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Jiun Bang


As a ‘banal’ everyday practice of state conduct, diplomatic summonses — colloquially known as a ‘dressing down’ — are a rich yet untapped source for research. To that end, this article’s objectives are to: 1) introduce this practice of reprimand between states, along with a sample dataset of summonses in North-East Asia from 2000 to 2016; and 2) then extract valuable contributions that summonses could make to a variety of ongoing discourses. Specifically, the article highlights a summons’ ability to reveal the foreign policy priorities of a state, as well as emphasise the need to think about dyadic relations as a set of two separate relations that might not exhibit the kind of reciprocity or symmetry that scholars have come to associate with inter-state relations. Along the way, the article also suggests ramifications for the ongoing literature on ‘emotions’, given the nature of summonses and its aspect of ‘insult’ or ‘shaming’.

Bahia Tahzib-Lie and Jan Reinder Rosing


On 31 December 2018, the Kingdom of the Netherlands — the Netherlands, Aruba, Curaçao and St Maarten — concluded its one-year membership of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), prompting many to reflect on its meaningful contribution to international peace and security during this time. The UNSC has exclusive and far-reaching powers with regard to maintaining international peace and security. For this reason, non-permanent seats on the UNSC are highly coveted. They confer prestige, influence and respectability on the seat-holders. Given the popularity of these seats, the Kingdom’s ability to influence decision-making within the UNSC became possible only after an intensive election campaign. In this practitioners’ perspective, we provide our insights and observations on the Kingdom of the Netherlands’ campaign strategy for the UNSC elections in 2016.

Iver B. Neumann


Part of diplomatic work is public, so a diplomat must be presentable — that is, clean, smart or decent enough to be seen in public. This article starts by recognising the recent spate of work on aesthetics and representation in social sciences and diplomacy studies, and questions why it occurred so late when representation has always been constitutive of diplomacy, perhaps because of Enlightenment distrust of visuals and reaction against Nazi aestheticising of politics. Part two sets out what it takes to stage a successful visual performance and points to three factors: the agent’s own preparations; audience assessment; and mediatisation to a broader public. Part three analyses two successful performances of accreditation, highlighting how they succeeded because they were deemed particularly presentable by being remarkably smart and decent, respectively. In conclusion, I argue that smartness trumps decency. This offers female diplomats more options than males, but also incurs greater risks.

Renée Fry-McKibbin and Than Thuong Nguyen


This article empirically examines the effectiveness of commercial diplomacy in contributing to Australia’s merchandise exports and inbound foreign investment with 181 countries over the period 2010-2015. The combined effect of diplomatic entities increases Australian exports by 12.9 per cent and increases inbound foreign investment by 16.1 per cent compared to countries without representation. Commercial diplomacy is effective when there are impediments to exporting, such as markets being outside the region and having low economic freedom. Commercial diplomacy substantially boosts inbound investment from countries outside and within the region, from emerging and developed markets, and from countries with high levels of economic freedom.

Paul Sharp, Jan Melissen, Constance Duncombe and Marcus Holmes

Damien Arnaud


The post-truth phenomenon harms political dialogue between nations. Our collective approach to news and to ‘truth in the news’ has been blown off course by a combination of factors, described by twelve statesmen and diplomats in interviews, which this practitioner attempts to explain here by drawing on his perspective as a communicator at NATO. Post-truth has made political dialogue unattractive and unpleasant for many leaders. It has given wider credence to the notion that the truth is unimportant and that the search for truth is unnecessary and pretentious. This has proven costly to stable international relations, because truth speaks of what is just, accepted and therefore stable. Dialogue is devalued today on account of its association with the search for truth. To have any chance of restoring a functioning European security system, dialogue must be restored. This can be achieved by considering anew George Orwell’s famed concept of ‘common decency’.

Judit Kuschnitzki


In the wake of the 2011 uprisings, Tunisian, Egyptian and Yemeni diplomats faced unprecedented questions regarding their professional conduct. The foreign policy institutions of all three countries witnessed new forms of political agency, with diplomats beginning to question, debate and (re)define routine practices and norms. Combining diplomatic theory with the multidisciplinary literature on state bureaucracies, this article analyses the various strategies that diplomats developed during a time marked by radical politicisation, strong emotion and new opportunities. On a conceptual level, it emphasises the concept of ‘diplomatic discretion’, which remains under-theorised in diplomacy research today, but is crucial to the study of diplomatic practice. Empirically, this article draws on ethnographic data regarding diplomats’ lived experiences, treating their narratives surrounding the 2011 events as a starting point of analysis.

Yanling Yang


This article explores the role of non-state actors from the film industry in promoting China’s soft power. Much research on non-state actors has emphasised the Anglophone world, while little research has been undertaken in the context of non-democratic regimes such as China. Therefore, following scholarly reviews on soft power and the role of its key actors, this article analyses China’s approach to soft power, based on semi-structured interviews conducted with film experts to explore the role of non-state actors in generating soft power. The study reveals that although China has consistently privileged state-owned actors over non-state actors, non-state actors have actually played an increasingly important role in disseminating soft power. The article argues that the more powerfully the Chinese authorities emphasise China’s state actors, the less likely it is that China will win hearts and minds — because of China’s domestic political ideology and censorship mechanism in the field.