Archive | August, 2013

42. Public opinion on foreign policy

30 Aug

Public opinion on foreign policy

1. Contrary to what usually happened in the past, nations are living in an era where the citizen can exercise, to a certain extent, an increased pressure on the formal exercise of power, especially in certain areas, and even in the exercise of foreign policy.

2. Governments often tailor its foreign policy based on the interests of the State, preferably with the support of public opinion, although in some instances this is not done. However, today it is increasingly difficult to conduct a foreign policy that is not based on certain popular consensus. The support of enlightened public opinion greatly strengthens the external action and the diplomatic skills of the State concerned.

3. Public sentiments could overrule a government’s policy, weakening the competitive position of the State, or compel the government to make certain concessions or, by contrast, show a stiff but inappropriate resistance. At certain times, public opinion is a stimulus, in other cases, it can force a retreat. Sometimes it serves to unify but it also can divide.

4. Regarding foreign policy, and other matters within the competence of the modern State, the government must be able to provide a public reason – legal, moral, economic or otherwise – contrary to happened in times of so-called secret diplomacy, for any position it takes on international issues.

5. Citizens often do not fully understand the complex arguments surrounding major strategies and the international rules involved. But all of this can be made clear through a public relations strategy of the Foreign Ministry.

6. Formerly the conduct of those who wielded political power was often dictated by personal considerations. Today, by contrast, it is generally accompanied by a continued focus on communication with the population. The people, now more than ever, want simple, straightforward and accurate information which will encourage them to render support to aspects of the State’s foreign policy.

7. Due to effective public action, the print media, radio, television and especially the electronic media have become instruments of diplomatic action (in the context of the implementation of the foreign policy) and dialogue among peoples. These media outlets are virtually in the hands of governments who can take advantage of them to carry out a policy of presenting information to the general public on a regular basis. A persistent spread of information always results in influencing public opinion.

8. Recognising that knowledge is one of the elements of power, the first duty of those responsible for external actions of States is to have efficient mechanisms, both to learn effectively and to inform on specific issues.

 © by Odeen Ishmael


41. Reciprocity in international relations

19 Aug

Reciprocity in international relations

1. Reciprocity is considered a universally accepted principle of international law applies in international relations under which a State adopts a given behaviour symmetrical in response to that adopted by another State.

2. In matters of diplomacy, the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations provides that, subject to the provisions of the Convention, a State may apply a restrictive interpretation to another in response to a similar action of the latter.  However, the principle cannot be interpreted to mean that a nation, by virtue of following a certain behaviour to another, is entitled to demand a parallel treatment. The interpretation is that a State may refuse a particular treatment to another if the latter refuses to take an attitude similar to that of the former.

3. Reciprocity is a principle deeply rooted in the international arena and it allows to a large extent the advance of diplomatic relations. This principle has formed the basis for the application of diplomatic privileges and immunities to the laws of the defence, and also for non-compliance mechanisms of provisions in international treaties.

4. Politically, a historical event of application of reciprocity was the conclusion of the Basic Principles Agreement between the then U.S. president, Richard Nixon and President of the Soviet Union Leonid Brezhnev, which took place in May 1972. The Agreement stated that discussions and negotiations regarding outstanding issues between the U.S. and the Soviet Union would be carried out taking into account the principle of reciprocity and that the parties would try to provide satisfaction to each other with the aim of obtaining mutual benefits.

5. Reciprocity is undoubtedly a practical concept in international relations. In that sense it is equivalent action depends on an action or reaction of another State. The equivalence does not require absolute reciprocity since, in some cases, it is impossible to determine whether an action is exactly equivalent to the other. For instance, it is difficult to measure the equivalence between the promise of a State to defend another against a third State and the authorisation of the allied State where the troops will be stationed.

6. It is also difficult in some cases, whether the action is reciprocated with exact equivalence to each other. The requirement of reciprocity equivalence illustrates the fact that many in the international relations are not reciprocal. In this regard, historically there have been reciprocal claims or demands deemed fraudulent and actually hiding methods of domination or exploitation.

7. It must be emphasised that the theory of international relations of reciprocity is considered an instrument for achieving the development of relations of mutual trust and long-term mutual obligations and an incentive for compliance with international standards. Likewise, it is considered a fundamental principle for the interaction of states to effectively manage crises.

