Effective bilateral diplomacy is essential to advancing a country’s external interests.
Bilateral diplomacy is a key building block of international relations, i.e. the way a pair of countries deals with each other. This course offers a practitioner view, examining concepts, and how these operate in the real world. The course provides participants with the tools to analyse world affairs, and to learn the craftsmanship of diplomacy. The Canadian Foreign Service Institute and the British Foreign Office have used adaptations of this course, in a self-learning format.
By the end of this course, participants should be able to:
- Describe, prioritise, and provide examples of the key tasks and methods of diplomacy today, including the security dimension; economic tasks; and public diplomacy, including culture, media, and education promotion.
- Explain how the different institutions involved in bilateral diplomacy (the foreign ministry, embassies and consulates) are organised, and describe current reforms to these institutions.
- Explain and analyse the complex and concurrent objectives that countries pursue in their external relationships.
- Identify the actors, state and non-state, that compose the foreign ministry’s dynamic network, and explain the role that each plays in foreign affairs.
- Assess current trends and methods of bilateral diplomacy, and anticipate likely future developments in this field.
Excerpt from course materials
Another role has unexpectedly emerged for the resident embassy, almost unnoticed — its contribution to ‘bilateral relationship management’, as noted above. The sheer multiplicity of contacts has created a new kind of empowerment for embassies, at least for those ambassadors who are in countries other than those of ‘peripheral’ interest. How does this happen? There are two elements.
First, line ministries are engaged in their own external contacts, and they no longer need to pass through the foreign ministry. The MFA cannot keep track of all the details of such activities by the line ministries, even while it coordinates broad policy issues. But the embassy, on the ground, usually is aware of such events; that applies even more to the activities of non-state actors. Second, the external contacts of non-state actors have also multiplied and affect bilateral relationships. The embassy in a foreign country has the nearest approximation to a complete, realtime view of these contacts, better than any home agency.
Course outline [Course content fully revised for May 2016 course]
- Bilateral Diplomacy: Role and Framework: The management of relations with individual foreign countries is a core task in foreign affairs. It is more complex than ever before as a result of several factors: globalisation, new subjects and actors in international dialogue, volatility, and technology change.
- The Political and Security Pillar: The 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations; targets and methods of relationship-building; heads of government and summits; diplomacy as the first line of security; the new security concepts.
- The Economic Pillar: New priority among advanced and developing states; home actors and the state; the techniques of trade and investment promotion; the country image and ways to build the national brand.
- The Public Diplomacy Pillar: The emergence of public diplomacy as a major concentration area, in all its dimensions of culture, media, education and other public outreach actions. Consular work, and diaspora activities, which too have risen in importance, are the third and fourth pillars of bilateral diplomacy.
- The Institutions: The key tasks of foreign ministries and embassies; the reforms undertaken by foreign ministries and their domestic tasks of coordination and networking; managing human resources; the qualities of a diplomat; training.
- Bilateral Negotiation: Theory and practice; the stages of negotiation; the styles of negotiation; media and confidentiality; practical advice; the role of publics in major negotiations.
- Conflict Management: Relevance and expanded importance; domestic and civil conflict with international ramifications; confidence building measures; mediation; International Court of Justice, arbitration; sanctions and incentives; post-conflict management.
- Intercultural Communication: International affairs require working across cultures; culture analysis and practical conclusions; direct and non-verbal signals, and value in diplomatic communication.