What is diplomacy - definition, functions, principles and methods

"Diplomacy is the art of curbing strength." These words belong to the legendary Henry Kissinger, the former US Secretary of State and an expert in the field of international relations, who holds the 1st place out of 100 in the ranking of the world's leading intellectuals. Indeed, a huge number of wars and tragedies have been prevented due to peace negotiations between states and their representatives. In the article we will consider what diplomacy is, its types, functions, means and methods.

Definition of the term and its origin

In ancient Greece, envoys to other states were given with them waxed wooden or bronze plates with the text confirming the ambassador’s authority to speak on behalf of the ruler. These boards were doubled together, hence the name "diplomas". The term “diplomacy” went from there, but did not have wide distribution until the 17th century.

In 1693, the eminent German philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz first used him in his work The Code of Diplomatic Law. The next milestone in the understanding of peaceful relations was the writing by Frenchman Frans de Caler of the book On Ways of Negotiating with Sovereigns in 1716.

Briefly, diplomacy can be explained as follows: it is an art of negotiation that allows for a peaceful way to resolve the differences that arise between states. As an example, we can use the term elaborated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs: “Diplomacy is the activity of the heads of state, government and special bodies of foreign relations to implement the goals and objectives of the state’s foreign policy, as well as to protect the rights and interests of the state abroad.”

what is diplomacy

The history of diplomacy before the war

It can be considered that its primitive form originated with the advent of a tribal society and its attendant tasks: the division of territory, the exchange of goods between tribes. Even within the tribe of elders who deal with local issues, it was possible to consider them to be peculiar politicians.

With the emergence of states, diplomatic art takes more perfect forms. For example, Egypt already 3.5 thousand years ago signed an agreement with the neighboring Hittite state to provide each other military assistance against an internal enemy.

Even earlier, the beginnings of international law and world diplomacy appeared in India. According to the laws of Manu, an Indian representative must possess professional qualities that would help him recognize the plans of a foreign state.

Ancient China concluded non-aggression agreements with neighboring states. But due to the isolation of the East from the rest of the world, these countries did not have a significant impact on world relations, unlike Rome and Greece. However, it should be said that the heritage of the Greeks and Romans was not particularly appreciated and was subsequently appreciated. The Greeks skillfully intertwined politics with deception, and the basis of Roman diplomacy was the principle of "divide and rule", which consisted in stirring up strife between neighboring states.

Much more loyal attitude to the Byzantine Empire - the first in the history of the state, which preferred to solve all external issues by peaceful means.It was the Byzantines who first appeared in most states.

XVI century - the time of growth of diplomatic activity. The powers that be began to realize that much greater good could be achieved for their state by acting in peaceful ways.

During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, France dominated the world stage. She advocated the creation of an international body, under whose control international relations would be, but this plan was never implemented.

After the Napoleonic Wars in 1815, the Annex to the Act of the Congress of Vienna determined the legal status of ministers, ambassadors and other persons in the territory of a foreign state.

The history of diplomacy in the postwar period

The beginning of the 20th century revealed in the world community intractable conflicts that eventually led to a terrible tragedy in the history of mankind - the first World War. The Versailles Peace concluded in 1919 was fragile and illusory. The powers that be understood that in order to avoid a repetition of the tragedy, it is necessary to have an international body capable of resolving the emerging contradictions.

It was believed that this body will be the League of Nations founded in the same year.However, a significant disadvantage was that the powers of the established body were very limited and concerned only the military component. It can be said that military diplomacy of this period reached its highest point of development, while economic, commercial and other spheres stood aside. As it became clear in the future, the functioning of the League of Nations did not help to avoid the Second World War, which was even more ambitious and bloody. This fact, as many historians believe, speaks of the failure of the policy of diplomacy of this period.

In 1946, the League of Nations was replaced by the United Nations (UN), which took over the restoration and functioning of the post-war world. Along with military issues, economic and social aspects were tackled, which gave a powerful impetus to the development of peaceful relations.

In 1961, the “Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations” was adopted, which united and structured all the theoretical and practical aspects of peaceful relations that had existed before. The provisions of the convention remain relevant today.

public diplomacy

Appointment diplomacy

Its functions are activities aimed at peaceful international interaction. Namely:

  1. Representation.This is a foreign state or international organization. The current trend is the existence of a large number of intergovernmental organizations whose purpose is to resolve basic daily issues.
  2. Conduct of negotiations. This is the most important function of diplomacy, because on time and successfully conducted negotiations can prevent military conflict.
  3. Gaining favor with other participants in international relations is a guarantee that they will be strong and productive.
  4. Conducting exploration and information mining.
  5. Communication, including correspondence.
  6. Ensuring the protection of the interests of citizens of their country abroad is also one of the most important functions of diplomacy.


Scientists are carefully studying what diplomacy is. They believe that her methods, applied skillfully and in aggregate, are the art of negotiation. Here, the method is a set of specific methods of influencing the subject in order to achieve the task.

So, the main methods of diplomacy are:

  • bilateral and multilateral negotiations with the direct opponent;
  • engaging the public to help combat aggression, terrorism, nationalism, racism and radicalism;
  • organization of delegation of powers, mediation in the negotiation process;
  • pursuing a policy of transparency in relation to actions taking place in the international arena;
  • the use of ultimatums, compromises, intimidation and other methods of pressure;
  • propaganda and the use of contradictions and differences in the team of the enemy;
  • attraction and use of the influence of non-governmental organizations;
  • concealment from the public masses of the essence of agreements and agreements at the interstate level through the creation of treaties that do not require ratification.

