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The New Diplomacy

by on May 17, 2013


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The term new diplomacy has no one definition and it is a term under constant debate as to its current meaning and its origin. At the time of the treaty of Westphalia in 1648, this term ‘new diplomacy’ was coined in this new system of sovereign states. These set of summits, which were held to establish peace and order in Europe in its Westphalian form, were a major step in what the international system is today. Previous to 1648, heads of state did not meet on a multilateral basis, while today it is a regular occurrence with events such as the G8, the G20 and many others, held a couple of times a year. Over a century and half later the Congress of Vienna was held in 1814/15. This conference was held in order to bring peace to Europe after the Napoleonic Wars. The next big step in this direction came in the form of the League of Nations which was created once again to establish peace and order in Europe after the devastation of WWI. This was the first organization which committed itself to holding regular meetings to talk about world affairs. The main problem with this organization was that not all the world powers were signed up to it, most notably the United States. This left the organization weak and divided and would become more divided with the rise of fascism in many European countries. The League of Nations collapsed and was replaced by a more efficient model, the United Nations, which was established after WWII. This organization included all the major states and still survives today in a more developed form. It is a well-established organization and has many branches, such as USAID and many more, to tackle a range of issues within society. Today, nearly every country of the World is a member of the UN. In the early days of multilateral conferencing, it was always in the search of peace between warring parties. We see this same pattern being repeated until after the creation of the UN when multilateral organizations sprang up and states started using multilateral diplomacy to achieve its national interest, rather than always taking the bilateral route, which had failed on a number of occasions to tackle the growing number of problems which faced the world.

This use of multilateral conferences has grown dramatically with the current trend of Globalization. Many say that ‘new diplomacy’ refers to how much easier and faster diplomacy has become with such advancements in technology in the areas of communication and transport. This has made multilateral conferencing much easier, with attendees from all over the world being able to go from their destination to where the conferencing is taking place in less than a day. It is now common practice for heads of state to travel abroad many times a year. Also diplomacy is no longer simply between state actors, but increasingly involves non-state actors like NGO’s and corporations and more. The state is simply not enough when deciding the faith of the world but we need more specialist organizations such as those named above to input more brainpower into decision-making, and these organizations are rapidly gaining influence in world affairs.
The New Diplomacy in my eyes refers to the beginning of multilateral conferences. Not only did it allow for many states to participate in negotiations but it was also a good chance for states to participate in bilateral diplomacy. This type of diplomacy changed the proceedings of diplomacy and how states would interact, whereas technology just made diplomacy easier and faster.


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