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The Role of Diplomacy and International Relations in the 21st Century
"Russia boasts it will maintain military superiority over the West until 2020 at least as it continues to add its nuclear arsenal despite recession” (Reuters and Khaleda Rahman, MailOnline. 30 January 2015).
The United Nations (UN) was founded in 1945. The Soviet Union ( Russia was part of it) was one of the original signatories. Under the UN Charter, it stated two of the functions of the Security Council, “to maintain international peace and security in accordance with the principles and purposes of the United Nations and to investigate any dispute or situation which might lead to international friction”. The declaration of Russia last January 30, 2015 showed intent to add nuclear weapons into their arsenal. This is contradictory to the signed agreement because it opened a door for conflict. With the present 193 members, it is expected that these member countries can prepare for any unexpected atrocities brought by the use of nuclear weapons. With all members united as one global society, diplomacy and international relations play a vital role in uniting, preserving and maintaining peace in the world for the furtherance of global economic growth.
The history of diplomacy and international trade dates back to remote societies of human kind. Ragnar Numelin, a Finnish scholar has well documented his study on ‘diplomacy,’ published in 1950, stated “they had perfect knowledge of the use of messengers and envoys between diverse tribes to treat matters of common interest” (De Magalhaes 15). This research included the study of the primitive peoples of Australia, Asia, Africa and the Americas. He therefore concluded that people maintained intertribal relations through the use of messengers or envoys and was deeply rooted in their culture. It is clear that mankind from early civilization wanted to be connected to their neighbors for a common interest. It manifested that tribal men were sociable by nature and tried to find means to maintain his well-being to improve community life. In today’s world countries communicate with one another through peaceful means which we term as international relations. International relations is a broad discipline which encompass the field of diplomatic state, foreign policy analysis, comparative politics, historical sociology, international political economy, strategic studies, military affairs, ethic and international political theory. It is an inter-play of all subject matters that affect the totality of the human race in relation to their desired norms and patterns of survival. It is the collaborative effort of one country to the other through sharing and implementation of ideas that benefit all contracting parties. On the other hand, diplomacy is a subfield of international relations. “Diplomacy is the entirety of how states/countries conduct their foreign relations. It includes state communications, trade agreements, cooperation among allies and how these agreements influence one another” (Griffiths and O’Callaghan 79). International affairs are conducted through peaceful means of diplomacy. Diplomacy then is very vital in the execution of foreign policies. Most of these policies are very general and do not state its limitation or measure of implementation. This would now depend upon the good diplomat as to how he presents his card on the table and adopt interpretations of that policy mandated at that moment. On different occasions, the policy demands an exception to the rule which would rely on the wisdom of the diplomatic officer in that field. A lot of times, the reconciliation of a difficult situation is attained due to the skill of that diplomat as he competes in the bargain and “gives coherence, emphasis and interpretation to their state’s foreign policy” (Griffiths and O’Callaghan 80). Diplomacy is not the formulation of policies but rather the implementation of it. The main task of the diplomats are to negotiate with the representatives of the other countries. Their role is to facilitate communications among countries with agreements. Embassies are also set up in foreign countries for the purpose of easy implementation, consultation and evaluation of the needs of both countries.
Benefits of Diplomacy and International Relations. 1920-1930 was a decade of great depression. United Kingdom has greatly devalued their money in order to decrease the price of imported goods. This devaluation progressed and affected the United States by 1930. It has caused the decline of community prices worldwide, affected trade volumes and the value of financial assets as well. This international crisis was presented in the internal conference at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire in 1944. The policy makers agreed that the Great Depression was caused by countries practicing discriminatory trade policies these war years. This situation gave way to the major foreign policy of the Roosevelt administration. The Atlantic Charter was established. Article IV of that charter stated that “all countries should have access, on equal terms, to the trade and to the raw materials of the world which are needed for the economic prosperity”. This agreement was entered upon with Great Britain under the 1942 Lend-Lease agreement between the United States and Great Britain. In order to solve the great depression at the end of World War II, forty two (42) countries along with the United States and Great Britain met at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire in August 1944 to design the rules and formal institutions that would govern their monetary relations. The Bretton Woods was principal in the creation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Financial Conference of the United and Associated Nations and the International Bank of Reconstruction and Development, now called the World Bank and the General Agreement of Tariffs and Trade (GATT). The World Bank was created in order to assist countries that were devastated by World War II while the IMF was created to assist third world countries by providing loans for infrastructure and other economic purposes. The Bretton Woods also mandated the use of the US dollar as the currency of foreign trades in exchange of goods and services, replacing the gold. This trade agreement tremendously helped Europe in the recovery from the Great Depression.
