Diplomacy in International Relations

Each century believes that its time is exclusive and uncommon, an ideal change from past actions and how international relations was regulated. Diplomacy is an art and process of handling and managing negotiations, usually between states and/or states’ representatives, it involves mediation and intervention of trained diplomats regarding matters of trade, culture, human rights, peace and reconciliation, economy, security, wars and the environment. Diplomacy is usually operated under the institution of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs(MFA) which serves and acts as the principal contact for diplomatic and strategic missions, it also works with established institutions through which its diplomatic services are realised (Embassies and Consulates). The Embassy serves as a representative building that houses diplomats (envoys, ministers, and ambassadors, consulates).it served as a point where citizens and tourists can go to, to seek for help in the circumstances of any trouble. Diplomats often work within the MFA in the capacity of representation, advocacy, negotiation, policy advice and representation and policy coordination. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in its contemporary model has evolved as a major system and school of the Westphalia order that is it can be seen as a combination of procedures, rules, standards and patters that controls and coordinates formal communication and interaction among nations. Diplomacy operates differently from one state to the other based on practices and conducts of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that has increasingly evolved over many years of interstate communications. This system is entrenched within the MFA through which messages and information is passed across to and from domestic governments and foreign governments; advice on policies of international matters, conducting foreign affairs. In present times, as a result of revolution, the institutionalised methods of interaction between states is under pressure. The aim of this essay is to examine to what extent the MFA is an evolving institution. The evolution of the MFA is examined within the context of traditional diplomacy as posited by Young (1921), this will be contrasted with text Jorge (2006) which explores the MFA as a continuum through the rise of multilateral diplomacy which is a shift away from bilateral diplomacy.

Traditional diplomacy also referred to as old diplomacy. In earlier times to mid nineteenth century, the MFA, which is a body through which the foreign affairs of a country is managed, practised traditional diplomacy solely (Young 1921) Traditional diplomacy can be examined in three scopes; the structure which is based on state approach where the state is the principal actor in international affairs, the process which has been a private affair for a very long time due to its bilateral nature, it depended on a limited frame work instead of other diplomatic approaches and lastly, the agenda of traditional diplomacy which is basically on security matters (Anderson 1993). Traditional diplomacy as practised under the MFA rested on the premise of the charismatic nature of the society, it relied on a form of limited social contact which had elements of stereotype ideas of gentle and noble diplomats. Aristocrats were the major players in the time when traditional diplomacy was strictly practised by foreign affairs institutions as a result of the priority placed on ownership of property, the distinctiveness of the appointment procedures of diplomats and also the idea that only certain class and members of the society has the essential character to be outstanding diplomats (Young 1921). Calculated efforts were made to manage and carry out diplomatic activities secretly the foreign office (MFA) usually responded with consternation whenever those outside the aristocratic class get wind of diplomatic business or try to gain knowledge of foreign office activities (Kennan 1984). The activities of the MFA was in most cases shielded from public scrutiny and perusal, this is because the appointments of diplomats within the foreign office is tightly controlled and managed by the executive arm of the government and in some cases, they were under the direct ruling of the monarch, this was encouraged due to the nineteenth century limited size of the diplomatic society (Kissinger 2012). During the most part of the 19th century, embassies were few, hence, there was limited room to get into the top level in the diplomatic community and service. In the late 1860s, Britain had only 7 embassies around the world due to its practice of old diplomacy and the limitations this practice to expansion of the MFA roles and functions (Watson 1984). The MFA’s function is to coordinate and manage bilateral and multilateral relations between nations and its state, it also managed administration, protocol and consular activities. Although traditional diplomacy has been the bedrock of contemporary diplomacy under the MFA, it is considerably and extensively supplemented by new features which shows the evolving institution of the MFA as posited by Young (1921).

