from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Diplomacy is the art and practice of negotiating between authorized representatives of different groups or nations ( diplomats ). The term mostly refers to international diplomacy, i.e. the maintenance of interstate and supranational relations through agreements on matters such as peacekeeping, culture, economy, trade and conflicts. International contracts are usually negotiated by diplomats; they act on behalf of their governments and represent their interests.

In a figurative sense, this term also includes contacts between two or more groups of any kind based on negotiations or meetings.

Diplomatic behavior is called the act of neglecting a negotiator,

  • that certifies the actors willingness to compromise and the will to recognize the intentions and wishes of each participant;
  • seeks so-called win-win situations;
  • that as far as possible avoids embarrassing or cornering other negotiators ;
  • that is suitable to maximize the long-term benefit (it would therefore be undiplomatic to secure a short-term benefit, but risk or accept long-term disadvantages or conflicts).

English and French are now (as they have been for centuries) as global languages ​​of diplomacy. In addition to Arabic, Chinese , Russian and Spanish, both are the working languages ​​of the United Nations (UN).

Palais des Nations , seat of the UN in Geneva. As the largest international organization, the UN is a center of contemporary diplomacy .


Explanation of terms, important components

A collective term for a group of diplomats from the same country of origin is diplomatic representation . The highest diplomatic rank within this group is assigned to the ambassador (secular) or the apostolic nuncio (ecclesiastical). A diplomatic mission in a building led by an ambassador is called an embassy . Its members are the official representatives and contact persons of a state , a nation or an organization (such as a UN ambassador) in a foreign nation. The collective name for all diplomats in a foreign country is the diplomatic corps (French corps diplomatique ), which is why the license plates of diplomats all over the world often begin with the letters CD or in the form of a nationality symbol (oval plate) next to the vehicle Marks are attached.

The better the diplomat or the diplomatic mission is organized in the foreign country, the easier it is to express one's own interests. A message is very helpful here, which is why there is a tight network of embassies and diplomatic relations around the world today.

to form

The simplest and oldest form of diplomacy is bilateral (bilateral), i.e. diplomacy between two states. Another is multilateral (multilateral) diplomacy, in which many states try to come to a common result at the same time, which is then binding for all. In contrast to these forms, there is unilateralism (sole action), where a state acts only in its own interest, without consultation or consideration for other nations.

Diplomatic contact

Diplomatic contact between different nations takes place e.g. B. between the respective embassies and governments or within the framework of diplomatic forums . Important discussion forums for diplomacy include the United Nations (UN), the European Union (EU), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR). Diplomats sent to this organization are usually involved in negotiations and conferences at the supranational level.

The respective federal parliament, in Germany the German Bundestag, usually decides whether to break off diplomatic contacts with a country .

Functionality or special features

Every diplomacy works on the basis of verbal tact , which ensures that facts can be discussed objectively.


There are innumerable diplomatic approaches or strategies to assert the interests of one state over another. One approach is informal diplomacy . It has been used for communication between the great powers for centuries. Many diplomats try to establish contact with influential figures in other countries in order to gain access to the top leadership of a country in this way. In some cases, for example between the US and the People's Republic of China , much of the diplomacy takes place through semi-official channels using interlocutors such as academic members of political foundations ( think tanks ). This is particularly the case in matters in which governments would like to give recommendations or advice without having this announced through the official channels.

In Europe, confidence-building measures have also been practiced for a long time in order to reduce tensions between peoples in the long term or to promote common ground. For example, youth exchange programs, academic exchange programs such as the Erasmus program or the Socrates program are agreed. Further confidence-building measures are the conclusion of international city partnerships and the promotion of foreign language teaching (in schools).

