Hostage diplomacy is a tactic used in international relations, where a state or group takes individuals hostage in order to achieve political or diplomatic objectives. The hostages can be citizens of the state or of another country, and they may be taken for a variety of reasons, including to demand the release of prisoners, to pressure another country to change its policies, or to gain attention for a cause.
Hostage diplomacy is a highly controversial and illegal tactic that is widely condemned by the international community. It is considered a violation of human rights and an attack on the sovereignty of the state whose citizens are taken hostage.
Examples of hostage diplomacy can be found throughout history and across various regions, but it remains a contentious and dangerous tactic in international relations, undermining the principles of diplomacy, rule of law, and respect for human rights.
Iran Hostage Crisis (1979-1981): Following the Iranian Revolution, militants stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and took 52 American diplomats and citizens hostage. The hostages were held for 444 days, with their release being contingent on the U.S. meeting certain demands, including the return of the deposed Shah, who was receiving medical treatment in the USA.
In recent years, hostage diplomacy has been used by some states as a means of exerting pressure on other countries. For example, in 2018, China detained two Canadian citizens in apparent retaliation for the arrest of a high-profile Chinese executive in Canada. In 2019, Iran detained several British citizens in what was seen as an attempt to pressure the UK into releasing an Iranian tanker seized by British forces.
Hostage diplomacy is a serious violation of international law and the human rights of individuals. It is often seen as a form of state-sponsored terrorism and is condemned by the international community. Countries that engage in hostage diplomacy can face severe diplomatic and economic consequences, including sanctions and the loss of international goodwill.