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by on May 15, 2013


The concept of multilateral diplomacy has been a recent occurrence since ww2. Although some of its origins may go back to ancient times where alliances were formed to fight of invaders, it is on the whole a practice now widely used in the 20th and 21st centuries. It has taken place with the back drop of globalization and a growing population of the world. These events have been important because of the ever increasing communication between states on all different types of things. These include issues that were not around at the turn of the last century such as global warming, terrorism among the long list. This also means major conferences and negotiations have become necessary as the only way to get the ever growing number of states together in one room.


The rise of organisations such as the UN, the WTO and the WHO have grown in stature and strength and their membership is always growing due to new nations who want to take their seats amongst fellow independent nations. Although these groups have not always been able to achieve exactly what they want, they are very powerful and hold great sway. Depending on a particular issue, it is sometimes necessary for bilateral talks to be held rather than multilateral. The problems with multilateralism can be numerous due to a number of factors. The larger countries such as America for example have great pride of their sovereignty and often in the past they have not felt the need to bend to the will of others when it comes to major talks and conferences. This can often scupper the negotiations but for such a powerful state there is often not much than can be done to come to a unanimous decision. On the other hand smaller nations like to work with their close neighbours and partners to help further causes that may affect all in a similar manner. The nations are small wealthy states such as Norway, Switzerland, and the Benelux countries.


A famous important multilateral conference that I note as a good example is the Yalta conference in 1945. It was a success in terms of how agreement was reached on post war Europe and has gone down in history as a pivotal moment in recent history and the start of the cold war. Despite only having three leaders present, hey were the most powerful men in the world at the time and in time would become enemies. The occurrence of this agreement would be the start of much larger negotiations and these have increased over the years and now have hundreds of leaders present. On the whole multilateral diplomacy appears to be a nice idea that creates an image of harmony between nations. But with current issues so divisive it is more often than not that decisions cannot be reached and therefore more disputes will happen.



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  1. Multilateral diplomacy is indeed a growing factor within the international system and more organisation grow and develop on the basis of multilateral diplomacy. The limitation of multilateral, mentioned in your article, shows how the difference in states and ideas can sometimes make negotiation hard and bilateral would seem like the best option.

  2. With the growing importance of issues such as terrorism and global warming, as mentioned in the article above and which were hardly paid attention to in previous times, the significance of state conferences and negotiations have also risen. States being brought closer to each other through the help of technology and communication, bring more attention to the multilateral diplomacy.

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