Diplomacy and the Modern World

The Muslim Observer

Diplomacy and the Modern World

By Mahrukh A. Mughal

Mahrukh Mughal is a master’s degree candidate in International Relations. Writes on Political, Social and Diplomatic Issues.  Her opinions are her own.


makhrukhDiplomacy has been practiced since the inception of Civilization. In the ancient times diplomats were sent only for specific negotiations and their area of influence was so limited that they would return immediately after their mission concluded. Their sole purpose was to seek negation with other states to develop friendly relations as well resolving certain issues between the two countries. Diplomacy and trade have also been closely linked with each other. Early modern diplomacy started with the European Renaissance. To resolve political issues among the European Powers the rules of modern diplomacy further developed. Ambassador became the top ranking representative of the state. The congress of Vienna of 1815 was the hall mark in establishing an international system of diplomatic rank to resolve disputes among the European powers.

Bismarck of Germany was renowned for his skill in exercising diplomacy in the international relations. So the role of diplomat from the position of a negotiator evolved into a persona that represented an autonomous state in the area of political affairs. Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations in 1961 formalized the rights of the diplomats to protect them from the danger of being persecuted while they are on their diplomatic mission. Diplomatic immunity is also given in case a crime is committed by a diplomat.

No country can afford to keep itself aloof in this complex political world. International diplomacy is a part of international laws, governed by certain conventions, rules and principals laid down by international bodies namely by the UNO. It is an art of conducting negotiations in regional and international relations to resolve conflicts and issues through diplomacy. It also provides opportunity to make good ties with other countries for developing socio-political, cultural and economic cooperation.

Diplomatic mission is carried out by the diplomats who represent their country in the UNO or in any country where they are deputed. There are different group of people who are on diplomatic mission, like Ambassadors who are the full Incharge of the embassy and envoy extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary, Minister Resident and Charge D, Affaires etc.

This is the sole responsibility of the head of the state to guide, plan and give a correct direction to diplomacy in the foreign affairs. In the formation and organization of foreign affairs the Secretary of the State / Foreign Minister and the Secretary Foreign Affairs play a vital role. The foreign office is the main institution in regard to the looking after of international affairs.

There are many types of diplomacy which have been instrumental in the development of international relations. Diplomacy either-single track, track two, multi-track, summit and open / secret has its merit and demerits, however, it is influenced by a complicated combination of different interrelated factors depending on the specific nature of issues a historical stage.

Modern day’s challenges after the cold war era are more complex owing to the growing extremism in religious and political ideologies. During the two world wars, cold war era, tension between the two opposite blocks diplomacy became a subsidiary instrument of power politics and ideology. Despite many flaws and weaknesses international diplomacy had had its significance by developing multinational institutions and regional and sub-regional organizations. The EU, APEC, ASEAN, CIS, NAFTA and SAARC have come into existence through the exercise of diplomacy.

The instrument of Public diplomacy was much used by the Americans during the cold war era as the conduct of international relations. International law is related with its enforcement quality by ensuring to abide by the agreements, treaties, protocols conventions, covenant, acts and memorandum of understanding so on.

In the modern international law, the significance of “international Treaty” to create international rules is lightly increased. Despite all these efforts failures have also been observed in the enforcement mechanism in certain cases. Enlarging and institutionalizing the “Universality” of Human rights is one of the most important achievements made by the international treaties after the 2nd World War. The Geneva conventions played crucial role in formulating humanitarian laws.

Accords, alliances, conventions and treaties are the result of negotiations carried out through some kind of diplomacy. The United States and Great Britain ended the revolutionary war with the treaty of Paris in 1783. In 1973 representatives of 80 countries agreed on a convention on international trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to protect rare plants and animals around the world. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was formed in 1949 to serve as a bulwark against threats by the communist war saw pact in Eastern Europe. The US South Korea mutual defence treaty in 1953 is example of bilateral agreement between two countries. Similarly KYOTO accord was done among nations to limit the emissions of greenhouse gases.

Therefore diplomacy as an instrument to maintain international harmony among nations or to complete a specific agenda between the two countries for the bilateral relationship is necessary in this political world and without diplomacy, much at the world’s affairs would be abolished, international organization would not exist and the world would be at a constant state of war. In the absence of diplomatic relations with a country of interest, it is difficult to achieve a successful pursuit of foreign policy goal.


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