• G. R. Berridge


Diplomacy is an essentially political activity and, well-resourced and skilful, a major ingredient of power. Its chief purpose is to enable states to secure the objectives of their foreign policies without resort to force, propaganda, or law. It follows that diplomacy consists of communication between officials designed to promote foreign policy either by formal agreement or tacit adjustment. Although it also includes such discrete activities as gathering information, clarifying intentions, and engendering goodwill, it is thus not surprising that, until the label ‘diplomacy’ was affixed to all of these activities by the British parliamentarian Edmund Burke in 1796, it was known most commonly as ‘negotiation’ — by Cardinal Richelieu, the first minister of Louis XIII, as négociation continuelle. Diplomacy is not merely what professional diplomatic agents do. It is carried out by other officials and by private persons under the direction of officials. As we shall see, it is also carried out through many different channels besides the traditional resident mission. Together with the balance of power, which it both reflects and reinforces, diplomacy is the most important institution of our society of states.


Foreign Policy Discrete Activity Chief Purpose French System Cultural Toleration 
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Further reading

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  17. Sharp, Paul and Geoffrey Wiseman (eds), The Diplomatic Corps as an Institution of International Society (Palgrave Macmillan: Basingstoke/New York, 2007).Google Scholar
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© G. R. Berridge 2010

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  • G. R. Berridge

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