Multilateral Diplomacy and the United Nations Today

Multilateral Diplomacy and the United Nations Today

Multilateral Diplomacy and the United Nations Today

Multilateral Diplomacy and the United Nations Today

Excerpt

Diplomacy is the method by which nation-states, through authorized agents, maintain mutual relations, communicate with each other, and carry out political, economic, and legal transactions. Although the roots of diplomacy reach back to the beginning of organized human society, the Peace of Westphalia of 1648 is generally believed to be the origin of diplomacy as an institution, since it marked the beginning of the European nation-state system (which initially consisted of twelve well-defined sovereign states) and codified the rules of conduct among sovereign and "equal" states. The Westphalian principles of sovereignty and the territorial state that were established in the seventeenth century are the foundation of today's multilateral diplomatic system. But since the end of the Cold War, this foundation appears to be crumbling under the pressure of globalization, giving rise to serious questions about the emerging new world order and the future of multilateral diplomacy and the United Nations. Is the Westphalian nation-state system, multilateral diplomacy, and the United Nations increasingly passé in the post-Cold War world? Is the international system of the next century to be, as Henry Kissinger maintains, "more like the European state system of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries than the rigid patterns of the Cold War" (Kissinger 1994, 23)?

The history of diplomacy is commonly divided between the "old diplomacy" that reached its zenith in the nineteenth century and the "new diplomacy" of the twentieth. The "old diplomacy" or, as it is more commonly known, "bilateral diplomacy" was dominated for almost three hundred years by the "French system of diplomacy," which established and developed several key features of contemporary diplomacy--resident ambassadors, secret negotiations, ceremonial duties and protocol, honesty, and professionalism (Berridge 1995, 1-9). Old diplomacy was predominantly limited to the conduct of relations on a state-to-state basis via resident missions (embassies), with the resident ambassador being the key actor. The "new diplomacy" that emerged in the nineteenth century and found its . . .

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