8. Reciprocity has played an important role in generating cooperation and conflict resolution between states. But it can also play a role in the dynamics of conflict and may lead to a reciprocal cycle of violence depending on the nature of the action that is regarded as reciprocal.

9. Cooperation must respect the principle of sovereignty of States. Reciprocity is considered an appropriate form of behaviour that creates cooperation between sovereign states. It can take place both between two states, i.e., either bilaterally or between more than two States, or multilaterally. It implies a conditional action that depends on the actions of others.

10. Reciprocity cannot in any way be interpreted as retaliation, although a State that is inexperienced in handling the application of the principle could interpret and apply it in that way. Retaliation, unlike reciprocity, is a limited reaction of a State against a certain behaviour that harms another state, which is contrary to international law, but which presumably is justified by the previous violation of that right by the other State. Retaliation is undoubtedly a reaction against the spirit and essence of reciprocity.

© by Odeen Ishmael

40. Peculiarities in diplomatic practice

14 Aug

Peculiarities in diplomatic practice

1. A recurring feature that characterises many diplomatic efforts is the professional skill that must be demonstrated by diplomatic agents in carrying out actions that require the most exquisite courtesy.

2. It is evident that the practice of contemporary diplomacy cannot be confined only to this traditionally effective method. The diplomat, as part of his responsibilities as executor of the State’s foreign policy should be trained, among other important activities, to analyse, evaluate and also act accordingly, given the opportunities, risks and antagonisms that often interact in the dynamics of international politics.

3. In this regard, a large number of countries that are part of the international community have been perfecting their relevant legislation, and related bodies, under which they have institutionalised diplomatic functions. They have established a hierarchical structure in different positions, grades or categories which the officer, after preparation, climbs up the system through promotion.

4. Some governments appoint special officials versed in diplomatic law to their Foreign Ministries, Some are also posted to their embassies in different countries where they provide special assistance to the ambassadors, particularly at times of diplomatic negotiations.

5. Some countries place special importance on the value of these experts in diplomatic law and actually discourage them from leaving the service of the State for careers in the private sector.

6. While diplomacy was considered initially as a series of actions in one direction, it now tends to be awarded great importance to the dual aspect of the diplomatic function, namely, the relationship of the head of the permanent diplomatic mission with his own government and his dealings with the host government. Thus, in his dual role, he must convince not only his government, but also the host government as well.

7. Actually, his most difficult task is to convince himself that his action is correct. This confirms the validity of the essential requirement for the exercise of diplomacy when the diplomat’s bargaining power should prove to be effective.

8. In discharging its responsibilities, the diplomatic mission should refrain from offending the government and the institutions of the receiving State. In essence, the role of the mission is to promote peace and harmony, and this requires it to maintain a serene restraint at all times and to quickly smooth out any difficulties which may arise. But it must always act with firmness in defending the interests of the sending State without any display of arrogance or improper behaviour by its diplomats.

9. It is essential that the diplomat has a special provision for human relationships, enabling him to be well received even during a difficult period. Diplomatic actions are marked by the personality of the diplomats and high State officials. Consequently, a diplomat’s action must project that he is well educated person, cultured, with the appropriate good manners, capable, and with full mastery of the principles, rules and procedures governing diplomatic functions, and extensive knowledge of international relations. He must also be equipped also with the skill, tact and restraint required for conducting any diplomatic exercise.

© Copyright

39. External Negotiations

12 Aug

External Negotiations

1. Negotiation as a tool for diplomacy is characterised today as a mark of other methods of external action, such as the use of force. It is the only known method by which a diplomatic agent can enforce the rights and interests of his country, when it comes in reconciliation with the host country. Certainly negotiation is an essential part of any diplomatic action.

2. International negotiating aims, inter alia, to maintain peace between states, making it possible to develop harmonious relations and promoting cooperation, through preventing or overcoming the disputes and conflicts. Usually, this function is intended to achieve diplomatic understanding and it can result in treaties between States and other subjects of international law on matters of common interest.

3. Negotiation has established itself as the first and most effective means of resolving international conflicts. Similarly, it has become essential diplomatic technique to promote national interests. In this context, it should be remembered that for achieving the objectives of the negotiations it is essential to allow personal contacts, accommodations and commitments that can lead to a satisfactory outcome for all parties.

