Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Relevance of Traditional Diplomacy at Present

Since I have mentioned in my previous blog that the “new” diplomacy is simply an adjusted version of “old” diplomacy to new emerging world trends, the following blog will be followed in the same nature stating that the “old” diplomacy definitely has much of contemporary relevance. Relevance of traditional diplomacy at the present will be illustrated in four main features of traditional diplomacy that are still in practice in contemporary diplomacy.

Firstly, the foreign office being the brain and the ambassadors being the “eyes and the ears”, diplomacy is conducted on a hierarchical bases, given that most of the times ambassadors have a very limited role in policy formulation and decision making. Recommendations given by the ambassadors are not always followed, but in cases even neglected. Moreover, actions of the ambassadors overseas are generally restrained and overly controlled, which is seen by the diplomats themselves as very constraining and damaging to the missions they undertake.

Secondly, as secrecy is born with diplomacy, it is still seen as even a necessity during the diplomatic negotiations. As mentioned in my previous blog, even though the “new” diplomacy is known for it being more open and public, secret diplomacy is still in wide use. As seen on the video last week, there are still many things that diplomats prefer not to talk about. As in the case of spying, even though diplomats themselves may not act as spies, but there is a still possibility that they might engage in the work of the spies, which may of course interfere and damage the mission of a diplomat.

Thirdly, traditional ceremonial procedures of traditional diplomacy are still continued in contemporary diplomacy. For example, it is the duty of an ambassador to attend social events of their hosting states and not only. Thus, social functions of a diplomat are still seen as a necessity as it was in traditional diplomacy.

Finally, one of the most interesting ones is the public diplomacy. Taken for example, the Byzantine method of promoting their prestige by taking hostages from different states and treating them lavishly, after which these hostages upon returning back to their lands “presumably impressed with the splendor of the imperial capital, they dazzled their compatriots with what they had seen, inspiring awe and respect”. (Leguey-Feilleux, 2009, p36). This resembles a contemporary use of public diplomacy, the purpose of which “is not only creating a better understanding of the political objectives of the sending state and fostering support for its policies, but also creating an appeal for all aspects of its culture.” (Leguey-Feilleux, 2009, p-191) For example, the United States of America promotes its own prestige by sponsoring student/teachers/workers exchange programs, having a network of US libraries in foreign countries and etc. (A bit of a resemblance with the use of soft power in order to achieve one’s means.)


Leguey-Feilleux, Jean-Robert (2009) The Dynamics of Diplomacy Lynne Rienner Publishers, London.

Riordan Shaun, (2003) The New Diplomacy Cambridge: Polity.


  1. I agree with that secrecy is born with diplomacy because certain decision making processes are done behind curtains as well as negotiations. In my opinion secrecy is also a fundamental point of old diplomacy a kind of tradition.

  2. Hi Orhanito,

    Yes, I think that so long as diplomacy exists, secrecy will always remain within it.

    and Thank you for your comment.