In the Orient and other parts of the world there was a very different approach. In the Ottoman Empire , Persia and other states, diplomats were seen as a guarantee of good behavior. If a nation broke an agreement or members of that nation behaved badly, for example hijacked a ship or looted a border village, then the diplomats were punished for it. So diplomats were a means of enforcing agreements and international law. In order to ensure that the punishment of diplomats also meant something to the rulers, one insisted on high-ranking diplomats. This tradition can already be found in the Roman Empire of antiquity. The Romans often demanded hostages from the subjugated tribes in Germania , mostly children of the chief or close relatives. These were not held as prisoners, but as a kind of guest. So they got the benefit of Roman education and way of life. Only in the event of misconduct by their tribe could drastic reprisals be brought against them.

Diplomatic immunity

Diplomatic immunity is the protection of diplomats from criminal, civil or administrative prosecution in a foreign state.

Diplomatic rights were established in Europe in the mid-seventeenth century and have since spread around the world. This tradition was formally laid down in the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations . The treaty protects diplomats from being prosecuted or persecuted while on a diplomatic mission. You receive this immunity through the expulsion as authorized person to act in the name of a government ( accreditation ) and not only through the possession of a diplomatic passport . However, it is customary to provide diplomats with such passports.

The accredited diplomat enjoys immunity only in the receiving state. If he is accredited by an international organization, his immunity in a state is based on the agreements between the organization and that state. If the diplomat also or only has the nationality of the receiving state, he is immune because of his official acts, but not because of his private behavior.

Accompanying family members of diplomats are also granted immunity by the receiving state.

The sending state - not the diplomat or family member - can waive the immunity in whole or in part by declaring to the receiving state. This occurs mainly when the receiving state allows a family member of the diplomat to pursue gainful employment. In order to avoid distortions of competition vis-à-vis workers from the receiving country, immunity is waived in connection with the practice of the profession. For example, the spouse of a diplomat who wants to work as a doctor in Germany must not only meet the admission requirements, but also make contributions to the Medical Association and can be sued for breaches of duty of care during treatment in German civil courts and prosecuted in criminal courts; because of the traffic accident caused on a private Sunday excursion, however, immunity would still apply.

Diplomatic communications are also viewed as inviolable, and diplomats have long been allowed to take documents out of the country using what is known as a " diplomatic suitcase " or "diplomatic mail" without being searched. However, the further development of encryption technology has made this method increasingly obsolete in recent years. The international law prohibition of eavesdropping on diplomatic telecommunications is often not observed, which is why sensitive content is often transmitted in strongly encrypted form between the diplomatic missions abroad and the headquarters.

In times of hostility, diplomats are often sent to their homeland for their own protection . This sometimes also happens when the host country is friends, but there are threats from dissidents. Ambassadors and other diplomats are also sometimes withdrawn from their home countries to express displeasure with the host country. In such cases, lower-ranking members of the embassy stay behind and take care of the tasks that arise. In other cases, the embassy of another, friendly country continues the consular or diplomatic tasks.

Diplomatic recognition

Diplomatic recognition is the degree of acceptance of a nation by all other non-unilateral states.

Today there are a number of de facto independent territories that are denied diplomatic recognition by large parts of the world, for example the Republic of China (Taiwan) . Since the PR China regards Taiwan with its one-China policy as a “breakaway province”, diplomatic relations are only possible with one government at a time. Many states do not officially recognize the Republic of China in order to avoid resentment with the much larger PRC. However, informal contacts are maintained. Other countries not recognized as subjects of public international law or not recognized by the larger and most important part of the international community are Abkhazia , the Democratic Arab Republic of Sahara , Kosovo , Somaliland , South Ossetia , Transnistria , the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh , Palestine and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus . In contrast to Taiwan, however, these countries have no economic or political significance and are therefore much more isolated internationally.

Although recognition is a factor in determining sovereignty , Article 3 of the Montevideo Convention states that the political existence of a state is independent of recognition by other states . Since this convention was only signed by American states, it is not generally recognized under international law.

Despite the lack of diplomatic relations, a state can be recognized as such. By the end of the 1960s , the Federal Republic of Germany ended or not established diplomatic relations with countries that had diplomatic relations with the GDR (exception: the Soviet Union ). The reason was the Hallstein Doctrine . Nevertheless these states existed and it was with them on z. B. economic and sporting field worked together, and there were z. B. normal mail and telephone traffic.

