Though much of the diplomatic activity is bilateral in character, the new diplomacy puts greater emphasis on the multilateral side of diplomatic practice. Therefore, diplomats have to move from one context to the other no matter where they happen to be posted — at the United Nations in New York or at the Court of St. James in London.
A. Before reading the text think of the possible answers to the following questions:
1. What is the difference between the “old diplomacy” and the “new diplomacy”? Do you think the “old and new” types are associated with time or something else?
2. To which of the above mentioned terms does the “French system of diplomacy” belong? From the course of Diplomacy do you remember what the system comprises?
3. In what way were the tasks of the diplomatic profession broadened in the twentieth century?
B. Read the text below and
1) compare your predictions with the ideas stated by the author
2) make up a plan
3) write a summary
THE EVOLUTION OF MULTILATERAL DIPLOMACY
(“Multilateral Diplomacy and the United Nations Today” by James P. Muldoon Jr.)
Diplomacy is the method by which nation-states, through authorized agents, maintain mutual relations, communicate with each other, and carry out political, economic, and legal transactions.
Although the roots of diplomacy reach back to the beginning o f organized human society, the Peace of Westphalia of 1648 is generally believed to be the origin of diplomacy as an institution, since it marked the beginning of the European nation-state system (which initially consisted of twelve well-defined sovereign states) and codified the rules of conduct among sovereign and “equal” states. The Westphalian principles of sovereignty and the territorial state that were established in the seventeenth century are the foundation of today’s multilateral diplomatic system.
The history of diplomacy is commonly divided between the “old diplomacy” that reached its zenith in the nineteenth century and the “new diplomacy” of the twentieth. The “old diplomacy” or “bilateral diplomacy” was dominated for almost three hundred years by the “French system of diplomacy”, which established and developed several key features of contemporary diplomacy-resident ambassadors, secret negotiations, ceremonial duties and protocol, honesty, and professionalism. Old diplomacy was predominantly limited to the conduct of relations on a state-to-state basis via resident missions (embassies), with the resident ambassador being the key actor. The “new diplomacy” that emerged in the nineteenth century and found its fullest expression in the twentieth is distinguished from the “old” by two themes: “First, the demand that diplomacy should be more open to public scrutiny and control, and second, the projected establishment of an international organization which would act both as a forum for the peaceful settlement o f disputes and as a deterrent to the waging of aggressive war”.
The vestiges of the “old diplomacy” rapidly faded into the background after World War II, when the “standing diplomatic conference” (or, as it is more commonly known, international organization) and multilateral diplomacy blossomed. By the middle of the twentieth century, the international arena had become too big and too complex for traditional bilateral diplomacy to manage, unleashing the unprecedented drive of the past fifty years to build international and regional organizations with defined rules of procedure, permanent secretariats, and permanently accredited diplomatic missions and gradually shifting the emphasis in diplomatic method from traditional bilateralism to multilateralism. This was a particularly important development in international relations.
As a consequence, the “new” diplomacy, especially as it is manifested in the United Nations, broadened the tasks of the profession, subtly changing how diplomats conduct their trade. Today, the tasks of a diplomat include:
(1) Formal and substantive representation (the former involves presentation of credentials, protocol and participation in the diplomatic circuit of a national capital or an international or regional institution, while the latter includes explanation and defense of national policies and negotiations with other governments);
(2) Information gathering (acting as a “listening post”);
(3) laying the groundwork or preparing the basis for a policy or new initiatives;
(4) reducing interstate friction or oiling the wheels of bilateral or multilateral relations;
(5) managing order and change; and
(6) creating, drafting and amending international normative and regulatory rules. Multilateral diplomacy emphasizes diplomats’ public speaking, debating and language skills since communications are conducted principally by means of verbal, face-to-face exchanges rather than in the predominantly written style of bilateral diplomacy.
The expansion and intertwining of political, economic, and social issues and concerns on the agenda of multilateral diplomacy have pushed diplomats towards greater specialization, and increased involvement in external affairs of domestic ministries, such as those concerned with agriculture, civil aviation, finance and health. As Sir David Hannay, former permanent representative o f the United Kingdom to the United Nations, points out: “You have to have a reasonable spread of specializations.
You now certainly have to have military advice. And on the development side, you have to have people who know something about environment, who know something about population control, who know something about wider development policies”. Also, multilateral diplomacy has overlaid the task of the international system on the diplomats’ traditional function of advancing and protecting national interests within the system.
The quotation is from Hamilton, Keith, and Langhorne, 1995.
“The Practice of Diplomacy”
Comprehension and discussion questions:
1. Where can the evolution of diplomacy be traced back?
2. What are the key features of contemporary diplomacy?
3. Why was the emphasis in diplomatic method shifted from bilateralism to multilateralism?
4. What skills does multilateral diplomacy require?