Diplomacy can be regarded as an application of intelligence and tact to the conduct of official relations between the governments of independent States. Whereas the terms diplomacy and foreign policy are often used interchangeably, diplomacy is an instrument of foreign policy. Foreign policy is orientated towards settling goals, occasionally with mention to the strategies and tactics to be used. Diplomacy is used to its accomplishment. The purpose of diplomacy is to strengthen the State and to serve in its relations with others. One of the functions of diplomacy is to minimize frictions and conflicts with other states through negotiations.

Three kinds of diplomacy can be discerned: bilateral diplomacy or diplomacy between two states (i.e. diplomatic representation of the sending state in a receiving state), multilateral diplomacy which involves diplomacy regarding regional or global issues and is used with a plurality of States through an international organization or at international conferences, and ad hoc diplomacy which involves other forms of diplomacy than the two aforementioned types of diplomacy. For example one can think of special missions to which States resort in order to entrust a diplomatic officer with the task to carry out one or many diplomatic assignments in a foreign State even though this officer does not belong to a permanent mission accredited to a country. In Academia, diplomatic studies is regarded as a new discipline, a sub-area of international relations.

This Research Guide is intended as a starting point for research on Diplomacy. It provides the basic materials available in the Peace Palace Library, both in print and electronic format. Handbooks, leading articles, bibliographies, periodicals, serial publications and documents of interest are presented in the Selective Bibliography section. Links to the PPL Catalogue are inserted. The Library's systematic classification → Public international law and subject heading (keyword) Diplomacy are instrumental for searching through the Catalogue. Special attention is given to our subscriptions on databases, e-journals, e-books and other electronic resources. Finally, this Research Guide features links to relevant websites and other online resources of particular interest.

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  • Pouliot, V., "International Pecking Orders. The Politics and Practice of Multilateral Diplomacy", Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2016.

    In any multilateral setting, some state representatives weigh much more heavily than others. Practitioners often refer to this form of diplomatic hierarchy as the 'international pecking order'. This book is a study of international hierarchy in practice, as it emerges out of the multilateral diplomatic process. Building on the social theories of Erving Goffman and Pierre Bourdieu, it argues that diplomacy produces inequality. Delving into the politics and inner dynamics of NATO and the UN as case studies, Vincent Pouliot shows that pecking orders are eminently complex social forms: contingent yet durable; constraining but also full of agency; operating at different levels, depending on issues; and defined in significant part locally, in and through the practice of multilateral diplomacy.

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  • Stavridis, S. and D. Janc̆ić (eds.), Parliamentary Diplomacy in European and Global Governance, Leiden, Brill, 2017.

    In Parliamentary Diplomacy in European and Global Governance, 27 experts from all over the world analyse the fast-expanding phenomenon of parliamentary diplomacy. Through a wealth of empirical case studies, the book demonstrates that parliamentarians and parliamentary assemblies have an increasingly important international role. The volume begins with parliamentary diplomacy in Europe, because the European Parliament is one of the strongest autonomous institutional actors in world politics. The study then examines parliamentary diplomacy in relations between Europe and third countries or regions (Mexico, Turkey, Russia, the Mediterranean), before turning attention to the rest of the world: North and South America, Asia, Africa and Australia. This pioneering volume confirms the worldwide nature and salience of parliamentary diplomacy in contemporary global politics.

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  • Behrens, P., Diplomatic Interference and the Law, Oxford, Hart, 2016.

    Diplomatic interference carries considerable potential for disruption. In this context, diplomats have been accused of insulting behaviour, the funding of political parties, incitement to terrorism and even attempts to topple the host government. Reactions can be harsh: expulsions are common and, occasionally, diplomatic relations are severed altogether. But an evaluation under international law faces challenges. Often enough, charges of interference are made when legitimate interests are involved – for instance, when diplomats criticise the human rights record of their hosts. In such cases, diplomats may be able to invoke grounds which are recognised under international law. On the basis of more than 300 cases of alleged diplomatic interference and the practice of about 100 States and territories, Diplomatic Interference and the Law provides an examination of the main areas in which charges of meddling have arisen – such as lobbying activities, contacts with the opposition, propaganda, the use of threats and insults and the granting of asylum. It analyses situations in which the sovereignty of the receiving State meets competing interests and offers solutions which avoid a conflict of norms. It concludes with useful advice for foreign offices and diplomatic agents and underlines the most efficient ways of dealing with situations of alleged interference.