Diplomacy and espionage

Diplomacy and espionage are closely related. Embassies are starting points for both diplomats and spies, and some diplomats are essentially openly recognized spies. For example, one of the duties of the military attaché is to learn as much as possible about the military of a nation in whose country he is active. No attempt is made to hide this role, and they are only allowed to participate in events such as parades or maneuvers by invitation. However, there are also covert spies who operate from embassies. These are given camouflage activities at the embassies. Their real job, however, is to socialize, recruit informants, and gather information. In extreme cases, they are also instructed to eliminate opponents of the regime in exile or to carry out acts of sabotage. In most cases, however, the identity of the spies operating from within the embassies is known. If exposed, they can be expelled. In most cases, the preferred counter-intelligence but to keep these agents under observation in order to gain insights into leaks on your own site.

The information gathered by spies is playing an increasingly important role in diplomacy. Arms control agreements would be difficult to monitor without reconnaissance satellites and agents. Such aggregated information is useful in all areas of diplomacy, from trade deals to border disputes .

Possibilities for sanctions between the receiving state and the sending state

The government of the receiving state can take various measures in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations in the event of diplomatic disagreements with the government of the sending state towards the foreign embassy staff in their own country or towards the ambassador himself . Depending on the importance of the incident, the possibilities range from official discussions with the embassy staff to a request to the sending state to recall its embassy staff in the receiving state (colloquially “ expulsion ”) or even to break off diplomatic relations. Conversely, the sending state can also instruct its embassy staff to take certain diplomatic measures in the receiving state. These measures often have a symbolic value to officially express the displeasure of the respective government towards the actions of the other state, and were seen, especially in earlier times, as weighty sanctions. In the modern age, governments of two states usually communicate directly with one another, especially when they otherwise have friendly diplomatic relations with one another.

If a diplomat or a relative commits a serious crime in the receiving country or becomes politically unpleasant to the government there - for example through inappropriate public interference in the internal affairs of the host country - he is usually declared a persona non grata , i.e. an undesirable person. Legal proceedings for a criminal offense can take place in the home country, but not in the receiving country due to diplomatic immunity.

Possibilities for sanctions by the receiving state

  • Invitation of the foreign ambassador or his representative to an interview, for example to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Appointment / quotation of the ambassador to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, handing over of a so-called protest note .
  • Request from the receiving state to the sending state to recall the foreign ambassador ( declared persona non grata ) or the embassy staff from the receiving state or to end their activities in the mission (colloquially known as `` identification ''), usually with a period of 48 hours. If the deadline expires without a reaction from the sending state, the receiving state can revoke the diplomatic status of the foreign embassy staff.
  • Breaking off the diplomatic relationship and the associated closing of the foreign embassy in the receiving country

Possibilities for sanctions by the sending state

  • Please talk to the representatives of the receiving state.
  • Return of the ambassador to his home country 'for consultations' for an indefinite period of time
  • Permanent retrieval of the ambassador and / or embassy staff from the embassy in the receiving country, (temporary) closing of the embassy there
  • Breaking off diplomatic relations with the receiving state and closing the embassy there


The ability to conduct diplomacy is one of the defining elements of a state . The beginnings can be found with the first city-states, which formed thousands of years ago. For most of human civilization, diplomats were only sent for specific negotiations, only to return swiftly after the negotiations ended. Diplomats were usually relatives of the ruling families or of high rank in order to give them the legitimacy they needed when negotiating with other states.

The papal ambassadors ( apocrisiarii ) at the court of the Byzantine emperor in Constantinople (Byzantium) formed an early permanent mission . However, after the deterioration in relations at the end of the eighth century, they were broken off. Later it was the Ottonians who, in the course of the two emperor problem, sought diplomatic contact with Byzantium again through embassies and exchanged embassies.

