Religion and Diplomacy

In: The Hague Journal of Diplomacy
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  • 1 London Academy of Diplomacy, London, United Kingdom

Many flashpoints of violence and conflict around the world involve religious actors both as part of the crisis and potentially part of the solution. Until recently, however, states have been slow to see a role for religion in diplomacy. In this article, which is taken from a lecture that he delivered to the London Academy of Diplomacy, the author explores the notion of faith-based diplomacy and delineates the characteristics of a faith-based diplomat. The argument is that a religious view of the world functions as a Gestalt through which events and data in the public arena are filtered. The faith-based diplomat is one whose religious knowledge and skills allow the diplomat to decode the religious rhetoric by which crises are often articulated. As in the case of Northern Ireland, peace has a chance when the rhetoric is decoded and when local religious actors are party to the diplomatic process.

  • 2

    Keith E. Yandell, Philosophy of Religion (London: Routledge, 1999), p. 16.

  • 3

    Beyer, Religion in Global Society, p. 106.

  • 5

    Yandell, Philosophy of Religion, p. 16.

  • 6

    Beyer, Religion in Global Society, p. 80.

  • 7

    Beyer, Religion in Global Society, p. 82.

  • 9

    Smith, ‘Gestalt Theory’, p. 42.

  • 11

    Beyer, Religion in Global Society, p. 106.

  • 13

    Patricia R. Hill, ‘Religion as a Category of Diplomatic Analysis’, Diplomatic History, vol. 24, no. 4 (fall 2000), p. 633.

  • 14

    Douglas Johnston (ed.), Faith-based Diplomacy: Trumping Realpolitik (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), p. 3.

  • 16

    Johnston, Faith-based Diplomacy, p. 7.

  • 18

    Johnston, Faith-based Diplomacy, p. 4.

  • 20

    Beyer, Religions in Global Society, p. 300.

  • 21

    Johnston, Faith-based Diplomacy, p. 8.

  • 23

    Johnston, Faith-based Diplomacy, pp. 16-17. Johnston’s original terms — (1) dependence on spiritual values; (2) spiritual authority; (3) pluralistic heart; (4) transcendent approach; (5) perseverance — have been modified to three virtues that would be transferable into other religious frameworks.

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  • 24

    Livingstone Thompson, A Protestant Theology of Religious Pluralism (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2009), p. 80.

  • 25

    Gavin D’Costa, The Meeting of Religions and the Trinity (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 2000), p. 28.

  • 27

    Rahner, Foundations of the Christian Faith, p. 22.

  • 28

    Mizuno, Essentials of Buddhism, p. 165.

  • 30

    Hill, ‘Religion as a Category of Diplomatic Analysis’, p. 633. In light of these complexities, Hill argues for a culturalist approach, which would include religion as one category. It would seem, however, that awareness of religious pluralism is a much more specific and manageable approach.

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  • 33

    Thompson, A Protestant Theology of Religious Pluralism, p. 2.

  • 35

    Thompson, A Protestant Theology of Religious Pluralism, p. 8.

  • 36

    Thompson, A Protestant Theology of Religious Pluralism, p. 9.

  • 40

    Joseph Ruane and Jennifer Todd, ‘Path Dependence in Settlement Process: Explaining Settlement in Northern Ireland’, Political Studies, vol. 55 (2007), p. 448.

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