Multilateral diplomacy

Latest: Time to Reflect – Multilateralism Day

We can define multilateral diplomacy as the cooperation of three or more countries that work toward a common goal. It has developed alongside bilateral diplomacy mainly through congresses and conferences. Modern multilateral diplomacy begins with the co-founding of international organizations,  especially the UN, the Council of Europa, the OSCE, and the European Union.

In the wake of current challenges and globalization, multilateral diplomacy is an indispensable form of international diplomacy. Global challenges that we are facing such as climate change, migration, sustainable development, opportunities and risks of new technologies can only be addressed through mutual cooperation.

Stay up to date!

Subscribe to Multilateral Diplomacy Updates and stay up to date with upcoming events, new publications and research, and Diplo courses and training on multilateral diplomacy.

What is multilateral diplomacy?

A multilateral diplomacy is a diplomatic approach in which multiple countries work together to address common issues and challenges. This involves engaging in dialogue and negotiation to achieve shared goals and promote cooperation among nations. It can take many forms, such as international agreements, treaties, and conventions.

Why does multilateral diplomacy matter?

Multilateral diplomacy is essential for addressing complex global challenges that require cooperation among countries. By working together, countries can find solutions that are more effective, efficient, and sustainable than those pursued bilaterally. Multilateral diplomacy also promotes dialogue and understanding among nations, which can help to reduce tensions and prevent conflicts.

How is multilateral diplomacy conducted?

Multilateral diplomacy is typically conducted through a process of negotiation, where representatives of different countries come together to discuss and reach an agreement on a particular issue. The negotiation process typically involves several stages, including agenda-setting, information sharing, proposal-making, and consensus-building.

Throughout the negotiation process, countries may also engage in informal consultations and bilateral meetings to build relationships and seek common ground. Multilateral diplomacy can be a complex and time-consuming process, requiring skilled diplomats who can navigate different cultural and political perspectives to find common ground and reach consensus.

yfxhqaw5x0c

Where is multilateral diplomacy performed?

Multilateral diplomacy is performed in various settings, including international organizations such as the United Nations (UN), the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the World Health Organization (WHO), among others. These organizations provide a platform for countries to come together and negotiate on various issues that affect global stability, security, and development.

Multilateral diplomacy is also performed through regional organizations such as the European Union (EU), the African Union (AU), and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), among others. These organizations provide a platform for regional cooperation and integration, and their member states engage in multilateral diplomacy to address issues that are specific to their regions.

In addition to these formal settings, multilateral diplomacy is also performed through informal mechanisms such as summits, bilateral meetings, and diplomatic dialogues. These mechanisms provide opportunities for countries to engage in informal discussions and build relationships that can lead to more effective multilateral cooperation.

Overall, multilateral diplomacy is a critical component of international relations, as it enables countries to come together and negotiate on issues that affect the global community.

How is multilateral diplomacy adapting to new global challenges?

A major trend in multilateral diplomacy is the increasing importance of non-state actors, such as civil society organisations, businesses, and other stakeholders. These actors are becoming more involved in international organisations’ decision-making processes, demanding greater transparency and accountability from governments and multilateral institutions.

Another trend is the growing use of digital tools and online platforms to conduct diplomacy. This has facilitated greater collaboration and communication among diplomats and government officials but has also brought new challenges related to cybersecurity, data privacy, and online disinformation that are to be addressed in multilateral fora.

When did multilateral diplomacy develop?

Multilateral diplomacy has a long history, dating back to the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, which established the principle of state sovereignty and paved the way for modern international relations. The League of Nations, established after World War I, was an early example of a multilateral organization. Since then, multilateral diplomacy has become increasingly important as countries face growing global challenges that require collective action.

From our blog

Minilateralism: A Trend in Regional Diplomacy

Kishan S Rana

This occasional blog is by one that spent 35 years in the Indian Foreign Service. Subsequently taught diplomatic practice (22 years with DiploFounda...

Digital governance in International Geneva in 2023: What to expect and how to respond

DiploFoundation

Authors: Jovan Kurbalija and Stephanie Borg Psaila Predicting the future is a tricky a...

WEF 2023: Is Davos becoming tech shy?

Jovan Kurbalija

17 January 2023

Geneva diplomacy

The World Economic Forum has always been enthusiastic about tech. Th...

Borrell delivered the best and worst diplomatic speech of 2022 in 3 days

Jovan Kurbalija

17 October 2022

EU diplomacy

  <!-- wp:pullquote {"textAlign":"left","align":"right","style":{"border":{"width&qu...

Training and courses

Events

July 2021 online courses

26 Jul 21 - 10 Sep 21

Online

July 2020 online courses

20 Jul 20 -

Online

July 2017 online courses

22 Jul 19 -

Online

7th Model ASEM

06 Jul 16 - 10 Jul 16

Mongolia

Summer online courses

21 Jul 14 -

Online

Summer 2013 online courses

22 Jul 13 -

Online

Panel Discussion with MEDAC Alumni

13 Apr 07 -

Switzerland

Resources

2020

The future of (multilateral) diplomacy? Changes in response to COVID-19 and beyond

The year 2020 marked the 75th anniversary of the United Nations (UN). It is also the year that the world was faced with responding to the emergence of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, an unprecedented global challenge that has left no area of society and no individual ... Read more...

2020

The ‘Working’ Non-Aligned Movement: Between Belgrade, Cairo, and Baku – The NAM’s Leadership Visibility

The objective of this chapter is to highlight lessons learned, promote best practices, and carry takeaways that are useful for other levels of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), or even other forums. ... Read more...

2018

Searching for Meaningful Human Control. The April 2018 Meeting on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (Briefing Paper #10)

In this briefing paper, Ms Barbara Rosen Jacobson analyses the debate of the April 2018 meeting of the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW). The group was established to discuss emerging technologies in the area of... Read more...

Advertisement, Poster, Page, Text

2018

Digital Diplomacy as a foreign policy statecraft to achieving regional cooperation and integration in the Polynesian Leaders Group

Established in 2011, the Polynesian Leaders Groups serves to fulfill a vision of cooperation, strengthening integration on issues pertinent to the region and to the future of the PLG. Its nine – American Samoa, French Polynesia, Niue, Cook Islands, Tokelau, Tuvalu, T... Read more...

Food, Ketchup, Logo, Armor

2018

European Union external action structure: Beyond state and intergovernmental organisations diplomacy

This dissertation analyses the organisation of the external action structures of the European Union. As an international actor which is beyond a state, but also different to traditional international organisations, the EU has created a “diplomatic constellation” ... Read more...

Page, Text, Letter

2017

Towards a secure cyberspace via regional co-operation

The study Towards a secure cyberspace via regional co-operation provides an overview of the international dialogue on establishing norms of state behaviour and confidence-building measures in cyberspace. ... Read more...

Advertisement, Poster

Histories

The telegraph: How it changed diplomacy

The period between the end of Renaissance diplomacy (early 16th century) and the start of the golden age of diplomacy and technology (early 18th century) was shaped by the Reformation and religious wars. Central Europe came out divided, while around it, new, more centr... Read more...