The practice of diplomacy has a history that has evolved from ancient to contemporary times. Its objectives to the sustenance of peace cannot be overemphasized.
Exert from the book of Joshua, Chapter 9, in the Holy Bible, demonstrates how ancient and German diplomacy is to mankind.
“The victories of Israel became known to all the kings west of Jordan. But the people of Gibeon who were Hivites went to the camp at Gilgal and said to Joshua and the Israelites, “we were told to put ourselves at your service, and ask you to make a treaty with us. Joshua made a treaty of friendship with the people of Gibeon, and allowed them to live”
Though Joshua was deceived into signing the agreement, the purpose of the treaty was achieved, as Israel, in its wars of conquest, declared Gibeon inviolate.
The import of the above reference is to bring to our consciousness that the best and only way to achieve lasting peace among states is to have the temperament of accommodation, irrespective of our strengths and weaknesses in the pursuit of state objectives.
Other Objectives of Diplomacy
Other objectives of diplomacy are to (a) resolve conflict of interest peacefully, (b) preventing a clear and immediate danger of violent solution (or a risk of yielding to rival pressures), (c) restoring peace after a clash of national interest had led to violence, and (d) establishing the atmospheric framework, system or permanent organisation for the peaceful solution potential future conflict.
The above objectives relate essentially to diplomacy in a crisis situation. But diplomacy also practiced in an atmosphere of peace and without any anticipation any immediate crisis or war. The purposes of diplomatic embassies are to express mutual interest understanding, and accommodation.
Elements of Diplomacy
If diplomacy is important, it is also very old. Even the most ancient and comparatively most primitive societies required reliable means in delaying with their neighbours.
With reference again to the peace accord between Israel and Gibeon, we shall notice that any diplomacy or diplomatic agreement to be effective, some elements must be present, such as communication, negotiation, enquiry, mediation and good offices, arbitration and conciliation, implantation, monitoring, etc. Back to the Israeli-Gibeon alliance:
“The victories of Israel became known to all the kings west of Jordan…….Enquiry. But the people of Gibeon who were Hivites went to the camp at Gilgal and said to Joshua and the Israelites…………Communication, “we were told to put ourselves at your service, and ask you to make a treaty with us……Negotiation. Joshua made a treaty of friendship with the people of Gibeon……Conciliation, and allowed them to live……….Implementation”
This means the conduct of direct talks between the parties to a…….. aimed at settling a dispute. It is believed to be one of the simplest methods of peaceful settlement of disputes, in the sense that in negotiation, the parties to the disputes alone are involved in the procedures.
These procedures presuppose that each government involves feels that it may be able to make concessions. However, the shortcoming of this means of solving conflict is that, when the discussion becomes difficult, or new points are raced, there would be a need to refer to their principals for guidance.
Responses do not come as fast as is expected that thereby wasting precious time. All in all, good negotiation is founded on general good sense and good instinct, and of course, a will to succeed.
In general contexts, enquiry can mean any form of search for information. This specialization context denotes a particular process of settling international disputes, which had its origin in the Hague Convention of 1897.
Impressed by the ideas of the convention, the UN general assembly in 1949 adopted a resolution establishing the United Nations panel for enquiry and also conciliation to be directed by the secretary-general, and adopted rules for its composition and procedures.
Fine as this diplomatic means maybe, they are still situations where an enquiry team does not suit the expectations of any disputing states.
The Iraq-American crisis is a classic example. In 1999, Iraq protested the inclusion of an American in the United Nations chemical inspection teams to Iraq to enquire about the reported Iraqi-chemical weapons sites capable of producing weapons of mass destruction.
Also, a powerful nation can frustrate any panel of enquiry if the team’s report is likely to or calculated to have negative direct or indirect impact on a strategic interest.
Mediation and Good Offices
These methods can be defined in the words of H.G Danwin as method of peaceful settlement of international disputes involving the participation of a third state or a disinterested individual in negotiation between states in disputes.
