations.
To encourage individuals to create a more peaceful society in Pakistan by increasing women’s engagement in leadership and companies, UN Women Pakistan has partnered with NACTA.
The exchange of cultural ideas, information, values, systems, traditions, beliefs, and other aspects aimed at promoting mutual understanding is called cultural diplomacy.
Cultural diplomacy has become one of the most important foreign policy tools in countries that want to improve their image and advance their position in the international arena.
General cultural diplomacy; can be defined as a way to properly express oneself and know the recipient properly by sharing ideas, thoughts, worldviews, lifestyles, aesthetic understandings, joys, and preferences ( Mazuram).
Milton C. Cummings, an American political scientist, and historian describes cultural diplomacy as follows:
“It is the transfer of a state’s traditions, customs, language, religion, history, and art to people in other countries”.
For Example, on 30th June 2022, Pakistan showcased its Art and Culture in Vietnam to promote Pakistan’s culture. It is the fundamental goal of cultural diplomacy.
In the 19th century, the world entered an era of mechanization and technology, leading to pollution of the world order of ecosystems.
Environmental issues such as water scarcity, biodiversity loss, nuclear tests, and climate change have repeatedly returned to the international agenda as a result of population growth and pollution.
For the above reasons, it has been observed that human life is beginning to be adversely affected. In some areas, high levels of carbon dioxide have been observed to adversely affect the lives of people in these countries and cause illness.
Negotiations to resolve such issues and protect them within the legal framework are part of the nature of environmental diplomacy.
This type of diplomacy includes the introduction of appropriate environmental regulations and the cessation of pollution by raising environmental issues in the form of international conferences through diplomacy.
For Example, The United Nations Environment Programme, UNEP, and the Environment and Security Initiative are working on how to resolve environmental issues.
Another example is Pakistan is playing its role in environmental diplomacy by Introducing the Billion Tree Tsunami Project, which was appreciated by United Kingdom Prime Minister, Boris Johnson.
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom spoke to attendees of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) session, explaining Pakistan’s environmentally friendly measures as an example.
Economic diplomacy deals with “international economic issues” to “enhance prosperity”, which is “the highest priority of the nation in most parts of the world”.
In a broad sense, economic diplomacy can be defined as any diplomatic activity that promotes the economic interests of a nation.
This includes diplomacy, which uses economic resources to achieve specific foreign policy goals. In a narrow sense, economic diplomacy is about export promotion and foreign investment.
It can also be referred to as trade diplomacy. For Example, the Prime Minister of Pakistan meets Saudi Investors to encourage them to Invest in the development sector of Pakistan.
Global health diplomacy focuses on health issues that many countries need to work together to address common concerns, but health diplomacy plays a vital role at the regional, bilateral, and national levels.
Health diplomacy is practiced in many places, some focusing on health negotiations, such as the World Health Assembly, while others have broad agendas, such as the United Nations General Assembly and the Human Rights Council.
This can lead to international agreements and treaties. For Example, Finland and Poland want to develop health diplomacy with Iran.
“Defense diplomacy” is a relatively new term, created in response to the need
to specify new missions and international functions performed by post-Cold War troops and Ministry of Defense leaders.
But it cannot be a kind of traditional “military and diplomacy”. The lack of a generally accepted definition of “defense diplomacy” means that states are trying to adapt their content to the needs of their security policies.
For Example, In May 2022, Moscow hosted the Collective Security Organization Treaty to guarantee the security, sovereignty, and integrity of their region.
High-level diplomacy that involves the leaders of the state themselves is known as summit diplomacy. To be sure, it wasn’t common until the 20th century. Winston Churchill was the first to refer to a gathering of the leaders of great power nations as a summit in 1950.
For Instance; on 24 May 2022, the summit of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue was held between four countries i.e. United States, India, Japan, and Australia. Global to regional concerns and their effects are discussed by the presidents of the four nations.
A dialogue between two or more parliaments is an important way for them to communicate with one another about important international issues.
The increase in the number of international organizations and the globalization of the UN has increased the importance of parliamentary diplomacy.
This diplomacy has an open diplomacy feature. The parties to diplomacy are the members of the said organization.
For example; Participants of the 3rd General Conference of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) visited the city of Shusha, Azerbaijan on the sidelines of their visit to the liberated territories from occupation.
Shuttle diplomacy, born of ease of transportation, provides an opportunity to solve problems in a way of continuous contact between the parties.
For example, The Arab-Israeli conflict continued throughout 1974 and 1975. Shuttle diplomacy was used to try and resolve the issue.
In January and May 1974, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger used “shuttle diplomacy” to try to resolve the aftermath of the 1973 war.
Nuclear diplomacy is the process of conducting negotiations and negotiations between countries involving the use of nuclear weapons.
Atomic diplomacy refers to a nation’s use of the threat of nuclear warfare to achieve its diplomatic and foreign policy goals. This type is being used to try and maintain the balance of power in the international system after nuclear weapons were invented.
For Example; P5+1 Nuclear Agreement between the years 2006-2015 between the UNSC-Iran, the USA, and Western states. It was finished decidedly on 14 July 2015.
This diplomacy is the use of sports to achieve political goals. Sports and athletes are important tools for promoting the agenda and promoting positive socio-cultural change. Top athletes are modern ambassadors and are often used to claim peace and equality.
For Example, recently Pakistan Unveiled its hockey league, in which players will come from different countries of the world, which will promote the peaceful image of Pakistan.
Future of Diplomacy
The growth of the internet brought about a profound transformation in the world. The first possibility for immediate access to new information and the capacity to send a written message in just a few seconds were made possible by the internet and computer systems.
The development of mobile technology, which allows individuals to use the internet without having to be seated in front of a computer, has become a defining feature of the twenty-first century.
The digital age has only advanced thanks to social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Snapchat.
According to studies, mobile users typically spend at least 3.1 hours a week on social networking sites because they feel the need to keep up with the latest information.
The term focuses on the interactions between the internet and diplomacy, ranging from changes in the environment that are driven by the internet.
An illustration of this would be the social media site Twitter, which diplomats and heads of state have discovered to be quite beneficial for communication and information sharing.
Challenges regarding digital diplomacy
Diplomatic crises have previously resulted from messages and photographs posted on social media sites, particularly Twitter.
Digital platforms have also made it possible for false information to proliferate and be used to undermine the national and international stability of states.
Global and European Challenges for Diplomacy’s Future
The effects of populism and isolationism should be included in studies of diplomacy in the 21st century and its issues.
Because it is experiencing a crisis of legitimacy brought on by sociological factors, diplomacy is currently confronting a domestic issue.
When examining nations at the center of the international system, such as the UK, the US, and portions of the EU, the legitimacy dilemma can be seen in matters like trade agreements or immigration concerns.
Today, however, the nation-state is rapidly deteriorating due to globalization.
The globalization process is accelerating at a faster rate than the national institutions can handle due to technological advancement.
This includes diplomacy with its archaic customs and etiquette. There is a valid concern that embassies are unnecessary in the 21st century and are only a matter of decorum at a time when political leaders may speak instantly over video conversations or meet in person within hours in any location on the planet.
*Rubab Ali is a final-year student of International Relations at Kinnaird College for Women; Urooj Ilyas is an undergraduate student of Peace and Conflict Studies at NUML University