The existence of diplomacy can be traced as early as 2100 BCE in Mesopotamia. Diplomacy has been an essential tool when it comes to maintenance of international affairs which includes but is not limited to prevention of war, fortification of economic, social relations, etc. In order to ensure a harmonious world order, a peaceful relation, we cannot imagine a world devoid of diplomacy. The existence of international organizations and their functions would be nullified if not for diplomacy. This article will first deal with its brief history and then the role it has played in establishing both peace and certain other relations amongst countries.
One of the most important and crucial documents that has helped us trace back the roots of diplomacy has to be the Amarna letters written by the pharaohs of 14th century BC. These letters on clay tablets are basically diplomatic correspondence between the Egyptian administration and their representatives in Canaan and Amurru.
In Ancient India, the evolution of diplomacy as an instrument could be credited to Kautilya and his Arthashashtra. Kautilya in his Arthashashtra vividly defines how diplomacy and in particular a state’s envoy could be brought to use to secure a bilateral win over enemies. In short, it provided comprehensive ways in which other kingdoms could be forced to submit by subtle alliances being made with such kingdoms. In order to avoid conflict between mutually powerful kingdoms, an agreement of sort could be reached where both kingdoms could prosper from what they had on offer for each other, ultimately resulting in a win-win situation for both.
Diplomacy in the modern-day world has evolved over its past experiences. The post-World War era has inevitably required for a permanent mechanism to be established in order to ensure the maintenance of world peace. The gross violence that the world witnessed over the two World Wars led leaders in believing that a better dispute mechanism setup had to be formed for prevention of atrocities in the future. There is indeed an entirely different debate on whether diplomacy or diplomatic relations have indeed succeeded in achieving the ultimate goal, but to a larger extent, it has been achieved.
The creation of the United Nations was both a symbolic and effective way of sending out a statement of intent. Since its inception, the UN has become a hub of international diplomacy where world leaders could converge and put out their message for all others. The UN has been a perfect stage for mediation and arbitration amongst countries. The UN may have at certain times failed at upholding its ultimate goal, but its failure can largely be attributed to the hypocritic participation by member countries.
The primary reason for diplomacy to exist has always been: to foster and maintain better relations. When talking specifically about diplomacy between two countries the primary ambition has been: ‘representing a state’s interests and conducting negotiations or discussions designed to identify common interests as well as areas of disagreement between the parties, for the purpose of achieving the state’s goals and avoiding conflict‘. Negotiation leading to the finding of common interest amongst countries has been a penchant for modern-day diplomacy.
The other major function that involves diplomacy, as discussed in the introduction, is the furtherance of social, economical, political and cultural interests. It is easily understandable that apart from the avoidance of conflict and preventive diplomacy, fostering relations in the arena of social, economical, political and cultural is equally important. Economic diplomacy has resulted in the expansion of businesses between countries which has finally led to profitable economic upliftment for the countries involved. Economic diplomacy has also enabled smaller countries to negotiate and in fact fulfil certain business-oriented aspirations with developed countries.
However, the ultimate fact remains that no bond is stronger between countries than the furtherance of a common political motive. Post World War 2, both the US and the United Kingdom renewed their political-diplomatic relations with the aim of exterminating Communism in Europe and in America. This particular politically motivated goal and the imminent threat that they perceived to their dispensation put them together like a strong adhesive towards a common interest. The earliest diplomatic relations (post World War II) between them was evidence of such interests.
Allied Aspects of Diplomacy
Diplomatic Immunity The concept of diplomatic immunity, which simply means no harm, has to be inflicted upon the envoy of a country who is residing in another country is considered sacred. It is no secret that in certain conditions diplomatic missions had to face situations unbecoming of what it actually should have been. A typical example of this could be the 1979-1981 hostage crisis in Tehran, Iran of US diplomats. The 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations laid basic principles on diplomatic immunity and prevented persecution of diplomats on foreign soil. Diplomats who committed a crime in another country were supposed to be sent back home and tried under domestic laws for their actions. Diplomatic immunity also allows diplomats certain other privileges such as no-frisk situations while travelling on official duty.
Espionage Diplomacy has always been and will always be closely associated with espionage or spying. There have been numerous incidents when spies under the guise of diplomats are given official desk positions in order to understand and unearth certain military or political schemes of specific interest to other countries. Spying is legally a serious crime under the law of various countries. The punishment could be as mild as being deported back home or as serious being executed. All diplomatic privileges are subject to abuse. When the sending State invokes immunity for espionage, an act outside of official functions, it is taking unique advantage of its diplomatic protection. It has abused the privileges and immunities recognized by the law of nations and the receiving State, with attendant repercussions on the international plane.
Sir Henry Wotton, a late sixteenth-century English diplomat, said that ‘an ambassador is an honest man sent to lie abroad for the good of his country.‘ This statement, however humorous, could be both true and to a certain degree, incorrect. The paramount criteria for diplomats and for diplomacy to work is honesty between the countries. However, in order to invoke certain deals and in order to reach a mutual understanding over an area of common interest, it must be understood that diplomacy is not always honest. It is at times fallacious in order to the continued maintenance of peace and prevention conflict. However important the areas of social, economic or cultural may seem towards relations between countries, the ultimate goal remains that of prevention of war and conflict between countries. Because in the end, peace is what it aspires to achieve.