Archive | October, 2013

47. Secret diplomacy and “Raison d’Etat”

31 Oct

Secret diplomacy and “Raison d’Etat”

1. The field of international relations split into two stages the historical trajectory of diplomatic procedures, taking into account actual motivations rather than the fundamental concepts that underpin this exercise. These two stages are secret diplomacy and open diplomacy.

2. One could consider that the path of diplomacy from its origins has corresponded practically to secret diplomacy, which survived until the First World War. A secret diplomacy opposes open diplomacy, commonly practiced today, which has been the result of an intense and complex evolutionary process in the field of international relations which led to the enactment of the Charter of San Francisco which became the Charter of the United Nations Organisation.

3. It is worth noting that secret diplomacy has been the characteristic of this procedure for the duration of the exercise and was considered normal and desirable at the time. Actually, international commitments (treaties, agreements, covenants, among others) were not known by other nations, nor by public opinion nationally and internationally.

4. Secret diplomacy invoked the to justify many of the actions of both foreign policy and domestic policy. “Raison d’Etat” (state reason) is the historical foundation of a political theory by which the State’s interests take precedence over all others. It became an intrinsic decision based on genuine interest of the nation.

5. The invocation of “Raison d’Etat” usually occurs when a conflict arises as a result of political action and the State will place its resources in handling this particular issue at the expense of other national issues which may also be demanding attention. Through “Raison d’Etat” many dishonest operations have been conducted by governments. In despotic regimes, particularly, many unjust actions have been covered up or justified through the explanation “Raison d’Etat.”

6. “Raison d’Etat” has been invoked for centuries in order not to give account or explain a governmental decision, or cases of human rights violation or the miscarriage of justice. It has also been conceptualised the modern version of an old Machiavellian rule of thumb attributed to propose that government actions can only be judged by their success. “Raison d’Etat” actually proclaims that “the end justifies the means,” viewed as a landmark feature of the so-called “Machiavellian politics” which proclaims that “the Prince is the State.”

7. The era of secret diplomacy had its greatest diplomatic development mode which could be described as “Machiavellian diplomacy” which consisted of sinister techniques in pursuing national objectives. With the advent of open diplomacy it is now more difficult to implementation such actions.

8. The first half of the twentieth century was marked by two world wars. The world forged by the Congress of Vienna in 1815 was destroyed in World War I (1914-1919), and a few years after the society of nations was powerless to prevent the Second (1939-1945). Everything was affected as a result of these two great calamities suffered by humanity and next to the reconstruction plans of countries and their economies, it was necessary to revise the existing principles of international coexistence. It was in this context that the so-called open diplomacy arose. This type of diplomacy begins with fundamental changes in the diplomatic procedures that include the publication and registration of international treaties.

9. With the implementation of open diplomacy, global multilateral diplomacy has now become institutionalised. Before the development of global multilateral diplomacy, bilateral relations played the main role in diplomacy. Now, multilateral diplomacy has become a key factor in international relations.

© by Odeen Ishmael 


46. Diplomatic negotiation

29 Oct

Diplomatic negotiation

1. Diplomacy is the art of negotiation. It was through the negotiating process States have agreed on the conditions of their coexistence and have tried to prevent the break-out of war over a set of crucial issues. In fact, the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations established negotiation as one of the fundamental functions of the diplomatic mission.

2. Diplomatic negotiation is regarded as a key technique for promoting national interests and the most effective means for achieving the objectives of the foreign policy of States. It has become an essential procedure for the exercise of diplomacy and it allows representatives of States to provide outstanding services to their nations.

3. Negotiation usually aims to conclude international commitments, to develop rules of this nature, to increase political, economic, legal, social understanding between governments, to consolidate their friendly relations and, above all, to prevent or resolve conflict situations or controversies between States.  

4. The diplomatic negotiator, in addition to possessing the required skill, talent and unwavering commitment to the fundamental interests of the State he represents, must naturally have a profound knowledge of national and international reality.

5. He should also be aware of and be able to master the increasing specialisation in certain areas essential to his professional practice. Similarly, he should have frequent updates surrounding the rigorous, theoretical thinking of professional analysts in the area of negotiation and also learn from the practical experience of practitioners in the field of negotiation.