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  • Pease, K.K. , "Human Rights and Humanitarian Diplomacy", Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2016

    Human rights and humanitarian diplomacy provides an up to date and accessible overview of the field, and serves as a practical guide to those seeking to engage in human rights work. Pease argues that while human rights are internationally recognised, important disagreements exist on definition, priority and implementation. With the help of human rights diplomacy, these differences can be bridged, and a new generation of human rights professionals will build better relationships.

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  • Ronzitti, N., "Coercive Diplomacy, Sanctions and International Law", Leiden, Brill Nijhoff, 2016.

    This volume explores sanctions as instruments of coercive diplomacy, delving into theoretical arguments and combining perspectives from international law and international relations scholars and practitioners. Primary questions include the compatibility and legitimacy of sanctions regimes, enforcement measures, including the role of sanctions committees, the practice of circumventing sanctions, and the relation with the ICC proceedings. Legal and institutional aspects of the practice of the European Union are addressed. The extraterritorial effects of national legislation implementing sanctions imposed by individual States are investigated. A focus is on the impact of sanctions on non-State actors. The connections with the protection of human rights and the adverse impact on individual rights are considered. The implementation of sanctions is addressed in view of their legal limitation and the concept of proportionality, their consequences upon existing treaties and contracts, their effectiveness, and their strategic implications.

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  • Roberts, I. (ed.), "Satow's Diplomatic Practice", Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2017.

    First published in 1917, Satow's Diplomatic Practice has long been hailed as a classic and authoritative text. An indispensable guide for anyone working in or studying the field of diplomacy, this seventh, centenary edition builds on the extensive revision in the sixth edition. The volume provides an enlarged and updated section on the history of diplomacy, including the exponential growth in multilateral diplomacy, and revises comprehensively the practice of diplomacy and the corpus of diplomatic and international law since the end of the Cold War. It traces the substantial expansion in numbers both of sovereign states and international and regional organisations and features detailed chapters on diplomatic privileges and immunities, diplomatic missions, and consular matters, treaty-making and conferences.

    The volume also examines alternative forms of diplomacy, from the work of NGOs to the use of secret envoys, as well as a study of the interaction with intelligence agencies and commercial security firms. It also discusses the impact of international terrorism and other violent non-state actors on the life and work of a diplomat. Finally, in recognition of the speed of changes in the field over the last ten years, this seventh edition examines the developments and challenges of modern diplomacy through new chapters on human rights and public/digital diplomacy by experts in their respective fields.

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  • Dhondt, R., Balance of Power and Norm Hierarchy: Franco-British Diplomacy after the Peace of Utrecht, Leiden, Brill Nijhoff, 2016.

    Balance of Power and Norm Hierarchy: Franco-British Diplomacy after the Peace of Utrecht offers a detailed study of French and British diplomacy in the age of ‘Walpole and Fleury’. After Louis XIV’s decease, European international relations were dominated by the collaboration between James Stanhope and Guillaume Dubois. Their alliance focused on the amendment and enlargement of the peace treaties of Utrecht, Rastatt and Baden. In-depth analysis of vast archival material uncovers the practical legal arguments used between Hampton Court and Versailles. ‘Balance of Power’ or ‘Tranquillity of Europe’ were in fact metaphors for the predominance of treaty law even over the most fundamental municipal norms. An implacable logic of norm hierarchy allowed to consolidate peace in Europe.

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  • Smolinska, A.M. (et al.) (eds.), Droit international des relations diplomatiques et consulaires, Bruxelles, Bruylant, 2015.

    Monographie simple et complète à usage des étudiants et des professionnels pour comprendre les règles qui régissent les relations diplomatiques et consulaires.

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  • Stahn, C. and Melber, H. (eds.) Peace Diplomacy, Global Justice and International Agency: Rethinking Human Security and Ethics in the Spirit of Dag Hammarskjöld, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2014.

    Stahn, C. and Melber, H. (eds.) Peace Diplomacy, Global Justice and International Agency : Rethinking Human Security and Ethics in the Spirit of Dag Hammarskjöld, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2014.

