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The concept of old diplomacy and bilateral alliances may seem like an outdated idea but it is one i believe still holds resonance in modern times. There are many examples of diplomatic institutions and old diplomacy was used to stop wars or prevent them. This period is usually defined as being before the ww1 era. These institutions would include ministries of foreign affairs ,many of which still exist today across the world.  At a time when the league of nations was formed and multilateral diplomacy was becoming widespread,there were still peace treaties being formed between two states.

The conflict between Ireland and Britain led to the Irish war of independence in 1919 and was a serious threat to the British Empire. The resulting Anglo-Irish treaty was due to diplomatic talks in London between the prime minister Lloyd George and Arthur Griffith, the irish minister for foreign affairs. The Irish -British  relations until the present day is a good example of old diplomatic institutions being used ,especially during the peace process. The good friday agreement in 1998 and the Anglo Irish agreement in 1985 show that bilateral talks are still relevant.


Bilateral diplomacy is now done on a more insignicant scale compared to the pre ww1 era. It is through modern means such as cables between foreign ministries and embassies. These institutions are not as important as as multilateral organisations such as the ICC and the EU. Desptie the growth of multilateral groups, states have maintained their sovereignty and have the option to withdraw from treaties and organisations. Also with more states than ever before there are more bilateral relations between countries. This also includes nations that are not recognised by all states such as Kosovo. They are in the process in making relations with other states and most recently,Serbia. Despite them not recognising them, as of 2011 talks have taken place in Brussels between the two and in 2013 an important agreement was reached. The historical institutions of old diplomacy may not exist in the same capacity as before but this form of dialogue is still important today and in unique situations can work alongside multilateral diplomacy to good effect.



Trade diplomacy: The Posh the Crazy and India

  ImageTrade has always been one of the features of modern societies; in fact, it is one of the basic elements that define contemporary social behavior. However, when addressing trade in a frame for international diplomatic negotiations, the movements towards the liberalisation of markets and free trade during the 1990s reinforced the importance of diplomacy in such an environment. The multilateral diplomatic approach in Uruguay to address issues relating to the previous GAT system as well as the negotiations involving the Creation of NAFTA are good examples of the value put in diplomacy towards the international trade system.

 However, these negotiations do not completely assess the full magnitude that international trade managed to place in the diplomatic sphere. This is because these negotiations were only taken at state level, disregarding the participation of non-state actors one of the main characteristics for Trade Diplomacy.

The recent visit of the posh Prime Minister David Cameron with the largest British trade delegation to ever visit a foreign country displayed the importance that privet enterprises have in the contemporary diplomatic system.

Image This is because in a world where Globalisation is a prime feature of the International System, international trade is vital for domestic economies. According to some analysts, this trade delegation was of extreme importance to increase trade relations between the UK and India, which at present are considered to be very poor in relation to the size and significance of India’s global economic position.

ImageAlso recognising the importance of India for trade and investments. The iconic and crazy by nature mayor Boris Johnson in a minor scale managed to take a delegation of businessmen to India with the purpose of promoting London’s business and increase trade between these two poles.  As Boris remarks India’s fast economic growth and increasingly urbanisation and economic class present a fine opportunity for London in terms of attracting investments, tourism and exports. His business delegation substantially promotes the key markets London is trying to gain through this visit. As the delegation was comprised by members of sectors such as the retail, financial and construction services. 

The New Diplomacy: A Carousel of International Political Negotiations



 The “New Diplomacy” is one of those terms that still elude many people. This is so because academics, political analysts and even students use different criteria to determine the features for which they assess the nature of the new diplomatic practice.

 Some would argue that the technological advancements in communications are to be considered the main feature for the “New Diplomacy”. While others would remark that the public aspect of the practice should be considered the principal characteristic that substantially determines the new form of diplomatic practice.

 However, it is of my opinion that the most significant dimension of the New Diplomacy is the fundamental structure that supports and frames the workings of diplomacy at present time. Multilateralism and the multilateral diplomatic bodies have to some extent redesigned the way diplomacy is conducted, however, not disregarding the functionality and the importance of the traditional diplomatic bodies.  

 While the technological and public aspects have promoted significant changes in the diplomatic spectrum. The creation of multilateral bodies for diplomacy reinvented the way diplomatic negotiations are undertaken. They broke the bilateral pattern of alliances and to some extent diminished the importance of power when settling disputes. Even if some consider diplomacy to be undemocratic, the manner in which the multilateral diplomatic bodies are designed allied with the voting process that happens at the decision-making level in such institutions, make multilateral diplomacy a democratic process to the possible extent.

