What is Diplomacy?


ediplomacyThe subject of International relations is incomplete without understanding of diplomacy as it is very significant chapter of International Relations.

The Oxford dictionary defines diplomacy “the management of international relations by negotiation or the methods by which their relations are adjusted and managed.  Diplomacy as a process by which states and other international actor pursue official international relations, reconciling, competing and conflicting interest through peaceful negotiation.

Political philosophers described it “art” and practice of conducting negotiations between representatives of groups or states. It usually refers to international diplomacy, the conduct of international relations through intercession of professional diplomats with regard to issues of peace making, trade, wars, economics, cultures, environment and human rights.

International treaties are usually negotiated by diplomats prior to endorsement by national politicians.

Social Sense of diplomacy:

In an informal or social sense, diplomacy is the employment of tact to gain strategic advantage or to find mutually acceptable solutions to a common challenge, one set of tools being the phrasing of statements in a non-confrontational or polite manner.

The process of diplomatic processes, dealing with the study of old documents also owes its name to the above, but its present meaning is completely distinct from that of diplomacy.

Diplomatic Recognition

Diplomatic recognition is an important factor in determining whether a nation is an independent state. Receiving recognition is often difficult, even for countries which are fully sovereign. For many decades after its becoming independent, even many of the closet allies of the Dutch Republic refused to grant it full recognition.

Today there are a number of independent entities without widespread diplomatic recognition, most notably the Republic of China (ROC) on Taiwan. Since the 1970s, most nations have stopped officially recognizing the ROC’s existence on Taiwan, at the insistence of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

Currently, the United States and other nations maintain informal relations through de facto embassies, with names such as the American Institute in Taiwan. Similarly, Taiwan’s de facto embassies abroad are known by names such as the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office.

The Palestinian National Authority has its own diplomatic service, however Palestinian representatives in most Western countries are not accorded diplomatic immunity, and their missions are referred to as Delegations General.

Diplomatic Immunity:

The sanctity of diplomats has long been observed. The sanctity has come to be known as diplomatic immunity. While there have been a number of cases where diplomats have been killed, this is normally viewed as a great breach of honor.

Genghis Khan and the Mongols were well known for strongly insisting on the rights of diplomats, and they would often wreak horrific vengeance against any state that violated these rights.

Diplomatic Rights:

Diplomatic rights were established in the mid-seventeenth century in Europe and have spread throughout the world. European diplomats realized that protection from prosecution was essential to doing their jobs and a set of rules evolved guaranteeing the rights of diplomats. These were still confined to Western Europe and were closely tied to the prerogatives of nobility.

Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961

In the 19th century, the Congress of Vienna reasserted the rights of diplomats; and they have been largely respected since then, as the European model has spread throughout the world. Currently, diplomatic relations, including diplomatic immunity, are governed internationally by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which has been ratified by almost every country in the world.

The Diplomatic Relations Act of 1978

The Diplomatic Relations Act of 1978 follows the principles introduced by the Vienna Conventions. The United States has had a tendency to be generous when granting diplomatic immunity to visiting diplomats, because a large number of U.S. diplomats work in host countries less protective of individual rights. If the United States were to punish a visiting diplomat without sufficient grounds, U.S. representatives in other countries could receive harsher treatment.

If a diplomat does commit a serious crime while in a host country he may be declared as persona non grata (unwanted person). Such diplomats are then often tried for the crime in their homeland.

Ambassadors and other diplomats are sometime recalled temporarily by their home countries as a way to express displeasure with the host country. In both cases, lower-level employees still remain to actually do the business of diplomacy.

Types of diplomacy

There are a variety of diplomatic categories and diplomatic strategies employed by organizations and governments to achieve their aims, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

Appeasement: Appeasement is a policy of making concessions to an aggressor in order to avoid confrontation.

Soft power: Soft power, sometimes called hearts and minds diplomacy, as defined by Joseph Nye, is the cultivation of relationships, respect, or even admiration from others in order to gain influence, as opposed to more coercive approaches.

During the 20th century the United States commonly seen as having the most ability to exercise soft power because its wealth and economic involvement in the world giving it respect around the world. As a result the many nations looked to the U.S. for leadership or as a model to emulate even without any overt coercion.

Monetary diplomacy: Monetary diplomacy is the use of foreign aid or other types of monetary policy as a means to achieve a diplomatic agenda.

Gunboat diplomacy: Gunboat diplomacy is the use of conspicuous displays of military strength as a means of intimidation in order to influence others.

Public diplomacy: Public diplomacy is exercising influence through communication with the general public in another nation, rather than attempting to influence the nation’s government directly. This communication may take the form of propaganda, or more benign forms such as citizen diplomacy, individual interactions between average citizens of two or more nations.

Nuclear diplomacy: Nuclear diplomacy is the area of diplomacy related to preventing nuclear proliferation and nuclear war. One of the most well-known and most controversial philosophies of nuclear diplomacy is “Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD).”


Diplomacy, however, is primarily used to reach agreements, compromise and settlements where government objectives conflict. It involves whether in privates meetings or publicized conference the attempt to change the policies, actions, objectives and attitudes of other governments and their diplomats by persuasion offering recovered exchanging concession or making threats.

What is Diplomacy?