4. No doubt, the global economy and, in general, the international environment, has undergone tremendous changes. The twin processes of globalization and increasing technological innovations have led to an intensification of relations between the various members of the international community, accelerating the integration schemes and multiplying political and economic policy frameworks and forums for international negotiation and consultation.

5. The major changes that these processes have generated in the international arena lead to redefine the country’s integration into the new world system and, therefore, to reformulate, to a certain extent, its implementation of diplomacy. What tends to ensure the effectiveness of efforts in this area is the diplomat’s vast expertise in international affairs which is constantly updated and also his expertise in specific areas of diplomatic negotiation.

6. This new dynamic has resulted in a greater complexity in international negotiations. For example, the increasing specialisation and the tendency towards a more interdisciplinary approach in the diplomatic work as a result of the expansion and diversification of the international agenda items, match, paradoxically, with increasing difficulty to separate the economic, political, legal and social development in any negotiations.

7. That is why the profile of the current diplomatic negotiator must include, in addition to talent and deep knowledge of national and international realities, an increasing specialisation in certain areas. He should have updates in the theoretical thinking of academics in the area and the invaluable experience of practitioners of negotiations.

8. The process of a negotiation between States is permanent and covers all possible fields of international relations, since it can result in the signing of a treaty which may cover a single issue of a variety of matters including political, economic, commercial, financial and cultural aspects, health measures or agreements in sports.

© by Odeen Ishmael

38. Negotiations in international relations

8 Aug

Negotiations in international relations

1. The search for a convergence of interests is the normal path of compromise and conciliation. Bargaining in the field of diplomacy is often conceived as a means to explore, confront and reconcile conflicting positions, in order to obtain a satisfactory result, or settlement acceptable to the parties involved.

2. In the process of evolving diplomacy, States tend to develop procedures for conciliation of interests and also of healing in addition to preventing conflicts and clashes. An international negotiation thus ensures the adequate and successive adaptations of the relations between States, which in some cases are realised by treaties.

3. The negotiation in the framework of diplomacy, rather than an essential function of this, is a characteristic of diplomacy itself. One of its significant roles of the diplomat in the performance of their duties is that he must be prepared to negotiation even what may seem to be matters of “minor” importance.

4. Negotiation in the field of diplomacy cannot be improvised; it requires knowledge, talent and experience, since by its very nature, it demands forethought and calculation, and must have a prospective and systematic character. Diplomatic negotiation is now the most important area of foreign policy operated by peaceful means. The international projection of a country is reflected in the quality of its diplomacy. Thus, strengthening and professionalization of the foreign service are matters of national interest.

5. For the process of negotiation, governments rely heavily on the reports of diplomatic agents to enable a consistent view on the nature of political leadership in the receiving State – an essential aspect of information required by diplomatic negotiators.

6. The expert diplomatic negotiators usually develop a comprehensive strategic plan with their timetable, which takes into account three major alternatives: to examine the largest cluster of demands; to look at the minimum demands; and to reach a point of balance of the claim for each of the parties.

7. The strategic plan, among other important aspects, includes not just the presentation and defence of their arguments, but also preparing replies to the arguments of the other party, not to mention the influence that such an exercise can bear on non-participating States who are interested in may at a later point want to question the results.

8. Before each negotiation, there must be a careful evaluation of the case of the counter-party based on its own merits. The analysis starts with the thorough and timely description and the precise objectives of the case motivating the negotiation. Calculation ahead and patience are two important virtues of a professional diplomat and these must be applied in this process.

9. The negotiators must also be aware when they negotiate with people from different cultures and ethnicities that may be very different from their own. In this regard, they must be respectful of the dignity of the counter-party, while ensuring that similar respect is shown to them.

10. Historically, from the fifteenth century Italian states had established broad and active commercial networks which gathered information required for political action. Based on this antecedent, negotiations between sovereign States should be designed as an activity that requires continuity through the use of resident missions.

11. Diplomatic negotiation today has become an essential diplomatic technique to promote national interests. Likewise, it has established itself as the first and most effective means for the peaceful resolution of international conflicts.

© by Odeen Ishmael