 Multilateralism also managed to include poor and weak states into the diplomatic sphere, giving them the opportunity to promote themselves internationally.  It has also acknowledged the importance of external actors and NGOs as important players in international politics. Most importantly is the fact the multilateral diplomacy has absorbed the technological and public aspects that many claim to be the most significant features for the “New Diplomacy”.

 However, it’s important to recognise that hardly any important decision is taken through multilateral diplomacy. This is mainly because of the dynamics of the practice mentioned above in addition to national interest. I tend to analyse a multilateral diplomatic negotiation as a group of representatives mounting their little horses backs, specially painted with the colours of their respective nations in a carousel-like environment, endlessly riding to arrive at the same place they departed from. In spite of all the shortcomings multilateralism has, it is still the most significant dimension of the New Diplomacy for all the changes it has applied to the diplomatic spectrum.



Trade Diplomacy: Powerful Western Oil Companies in Developing World

The colonial era still in place in most developing nations in Africa, Middle East and Latin America, when it came to trade and resource manipulation where the west trying to dictate and guide the rest to what is good for them.

The trade diplomacy was very active and present after colonial withdrawal from most of African countries in late 1950’s and 1960’s to continue a relations based on interests between new nations and old rulers, so, one of these trade companies was western oil companies to produce oil and gas and sell to the developed world.


Although Oil and Gas rich countries have their own companies (nation owned companies) still the main producers and suppliers are west owned companies like Shell, Chevron, Conoco, BP, Total, Royal Dutch Shell and others. According to Guardian newspaper, these companies become the front runners of west trade diplomacy where all business deals with Gulf nations and Africa used in their channel.

There are serious accusations on these companies relating with corruption, payment of bribes to government officials and selling illegal arms to guerrilla groups or even creating armed oppositions in certain countries to win deals from government.  On the other hand, in the crisis time these oil companies take very important steps to minimize these crises in back channel diplomacy.


Different U.S and British Intelligence sources revealed that unnamed oil companies participated the elimination of Angolan guerilla war leader Jonas Savimbi and later won oil and gas drilling deals in the country. Oil companies often paved the way for new diplomatic relations between two countries with further business deals like import and export goods, arms, food, technology, exchange trainings and other essential things.


One good example is, most of Gulf nations are regular clients for U.S, Britain and France to receive constantly heavy and light weapons, while these rich countries export their natural resources to western markets. In similar step, U.S President Barak Obama invited newly elected president of Somalia Hassan Sheikh Mohmoud in White House to inform him that U.S still wanted to see all energy deals with Somalia before nation collapse in 1991 to remain unchanged and instead of that U.S will give Somalia full recognition and advance cooperation.  





Environmental Diplomacy and the role of Non-state actors

There has been an increase in international attention towards the environmental questions over the past years because as we look to the future, population growth, economic development, and technological change are likely to increase the demand for natural resources.

The main concerns are that, environmental degradation and previous exploitation of these resources will decrease the supply. Environmental issues have continued to be discussed and have moved up in most international agenda since the mid-1980. Environmental diplomacy has involved an increasingly range of actors like intergovernmental organisations, United Nations, International institutions and non-governmental organisations.

Non-state actors have contributed to the international world and will continue to. They  have become a vocal platform for the involvement of civil society since the 1950’s.There are a private initiative that are usually involved in the developmental projects on a non-profit basis and have  sufficient power to influence and cause a change in international relations .These groups do not belong to any established institution of a state. Their importance in the negotiation of issues related to Environmental cannot be over looked.

This article will focus on a particular negotiation relating to an environmental issue by non-governmental organizations as non-state actors.

Greenpeace is a non-governmental environmental organization with offices in over forty countries and focuses campaigns on world-wide issues such as global warming, deforestation, over-fishing, commercial whaling, genetic engineering, and anti-nuclear issues. Greenpeace uses direct action, lobbying and research to achieve its goals. This global organization does not accept funding from governments, corporations or political parties, relying on its 2.9 million individual supporters and foundation grants.

