Formal Diplomacy

Diplomacy is formal channel from which states communicate. It is one of the tools of a state to implement its foreign policy.

Functions of diplomacy:

An ambassador (as a diplomat functions to implement the foreign policy of his/her country such as:



Substantive Representative

Symbolic Representative

Propaganda Figure

To gather information and report back to the home office. Each diplomatic mission has intelligent officers who measure the public opinion, track information and assess the image of their home country in the host country.


This information is important in the process of decision making.

Negotiation is a combination of art and technical skill that attempts to find a common ground among two or more divergent positions. The act of two leaders to sign a treaty is the outcome of a lot of effort that is exercised by ambassadors and other such personnel.

Why do you consider it to be an art?

To act as a substantive representative means to 1) convey to the weaker host country the perceptions of the home country, 2) explain and 3) defend the policies of the diplomatís country. Misperception is dangerous in world politics, and the role of diplomats play in explaining their countriesí actions to friends and foes alike is vital to accurate communications.

Can you give me an example of misperception in world politics?

Diplomats personify their countries. This means that the existence of a personal representative of the chief of state of another country symbolizes the desire and the good intentions of the regimes of two countries to pursue friendly and cooperative relations with each other.

Do you agree: "This element of diplomacy is one of the conditions of a state to exist."

The existence of a diplomatic mission may be nothing more than a propaganda figure. Egyptian ambassador to Israel and Israeli ambassador to Egypt were just propaganda figures especially in times of cold peace and severe disagreement between the two countries.

Modern Diplomacy:

Multilateral Parliamentary Diplomacy

Open and Public Diplomacy

Leader- to- leader Diplomacy

Wilsonís call for a League of Nations symbolizes the rise of this type of diplomacy. Each organization (regional or global serve as a panel for multilateral diplomacy. The increase in this type of diplomacy is attributed to the usefulness of international organizations.

The UN General Assembly with its 188 members certainly is the most obvious example of this type of diplomacy.

It is a strategy that diplomats use to influence not only leaders but also public opinion and other subnational actors. The main mechanism for public diplomacy is propaganda, that is, to talk to media or in front of media to create an overall image that enhances a countryís ability to achieve diplomatic success.

Propaganda in this sense is an attempt to influence another country through emotional techniques rather than logical or presentation of empirical evidence. The US has sponsored for a long period of time the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe to propagate for its foreign policy during and after the Cold War.

However, nobody can negotiate in public or create personal confidence between negotiators in public.

This is called as well summit diplomacy as national leaders meet with each other bilaterally or multilaterally.

This is rare and controversial type of diplomacy because that it enables leaders to achieve breakthrough if they can or reach an ultimate gridlock if they cannot reach the agreement.

Rules to be an effective Diplomat?

If you are a negotiator/diplomat of country A who serves in country B, to be an effective diplomat, six rules are to be considered in this regard:

  1. Be realistic: Understand the balance of power between the A and B.
  2. Be careful about what you say: You have to weigh words carefully. (Ex. David Levi once said that "I am going to burn Lebanon."
  3. Seek common ground: be ready to reach compromises, do not start by giving concessions. If you have to, do not give two successive concessions. Wait for B to take a similar step.
  4. Understand the other side: misconception or lack of appreciation may lead to wrong decisions.
  5. Be patient: Take your time, do not feel that you have to reach a conclusion at a certain point of time.
  6. Leave avenues of retreat open: It is axiomatic that even a rat will fight if trapped in a corner. Give B the opportunity to save face or prestige when they give concessions.

Available alternatives available to Diplomats:

The art of negotiations as well would lead diplomats to choose between different alternatives.



Direct negotiations

Smaller room for misinterpretations

May not be possible if the two countries do not have mutual diplomatic recognition. Ex. Israel and Palestinian Liberalization Organization before 1993.

Indirect negotiations

Negotiations through an intermediary could be the only possible mechanism in the absence of mutual recognition.

Bigger room for misinterpretations

High Level Diplomacy

When a national leader negotiates or send a message, the process will be taken more seriously than if any lower level personnel conduct it.

If negotiations are maintained by high-level officials, this would block the possibility that officials at lower levels could resume negotiations.

Low Level Diplomacy

If negotiations are maintained by low-level personnel, this would maintain flexibility as officials at higher levels could resume negotiations.

Some countries could consider that type of negotiations as just "trial balloons" and not serious talks.

Coercive Diplomacy

To threaten (rather than to induce) your opponent to react as wish on one condition; you have the power, will and creditability to back it up.  (Example during Cuban crisis)

If the threats do not work, this could (1) worsen the credibility of the country and opponents in the future may as well be encouraged to challenge the state; (2) lead to real wars with its havoc.

Reward-offering Diplomacy

In some cases, it is the only plausible alternative. You buy what you cannot win. You cannot invade oil-exporting countries to guarantee oil.

In some cases, there is no carrot to offer so you have to use the stick. (Give some examples.)

Being Precise negotiator:

This helps avoid misunderstanding, save time and effort.

This puts the country under the severe criticism of international public if it retreats its commitments.


This may help a country retreat its vague commitments.

May lead to confusion and take up time and effort.

Signaling by word

It could be a way to send an cheap message to the other country. (Khatimi of Iran appeared to CNN and showing respect to the US civilization.)

It may not be enough to convince the other party of the seriousness of the country sending the message.

Signaling by action

It is more effective to freeze Chinaís assets than to say "we are concerned about Chinaís threat to annex Taiwan.

It could lead to real (violent) confrontations.

Linking issues Strategy

This puts an overall clear-cut relationship with other countries. Ex. US and Cuba relations.

This hinders the possibility of gradual openness between countries.

Issue by issue strategy

It helps states benefit from their relationships with their possible enemies.

It is not ethical to participate in the continuity of an oppressive regime such as the Chinese.

Maximizing disputes

By exaggerating the enemyís actions, a country gains more international support.

This could put a country in the position of no avenues of retreat left open.

Minimizing disputes

By minimizing the dispute between China and Taiwan for instance, the US tries to avoid an unwanted confrontation or war with China. Ex. Nobody wants a war with China.

It indicates to B (e.g. China) that A (e.g. USA) is not serious enough.