    As UN Secretary-General, Dag Hammarskjold shaped many of the fundamental principles and practices of international organisations, such as preventive diplomacy, the ethics of international civil service, impartiality and neutrality. He was also at the heart of the constitutional foundations and principles of the UN. This tribute and critical review of Hammarskjold's values and legacy examines his approach towards international civil service, agency and value-based leadership, investigates his vision of internationalism and explores his achievements and failures as Secretary-General. It draws on specific conflict situations and strategies such as Suez and the Congo for lessons that can benefit contemporary conflict resolution and modern concepts such as human security and R2P. It also reflects on ways in which actors such as international courts, tribunals and the EU can benefit from Hammarskjold's principles and experiences in the fields of peace and security and international justice.

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  • Barston, R.P. , Modern Diplomacy, Harlow, Pearson, 2013.

    Barston, R.P. , Modern Diplomacy, Harlow, Pearson, 2013.

    Modern Diplomacy provides a comprehensive exploration of the evolution and concepts of the institution of diplomacy. This book equips students with a detailed analysis of important international issues that impact upon diplomacy and its relationship with international politics. The subject is bought ‘to life’ through the use of case studies and examples which highlight the working of contemporary diplomacy within the international political arena. Organised around five broad topic areas, including the nature of diplomacy, diplomatic methods and negotiation, the operation of diplomacy in specific areas and natural disasters and international conflict, the book covers all major topic areas of contemporary diplomacy.

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  • Sofer, S., The Courtiers of Civilization, Albany, State University of New York Press, 2013.

    Sofer, S., The Courtiers of Civilization, Albany, State University of New York Press, 2013.

    The professional diplomat frequently takes a back seat in the public imagination to such figures as the great heads of state and leading military figures. In The Courtiers of Civilization, Sasson Sofer aims to restore the importance and reputation of the diplomat in Western civilization. Drawing on an exhaustive reading of the vast literature on diplomacy, from the late Renaissance forward, he fashions an engaging portrait of the diplomat’s milieu and lifestyle, his place in diplomatic rituals, and his role in international dialogue. Blending historical evidence, sociological analysis, and political thought, Sofer explores the vocational predicament faced by the diplomat, who must play many roles, including negotiator, honorable spy, horse trader, appeaser, and bureaucrat, while at the same time maneuvering in the world of rulers and warriors. Ultimately, the diplomat is a symbol of peace and a custodian of the virtues and norms of a civilized and functional international society—in sum a “courtier of civilization.”

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  • Maar, R. van der, en J.F. Meijer, Herman van Roijen, 1905-1991: een diplomaat van klasse, Amsterdam, Boom, 2013.

    Maar, R. van der, en J.F. Meijer, Herman van Roijen, 1905-1991: een diplomaat van klasse, Amsterdam, Boom, 2013.

    Zelden is een Nederlandse diplomaat zo invloedrijk geweest als Herman van Roijen (1905-1991). Gedurende zijn veertigjarige loopbaan in de Buitenlandse Dienst heeft hij in diverse functies en op verschillende posten in de jaren 1930-1970 mede gestalte gegeven aan de Nederlandse buitenlandse politiek. Na een kortstondig ministerschap op Buitenlandse Zaken in het eerste naoorlogse kabinet Schermerhorn-Drees werd hij ambassadeur in Canada, de Verenigde Staten en Groot-Brittannië. Twee maal heeft hij een beslissende invloed gehad op de (inter)nationale geschiedenis. Hij vertegenwoordigde Nederland na de Tweede Politionele Actie in de Veiligheidsraad en leidde vervolgens de besprekingen met de Republiek Indonesië. Het mede naar hem genoemde Van Roijen-Roemakkoord van 7 mei 1949 vormde de doorbraak in het zo moeizame Indonesische dekolonisatieproces en was de opmaat naar de formele Indonesische onafhankelijkheid. Dertien jaar later beslechtte hij het Nieuw-Guineavraagstuk, waarbij hij zich keerde tegen het beleid van minister van Buitenlandse Zaken, Joseph Luns. Mede door zijn optreden als onderhandelaar in beide dekolonisatiekwesties, maar ook door zijn optreden als ambassadeur in de bilaterale betrekkingen met de landen waar hij geposteerd was, wordt Herman van Roijen wel beschouwd als een van de grote diplomaten die Nederland in de twintigste eeuw heeft gekend. De auteurs van deze biografie beschrijven, mede aan de hand van Van Roijens niet eerder gebruikte privéarchief, naast zijn activiteiten als diplomaat, ook uitvoerig zijn persoonlijk leven. Centraal in het boek staat de vraag waarom Van Roijen uitsteeg boven zijn Nederlandse vakgenoten en een sleutelrol kon vervullen in de vaderlandse en internationale geschiedenis.

