lighting, Diplomacy

[Webinar] Bilateral Summit Diplomacy: Working for Success

18 March 2014 -


Event description

What are the ingredients for productive summits, beyond atmospherics and sound-bytes? We explore this question in the first webinar of a series devoted to Diplomacy Essentials.


As recently as the 1950s and 1960s, bilateral summits were rare events, barring exceptional circumstances such as World War II (consider that Churchill and Roosevelt met bilaterally, and with Stalin and other leaders, a dozen times in 1940-44).

Today, heads of government meet almost continually at regional and global conferences, including new select country clusters, such as the G-20, BRICS and many others. EU leaders encounter counterparts virtually every month. At such meetings, bilateral encounters occur on the margins.

In this webinar we focus on the classic bilateral summit, where leaders spend a full day or more at conversation, scripted, informal and casual, at official, social and other events. What are the ingredients for productive summits, beyond atmospherics and sound-bytes?

  • Treat the summit not as an event, but as part of a process, a major contribution in a continuum for building and managing a relationship.
  • Work on all four summit stages: conception, the ‘why’; preparation, the ‘how’; content, the ‘what’; follow-up, the ‘where next’. Overworked MFAs may focus too little on the first two, and neglect particularly the final stage.
  • In an inclusive, multi-stakeholder environment, aspects which were earlier treated as peripherals: accompanying delegation (composition, inclusion of businessmen, plus other public figures), role of the leader’s spouse, selection of site visits, and public communication, now make or break a summit.
  • The media are at center-stage, as information multipliers, and as channels for public diplomacy, aimed at home and external audiences.

We explore these topics in this first webinar of a series devoted to Diplomacy Essentials, on Tuesday, 18th March, 2014 at 14:00 GMT (15:00 CET).

The webinar is hosted by Ambassador Kishan S Rana, Professor Emeritus and Diplo's lecturer on Bilateral Diplomacy, 21st Century Diplomacy, and other topics.

As background reading, please see Ambassador Rana's article in the Business Standard: 'The Truth About Summits' (2 March 2014).

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