Dietrich Kappeler
Former Director, Diplomatic Studies Programme, Graduate Institute of International Studies Geneva

Professor Dietrich Kappeler served as Director of the Diplomatic Studies Programme of the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva from 1993 to 1998. He was the founding director of the Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies at the University of Malta, 1990–1993. Professor Kappeler has extensive experience in diplomacy and international relations, and lectures and writes on international law, diplomatic and consular law, law of international institutions, human rights and humanitarian law, diplomacy, and constitutional and administrative law of Switzerland.

Born on 6 March 1933 in Berne, Switzerland, he was educated in Berne and in Beirut, Lebanon. He received a Bachelor’s degree in French Law in 1953 from the Faculty of Law, Université St Joseph, Beirut. In 1955, he was licenced in Public Law by the Faculty of Law at the University of Berne, and recieved his doctorate in Public Law from the same institution in 1957.

Kappeler served in the Swiss diplomatic service from 1957 to 1965, with postings in The Hague and Algiers, as well with the Legal Department at headquarters. From 1965 to 1973, he was a personal assistant to Professor Paul Guggenheim and a consultant with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace working on the training of third world diplomats. He was involved in the creation of the International Relations Institute of Cameroon (IRIC) in 1971 and the Institute of Diplomacy and International Studies of the University of Nairobi in 1973. During the 1970s and 80s he was a research fellow and lecturer at the University of Geneva and a professor at the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva. From the Graduate Institute, he was seconded as a lecturer to the University of Tehran and the University of Nairobi.


Negotiating the independence of Algeria

03 July 2012

Background Algeria had been conquered by France in 1830-47 and annexed as an integral part of metropolitan France. In November 1954 several Algerian groups seeking independence of their country launched an armed r...

Prof. Dietrich Kappeler on Great lesson in mediation by Swiss diplomat (Algeria negotiations 1961-1962)

28 June 2012

This text is a follow-up to Aldo Matteucci's blog Great lesson in mediation by Swiss diplomat Olivier Long (Algeria negotiations 1961-1962) The Swiss mediation in Algeria negotiations was coordinated by Raymon...



Evolution of Diplomatic Privileges and Immunities

Excerpt from the lecture 1: Principles and concepts, evolution and instruments; Online course on Diplomatic Law: Privileges and Immunities.... Read more...


Why Persuasion? Reflections after 50 years of practising, teaching and studying diplomacy

From the faraway days when representatives of fighting tribes tried to arrange for a truce, thereby risking their head, to the often derided endless discussions within present day international frameworks, the common aim of diplomacy has remained persuasion. The better... Read more...


The Birth and evolution of a diplomatic culture

Diplomats have often been blamed for failing to prevent the outbreak of the First World War.... Read more...


Diplomacy of tomorrow

The time of diplomacy is far from over. This paper discusses how its role will become ever more central as most important affairs will have to be handled at global, regional and sub-regional levels.... Read more...


The impact of cultural diversity on multilateral diplomacy and relations

Basic concepts mean different things in different cultures. In multilateral relations this means that looking at such a concept is always culturally biased. As a result, an interpretation according to one culture also tends to criticise different interpretations accord... Read more...


Knowledge management and diplomatic training – new approaches for training institutions

Dietrich Kappeler analyses the new approaches for training institutions in knowledge management and diplomatic training, departing from the premise that a distinction is important between personal characteristics and qualities of the diplomat on one hand, and the knowl... Read more...


Texts in diplomacy

Part of Language and Diplomacy (2001): Professor Dietrich Kappeler provides an overview of the various types of formal written documents used in diplomacy, pointing out where the practices surrounding these documents have changed in recent years. He also discusses mult... Read more...