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  • Kerr, P. and G. Wiseman, Diplomacy in a Globalizing World, New York, NY, Oxford University Press, 2013.

    Kerr, P. and G. Wiseman, Diplomacy in a Globalizing World, New York, NY, Oxford University Press, 2013.

    In Diplomacy in a Globalizing World: Theories and Practices, twenty-three respected scholars contribute to the debate about the changing nature of contemporary diplomacy and its future theoretical and practical directions. Filling a gap in the diplomacy textbook market, this unique volume balances breadth with depth and theory with practice, using cutting-edge comparisons to show that twenty-first century diplomacy is best understood as "complex diplomacy." The book analyzes diplomacy's historical and contemporary developments; Western and non-Western diplomatic theories and practices; sociological and political theories of diplomacy; and various diplomatic structures, processes, and instruments, such as the ministry of foreign affairs, public diplomacy, bilateral and multilateral diplomacy, and intelligence. Numerous pedagogical tools enhance the text.

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  • Cooper, A.F., J. Heine and R. Thakur (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Modern Diplomacy, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2013.

    Cooper, A.F., J. Heine and R. Thakur (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Modern Diplomacy, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2013.

    At a time when diplomatic practices and the demands imposed on diplomats are changing quite radically, and many foreign ministries feel they are being left behind, there is a need to understand the various forces that are affecting the profession. Diplomacy remains a salient activity in today's world in which the basic authoritative actor is still the state. At the same time, in some respects the practice of diplomacy is undergoing significant, even radical, changes to the context, tools, actors and domain of the trade. These changes spring from the changing nature of the state, the changing nature of the world order, and the interplay between them. One way of describing this is to say that we are seeing increased interaction between two forms of diplomacy, "club diplomacy" and "network diplomacy". The former is based on a small number of players, a highly hierarchical structure, based largely on written communication and on low transparency; the latter is based on a much larger number of players (particularly of civil society), a flatter structure, a more significant oral component, and greater transparency. The Oxford Handbook of Modern Diplomacy is an authoritative reference tool for those studying and practicing modern diplomacy. It provides an up-to-date compendium of the latest developments in the field. Written by practitioners and scholars, the Handbook describes the elements of constancy and continuity and the changes that are affecting diplomacy. The Handbook goes further and gives insight to where the profession is headed in the future. Co-edited by three distinguished academics and former practitioners, the Handbook provides comprehensive analysis and description of the state of diplomacy in the 21st Century and is an essential resource for diplomats, practitioners and academics.

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  • Diplodocus Carnegii, Peace Diplomacy by Dinosaur

    The New York Journal and Advertiser of the 11th of December 1898 had an article on page 29; “Most Colossal Animal Ever on Earth Just Found Out West”.
    It announced the discovery of a “gigantic brontosaur” in Wyoming by Mr. William H. Reed

    Andrew Carnegie, the steel magnate, decided to secure the find for the new Museum of Natural History at the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburg. The Director of the Museum, Dr. William J. Holland, was ordered by Andrew Carnegie to purchase the find for the museum and contacted the discoverer.

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  • The Raid on the Medway, 1667: Forcing Peace at Breda

    350 Years ago, the Treaty of Breda was signed at the Dutch city of Breda, 31 July, 1667, by England, the Dutch Republic, France, and Denmark-Norway. It brought a hasty end to the Second Anglo-Dutch War (1665-1667) in favour of the Dutch. It was a typical quick uti possidetis treaty. In the latter stages of the war, the Dutch had prevailed. Lieutenant-Admiral-General Michiel de Ruyter virtually controlled the seas around the south coast of England. His presence encouraged English commissioners to sue for peace quickly. Negotiations, which had been long protracted, and had actually begun in Breda before the raid, took only ten days to conclude after resumption of talks.