Alliance among countries is one of the benefits of international relations. It is the mutual agreement between countries to work together for mutual security issues. The purpose is to protect themselves against threat from other countries and states. In pooling their resources, they can improve their overall power against outside states and help them save on military cost. A good example of this military alliance were the Axis powers of World War II, composed of Japan, Germany and Italy. On the opposite side were the Allied forces consisting of many countries like France, Poland, Britain and others. Alliance can be in form of informal arrangements which can be seen through joint military exercise. Alliance can also be formally agreed upon as in the establishment of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
Another benefit is the Arms Control. This was a very important issue among countries in the twentieth century and carried as well to the twenty-first century. With the advent of nuclear weapons and the threat of nuclear war between superpowers, many agreements have been formulated. The aim was to prevent another bloodshed causing World War III. Other purposes of the arms control were to limit the production of weapons that can be used in war, limit the possible destruction after war has broken and reduce the number of weapons. It also reduced the frequency of nuclear test.
Human Rights is another strong issue associated with the founding of the United Nations in 1945. The United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights defines human rights as “rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status. We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination. These rights are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible. “Universal human rights are often expressed and guaranteed by law, in the forms of treaties, customary international law, general principles and other sources of international law. International human rights law lay down obligations of Government to act in certain ways or to refrain from certain acts, in order to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms of individuals or groups”. A very good example is the life of the Nobel Prize Winner for Peace, the late Nelson Mandela of South Africa. He fought for the abolition of the Apartheid. He was imprisoned for twenty seven (27) long years. This was a multifaceted struggle with convulsive violence from 1990-1994. Their democracy was not easy to attain. Many talks were conducted with the intervention from various international groups. Finally, in February 11, 1990, Nelson Mandela was released. Along with his release was the unbanning of the African National Congress and other liberation movements. The National Party government made an agreement with the African National Congress to end the Apartheid. This new freedom led to the creation of the New Democratic constitution and the first free election.
The Anti-Money Laundering. Investopedia defines anti-money laundering as “a set of procedures, laws or regulations, designed to stop the practice of generating income through illegal actions. In most cases, money launderers hide their actions thorough a series of steps that make it look like money coming from illegal or unethical sources are earned legitimately. In 1986, the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AML) was enacted in the United States. Other countries followed as well in fighting anti-money laundering. In the United States, it established money laundering as a federal crime. It introduced civil and criminal forfeiture for Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) violation. The anti-money laundering was link to the September 11 destruction of the twin towers in the United States. Today, many countries have incorporated the AML into their financial policies. The 5th International Conference on Financial Crime and Terrorism Financing in 2014 convened to tackle issues on Anti-Money Laundering, identity theft and cyber security. No longer was anti-money laundering a single issue for the United States alone but has become an international concern to fight against terroristic attacks and its funding.
Environmental Protection and Climate Change. The United Nations Framework for Convention on Climate Change in 1988 was set up by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change (IPC) under the United Nation’s Environmental Program (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization “to access the scientific knowledge on global warming. Its first report was in 1990. The participating members agreed that climate change was human-induced. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate change (UNFCC) was signed by 150 countries during the Earth Summit in 1992 and was later ratified by 180 member countries in 2000. “The main purpose was to provide mandatory targets on greenhouse-gas emission for the world’s leading economies at that time. It also provided flexibility on how countries meet their target and to further recognize that the protocol varies from country to country” (UNFCC). The International Organization for Standardization issues the 140001 certification to companies complying with practices to reduce the emission of carbon dioxide. Sony Supply Chains Solutions, Inc. is one of the multi-national companies complying with this order by reducing their waste disposal and carbon dioxide emission through the use of biogas.
The Ebola Outbreak. World Health Organization Director-General, Dr., Margaret Chan emphasized the importance of reporting any outbreak such as the Ebola. She stated that “the outbreak has caused universal fear. WHO has been trying to reach out through consultative efforts and working groups on Research and Development.In fighting outbreaks, the WHO formed the Global Outbreak and Response Network (GOARN). This is a network collaborated by existing institutions to pool technical resources for the rapid identification. Their aim is for global health security by “combating the international spread of outbreaks contributing to long-term preparedness and capacity building. The initial meeting of partners was held in Geneva in 2000. The GOARN provides an operational frameworks to link to the international community through their expertise and skills, to constantly alert communities the threat of outbreaks and ready to respond.
The New Age Diplomacy. Digital Diplomacy. Samantha Brletich of the United States Defense Office wrote about Digital Diplomacy. She wrote that social media has become part of the diplomatic community because it has provided many countries with information in solving social problems. She mentioned further that a good example is the “Arab Spring Protest in Egypt and the Euro Median protest in Ukraine. Digital diplomacy has brought many world leaders to Silicon Valley in the United States. Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev’s visited Silicon Valley to “gain inspiration for Russia’s own Silicon Valley in Skolkovo. The purpose was to augment and boost the Russian economy through innovation and technology investments”.
