In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Diplomacy

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Textbooks
  • Classical Works
  • Journals
  • Diplomatic Theory
  • Diplomatic Strategy
  • Diplomatic Negotiation
  • Economic Diplomacy
  • Cultural Diplomacy
  • Military Diplomacy
  • Nonstate Diplomacy

Related Articles Expand or collapse the "related articles" sectionabout

Forthcoming Articles Expand or collapse the "forthcoming articles" section


International Relations Diplomacy
Christopher Seely
  • LAST REVIEWED: 02 March 2011
  • LAST MODIFIED: 02 March 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199743292-0012


States use diplomacy to resolve disputes, form alliances, negotiate treaties, strengthen economic relations, promote cultural and military exchanges, and for a variety of other purposes. Diplomacy encapsulates a broad arrangement of shifting rules, etiquette, goals, procedures, and agreements. There are international laws that govern some aspects of diplomacy, while other elements are based on tradition, pragmatism, and expediency. Nonstate actors—including but not limited to nongovernmental organizations and multinational corporations—play an increasingly important role in diplomatic relations as the tides of globalization shift the international landscape. Yet, no matter how much the international arena changes, diplomacy will always play a central role in dictating how states and other entities interact. The literature on diplomacy is broad and varied, but most of it is accessible to students of all levels, including undergraduates and experts alike. However, some of the more specialized works may require that students read an introductory textbook first in order to help them understand some of the terms and concepts.

General Overviews

In addition to textbooks, authors and practitioners have also generated a great deal of literature on the topic of diplomacy. These overviews range from reference books to historical studies, as well as a variety of other broad topics within the field of diplomacy. All of these works are written for general audiences and are accessible to students and experts alike. Berridge and James 2001 and Freeman 1997 are both reference books with dictionary-style definitions of diplomatic terms. Cahill 1996 offers an overview of various diplomatic methods and means of preventing conflicts. Calvet 1988 provides a broad analysis and critique of the strengths and weaknesses of diplomacy generally. Craig and George 1983 offers a broad analysis of the historical relationship between force and diplomacy over the past several centuries. Kissinger 1994 also offers a broad historical analysis of diplomacy, but the author focuses more narrowly on just the 20th century. Riordan 2003 and Copeland 2009 examine the recent global developments that have changed the role and style of diplomacy over the past decade.

  • Berridge, G. R., and Alan James. A Dictionary of Diplomacy. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave, 2001.

    Well-received reference book with definitions and brief explanations of diplomatic terms, concepts, figures, and events written by two highly regarded scholars in the field.

  • Cahill, Kevin M., ed. Preventive Diplomacy: Stopping Wars before They Start. New York: Basic Books, 1996.

    Examines the challenges, benefits, and obstacles to preventive diplomacy; includes discussions of the role of nongovernmental organizations, peacekeepers, economic sanctions, and the media, as well as health and humanitarian concerns in averting international crises by observing problems early on and resolving them diplomatically.

  • Calvet De Magalhães, José. The Pure Concept of Diplomacy. Translated by Bernardo Futscher Pereira. New York: Greenwood, 1988.

    Broad overview of the topic; includes discussions of its historical evolution, diplomatic morphology and pathology, and criticisms of diplomacy.

  • Copeland, Daryl. Guerrilla Diplomacy: Rethinking International Relations. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2009.

    Innovative and well-received reevaluation of diplomacy in the age of globalization; historical, technical, and meta-analysis of post–Cold War international developments from a seasoned diplomat; emphasizes the importance of diplomacy and its need to evolve in order to remain relevant.

  • Craig, Gordon A., and Alexander L. George. Force and Statecraft: Diplomatic Problems of Our Time. New York: Oxford University Press, 1983.

    Broad historical overview of the international system since the 17th century; emphasizes the need for a viable international community to minimize international violence and promote diplomacy; also analyzes the linkage between force and legitimacy as the strength of the international community ebbs and flows.

  • Freeman, Chas. W., Jr. Arts of Power: Statecraft and Diplomacy. Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace, 1997.

    Brief overview of diplomatic concepts; dictionary format with explanatory definitions; emphasizes the importance of diplomacy in preserving peace, but suggests how diplomacy and the application of force may sometimes be most effective when used in conjunction.

  • Kissinger, Henry. Diplomacy. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994.

    Well-received overview of major 20th-century diplomatic moments by a respected practitioner; analyzes the role diplomacy has played in an ever-changing international atmosphere; written from a historical perspective.

  • Riordan, Shaun. The New Diplomacy. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2003.

    Insightful overview of the past, present, and future of diplomacy by an experienced British diplomat; challenges traditional views of diplomacy and emphasizes the changing nature of politics in an evolving international arena.

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