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In What Key Ways Is Diplomacy Changing

Problems of international relations and foreign policy, or what are happening in the world, and what should be done in this area have always been the focus of politicians, analysts and journalists. Many questions about how to implement the foreign policy decisions, in other words, questions of diplomacy, were more likely to interest a narrow circle of specialists. The reasons for this attitude are partly understandable and justified: first of all it is necessary to realize what is happening, to outline the main foreign policy priorities and approaches. However, in practical terms it is not less important to identify possible ways to implement the planned course. Otherwise, foreign policy is paralyzed. Thus, we are going to observe key ways in which diplomacy is changing and how durable these changes are likely to be.

At the beginning of this paper it is important to mention that various works on international relations, with regard to the scientific side, have been long dominated by the attitudes which were treated as some set of events to a great extent.

This means that the focus was made on the results of foreign-policy activity, less attention was given to foreign policy, and finally, very little attention was aimed at achieving of concrete goals, i.e. Diplomacy.

However, there are more and more recent researches on foreign policy and diplomacy. There is no accident in this situation. The emphasis on activity in the international arena, on the process of ‘building’ and regulation of international relations can not only analyze the past and to identify trends that may be in the future, but it also can help to make a plan ahead for the future, strengthening some trends and weakening others, and ultimately planning a ‘scenario for future development’. In addition, special mention should be given to diplomacy, which aims to its own methods and means not only to implement foreign policy decisions, but also actively shape them.

There are many definitions of diplomacy. According to Leguey-Feilleux, “at the core of the concept of diplomacy is the idea of communicating, interacting, maintaining contact, and negotiating with states and other international actors” (Leguey-Feilleux, 2009). In addition, he stated that “Diplomacy also implies a mode of behavior, a way of doing business, a certain professional style”(Leguey-Feilleux, 2009). In this context, it is necessary to state that negotiations are an effective tool for building and managing international relations, particularly in the second half of XX century. This situation has a place due to the changing processes in diplomacy which include several reasons, while the main reason among them is sharply increased interdependence of the world, as well as the emergence of global issues in it.

In this paragraph, we can note that Anne-Marie Slaughter, known for her tendentious book A New World Order, where the idea of ‘usefulness’ of the world of virtual government, virtual contacts of national and international judges, politicians, are presented as idyllic global web of states in which ‘the parts are quickly becoming as significant, as the central leadership,’ agrees with the previous statement (Slaughter, 2004).

In such a way, we can emphasize that complex interdependence, implying a plurality of parameters, as well as the presence of global problems necessitated the concerted action of various actors in the international arena for conflict resolution and cooperation, resulting the fact that the solution of international problems was the main objective function of diplomacy in the second half of XX century. It should be noted that this feature is, unfortunately, not always realized in practice. As a result, diplomatic solutions are replaced by power, with all the consequences associated with threats to international development.

Nevertheless, the real need to address contemporary issues through diplomatic means has carried a number of new elements into the process of international negotiations. The importance of international negotiations as a means of solving international problems, as well as an increasing number of ongoing negotiations in the world has increased primarily due to the growing number of global issues and their relevance in the second half of XX century in the world in general. For instance, Sending, Pouliot and Neumann stated that “of course, today’s diplomacy, just like yesterday’s, remains primarily concerned with the ways in which states deal with the external world. But emerging practices also indicate efforts on the part of states to enrol various nonstate actors, just as nontraditional agents seek to act globally through the state’s diplomatic outreach” (Sending, Pouliot and Neumann, 2011). Moreover, perspective of international negotiations were expanded; they involved in their structure large numbers of people, both directly involved in the negotiations, as well as acting as experts; topics and structure of the negotiating forums became more complex and debated. In such a way, everything of the above stated provided a basis to make a conclusion about the formation of international negotiations, which have such important characteristics as the union of formal and informal procedures for resolving conflicts and focus on the joint search for solutions, and cooperation.

Speaking about the importance of negotiations and diplomacy at the end of XX century here should be noted their special role in resolving conflicts. The prevalence of this role of the process of negotiation has appeared immediately after the end of the Cold War. Many regional conflicts which have had a long history (for example, the Namibian problem), as well as a number of conflicts which were erupted again, including conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, Moldova, North and South Ossetia, Abkhazia, in Somalia, Rwanda, in the Middle East and other parts of the globe have been resolved at the certain stage only due to the use of the negotiation mechanism in proper way.

In this context it is possible to add that today’s society understands necessity of changes in the area of diplomacy, Holsti explains his readers the true meaning of ‘change’ in international politics. Holsti, combining both theoretical and practical knowledge, observes “eight major international institutions including the state, sovereignty, territoriality, international law, diplomacy, trade and war” (Holsti, 2004).
Due to the fact that international intermediaries became increasingly involved in the settlement of internal conflicts by negotiations (such as in Chechnya, former Yugoslavia), the boundary between the negotiations on domestic issues and international negotiations were fairly conventional at the end of the XX century. In addition, negotiations are often a significant factor in international life for the purpose of to resolve the internal problems. In this sense, there is an expansion of diplomatic negotiations. It should be noted that the globalization of the modern world forces to negotiate and discuss certain issues even countries with the presence of hostile relations.