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Jorge (2006) asserts that the conception of multilateral diplomacy accounts for the evolving institution of MFAs around the world. Multilateral diplomacy has to totally taken the place of bilateral diplomacy rather, beach has individual roles to play and are both means by which countries seek after their goals and objectives, this indicates that bilateral and multilateral diplomacy are both embedded in the international structure the practice of multilateral diplomacy has increased over the years which involves a dramatic shift in how international actors operates and also foreign policy at the end of the cold war (Langhorne 2005: 332). There are two major determinants that accounts for the evolution of the MFA; the emergence of new communication and information techniques and its influence on the diplomatic process, the rise of various diplomatic actors, (non-state actors in particular) which has become a primary part of international affairs and relations, therefore, state actors are no longer sole participants in the diplomatic process, a few scholars have termed this to be the end of state actors’ involvement (Winston 1992)diplomacy under the MFA is now experiencing major transformations in reaction to the developments in information technology, which does not only have enormous effects on the diplomatic process but which has also brought about other models of diplomacy; public diplomacy, cultural diplomacy, transformational diplomacy, diaspora diplomacy and virtual diplomacy (Jorge 2006). Multilateral diplomacy fully emerged in the twentieth century after the establishment of the League of Nations created after the First World War and also the creation of the United Nations after the Second World War due to the increase in globalisation and inter dependency between nation states. The MFA has evolved and embraced multilateral diplomacy more than ever before. As the world becomes more accessible with the aid of advancement in technology, it is becoming more interdependent which furthers the MFA’s evolution, with the conception and establishment of such international organisations like; Arab League, United Nations, European Union, African Union, and others (Kelly 2010:290). The need for cooperation in a world that is becoming more globalised has led to the evolution of the MFA from its past feature of involving only state actors to the inclusion of non-state actors 9Jorge 2006)

Further to thus, the September 9, 2011 attack signified the age of globalization and the knowledge that evil and terrorism has become borderless, the aggressors that perpetuated this act used the elements of globalization; internet, mass media and mass travel, to achieve the terrorist actions. International menace and perils is now, more challenging to individual states because these threats have no respect for borders and boundaries. Famine, migration, climate change, diseases, terrorism, cyber-attacks and transnational crime are increasing in the international arena(Jorge 2006). Multilateral diplomacy involves various actors and also encourages collective responsibility. Individual and organisation involvement in diplomacy is increasing and has made the MFA more polygonal because the menace challenging the world today does not only affects individual nation states, it affects the safety and preservation of humanity in general. The MFA is an evolving institution due to the rising multipolar nature of the world, visa application that required one’s physical presence to fill forms can now be done directly through the internet. Gathering of information is also an aspect where MFA has evolved, access to information has been the major responsibility of diplomats, the monopoly of information by the MFA has drastically reduced because the activities of foreign offices has become increasingly open after the second world war and also the involvement of public participation in conflicts that resulted and is resulting to warfare (Saddiki 2001:95). The diplomatic mission need not be directed by the MFA to manually search for documents which would be sent by post or through diplomatic travels which is time consuming and exhausting other these documents can now be found quacking through the internet and online archives, these can now be sent to representatives of other states with immediate effects. Thus, the MFA as an institution has evolved from basically pen and paper, bogus use of intermediaries to fast paced internet access and disintermediation where the exclusive use of diplomats as intermediaries has been cut down. Diplomats are increasingly relinquishing their former role of gathering and transmission of data and are now more concerned with new high level diplomatic activities. Classical administrative processes carried out by MFAs in the past has been simplified through the use of the internet which has helped to save time, cost and also makes it possible for more parties to be involved in the negotiation process (Akasha 2012).

