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The Evolution of Diplomacy

by on March 29, 2013

Arguably diplomacy has shifted its course in the second half of the twentieth century from being too narrowly focused, secretive and exclusive, to being widely open and inclusive. Two main stages of diplomacy can be outlined as ‘traditional’ and ‘new’.

After the peace of Westphalia for example all independent European states maintained permanent diplomatic representatives with all other powers in the sphere of their interests, and the right to send and receive embassies began to be considered a test of sovereignty. The forming of ‘new diplomacy’ adapts the post war world to the new demands of people and states. One of the most considerable changes can be revealed as the tendency of greater openness followed by rising of public security and control. Since new diplomacy gave the public more information and awareness of world politics and issues there is an increase in public opinion and a change in the way diplomats tackle it. Though the public doesn’t have the authority to have a direct political control they have the power of lobbying and influencing by raising their voice.

The ‘traditional’ diplomacy consists of excessive secrecy and limitation in the circle of people involved in the issues of the diplomatic world. In the 19th century for instance it was compulsory for diplomats to be aristocrats. Absolute secrecy was required in order to keep successful negotiations confidential between the states involved. The media as part of new diplomacy could be seen as an instrumental role on the transparency of new diplomacy. We can use the recent G20 summit, discussing the prospects for the BRICS and G20 summits through China’s contribution, as an instance of an international forum which is being watched and discussed openly by the public. So while traditional diplomacy is a process of communication strictly between states and diplomats, the new one is a process of negotiation opened to the public sphere.Image







Speculum, Vol XII, A Journal of Mediavel Studies, [accessed on 29/03/13]

People’s Daily Online, 2013, Prospects for the BRICS and G20 Summits through China’s contribution,,  %5Baccessed on 29/03/13]


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  1. almohamed100 permalink

    Indeed in your article you mentioned how diplomacy develop through long period passing several stages, starting secrecy and only state to state or rather bilateral communications between states and it later became necessary that more states can work together for a common purpose which is more open. International conferences you mentioned shows us how transformation of diplomacy took place.

  2. Your article is very interesting and mention some very interesting factors linked to new diplomacy, i especially like the part about indirect public involvement and how because of technology there is more openness and transparency among the actors within the international system.

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