The leading role of negotiating in the conditions of cooperation, the creation of integrative mechanisms, whether in Europe, Asia, the former Soviet Union or other regions became evident exactly nowadays (Bell, 1971). So, owing to the negotiation process (though not as simple as it may seem to some researchers), it became possible to sign the Maastricht Treaty, which marked a new stage in European integration.

The political development of the world and generally any development do not always go smoothly. At certain stages we are witnessing the power of prevailing forms of influence (for example, in Iraq, in Kosovo) over the negotiation process. However, if we talk about the general historical trend we may understand that it was caused by the growth of interdependence and mutual vulnerability in the modern world which make international negotiations the main mechanism for dealing with conflict relations and cooperation, the main form of cooperation between states in the international arena. As a result, international negotiations by themselves are the most important factor in the global development of the world (Lebow, 1981). There is no accident in the fact that today’s society seeks the more effective ways to train diplomats, politicians and public figures to use all the necessary technologies of negotiations day after day in proper way.

Paying a specific attention to key ways in which diplomacy is changing and how durable these changes are likely to be, we can emphasize that interdependence and globalization of the world affect the interests of many participants at once. If, before the First World War, the diplomatic activities were carried out mainly on a bilateral basis through the exchange of ambassadorial missions, today’s diplomacy is largely multilateral, which involves more than two parties in discussing and solving problems. For instance, “within Germany, a political process catalyzed by foreign pressures was surreptitiously orchestrated by expansionists inside the Schmidt government” (Putnam, 1988). As a result, there was formed an independent branch of diplomacy – multilateral diplomacy, or, in the narrower form, conference diplomacy. The development of multilateral diplomacy, in particular multilateral negotiations, was conditioned by the fact that it may open up possibilities for ‘the collective management of interdependence’.

Multilateral diplomacy and multilateral negotiations produce a number of new developments in diplomatic practice. Thus, the increase in the number of parties in discussing the problem leads to a complication of the general structure of interest, the possibility of coalition-building, as well as the emergence of the country’s leader in negotiation forums (Kennedy, 2009). In addition, there are a large number of institutional, procedural and technical issues, such as the harmonization agenda, their location, the decision-making, chairing forums, placing delegations, providing them with the necessary conditions for operation, maintenance of copying and other machinery, vehicles, etc. at the multilateral negotiations. Everything of these, in turn, contributes to the bureaucratization of the negotiation processes, especially in the ongoing international organizations.

Globalization and interdependence of the world have also led to an increase in the importance of diplomacy carried out by the high and the highest level. This kind of diplomacy allowed to take crucial decisions on the most pressing international issues and, thereby dramatically changed the international situation in the second half of XX century (Richardson, 1994). In addition, high diplomacy and summit provide an opportunity to discuss the relationship in a wide range of issues that is difficult to hold on various other meetings at other levels.

The ability to find quick and principle solution to the problem is the main reason for the intensive development of diplomacy today on high and the highest level, but there are other reasons too. In particular, there is the ability to quickly obtain the necessary information at ‘first hand,’ and to exchange views and reach important agreements at such meetings.

Quickly changing character of international relations makes high demands of diplomacy including its activity and initiative, otherwise the time, suitable for exposure to the international environment may be lost (Acuto, 2011). So, the best advice that was once given to an American diplomat who came to work in the Department of State: observe, analyze, report, but more importantly, not interfere – is unlikely to be relevant in our time, because conflict resolution and crisis management are one of the most urgent problems of modern diplomacy.

In conclusion, it should be emphasized that the importance of diplomacy has greatly increased in our century. Primarily, this is due to the fact that coercive methods of solving international problems, in spite of their continued use, are becoming more dangerous. In addition, the restructuring of international relations, connected with the processes of globalization, access of non-state actors to the world stage, put forward the problem of diplomacy involvement in the creation of a new image of the world.

Thus, taking everything into consideration we can state that we have observed key ways in which diplomacy is changing and how durable these changes are likely to be with all necessary details in the body of this paper.


Works cited:

Acuto, Michele. ‘Diplomats in Crisis’, Diplomacy and Statecraft, vol.22, no.3, September 2011.
Bell, Coral. The Conventions of Crisis: A Study in Diplomatic Management. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1971.
Holsti, K. J. Taming the Sovereigns: Institutional Change in International Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.
Kennedy, Paul. The Parliament of Man: The Past, Present, and Future of the United Nations. New York: Random House, 2006.
Lebow, Richard Ned. Between Peace and War: The Nature of International Crisis. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981.
Leguey-Feilleux, Jean-Robert. The Dynamics of Diplomacy. Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 2009.
Putnam, Robert D. ‘Diplomacy and Domestic Politics: The Logic of Two-Level Games’, International Organization, vol.42, no.3, 1988.
Richardson, James L. Crisis Diplomacy: The Great Powers since the Mid-Nineteenth Century. Cambridge; Cambridge University Press, 1994.
Sending, Ole Jacob, Pouliot, Vincent and Neumann, Iver B. ‘The future of diplomacy: Changing practices, evolving relationships’, International Journal, vol.66, no.3, Summer 2011.
Slaughter, Anne-Marie. A New World Order. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004.