The origins of modern diplomacy date back to the northern Italian city-states of the early Renaissance , with the first embassies established in the thirteenth century. Milan played a leading role under Francesco I. Sforza . He founded embassies in the other cities of northern Italy. Many traditions of modern diplomacy began there. B. the accreditation of the ambassador to the head of state of the host country.

From Italy this practice spread to the other European powers. Milan was the first state to send a representative to the court in France in 1455. However, Milan refused to accept a French representative in return for fear that he might spy or interfere in internal affairs. As foreign powers like France and Spain became increasingly involved in Italian politics, a need for ambassadors was accepted. Soon the European powers exchanged ambassadors. Spain was among the first nations in 1487 to permanently send a representative to the Court of England. From the end of the sixteenth century, permanent missions became the norm. However, the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation did not send any permanent representatives as head of state, as he was unable to represent the interests of all German princes due to their de facto independence. During this time the rules of modern diplomacy were also developed: Ambassador was soon the highest rank of representative.

At the time, the ambassador was a nobleman, the rank of the nobleman sent depending on the importance of the country he was sent to. The highest standards were established for ambassadors and were often expected to own large buildings, host lavish receptions, and play an important role in the courtly life of their host countries. In Rome, which was most valued for a Catholic representative, the French and Spanish representatives had an entourage of up to a hundred people. Even in less important embassies, the ambassadors were very expensive. Envoys ranked below ambassadors were sent to smaller states .

Diplomacy was a complex matter, even more so then than it is now. In the diplomatic protocol, the ambassadors of all states were divided into different levels of importance and precedence, which were often controversial. States were usually classified according to the title of sovereign , with the Vatican's envoy being the highest for Catholic states . Then came those from kingdoms , then those from duchies and principalities . Representatives from republics were considered the lowest of the low. Determining the order of precedence between two kingdoms depended on a variety of factors, often varying, so disputes were guaranteed.

Ambassadors with little international experience and little diplomatic talent needed the support of a large number of embassy staff. These professionals were posted for a long time and were far more knowledgeable about their host countries than their superiors. Embassy staff had a variety of skills; some were dedicated to espionage, for example. The need for trained individuals to fill the embassies was met by university graduates, which led to an expansion of studies in international law , modern languages ​​and history at universities across Europe. At the same time, permanent foreign ministries were set up to coordinate the multitude of embassies and their staff. These ministries were by no means in keeping with their current form. Great Britain had two departments with often overlapping competencies until 1782. They were also a lot smaller than they are today. France, boasting one of the largest foreign ministries around 1780, only had 70 full-time employees.

At the Congress of Vienna, Prince von Metternich played a key role in shaping the European order after 1815

The elements of modern diplomacy slowly spread to Eastern Europe and Russia, beginning in the early 18th century. This whole system was interrupted by the French Revolution and the war years that followed. The French Revolution brought with it that the bourgeoisie took over the diplomacy of France and of all those states which were conquered by revolutionary armies. Established right of way and protocols were discarded. Napoleon also refused to recognize diplomatic immunity, arresting some British diplomats whom he accused of scheming against France. In addition, he did not have the time and patience for the often time-consuming process of formal diplomacy.

After Napoleon's defeat, the Congress of Vienna in 1815 established an international system of diplomatic ranks. Disputes over the ranks of nations continued for over a century until the rank of ambassador became the norm after World War II .

Diplomatic traditions outside of Europe were very diverse. An important requirement for diplomacy to exist is the existence of a number of states with roughly equal power, as was the case in Renaissance Italy and modern Europe. In contrast, the powers that be in the Middle East , the Chinese Empire and the Ottoman Empire were reluctant to engage in bilateral diplomacy, feeling that they were undisputedly superior to all of their neighbors. The Ottomans, for example, did not send missions to other countries because they expected them to come to Istanbul . This practice continued into the eighteenth century. As the European powers expanded across the world in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, so did their diplomatic system.

With technological developments during the 20th and 21st centuries, two modern forms of diplomacy have emerged. The Public Diplomacy has to influence the goal of the public of another state. Digital or e-diplomacy is based on the use of technical means.