Some of their successful stories include negotiating for the EU to ban importation of illegal timber importation after Greenpeace uncovered illegal logging in Russia’s Far East and occupied a Russian timber ship in 2000 to highlight this problem. They also revealed Finland’s illegal timber trade with Russia and took action by occupying the roof of Admiralty Arch in London to draw the world’s attention to these issues. Other achievements include uncovering illegal timber being used in the refurbishment of the Houses of Parliament and exposed uncertified plywood being used to renovate an official EU building. And then in 2009, Green Peace lodged a complaint before the Public Prosecutor at the Court of Nantes against one of the world’s leading international timber and wood products wholesalers.


The organization states that after two years of difficult negotiations, a compromise was reached which, while it isn’t everything we might have hoped for, is still going to be a massive shot in the arm for forest conservation. The law will ban illegal timber from Europe. The EU is a huge market for timber; the world’s largest in fact, so this law will have a significant impact on the global timber trade. All companies operating within the EU will be required to establish a traceability system for wood products. And offenders could be fined. It will also strengthen the European Union’s Forest Law, Governance and Trade programme (FLEGT), a series of agreements between the EU and forest countries to try and stem the flow of illegal timber into Europe.

In conclusion, it must be said that, the rise of organisations such as Green Peace has championed the area of helping to improve the world’s environment. Their approach, which has been termed as Environmental Diplomacy, such as direct action, lobbying and reporting their research outcomes have helped bring the environmental degradation menace and its consequences to the fore. Current research has enabled non-state actors embrace environmental sustainability by getting the local people involved. Also, countries are now obliged to respond and act accordingly to safeguard their environments for posterity.


  1. Barston, R.P (2006) Modern diplomacy Published by Pearson Longman.



Environmental Diplomacy

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Non-state actors happened to take the most  important role on environmental issues at domestic and international levels. It participates and influences  the behaviour of states in different aspects  concerning the environment, since the days on Stockholm conference organised by the United Nations where many states come together to discuss the problem the non-state actors contributed a lot in its deliberation, since then they were forefront on major international activities. Non-state actors was accepted by their role as consultative capacity by the United Nations . continuously due to the climate change their role increased tremendously although their powers are limited yet non-state actors continue overseeing the protection of the environment, they assess  how the national governments  take steps for protecting it.

Copenhagen conference on climate change was one of the most important venue where non-state actors major role although nothing much was achieved, as environmental problems is the responsibility of the international community and no state can tackle it the only solution can be achieved if all states address the issue multilaterally but in reality each state or group of states see differently how to be solved after all the conference was attended by diplomats, ministers , head of states and many non-state actors organised by the united Nations. As always happens decision making is in the hands of the states when negotiations reached on agreement and the role of non-state actors are limited but has considerable influence on the process and beyond.

However the participants in the conference did not reach on conclusive agreement and divided into several groups, as developing nations argued that it is the responsibility of the developed states to reduce its pollutions and provide funds, technology and assistance to the developing states. Major polluters in the air such as United States claimed it had reduced already and can continue reducing it further otherwise its economy would be affected by such actions. On the other hand China and India both developing rapidly were required to reduce their emissions. The negotiations of Copenhagen  conference was not an easy one but it became clear that however it may be slow and no fruitful outcome yet it was realised that long term vision is needed.

Johannesburg Summit 2002

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Multilateral diplomacy has grown in relevance over the last few decades. In the past most multilateral organisations or meetings were set up to prevent or stop war. Nowadays it is becoming the dominant form of diplomacy and it is used to deal with the growing problems which exist in the world today. Many issues now need to be dealt with on a global or regional level, and multilateral diplomacy is the most efficient way to get all the concerned parties together rather than through separate bilateral negotiations. Issues such as global warming, migration and drug/human trafficking are problems which cannot be tackled by two countries but need the cooperation of all countries to achieve success in reducing the problems. One problem with multilateral diplomacy is that of, how to get all the parties to agree on issues.  Too many actors’ leads to agreement on the lowest common denominator and it is often vague what these agreements actually mean. Another problem with these multilateral institutions is that the agreements are not legally binding. In the U.N. for example which is the main symbol of multilateral diplomacy, weak states that go back on agreements can have sanctions imposed upon them. However, the same rules don’t seem to apply to the stronger states such as U.S. and China, or some of their closest allies such as Israel. And it is often these stronger states which are a barrier to successful negotiations. Too many states aim to achieve the best for their national interest, and when it comes to the stronger states, they are less willing to give anything away in negotiations. With such a diverse set of national interests throughout the members of the U.N. it can be hard to achieve anything. Fortunately, unsolved negotiations in the general assembly can go through the Security Council to be passed although any of the permanent five members can use their veto to sabotage negotiations, either to benefit themselves or a friendly state. ( And in the end when negotiations have come to an agreement, it is often the case when these stronger states go back on the agreements and not have any consequences to deal with.

