Bilateral Diplomacy: The Perennial Basics of Diplomacy

  • Yolanda Kemp Spies


In this chapter, Spies focuses on bilateral diplomacy, the oldest and most traditional diplomatic mode. It encapsulates basics of diplomatic practice—principles, techniques and processes that are replicated in all the other modes of diplomacy. The discussion is structured according to the five functions of diplomatic missions, as per the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations . Spies explains how these duties have expanded in recent decades, how they are executed even in the absence of resident embassies, and how struggling states are affected by deficits in diplomatic capacity. The impact of information and communication technology on diplomacy’s core tasks is discussed, as are the implications of a greater spectrum of stakeholders—not least the public of a host state—that need to be engaged by diplomats.

Sources Used

  1. Addis Fortune. (2013, April 28). Ethiopian Foreign Missions Need Urgent Restructuring. Distributed by All Africa Global Media. Accessed on 2 May 2013.
  2. Agence France-Presse (AFP). (2001, April 27). Dutch Refuse to Sell Submarines. Taipei Times.
  3. Ahmad, Z. H. (1999). Change and Adaptation in Foreign Policy: Malaysia’s Foreign Ministry. In B. Hocking (Ed.), Foreign Ministries: Change and Adaptation. Basingstoke: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  4. Barston, R. P. (1997). Modern Diplomacy. London: Longman.Google Scholar
  5. Barston, R. P. (2006). Modern Diplomacy (3rd ed.). London: Pearson/Longman.Google Scholar
  6. BBC. (2016, October 22). Russia Accuses UK over ‘Shrinking’ London Embassy. BBC News. Available at
  7. Berridge, G. R. (1995). Diplomacy: Theory and Practice. London: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  8. Borger, J., Rankin, J., & Lyons K. (2016, November 4). Why Do Diplomats Use This-Alien Whatsapp Emoji for Vladimir Putin? The Rise and Rise of International Diplomacy by WhatsApp. The Guardian. Available at
  9. British Council. (2013). Influence and Attraction: Culture and the Race for Soft Power in the 21st Century. Available at Accessed on 3 November 2016.
  10. Bryant, N. (2012, July 18). E-Diplomacy: Foreign Policy in 140 Characters. BBC. Accessed on 23 October 2014.
  11. Bull, H. (1977). The Anarchical Society. London: Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Burt, R., & Robison, O. (1998). Reinventing Diplomacy in the Information Age. Washington, DC: Center for Strategic and International Studies.Google Scholar
  13. Calvet de Magalhães, J. (1988). The Pure Concept of Diplomacy (B. F. Pereira, Trans.). New York: Greenwood.Google Scholar
  14. Cohen, R. (1999). Reflections on the New Global Diplomacy: Statecraft 2500 BC to 2000 AD. In J. Melissen (Ed.), Innovation in Diplomatic Practice. Basingstoke: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  15. Cucos, R. (2012). Virtual Diplomacy—A New Way of Conducting International Affairs? Information and Communications for Development (IC4D) Internet Blog. Accessed on 8 June 2013.
  16. Cull, N. J. (2006, April 18). “Public Diplomacy” Before Gullion: The Evolution of a Phrase. USC Centre on Public Diplomacy.
  17. Cooper, A. F. (2017, February). The Disintermediation Dilemma and Its Impact on Diplomacy (Working Paper No. 4: Project Diplomacy in the 21st Century). Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP) German Institute for International and Security Affairs.Google Scholar
  18. Dahya, C. R. (2015, April 21). The City, Community and the Corps: Locating the Cultural Additives of Foreign Diplomatic Representation in Pretoria. Paper Presented at a Conference on ‘Changing Capital Cities in Latin America, the Caribbean and Southern Africa’, held at the University of Pretoria.Google Scholar
  19. Debrah, E. M. (1996, April 29–May 3). Structuring a Regional Diplomatic Training Programme. Keynote Address by Former Ambassador of Ghana and Commonwealth Consultant on Diplomatic Training, to the Southern African Regional Seminar on Diplomatic Training. Pretoria.Google Scholar
  20. DEMOS. (2007). Cultural Diplomacy (Report Compiled by K. Bound, R. Briggs, J. Holden, & S. Jones). London: DEMOS.Google Scholar
  21. Eban, A. (1998). Diplomacy for the Next Century. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  22. El Baradei, M. M. (2008, November 17). Diplomacy and Leadership in a Turbulent World. Statement by the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency to the ‘Leaders in Dubai’ 2008 Business Forum. Dubai, UAE.Google Scholar
