Effective bilateral diplomacy is essential to advancing a country’s external interests.
Bilateral diplomacy is one of the building blocks of international relations. This course offers a practitioner’s perspective, looking at concepts, and how these operate in real life as countries work to promote their interests in the contemporary global environment. The course provides participants with the tools to analyse world affairs, and to learn the craftsmanship of diplomacy. Adapted versions of this course, in a self-learning format, are currently being used by the Canadian Foreign Service Institute and the British Foreign Office.
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 culture, media education and public diplomacy.
- 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
Bilateral Diplomacy covers relations between a pair of countries. The other great genre is multilateral diplomacy, including conference diplomacy. Some, especially small states, conduct much of their diplomacy at New York, Geneva and Brussels, great centers of UN and EU multilateral diplomacy; they may use New York for both UN-related work as well as for bilateral contacts with countries where they do not maintain resident embassies. Thus, the choice is not between either multilateral or bilateral diplomacy. Both are vital in advancing external interests. Bilateral diplomacy is the basic building block, creating a network of external ties. I believe that bilateral diplomacy is sometimes under-valued, or taken for granted. This course covers the bilateral diplomacy technique and craftsmanship.
The diplomatic process, as a sub-discipline of international relations, also merits wider study than it currently receives in academia. One reason is a persisting gulf between theorists and scholars on the one hand, and the practitioners on the other…Diplomatic studies have a role, through practice-oriented research and training, to bring practitioners and scholars closer together.
- Bilateral diplomacy today: an overview of current trends in world affairs, including the key tasks of diplomacy as pursued by foreign ministries in our times, their prioritisation, and the methods used in relationship building.
- The political and security dimension: prioritisation in diplomacy; the targets and methods of relationship-building; bilateral summits and success factors; the challenges of problem solving; the different dimensions of security; and the interplay between diplomacy and security.
- Economic diplomacy: how it has become a leading priority in current times; the techniques of trade and investment promotion and other economic activities; the country image and ways to build the national brand.
- Culture, media, education and public diplomacy: techniques applied in these sectors, inter-linkages between them; the emergence of public diplomacy as a major concentration area; ethnic diplomacy and the other instruments of soft power.
- The foreign ministry, embassies and consulates: the organisation and the key tasks; qualities of a diplomat; the reforms undertaken by foreign ministries and their domestic tasks of coordination and networking.
- Bilateral negotiation: theory and practice; the stages of negotiation; the styles of negotiation; media and confidentiality; role of publics in major negotiations.
- Conflict resolution: 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 and signals: by its nature, diplomacy works across cultures; the basics of culture analysis and the practical conclusions this offers; direct and non-verbal signals, and the role played by signals in diplomatic communication.