It can be said that various methods are used in diplomacy to achieve the goals set.

history of diplomacy

Means of modern diplomacy

The means of world politics are called ways of reaching certain agreements and compromises. Among them are:

  • official visits;
  • meetings, conferences, meetings;
  • the permanent representation of the interests of the state abroad, which is performed by the embassy;
  • preparation, discussion and conclusion of international treaties and other diplomatic documents;
  • conducting business correspondence;
  • implementation of the publication of documents, as well as media coverage of the goals and position of the state at the international level.

Principles of Diplomacy

In legal science, principles mean fundamental principles. In diplomacy, they are general and special. The first group includes:

  • recognition of the sovereignty of the state, its independence, identity;
  • non-interference of representatives of diplomatic relations in the internal affairs of the host country, which has long been enshrined in international law.
  • non-use of force.

To special include:

  • adherence to international law and international customs;
  • mutual respect and recognition of equality of partners in diplomatic relations, without which full cooperation is impossible;
  • precautionary-proactive nature of the work, its timeliness.
  • upholding the interests of their state, but also respecting the point of view of the partner.

All principles are implemented not only by public diplomacy, but also by other kinds of it. Consider them below.

international diplomacy

Types of diplomacy

In legal literature there are the following main types:

  1. Public diplomacy.It is the establishment of long-term relations abroad, the study of public opinion of a foreign audience, and its information about the values ​​and institutions of their own state.
  2. The policy of appeasement. Its essence lies in such an activity of the state, which has as its goal not to aggravate the existing contradictions. Achieved by concessions on minor issues. Textbooks cite as an example of the policy of appeasement of the actions of Britain and France against Germany on the eve of the Second World War.
  3. People's diplomacy. Its essence lies in the continuous communication and interaction of peoples, the influence of cultures on each other and the enrichment of each of them with new values.
  4. Gunboat diplomacy. The gunboat is a small but seriously armed ship. The essence of this tactic is to intimidate the enemy by demonstrating his military power.
  5. Shuttle. It takes place in resolving disputes between the two states with the help of the third, subject to the conditions set forth by it.
  6. Dollar. It is clear from the title that here we are talking about the provision of loans and the use of other economic methods of influence.
  7. Digital.Gaining special popularity in the last decade, its essence is propaganda, promotion of its interests through the Internet.
  8. Trade diplomacy (or economic). Is the direction of foreign economic activity, which is based on trade and economic relations.

Diplomacy and international law

These two concepts are closely interrelated. International diplomacy is a means of expressing a country's foreign policy. And foreign policy, in turn, is the course that the state follows in international relations. In order to maintain peace and the existing order, diplomacy should in no way conflict with international law.

States carry out their activities in various ways: through international negotiations, the presence of state representations in international organizations, correspondence, contracting, etc.

With the help of the norms of international law, the diplomatic activity of the state is regulated, the powers of the participants in such relations are regulated.

 diplomacy politics

Diplomatic law

In the literature there are two points of view regarding the essence of diplomatic law.Some scholars distinguish it into a separate branch, others consider it a sub-branch of international law. Be that as it may, there is a greater unanimity in the definition of the term: it is a system of legal norms that regulates the status and functions of external relations bodies (diplomatic missions, consular organizations, etc.) that support the country's foreign policy.

For a long time, the only source of diplomatic law was custom. Only in the 19th century did the first attempts to unify it begin. In 1815, the Vienna Regulations, which enshrined the ranks of state representatives, were adopted, and in 1818, the Aachen Protocol, which supplemented it. Almost 100 years later, in 1928, the Havana Convention on Diplomatic Officials was concluded between Latin American countries and the United States, which is observed by them to this day.

In 1961, the Vienna Convention was adopted. Over the next decades, its provisions were supplemented with several regulations on peaceful relations between countries.

The system of diplomatic law is as follows:

  1. Bilateral relations (special missions and diplomatic missions).
  2. Multilateral relations (participation of delegations in international conferences).
  3. Permanent representation in foreign countries and international organizations.

Participants of international relations

Above it was considered that such diplomacy.Who is involved in such a relationship? In the scientific literature there is a division of the participants of such relations into domestic and foreign.

The first are:

  • head of state (sole or collegiate);
  • government;
  • Office of Foreign Affairs (in the Russian Federation - the Ministry of Foreign Affairs).

Foreign, in turn, are divided into permanent (diplomatic missions, permanent missions at international organizations) and temporary (for example, delegations at international conferences).

public diplomacy

Modern politics

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the “new” Russia faced difficult internal and external tasks. In fact, the country had to redefine its priorities, especially in foreign policy. The interests of the state in the world arena took into account the geopolitical situation, history, economy, population.

Modern Russian diplomacy is focused primarily on the promotion and protection of national interests, ensuring the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the state.

The stake is on multilateralism, versatility, because every day the world community faces new problems and threats that can only be confronted on a collective basis.

The Russian Federation is an active member of such international organizations and associations as the UN, OSCE, CIS, Shanghai Cooperation Organization, G8, G20, etc.

world diplomacy

Diplomatic privileges and immunities

The Vienna Convention of 1961 determined that such diplomacy and gave recognition to the full sovereignty and independent position of the representative of the state, its inviolability. This means that he is not subject to arrest or detention, and the host country is obliged to take measures to avoid attacks on his identity.

The private residence of a representative of the government, and the place of his temporary stay (for example, a hotel room) also enjoys immunity and protection. The diplomat is immune from the criminal jurisdiction of the host country, and also exempt from taxes and fees, state and labor duties, and is deprived of the right to vote in elections.

Immunity is valid from the moment of his arrival in a foreign country and ends when he leaves the country (or is expelled from it).An interesting fact is that immunity acts on the body of a representative of interests when he dies in the host country.

What is diplomacy for the state? It can be said that this is an integral part of his relations with other countries. In the modern world, it plays an important role. Diplomacy is studied and improved. It helps to solve many issues on the interaction of states.

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