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  • Aleppo, Ankara and Berlin: Atrocities, Violence and Terror

    Humanitarian Crisis in Syria. In the eastern part of Aleppo, a Syrian city held by rebels, thousands of civilians were trapped. People were being executed in those parts of Aleppo that had been retaken by Assad forces. Recently the trapped residents that were stuck in a small area with no safe zones posted final “goodbye” messages, pictures and tweets on social media. They have thanked supporters, and questioned how the world allowed the situation in Aleppo to happen. The situation in Syria has been described as a “stain on the world’s collective conscience”.

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  • Interview Sigrid Kaag

    This month, we have the honor of interviewing Ms. Sigrid Kaag, a top Dutch diplomat who currently serves as a United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon (UNSCOL). Last month, the Dutch Carnegie Foundation awarded Sigrid Kaag the Carnegie Wateler Peace Prize. Before the ceremony took place, we took the opportunity to interview Ms. Kaag to discuss her work at the UN, in particular, the succesful UN-OPCW joint mission Ms. Kaag led to eliminate the chemical weapons programme in Syria. We also discussed the role of international law in her daily work at the UN. Here’s what she had to say.

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  • Nuclear Deal, Sanctions, Nuclear Diplomacy

    After nearly two years of arduous negotiations a comprehensive agreement on the nuclear program of Iran was signed in Vienna on 14 July 2015. In exchange for reducing Iran’s nuclear activities drastically, the United States and the European Union would lift their nuclear-related sanctions on the Iranian economy. Most countries and international organizations welcomed the agreement. Will U.S. President Obama be remembered as initiator of this ‘historic’ deal? The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is a nuclear agreement signed in Vienna on 14 July 2015 between Iran, the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council—China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States—plus Germany), and the European Union.

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  • The Youth Peace Initiative 2014 and the Roadmap to Israeli-Palestinian Permanent Peace!

    Between 11 and 18 October the Youth Peace Initiative 2014 took place in The Hague, international City of Peace and Justice. The Youth Peace Initiative 2014 (YPI 2014) has been set up to get Israeli and Palestinian youth involved with the current peace negotiations between their nations. The YPI 2014 participants discussed and deliberated a whole week to achieve consensus on ideas and solutions for the peace process.

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  • Building a ‘Temple for Peace’: the 1899 Hague Peace Conference

    This year, the Peace Palace, will celebrate its 100-year Anniversary. As official celebrations will commence in August, the Peace Palace Library starts with a series of library blogs in retrospect. The foundation of the Peace Palace in 1913 marked a pivotal point between two centuries. At the end of the 19th century, the idea of world peace was blooming as never before. At the dawn of the 20th century however, expectations had toned down considerably.

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  • The Peace of Christmas Eve

    Peace is an elusive thing. For many, the attraction of the Christmas season is the momentary fulfillment of that dream, the wonderful moment of ‘Peace on Earth’. For one night, it seems possible. As Christmas approaches, we experience a sense of ‘Peace on Earth’. A few times in history, this sense of peace at Christmas had real impact on human affairs. A little known example is the the signing of the Treaty of Ghent on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1814, ending a war, the War of 1812, between the United States and the British Empire and their allies.

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  • Texas Executes Mexican National in Defiance of ICJ Rulings

    Late Tuesday night, 5 August, the State of Texas executed José Ernesto Medellín, despite a call from the UN Secretary-General urging the United States (US) not to go ahead with the execution and to respect the judgements of the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

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  • Tsvangirai seeks diplomatic protection

    Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe’s opposition leader, fearing for his safety, has taken refuge in the Dutch embassy in the capital Harare. Zimbabwean authorities said to respect the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations of 1961 [PDF]
    The embassy has diplomatic immunity and cannot be entered without permission of the ambassador.
    Famous cases involving embassies are ; the Iran-US Hostage crisis in 1979, the Hungarian Cardinal József Mindszenty lived for 15 years in the American embassy in Budapest.
    Keywords for more literature on diplomatic protection : Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations, Hostages, Iran, Diplomatic and consular protection

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