5. Parliamentary Diplomacy

11 Nov

Parliamentary Diplomacy

1. Diplomacy at present is the consequence of the many transformations and changes that have taken place in the international arena due to technical process and social change.

2.  It is clear that contemporary diplomacy constantly and simultaneously uses a variety of methods, reflecting the greater suitability of each of these particularly if it achieves the specific objective in the specific circumstances to which it is applied.

3. Diplomacy today is the joint action of different sub-types of diplomacy integrated into a common base. In these times, one can speak of “public diplomacy,” “cyber diplomacy” or “mass diplomacy,” “economic and trade diplomacy,” and also of “cultural diplomacy” and, among others, of “parliamentary diplomacy.”

4. The term, “parliamentary diplomacy,” was coined by the noted scholar and politician Dean Rusk. However, it was in 1956 that Professor Philip Jessup, the American scholar, diplomat and jurist, conferred scientific value to it. The Mexican diplomat, César Sepúlveda, who has also written widely on this form of diplomacy, explained that this kind of diplomacy has special importance as a source of rules of political behaviour since it can function as an agent for the creation of legal norms while contributing to the evolution of genuine international law.

5. With regard to parliamentary diplomacy, in recent years, publications in the field of law and social communication use the term to refer to a different concept that has been recorded for decades in the field of international law and international relations. It refers to legislative actions and decisions with international implications. These decisions promote, expand and support internal and external decisions by the State.

6. Parliamentary diplomacy also involves the necessary linkages with inter-parliamentary agencies and civil society organisations in promoting discussions and debates involving global issues such as human rights, integration, environment, migration, drug trafficking, among others; and also conducting research and producing literature to substantiate the findings arising out of these forums.

7. Parliamentary diplomacy is a particularly useful instrument and as a perfect complement to traditional diplomacy. International action by parliaments currently manifests itself in multiple and variable forms, such as: a) The numerous activities in the area traditionally known as inter-parliamentary relations which include the meetings of occasional or permanent delegations, parliamentary forums and parliamentary assemblies; b) Formation of “friendship groups” with members of parliament of another country; c) The activity of the Speaker of Parliament in meeting with representatives of foreign governments;  d) Participation of parliamentary delegations in regional parliamentary forums.

8. In the same context, certain contemporary treatises on public international law and diplomatic law include modern parliaments as agencies involved in external relations, along with the traditional roles of Heads of State, foreign ministers and foreign ministries. These treatises that support such inclusion in most countries seek to engage its parliamentary members in a more active and direct formulation and control of foreign policy.

9. In this regard, parliaments in many countries carry out such roles as the adoption of treaties, approval for the appointment of ambassadors, and declaration of war and peace negotiations, which are the extremes of traditional diplomatic action. Similarly, their participation may be indirect through the work of the parliamentary committees, the plenary debate, and the summoning of foreign ministers to answer questions and provide information on the State’s foreign policy. Significantly, parliamentary diplomacy is also a form of action that aims to get an agreement through the creation of majorities within the existing legislative institutions.

10. Parliamentary diplomacy in its development evokes the dynamics of the various local and regional legislative groups with special interests and has similarity to legislative lobbying, seeking consensus and the corresponding manoeuvers in national assemblies.

Copyright © 2012 by Odeen Ishmael

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