Eminent diplomats


  • How is the world ruled and led to war? Diplomats lie to journalists and believe it when they read it. ( Karl Kraus )
  • Diplomacy is doing and saying the ugliest things in the nicest possible way. ( Ambrose Bierce , The Devil's Dictionary)
  • Diplomacy believes that the truth has nuances. ( Jiří Gruša , Director of the Diplomatic Academy Vienna)
  • Diplomacy is the art of petting a dog until the muzzle and leash are done.
  • Diplomacy is the art of expressing in 100 words what one could say with one word.
  • Diplomacy is to negotiate with the pig in a friendly but goal-oriented manner about the necessity of the Sunday roast.

See also


German speaking
  • Enrico Brandt and Christian F. Buck: Foreign Office . 4th edition, VS-Verlag, Wiesbaden 2005, ISBN 3-531-14723-4 .
  • Pietro Gerbore: Forms and styles of diplomacy ("Il vero diplomatico"). Rowohlt, Hamburg 1964 (Rowohlt's German Encyclopedia; 211–212).
  • George F. Kennan : Memoirs of a Diplomat ("Memoirs"). Dtv, Munich 1982, ISBN 3-423-10096-6 .
  • Helmut Kreicker : Immunity and ICC. On the significance of international law exemptions for the International Criminal Court . In: Journal for international criminal law dogmatics (ZIS), issue 7/2009, available at [1] (PDF; 250 kB).
  • Helmut Kreicker: Exemptions under international law. Basics and limits of immunities under international law and their effects in criminal law . Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2007, ISBN 978-3-86113-868-6 (2 volumes; see also [2] ).
  • Helmut Kreicker: The decision of the International Court of Justice on State Immunity - Effects on (international) criminal law? Comments on the judgment of the ICJ of 3.2.2012 from a criminal law perspective . Journal for international criminal law dogmatics (ZIS) 2012, pp. 107–123; available at [3] .
  • Jakob Lempp : Morphology of diplomatic services . In: Werner J. Patzelt (Ed.): Evolutorischer Institutionalismus . Ergon-Verlag, Würzburg 2007, ISBN 978-3-89913-554-1 .
  • Vladimir Petrowitsch Potjomkin (ed.): History of diplomacy . SWA-Verlag Berlin 1948 (among others together with Jewgeni Tarle and Isaak Minz ).
  1. [Main volume].
  2. Modern diplomacy. 1872-1919 .
  3. Diplomacy in the period of preparation for the second world war. 1919-1939 .
  • Frank Naumann: The Art of Diplomacy. 20 laws for gentle winners . Rowohlt, Reinbek 2003, ISBN 3-499-61570-3 .
  • Christian Saehrendt : Art as an ambassador for an artificial nation. Studies on the role of the visual arts in the foreign cultural policy of the GDR. Steiner, Stuttgart 2009, ISBN 978-3-515-09227-2 .
  • Gregor Schöllgen : The foreign policy of the Federal Republic of Germany. From the beginning to the present . Beck-Verlag, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-406-51093-0 .
  • Berndt von Staden : Between Ice Age and Thaw. Diplomacy in an era of upheaval; Memories of the retired German ambassador in Washington . wjs-Verlag, Berlin 2005, ISBN 3-937989-05-6 .
  • Jörg von Uthmann: The diplomats. Affairs and state affairs from the pharaohs to the Eastern Treaties . Dtv, Munich 1988, ISBN 3-421-06289-7 .
  • Paul Widmer : Diplomacy. A manual. Verlag Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Zurich 2014, ISBN 978-3-03823-881-2 .
  • Heinrich Wildner: The technique of diplomacy ("L'art de négocier") Springer, Vienna 1959.
  • Ramy Youssef: The recognition of borders. A Sociology of Diplomacy. Campus, Frankfurt am Main 2020, ISBN 978-3593513171 .
French speaking
  • Yvan Bazouni: Le métier de Diplomate . L'Harmattan, Paris 2005, ISBN 978-2-7475-8482-1 .
  • François de Callières : The state-experienced envoy, or instruction on how to deal wisely with high potentates in state affairs (“De la manière de négocier avec les sovereains”). Leipzig 1716.
  • Jules Cambon : The Diplomat ("Le Diplomate"). Hobbing-Verlag, Berlin 1927.
  • Jean-Paul Pancracio: Dictionnaire de la Diplomacy . Edition Micro Buss, Clermont-Ferrand 1998, ISBN 2-85395-037-9 .
English speaking
  • Geoff R. Berridge: Diplomacy. Theory & Practice . 3rd ed. Palgrave-Macmillan, Basingstoke 2010, ISBN 978-0-230-22959-4 .
  • George Cunningham: Journey to Become a Diplomat. With a Guide to Careers in World Affairs . FPA Global Vision Books 2005, ISBN 0-87124-212-5 .
  • Todd H. Hall: Emotional Diplomacy: Official Emotion on the International Stage. Cornell University Press, Ithaca 2015, ISBN 978-0-8014-5301-4 .
  • Henry Kissinger : The Art of Nations. About the nature of foreign policy (“diplomacy”). Siedler Verlag, Berlin 1994, ISBN 3-88680-486-0 .
  • Peter Macalister-Smith, Joachim Schwietzke: Diplomatic Conferences and Congresses. A Bibliographical Compendium of State Practice 1642 to 1919 , W. Neugebauer, Graz, Feldkirch 2017, ISBN 978-3-85376-325-4 .
  • Geoffey Moorhouse: The Diplomats. The Foreign Office Today . Cape, London 1977, ISBN 0-224-01323-8 .
  • Ernest Satow : A Guide to Diplomatic Practice. A standard reference work used in many embassies across the world (though not British ones) . Ganesha Publ., Bristol 1998, ISBN 0-582-50109-1 (2 volumes, reprint of the New York 1922 edition).