An issue which has not had much luck in the past when it comes to agreements in the U.N. is climate change. In 1992, the Earth Summit, or United Nations conference on environment and development(UNCED), was held in Rio di Janeiro. It was attended by government officials of 178 countries and tens of thousands of other officials, individuals, NGO representatives and the media. It was the first big step to tackle this growing problem. It was set up to discuss matters relating to climate change, poverty, war, growing inequality between countries and the promotion of sustainable development. ( A major problem with tackling these problems is that they don’t correspond well. In order to lessen the gap between developed and developing countries many more resources must be given to help developing countries. There are far more poorer states than rich ones and this would put a major strain on the environment. The promotion of sustainable and greener development needs to be the main priority, as many of the developing states get badly affected by growing problems as a result of climate change such as rising sea levels and drought, which result in famine and war. This is a cycle which is being constantly repeated in the developing world as the fight for resources becomes more desperate. These are problems which also affect the developed countries but they usually have the resources to minimize the effects, whereas the developing countries usually don’t. To achieve this sustainable development, it is necessary for the countries of the world to act collectively and the best way for this is through multilateral diplomacy. For multilateral diplomacy to work, it needs the collaboration of all the concerned parties and for them to agree on what is best for the world overall and not just what’s good for their countries.

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In 2002, the World Summit on sustainable development (WSSD) in Johannesburg was in line with the UNDEP initiative. UN secretary general Kofi Annan gave some guidance to the summit by introducing the WEHAB initiative and issuing the ten-point plan as a means to achieving the goals within it. WEHAB stands for water, energy, health, agriculture, and bio-diversity and eco-system management. These are many of the issues which would help reduce poverty, bring more equality, limit the effects of climate change and reduce the prospects for war. Within Annan’s ten-point plan, he explains how it is possible to achieve the aims of the WEHAB initiative. Suggestions like making globalisation work for sustainable development, providing poor people with more opportunities, to change unsustainable patterns of production and consumption, improve energy efficiency, manage ecosystems and biodiversity on a sustainable basis, improve freshwater supply management, and to strengthen international governance for sustainable development by promoting an integrated approach rather than a divided one where all countries only look out for their own interests. Many claimed that the WSSD was unrealistic. The realism which exists in this international system means that it would be impossible to achieve even a few of these suggestions as it is not in the interest of the stronger nations. Some of the problems with this summit were due to the run-up process which was behind schedule as it was difficult to gather support for some of the draft documents. (Schechter 2005)  Too many differences in opinion and interests are what make these summits almost useless and inefficient. Until states learn to act collectively rather than separately on global issues, not much can be achieved in summits as there are too many different actors to please. It is far easier to come to agreement in bilateral negotiations but this is simply insufficient to tackle global issues. It would be suggested that the biggest polluters should sit down to come to an agreement on reducing pollution and then other states could follow suit, but the UN can be a bit crowded to come to agreement on important issues. There was certainly less success than originally hoped but it did address critical issues as well as shining light on the problems facing humankind. Annan’s ten-point plan was certainly a guide to what needs to be done, albeit somewhat utopian in this international system of anarchy. 82 heads of state attended, other government officials, NGO’s, business’ and trade unions. However the U.S. and Russian president’s failed to attend and as always the U.S. dominated. (Schechter 2005) This is a major problem. There can’t be any one state dominate especially one which does not want to achieve the majority laid down by Annan’s plan and who consistently blocks agreements being made to tackle climate change. Also, other states who are hostile to the U.S. will not want to come to agreement on much while they are in charge. These summits are also very expensive. As Johannesburg has a lot of social and security issues, it was even more expensive to provide security to the thousands of delegates, heads of state, journalists and any other groups wishing to participate. It is efficient to have all the programmes like UNCED and WSSD within the UN working together to achieve similar goals. They find different ways to tackle problems but it will always be slow moving as long as states aim to maximize their interests in negotiations. Climate change has been a particularly slow-moving issue as to achieve gains in reducing the effects of climate change, states fear that their economies will suffer. And if one state puts their economy first, then all states will follow suit in fear of losing out. It is important to look at the internal structure of governments. How much can be done within the U.S. when energy companies have a huge say on policy issues. Without agreement by any one of the major states, nothing can be achieved.