  23. Ethiopia, Federal Democratic Republic. (2002, November). Foreign Affairs and National Security Policy and Strategy. Released by the Ministry of Information, Press and Audiovisual Department. Accessed on 20 August 2016.
  24. Flitton, D. (2010, July 28). The Unseen Art. Sydney Morning Herald.
  25. Funga, M. (2016, April 10). It’s Pointless to Keep Funding a Country That Can’t Manage Its Own Resources—Ofstad. The Post. Accessed on 18 July 2016.
  26. Hamilton, K., & Langhorne, R. (1995). The Practice of Diplomacy: Its Evolution, Theory and Administration. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  27. Hampson, F. O., Crocker, C. A., & Aall, P. (2013). Negotiation. In A. F. Cooper, J. Heine, & R. Thakur (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Modern Diplomacy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Hemery, J. (2002). ‘Educating Diplomats’, in Academics, Practitioners and Diplomacy: An ISP symposium on the Theory and Practice of Diplomacy. International Studies Perspectives, 3(2), 140–145.Google Scholar
  29. Hocking, B., & Melissen, J. (2015, July). Diplomacy in the Digital Age (Clingendael Report). Netherlands Institute of International Relations Clingendael.Google Scholar
  30. Hocking, B., Melissen, J., Riordan, S., & Sharp, P. (2013, April). Whither Foreign Ministries in a Post-Western World? (Clingendael Policy Brief No. 20). Netherlands Institute of International Relations Clingendael.Google Scholar
  31. Hughes, K. (2010, March 10). Written Testimony of Ambassador Karen Hughes. Submitted to the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  32. India, Ministry of Commerce and Industry. (2016). Make in India. Website Maintained by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion. Accessed on 19 August 2016.
  33. Institute for the Study of Diplomacy (ISD), Georgetown University. (1997). Who Needs Embassies? How US Missions Abroad Help Shape Our World. Internet Web-Site. Accessed on 3 October 1998.
  34. Jaques, I. (2003, January 13–16). The Role of Diplomats in the Modern World. Report of the 697th Wilton Park Conference on the Role of Diplomats in the Modern World. Internet Web-Site. Accessed on 13 January 2004.
  35. Lee, G. (1998, September). Education on International Political Economy for Diplomats: Think Holistic, Act Artistic. Presentation by Professor Geun Lee of the Republic of Korea’s Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security (IFANS) to the 26th International Forum on Diplomatic Training (IFDT). Seoul.Google Scholar
  36. Lino Guererro, J. (1999, March 25). Farewell Speech by Retiring Filipino Ambassador Jose Lino Guererro. Ankara. Quoted in South African Department of Foreign Affairs In-House Publication Meintjieskop Dithaba 1999(1): 17.Google Scholar
  37. Lowy Institute for International Policy. (2009, March). Australia’s Diplomatic Deficit: Reinvesting in Our Instruments of International Policy (Report by the Blue Ribbon Panel). Lowy Institute, Sydney.Google Scholar
  38. Malone, D. M. (2013). The Modern Diplomatic Mission. In A. F. Cooper, J. Heine, & R. Thakur (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Modern Diplomacy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  39. Marshall, P. (1997). Positive Diplomacy. Basingstoke: Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. McDowell, M. (2008). Public Diplomacy at the Crossroads: Definitions and Challenges in an ‘Open Source’ Era. The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs 32(3) (Special Ed.): 7–15.Google Scholar
  41. Melissen, J. (2011, October). Beyond the New Public Diplomacy. (Clingendael Paper No. 3). Netherlands Institute of International Relations.Google Scholar
  42. Modelski, G. (1972). Principles of World Politics. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  43. Mudida, R. (2012). Emerging Trends and Concerns in the Economic Diplomacy of African States. International Journal of Diplomacy and Economy, 1(1), 95–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Mutai, E. (2013, November 24). State to Spend Sh2bn in New Missions. Business Daily. Accessed on 25 November 2013.
  45. Nanjira, D. D. (2010). African Foreign Policy and Diplomacy from Antiquity to the 21st Century (2 Vols.). Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger.Google Scholar
  46. New Zealand, High Commission in Pretoria. (2013, March–May). New Zealand Eyes Africa’s Potential and Agricultural Resources for Mutual Benefit. Newsletter of the New Zealand High Commission in Pretoria, Southern Africa File.Google Scholar