6. As a representative of a State, the diplomatic negotiator should be aware of all possible interpretations of his and his counterparts’ behaviour. Realising, of course, that his counterparts will have a similar attitude towards him, he must at all times be very vigilant while conducting his task with extreme dignity.

7. The diplomatic negotiator must develop the ability, not only to analyse the views of the other side, but also the changing perspectives and positions it may adopt, in order to visualize intermediate lines that offer advantageous options.

8. He must keep in mind that to achieve his ultimate goal he must be prepared to present his State’s case properly so as to persuade and convince the other side to accept his position. At the same time, he must be alert not only of the tactics of the adversary, but also of the complicated  operations carried out by third countries which are not in the negotiation but which may have special interests in the outcome and thus may seek to influence the result.

9. In the universe of international law, negotiation is the oldest and most frequently used methods of peaceful settlement. In fact article 33 of the Charter of the United Nations establishes as one of the peaceful settlement of international disputes, first bargaining (direct settlement), followed by the good offices, mediation, conciliation, and arbitration, all of which are, indeed, rules of negotiation.

10. In treaty law, negotiation is the critical phase of the conclusion of treaties. It consists of a set of actions leading to the drafting of these agreements.

11. Negotiation can be formal or informal. In the formal form, the diplomat commits himself and his Head of State to particular actions, while the latter is carried out without compromising the Head of State or any representative of the particular State. Similarly, a confidential or secret negotiation may formally or informally commit the parties to remain quiet about their purpose and decided action. But usually, an informal negotiation is usually carried out privately outside of any formal relationship and may serve to prepare for upcoming formal negotiations. 

 © Copyright by Odeen Ishmael


45. Soft Power in International Relations

22 Oct

Soft Power in International Relations

1. In order to achieve more effective efforts abroad, the decision centres of various states now analyse and implement new actions under the so-called Soft Power to achieve their foreign policy objectives.

2. In the field of international relations, Soft Power is an innovative concept which aims to raise awareness of the political dimension through cultural actions. In the international arena Soft Power is rooted largely in a country’s values expressed through its culture in handling its relations with other states. For example, after being defeated in the Franco-Prussian War, France attempted to restore his reputation by promoting its language and its literature through the Alliance Française, founded in 1883. Accordingly, the projection of French culture abroad became an important component of diplomacy in that country.

3. Today, with the progress of the processes of economic and technological globalization, international relations will depend ever more intensely on culture, (or Soft Power) and economic power rather than military force.

4. Although both Hard Power (political, economic and military action) and Soft Power are necessary instruments to conduct the foreign policy interests of one country, the exercise of attraction (Soft Power) is much cheaper than coercion, and above all is of a higher value.

5. The development of Soft Power increases the competitiveness of a country in this age of information, since it means that the country possesses a culture and values adapted to the prevailing global norms. This development also demands greater access to information and communication flows, greater influence in the drafting process, and knowledge and credibility in the conduct of domestic and international affairs.

6. Today, cultural diplomacy in the exercise of public diplomacy is to act as “facilitator” with respect to Soft Power through enhancing the capabilities of persuasive speech and using it with the appropriate technological resources. It provides a “living” resource to enhance the interaction between the embassy and the general public and is very influential in promoting the country at international events and in encouraging public policy funding for research centres, education, art, etc.

7. Soft Power often helps to prepare a “fertile ground” for good negotiation and can influence the preference of investors or the general public and potential buyers of a country’s products. As part of cultural diplomacy, it can play an important role to benefit the “country brand” strategy particularly by extending the effective distribution channels with a much lower financial cost than traditional advertising spaces.

8. For a State with little coercive power and scarce resources for use as “rewards,” the construction of its image internationally is done through the action of Soft Power. The deepening of the efforts for external cultural diffusion brings significant benefits not only as regards the country’s image but also in the field of economics, its internal and external cultural identity, its versatility to maintain contact channels even in the context of conflicting or controversial relations, and also in its contributions to cultural diversity and international peace.

 © Copyright