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Bilateral and Multilateral Diplomacy
Diplomacy normally refers to the technique of dealing with the governments through communication in contradiction to the war, military deterrence, subversion, propaganda etc. This is applied indifferently for the way as to how a government deals with another government and also the skill and art of the officials known as diplomats for those who specialize in such activity. The liability of diplomats extends towards representation of their own nation and government to others and also to assist their government to identify, to assess and respond to outward strategies, threats and opportunities. In its broadest form diplomacy intends to exert impact on the activities of foreign governments and their agents. (The Purposes of Multilateralism)
There have been extensive deliberations on the trend of the nature and structure of international relations during the contemporary era wherein it appears to revolve around three fundamental sides namely retrogression, transformation and transitions. The retrogressive ideology is considered realistic based on the view point that the international order is being defined in terms of power and ruled by national interests; those which are necessary to be meticulously equilibrated and persistently tailored according to the settings and conditions of the time. The transformation view of international order concentrate on the traditional internationalism depicting the fact that we are aware of the transformation of human civilization, which are rapidly evolving towards a new world order on the basis of a set of liberal market economics, shared values of democracy, and human rights which are being safeguarded through the concept of 'benevolent hegemony' of the superpowers. Amidst these two extreme views there exists the transitional view that declares that presently we are in a period of transition constantly moving from the conventional rigid bipolar order of the cold war to a fluid multi-polar structure. (The Challenges of Multilateral Diplomacy in 1999) I would agree with the transitional view that states that we are in a period of transition towards a multi-polar world. Hence I refute the statement that "One has to be realistic: world politics will always be dominated by major powers; idealistic attempts to legalize international relations or to make them virtuous are doomed to fail. It is silly to pretend that there is some thing called the International Community."
Multilateral diplomacy is sometimes thought of as a type of superstructure over that of the bilateral diplomacy. The negotiation of nuclear test ban can be taken as a good illustration of this. Earlier the test ban treaties were mostly concentrating on the superpowers and of bilateral Soviet-American negotiations. In the analogy of modern technology the bilateral diplomacy is conceived in terms of talking over a mobile telephone while the multilateral diplomacy is similar to the interactions over Internet. Moreover, the multilateral negotiations, irrespective of being a delayed process still are considered effective protection against hegemonistic and similar intentions. Not withstanding the fact the multilateral negotiations are fundamentally similar to the bilateral negotiations, a number of sophisticated methods and techniques have been devised in multilateral arena to deal with the wide range of diplomatic interactions. (Diplomacy as an instrument of good Governance)
At the level of international community there exist an official hierarchy of committees and sub-committees in United Nations and a semi-official system of groups of states constituted in proximity to geographic and economic considerations such as groups of African, Latin American and Arab States, the EU States or the Group of 77 developing nations. It has been seen that due regard to rules and procedures in respect of multilateral talks are considered to be more significant. In the case of the United Nations, 185 delegations have to interact with each other simultaneously and some stringent and clear rules to maintain orderly interactions must exist. As Harold Nicolson pointed out the matters of organization and procedure has become no less significant than the political issues. It has been observed that with the mushrooming growth of international organizations and multilateralism influencing all spheres of life is the inevitability of setting up of a mutually supportive and reinforcing system of international organization to foster complimentarily among them. (Diplomacy as an instrument of good Governance)
Multilateral diplomacy makes the government to associate with various governments at the same time. In case of the multilateral diplomacy, not only the government is to deal with the governments of many nations but other governments are also involved in relating with each other. The multilateral diplomacy is being pursued for various reasons. Firstly, the elementary objective of a government in interacting with others is to ensure reach to the information. Multilateral organization is viewed as an effective mode of pooling and disseminating information amongst the nations involved in the desired fields. Secondly, the multilateral diplomacy facilitates execution of joint projects by pooling resources with others as an effective mode of attaining the desired objectives. Thirdly, the multilateral diplomacy strives to create and entail a political environment more favorable to solve regional and global problems in an effective manner. (The Purposes of Multilateralism)
Fourthly, the multilateral diplomacy facilitates influencing the behavior of other nations beyond one's sovereign territory to entail benefits to their own nation. Fifthly, multilateral diplomacy is viewed as facilitating mutually beneficial deals. Sixthly, the multilateral diplomacy facilitates pursuing of the national agendas through its extension to the international objective. Seventhly, multilateral diplomacy ensures reactivity of the nations. The member nations generally follow the initiatives of single nations when the efforts do not interfere with their own interests. Moreover, the Multilateral diplomacy ensures regularity of relations through periodic conferences, meetings and do not necessitate fresh initiatives again and again to maintain the relationship.
Finally, the objective of all utilitarian and mechanistic considerations appears more or less guided by idealism of the participating members of diplomacy. Ideals like peace and human rights are taken to be a part of the motivation of individual members of governments and of individual civil servants and often are followed selflessly. Such ideals sometimes influence political parties and/or bureaucracies and whole governments. In some other instances political leaders are forced to adopt the ideals valued by the electorate, the media and other opinion formers. Recurrently, such adoptions and reactions influences primarily the presentational attributes; however, it cal also include substance. The interventions in Kosovo by United States, for example, was contradictory to U.S. Realpolitik objects however, did respond to the incapability of the American public to digest daily mayhem on its television screens. The humanitarian values inherent in every government cannot be negated by the aspect of cynicism on their part. (The Purposes of Multilateralism)
Moreover the patriotism also exert profound impact on the multilateral diplomacy, however, patriotism like other ideals can be manipulated and exploited upon, it can also give rise to activities that contradict other ideals and values. However, ideal continues to become a factor influencing the motivation of diplomats. Supercilious ideals are more reflected in the context of multilateral diplomacy than that in bilateral ones. This however, does not make the participants in multilateral diplomacy to be less realistic or to be of less concerned for attaining tangible benefits or for the interests of their own country rather than other participating nations. An idealistic discourse is considered as an almost unavoidable but widely incidental consequence of performing diplomacy in a multilateral setting. The regional or global spanning multilateral functions and the attribute of many of the topics it deals with forces to take into account the thoughts of grandeur and grandiloquence.
The dominance of an international rostrum and the natural intention to present one's cause in the most commendable manner impels the government to practice idealism. Sometimes the presence of the international audience also gives rise to a dampening of the representation internationalist objectives at the cost of nationalistic sentiments. However, the pursuit of international cooperation at most of the cases appears to be consistent with the strong assurances to safeguard the interests of one's own nation. Ironically the ideals of internationalism seek its origin being rooted in patriotism and national objectives. The bilateral and multilateral diplomacy are more often is performed for high ideals and very often it is tailored to meet such objectives. However, basically it is regarded as the practical way for governments to strive to accomplish their own goals, noble or despicable. Multilateral methods can be adopted to deal with particular, local problems both directly and indirectly. This is in consonance with the principle that 'acting globally to assist locally'. (The Purposes of Multilateralism)
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in his address following the receiving of award 'Excellence in Diplomacy' by the American Academy of Diplomacy opined that diplomacy once was limited mostly to the fields of political relations between states with the primary objective of dissuading or solving a conflict. However, the growth of globalization and economic integration forces the international community and organizations to take such diplomacy to a new level. It should be noted that multilateral diplomacy has not confined to become an automatic path for harmony and progress. Irrespective of the fact that interests prove…[continue]
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