Diplomacy pp 223-234 | Cite as

Special Missions

  • G. R. Berridge


Special missions, or special envoys, are persons sent abroad to conduct diplomacy with a limited purpose for a limited time. Their employment was the normal manner of conducting relations between friendly rulers until resident diplomacy began to take root during the late fifteenth century, and advances in air travel led to its resurgence for this purpose in the anxious days preceding and following the outbreak of World War II; since then, the resurgence has been spectacular. Special missions are particularly valuable to the diplomacy between hostile states, not least in breaking the ice between them — as when the American national security adviser, Henry Kissinger, flew secretly to Beijing, the capital of the PRC, in July 1971. What are the advantages of special missions used in the absence of diplomatic relations? How are they variously composed? When should they be sent in public, and when in secret?


Prime Minister Foreign Affair Special Mission Diplomatic Relation Hostile State 
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Further reading

  1. Bartos, M., ‘Fourth Report on Special Missions’, Yearbook of the International Law Commission, (1967), Volume II, UN Doc. A/CN. 4/SER A/ 1967/ Add. 1.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© G. R. Berridge 2010

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  • G. R. Berridge

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