Diplomacy or the art of negotiation has been in existence from a very ancient time. The era of 1st billion BC witnessed some of the drastic developments in the patterns of diploacy. The early Roman empires sent envoys to the neighboring empires to extend cordial relations. Other early traces include the Middle East regions which were fast emerging. Treaties began to be drafted between many Mesopotamian states and ‘Akkadian’ or more popularly known as ‘Babylonian’ was developed as the first diplomatic language. The language was spread throughout the Middle East and was later replaced by Aramaic. With the development of Islamic States, the concept of diplomacy flourished and became a tool for promoting international trade.

The European States which were under the control of the Roman Empire, on the other hand, witnessed the breakup of the Empire and the resultant was the division into many small Kingdoms. These kingdoms continued the practice of exchanging diplomats as a method of peacekeeping. Another common practice was the system of appointing temporary diplomats by the Kingdoms for temporary purposes. However, Italy was the first state to develop the system of permanent diplomats, and this system has relevance in the modern day politics.

The period of Renaissance bought with it the industrial revolution which changed the notion of Entire Europe. Treaty of Westphalia signed in 1648 bought balance of power within Europe making it mandatory for them to follow a system of diplomacy. Later on, the French Revolution paved the way for the system of ‘Ambassadors’ in European Nations. However, the Asian countries were unaware of the systematic diplomatic ways, and it was the colonization of most of the Asian and African countries by Britain, which introduced the concept to them. Colonies practicing diplomacy were under the direct control of the Monarch (Britain), and Ambassadors were appointed directly by the Queen (Sovereign Head). The Ambassadors thus enjoyed a special position and formed an elite group in their respective colonies. China presented one of the best examples to understand the role of these Ambassadors. They acted in favor of the colony taking more trading right and reported both to their local Government and the Monarchial Government.

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These methods continued for long until diplomacy faced its worth enemy in the form of the First World War which affected peace relations between nations considerably. The world war made the relations between nations sour and the war impacts were huge including the emergence of two superpowers namely the USA and USSR. These further worsened the situations, and peace treaties and initiatives like the League of Nations were taken. However, all those measures failed to restore diplomacy and ambassadors were rendered useless and war conditions prevailed leading to the Second World War.

United Nations was established in 1945, and it marked the end of the War leading to peace situations. The international body acted as a mechanism to promote diplomacy, and the world witnessed the rebirth of the Ambassador system. Countries were freed from colonial system and were given independence to form their own Sovereign bodies, and this resulted in the development of unique and distinct diplomatic systems for each country.

Diplomacy is not limited to political relations rather extends to all the spheres including economic relations, trade, Foreign education, etc. The growth of diplomacy was slow during the cold war(1947-1991) however with the end of bipolarity between the two Superpowers, diplomacy witnessed new turns. It had now entered an era of Globalization which was primarily the trade between countries. A numerous number of organizations were established to develop diplomatic missions, and more regulation was bought in the Consular offices.

Modern-day diplomacy somewhat resembles the European Principle of granting immunities to envoys and is thus, well supported by both Local Governments and International Organizations. United Nations Conference on Diplomatic Intercourse and Immunities in 1961 famously known as the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations is one of the important steps in favor of the development of diplomatic systems. Till today, 191 countries have ratified the convention.

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The convention paved the way for the state Governments to allow granting of rights and privileges to Ambassadors to encourage them to work without fear or coercion. Further, globalization has led to widening the scope of diplomacy, and many different types have emerged. Some of the major types include Defense Personnel, diplomats for attending conferences, professional diplomats, etc. The growth of the field has also resulted in countries adopting different techniques for imparting training to various types of envoys, and every state sets its own eligibility criterion for the appointment of such officers.

Modern-day diplomacy has in itself emerged as a distinct branch, and International law is incomplete without the chapter of diplomacy.

Would you like to read more about this topic? This book might interest you: Diplomacy.