While good offices are sometimes held to mean the action taken to bring about or initiate, (a process of resolution) but without (direct) active participation in the discussion of the substance of the dispute.
This means of diplomacy was adopted in resolving the near-war situation between India and Pakistan over Kashmir by the signing of the Tashkent Declaration of 10th January 1966 through the good offices of the Soviet Union- now Russia.
Another good example is the efforts of the former UN secretary-General, Kofi Annan, in the standoff between America and Iraq which almost led to a shooting war in 1998, before the post-September 11, 2001 war involving primarily America and Iraq.
However, the success of this means of diplomacy depends on a number of variables. There has to be on the part of the contending parties, an acceptance of the thesis that a solution is both necessary and, no doubt, with great patience attainable, that neither side can “win”, and that a compromise would be better than living with the status quo. Therefore, persistence on the core value or traditional concept of diplomacy is required to succeed.
Conciliation and Arbitration
This diplomatic method means agreeing to treaties that are expected to be binding (what is a treaty?). This method is not fundamentally different from enquiry as it involves the collection of information and the endeavour to bring the disputing parties to an end agreement.
What is remarkable about this is that the conciliation team may inform the parties of the terms of the settlement, which seem suitable to it, and lay down the period within which, they are to make their decision.
The UN General Assembly introduced in 1958, a convention on Arbitral Procedure based on what it called the “principle of non-frustration”, this principle attempted to ensure that once a country had agreed to arbitration, it could not later recede from that commitment.
This concept was interpreted differently by the various nations of the UN, while some were prepared to accept some stage in the arbitration proceedings, others argued that any moment in the discussion, the autonomy of the national will of sovereign states could become paramount.
This is the conscious effort of states to be willing to exchange information regularly. It involves the clarification of terms, intentions, threats and, actions.
The use of an effective diplomatic communication network will assist in the secrecy of information, especially, if it relates to security matters, and also greatly bridge the gap among states in the discussion, as issues needed to be clarified from the home country can be done faster.
When states are in constant communication, before and during a tension or crisis situation can reduce the chances of physical conflicts.
The Nigerian-Cameroon Bakassi border crisis did not degenerate to war between the two countries, because, of the constant exchange of communication. This effort was made possible by the willingness of the governments of Nigeria and Cameroon to embrace diplomacy and the process of the diplomacy was facilitated by the setting up of the Nigeria-Cameroon Boundary Commission.
The use of communication technology has some impact on diplomatic practice, as it has promoted advances in travel, allow faster and more frequent contacts among countries, and limited bureaucratic encumbrances.
This is the last stage of the diplomatic process and perhaps the most important. All other instruments of diplomacy already identified will amount to nothing if a decision reached at the end of diplomacy requires the full understanding and co-operation of both parties to dispute to abide with the terms of agreement on treaties signed.
For example, the peaceful relation between Nigeria and Cameroon as regards the Bakassi crisis should be credited to the willingness of both governments to implement the October 2002 International Court of Justice (ICJ) judgment.
It should be noted that the ICJ judicial pronouncement is not binding on parties because the ICJ lack the structure to enforce its decision.
By implication, the decision of Nigeria and Cameroon to abide by the ICJ judgment is based on the understanding that both countries decided to use diplomacy to resolve the crisis and not necessarily because of the ICJ judgment
This is a post-agreement strategic method to ensure that the terms of treaties signed are honoured or respected. The practicability of this method depends on the skill and experience of those or institutions saddled with the responsibility of making sure that nothing threatens the implementation of agreements reached.
A good example is the UN-monitored peace agreement between Israel and Hezbollah, a pro-Islamic militant group in Lebanon after the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah.
It is effect of monitoring, which made it difficult for Hezbollah to openly declare its support for Hamaz, another pro-Islamic militant group based in Palestine in December 27, 2008 to January 19, 2009 war with Israel.