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The MFA as an evolving institution has evolved from its practice of exclusive old diplomacy to imbibing the elements of public diplomacy. Public diplomacy operates beyond governmental activities, it spreads to the private sector activities and further to the society at large and the conventions of a people. Leonard (2002) claims that public diplomacy is for the common good when looking at how effective and useful it is has become. It is basically to promote the interests of a nation through comprehending, communicating knowledge and moulding/shaping targeted country’s opinions, it is about relationship building, understanding other nations’ culture, people and needs, passing across ideas, mending false perception, gaining positive grounds and working towards a common goal. it goes beyond the MFA’s old practise of traditional diplomacy, it is hinged on the basis that a nation’s image, prominence and notoriety should not be private but public which can either create a facilitating or debilitating environment for exchange (trade, educational, cultural and otherwise). It improves people’s knowledge and awareness of one’s country and its relationship with foreign states, strengthens relations and cooperation through a multi-dimensional process. This approach to diplomacy by MFAs seeks to grasp the rising trends in international relations where we see a number of private individuals, NGOs and private organisations acting as frontiers of their nation’s policy to exchange and partake with other countries. Globalisation has extremely made it possible for the MFA to be evolving and has also incorporating non-state actors to be empowered and also promotes their relevance in the international level (American Security Project 2013). Public diplomacy is a transparent method through which countries relate with other countries and its people for the purpose of enlightening and shaping their views solely for the aim of furthering the interests and also making sure its foreign policy aims are promoted, it is a conception that has evolved over the years. The major feature of public diplomacy is direct communication with the people of foreign nations, influencing foreign governments through its citizens and also putting forth the image of one’s country in a positive light. It deals with factual discourse and clarification of a country’s foreign policy and culture to foreign audiences, boosting understanding, listening and engaging in dialogue (Leonard 2010). The British Broadcast Commission is an example of the use of public diplomacy, although partly funded by the British government, it is independent of its influence, this media corporation aims is to promote the British image positively through programs that show cases its culture, traditions and people thereby attracting foreign relations (Leonard 2010). The Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme is also an organisation through which public diplomacy is practised, where university and college graduates are invited to be participants of cultural and educational exchange, they are given the opportunity to hold position within Japan and experience first-hand, the way of life of the people of Japan, this programme has been able to extend the goodwill and also promote foreign relations (Melissen 2005).

Greenpeace is a very good example of the involvement of non-state actors in diplomatic processes, its main goal is to ensure global environmental stability by directing its energy towards issues like; deforestation, nuclear weapons production, climate change, overfishing and the likes, using such tools like; campaigns (lobbying), direct actions and investigation (research) (Jennifer 2011). Even as a non-state actor. It has been a participatory member of the London Convention since 1983.it played an enormous role in the campaign against waste dumping into oceans and it is recognised as one of the major popular and enduring campaigns against environmental decline, the use of celebrities to champion causes and act as informal representatives of states. A further example is the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions’ (CHRE) significant contribution to Kosovo’s Protection of Land and Property Rights by developing the Housing and Property Directorate (which is now Kosovo’s Property Agency within the scheme of the United Nations interim administration mission in Kosovo(Kelly 2010: 290).

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Jorge (2006) examines the challenges faced by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as an evolving institution. Globalization is a major problem to nations, the problem is mostly obvious in the financial contingency that has befallen many nations like Indonesia, Brazil. This challenge does not only tow the line of economy. Within the political arena, the number of forces which has given rise to the continuous evolution of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (diplomacy); inter-state dependency, low cost of communication, which has resulted to an increase in the number of non-state actors, churches, private individuals, – has led to complex decision making by the government and legislative arm, where all these external actors have to be engaged and involved in diplomatic processes which, many at times, leads to diverse opinions and agreements that could further cause a divide(Jennifer 2011).

In conclusion, the diplomatic agenda of MFAs has evolved since the onset of globalization of international relations and the end of the cold war, the end to strict and stiff alliances, the departure of the Soviet menace and threat, and the rise of democracy which is being practised in more nations than before is a major impact on the evolution of MFA which has led to more activities on regional and international levels due to the interconnectedness of states. It’s a crucial instrument for providing solutions to global threats and challenges such ass labour and human rights, humanitarian aids, trade and others, Kerr and Wiseman (2012). The conception and increase of the involvement of non-state actors and non-governmental organisations after the cold war also depicts the evolving institution of MFA especially issues relating to the society; the involvement of International Campaign to Ban Landmines (which is a non-governmental organisation) is seen as a major factor that influenced many countries into signing the Ottawa treaty to ban the use of landmines in 1997. As most things in life, the MFA has evolved over the centuries and is still evolving, these changes has been defined by two major periods which are identified in terms of the practice of old (traditional) diplomacy and new (multilateral) diplomacy, Hamilton and Langhorne(2011). Nijhoff (2009) attributes the evolution of the MFA to the critical shift in the basis of old diplomacy procedures and the world wide integration of international relations including the evolution of communication methods. Thus, international agenda now has new concerns and issues. Further changes and evolution of MFA is anticipated as the years go by and as world politics changes.


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