  47. Norway, Kingdom of: Embassy in Lusaka. (2015, October 8). Press Release from the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Lusaka. Norway—The Official Site in Zambia. Accessed on 18 July 2016.
  48. Okano-Heijmans, M. (2013). Consular Affairs. In A. F. Cooper, J. Heine, & R. Thakur (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Modern Diplomacy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  49. Otto, B. (2015, February 22). Diplomatic Row Heightens as Indonesia Recalls Ambassador from Brazil. The Wall Street Journal.
  50. Paschke, K. T. (2000, September). Report on the Special Inspection of 14 German Embassies in the Countries of the European Union. Federal Foreign Office, Berlin.Google Scholar
  51. Pigman, G. A. (2010). Contemporary Diplomacy. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  52. Ritter, K. (2011, May 26). Twitter Diplomacy: The New Face of Foreign Relations. Mail & Guardian. Accessed on 4 December 2016.
  53. Rozental, A. (1999). Mexico: Change and Adaptation in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In B. Hocking (Ed.), Foreign Ministries: Change and Adaptation. Basingstoke: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  54. Rozental, A., & Buenrostro, A. (2013). Bilateral Diplomacy. In A. F. Cooper, J. Heine, & R. Thakur (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Modern Diplomacy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  55. Satow, E. M. (1979). Satow’s Guide to Diplomatic Practice (5th rev. ed., L. Gore-Booth & D. Pakenham, eds.). New York: Longman.Google Scholar
  56. Sharp, P. (1999). For Diplomacy: Representation and the Study of International Relations. International Studies Review, 1999(1), 33–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Smith, P. (1998). Public Diplomacy. In J. Kurbalija (Ed.), Modern Diplomacy. Malta: Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies, University of Malta.Google Scholar
  58. Sofer, S. (1988). Old and New Diplomacy: A Debate Revisited. Review of International Studies, 14(3), 195–211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Sucharipa, E. (2003, January). 21st Century Diplomacy. Paper Delivered by the Director of the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna, at the Wilton Park Conference on “The Role of Diplomats in the Modern World”, UK.Google Scholar
  60. Switzerland, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA). (2008). The ABC of Diplomacy. Bern.Google Scholar
  61. The Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute. (2016, September 27). Common Declaration of His Holiness John Paul II and His Holiness Karekin II at Holy Etchmiadzin, Republic of Armenia. Website of the Museum. Accessed on 8 July 2016.
  62. Talbott, S. (1997). Globalization and Diplomacy: A Practitioner’s Perspective. Foreign Policy, 108 (Autumn): 68–83.Google Scholar
  63. Tiezzi, S. (2014, November 7). A China-Japan Breakthrough: A Primer on Their 4 Point Consensus. The Diplomat. Accessed on 13 July 2016.
  64. United Kingdom, High Commission in Canada. (2012, September 22). Foreign Secretary William Hague: ‘For Us, the Relationship with Canada Is Invaluable’. Statement Issued by the British High Commission in Canada.
  65. United States, Department of State. (2016). Web-Site of the ‘Virtual Embassy of the United States to Iran’. Accessed on 13 July 2016.
  66. Vickers, B. (2012). South Africa’s Economic Diplomacy in a Changing Global Order. In C. Landsberg & J. Van Wyk (Eds.), South African Foreign Policy Review (Vol. 1). Pretoria: AISA and IGD.Google Scholar
  67. Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (VCDR). (1961).Google Scholar
  68. Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR). (1963).Google Scholar
  69. Wiseman, G. (2005). Pax Americana: Bumping into Diplomatic Culture. International Studies Perspectives, 6, 409–430.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Woolcock, S., & Bayne, N. (2013). Economic Diplomacy. In A. F. Cooper, J. Heine, & R. Thakur (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Modern Diplomacy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  71. Zartman, I. W. (2013). Chapter 6: Diplomacy as Negotiation and Mediation. In P. Kerr & G. Wiseman (Eds.), Diplomacy in a Globalizing World: Theories and Practices (pp. 103–119). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yolanda Kemp Spies
    • 1
  1. 1.University of JohannesburgJohannesburgSouth Africa

Personalised recommendations