The European Union is a politico-economic union of 28 members located in Europe. The founders were France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Italy, Netherlands and Germany. This is a unique union of European states because it deals with politics and economic issues. The purpose of the European Union is to foster economic cooperation based on the premise that these countries are interdependent and more likely conflicts will be avoided. The European Economic Community (EEC), now name European Union, was created in 1958. It has increased economic cooperation among the original six member countries. Its unique governance is based on the rule of law, meaning, everything that it does is founded on treaties. The constituents from the EU can freely travel to other countries to live or work. The EU prides in its union because it has contributed to peace, stability and prosperity to its member countries and has helped in raising the standard of living. The European Union launched a single European currency called the Euro. Great Britain still maintains the use of its currency, the pounds GBP in trade and business. The European Union has their own European parliament and EU legislative branch. This imposes agreements on foreign trade policies which were implemented in their intergovernmental policies. These policies affect macroeconomic practices. It also set sanctions on countries trading with them. The sanction list regarding the subjects are on Anti-bribery, Anti-money laundering, Anti-terrorist financing/Counter Terrorism, Arms embargo, Diamond Trading, Counter Narcotics, Oil and Gas industry regarding Iran, and Non-Proliferation. Countries sanctioned by the EU are Afghanistan for embargo on arms and related materials, ban on certain services like freezing of funds; Balkan states for freezing of funds, and the sanction is valid until March 10, 2015. Egypt, is sanctioned for freezing of funds and economic resources. Central African Republic, China, Congo, Cote d’ lvoire, Liberia, Libya, Lebanon, North Korean, Syria and Zimbabwe are banned for embargo on arms and related material- and banned on equipment which might be used for internal repression. Iran is also restricted for freezing of funds and economic resources; Haiti, prohibition to satisfy certain claims in accordance with the UN Security Council; Croatia, restrictions on admission of persons- freezing of funds and economic resources; Moldova, restrictions on admission. Somalia and South Sudan also banned for confirmation of embargo on arms and related materials. The above listing is updated as of January 2015.
We are now in the era of digitalization. Globalization has accelerated due to the use of the internet. Digitalization has been a catalyst in implementing international trade relations. As discussed earlier, diplomacy and international relations has changed the course of civilization. Our leaders have made a pact to improve our living conditions. The United Nations is the umbrella of many organizations that seek to improve people’s health, environment, climate change, and business as in the case of the World Trade Organization and protecting our human rights as well as the rights of women and children. Because of international relations, communications and agreements had been made easier after the World War II. Leaders have learned their lesson. Not forgetting the dehumanizing genocide done by Adolf Hitler, the international Criminal Court has been established to prosecute international crimes of genocide. This is an intergovernmental organization with offices in Netherlands. The European bloc by the European Union provides a good example of their own inter- governmental policies. They posted sanctions on countries posing threats to the Union. In the pursuit of global governance, countries are deemed to collaborate and integrate in order to accomplish desired goals. Globalization in trade could not be possible without the cooperation of countries. Information technology gave rise to a new form called digital diplomacy. When agreements come or conflicts arise, we learn to used diplomatic ways in order to resolve our issues amicably and reduce animosity among contracting parties. But no matter how good the intentions are, some countries want to have their way and broadcast their intent usually for power and dominance among countries. As in the time of Julius Ceasar and Napoleon Bonaparte, countries go to war to gain more lands and increase their power. Russia made their declaration and intent for military superiority and production of nuclear weapons. Diplomacy and international relations play its role in connecting every country because one is dependent upon the other. Global society makes this world exists as one by preventing annihilation but rather promoting cooperation and collaboration with respect to human rights and to the whole mankind. International relations through diplomacy is the main switchboard to defuse any negative consequences should Russia falls out of control.
De Magalhães, José Calvet. The Pure Concept of Diplomacy. Trans. Bernardo FutscherPereiraNew York: Greenwood, 1988.Questia. Web. 27 Jan. 2015.
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Guetzkow, Harold, Chadwick F. Alger, Richard A. Brody, Robert C. Noel, and Richard C. Snyder. Simulation in International Relations: Developments for Research and Teaching. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1963. Questia. Web. 27 Jan. 2015.
European Union Website. Accessed 31 January 2015. Web.
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Lippmann, Walter. The Stakes of Diplomacy. New York: H. Holt, 1915. Questia.
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Reuters, Rahman, K. MailOnline. 30 January issue
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World Health Organization website. Accessed 01 Feb
United Nations Charter. Web. Accessed 01 Feb. 2015
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U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Web. Accessed 01 Feb. 2015
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