Web links

Wiktionary: Diplomacy  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Diplomacy  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. www.diplomatie.gouv.fr
  2. Official Languages. Retrieved January 11, 2018 .
  3. Kevin Capellini: US diplomatic wife causes fatal accident, claims immunity and escapes. In: aargauerzeitung.ch . October 8, 2019, accessed October 9, 2019 .
  4. Michael Herman: Diplomacy and intelligence . In: Diplomacy & Statecraft . tape 9 , no. 2 , July 1998, ISSN  0959-2296 , p. 1–22 , doi : 10.1080 / 09592299808406081 ( tandfonline.com [accessed June 30, 2021]).
  5. Julia Frese: The nuances of diplomacy. Weser-Kurier , December 1, 2013, accessed November 30, 2017 .
  6. ^ Marietta Slomka: Chancellor, Crisis, Capital , via Google Books, 2013
  7. Legations and Diplomacy in the Middle Ages ( Memento from January 18, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Interview with Eva Schlotheuber at Q History
  8. ^ Isabella Lazzarini: Communication and Conflict: Italian Diplomacy in the Early Renaissance, 1350-1520 . Oxford University Press, 2015, ISBN 978-0-19-872741-5 , doi : 10.1093 / acprof: oso / 9780198727415.001.0001 ( universitypressscholarship.com [accessed June 30, 2021]).
  9. Andre Krischer: Sovereignty as a social status: On the function of diplomatic ceremonies in the early modern period . In: Ralph Kauz, Giorgio Rota, Jan Paul Niederkorn (eds.): Diplomatic ceremonies in Europe and the Middle East in the early modern period . VÖAW, Publishing House of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna 2009, ISBN 978-3-7001-6599-6 , p. 1-33 .
  10. ^ Ramy Youssef: Status in Early Modern and Modern World Politics: Competition or Conflict? In: Daniela Russ, James Stafford (eds.): Competition in World Politics: Knowledge, Strategies and Institutions . transcript, Bielefeld 2021, ISBN 978-3-8376-5747-0 , p. 35-60 .
  11. ^ Paul Widmer : Diplomacy. A manual. Verlag Neue Zürcher Presse, Zurich 2014, p. 284.