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What is Diplomacy ?

Diplomacy is the art and practice of conducting negotiations between representatives of states. It usually refers to international diplomacy, the conduct of international relations through the intercession of professional diplomats with regard to issues of peace-making, trade, war, economics, culture, environment, and human rights. International treaties are usually negotiated by diplomats prior to endorsement by national politicians. In an informal or social sense, diplomacy is the employment of tact to gain strategic advantage or to find mutually acceptable solutions to a common challenge, one set of tools being the phrasing of statements in a non-confrontational, or polite manner.

The scholarly discipline of diplomatics, dealing with the study of old documents, derives its name from the same source, but its modern meaning is quite distinct from the activity of diplomacy.

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The
United Nations, with its headquarters in New York City,
 is the largest international diplomatic organization

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The
First Geneva Convention (1864). Geneva (Switzerland)
is the city that hosts the highest number of
international organisations
in the world.

 

Books and Encyclopaedias

Following are the books and encyclopaedias related to diplomacy and allied subjects : Comments (7)

 

History

Asia

Ancient China

One of the earliest realists in international relations theory was the 6th century BC military strategist Sun Tzu (d. 496 BC), author of The Art of War. He lived during a time in which rival states were starting to pay less attention to traditional respects of tutelage to the Zhou Dynasty (c. 1050–256 BC) figurehead monarchs while each vied for power and total conquest. However, a great deal of diplomacy in establishing allies, bartering land, and signing peace treaties was necessary for each warring state, and the idealized role of the "persuader/diplomat" developed.

From the Battle of Baideng (200 BC) to the Battle of Mayi (133 BC), the Han Dynasty was forced to uphold a marriage alliance and pay an exorbitant amount of tribute (in silk, cloth, grain, and other foodstuffs) to the powerful northern nomadic Xiongnu that had been consolidated by Modu Shanyu. After the Xiongnu sent word to Emperor Wen of Han (r. 180–157) that they controlled areas stretching from Manchuria to the Tarim Basin oasis city-states, a treaty was drafted in 162 BC proclaiming that everything north of the Great Wall belong to nomads' lands, while everything south of it would be reserved for Han Chinese. The treaty was renewed no less than nine times, but did not restrain some Xiongnu tuqi from raiding Han borders. That was until the far-flung campaigns of Emperor Wu of Han (r. 141–87 BC) which shattered the unity of the Xiongnu and allowed Han to conquer the Western Regions; under Wu, in 104 BC the Han armies ventured as far Fergana in Central Asia to battle the Yuezhi who had conquered Hellenistic Greek areas.

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Portraits of Periodical Offering, a 6th-century Chinese painting portraying various emissaries; ambassadors depicted in the painting ranging from those of Hephthalites, Persia to Langkasuka, Baekje(part of the modern Korea), Qiuci, and Wo (Japan).

The Koreans and Japanese during the Chinese Tang Dynasty (618–907 AD) looked to the Chinese capital of Chang'an as the hub of civilization and emulated its central bureaucracy as the model of governance. The Japanese sent frequent embassies to China in this period, although they halted these trips in 894 when the Tang seemed on the brink of collapse. After the devastating An Shi Rebellion from 755 to 763, the Tang Dynasty was in no position to reconquer Central Asia and the Tarim Basin. After several conflicts with the Tibetan Empire spanning several different decades, the Tang finally made a truce and signed a peace treaty with them in 841.

In the 11th century during the Song Dynasty (960–1279), there were cunning ambassadors such as Shen Kuo and Su Song who achieved diplomatic success with the Liao Dynasty, the often hostile Khitan neighbor to the north. Both diplomats secured the rightful borders of the Song Dynasty through knowledge of cartography and dredging up old court archives. There was also a triad of warfare and diplomacy between these two states and the Tangut Western Xia Dynasty to the northwest of Song China (centered in modern-day Shaanxi). After warring with the Lý Dynasty of Vietnam from 1075 to 1077, Song and Lý made a peace agreement in 1082 to exchange the respective lands they had captured from each other during the war.

Long before the Tang and Song dynasties, the Chinese had sent envoys into Central Asia, India, and Persia, starting with Zhang Qian in the 2nd century BC. Another notable event in Chinese diplomacy was the Chinese embassy mission of Zhou Daguan to the Khmer Empire of Cambodia in the 13th century. Chinese diplomacy was a necessity in the distinctive period of Chinese exploration. Since the Tang Dynasty (618–907 AD), the Chinese also became heavily invested in sending diplomatic envoys abroad on maritime missions into the Indian Ocean, to India, Persia, Arabia, East Africa, and Egypt. Chinese maritime activity was increased dramatically during the commercialized period of the Song Dynasty, with new nautical technologies, many more private ship owners, and an increasing amount of economic investors in overseas ventures.

During the Mongol Empire (1206–1294) the Mongols created something similar to today's diplomatic passport called paiza. The paiza were in three different types (golden, silver, and copper) depending on the envoy's level of importance. With the paiza, there came authority that the envoy can ask for food, transport, place to stay from any city, village, or clan within the empire with no difficulties.

From the 17th century the Qing Dynasty concluded a series of treaties with Czarist Russia, beginning with the Treaty of Nerchinsk in the year 1689. This was followed up by the Aigun Treaty and the Convention of Peking in the mid-19th century.

As European power spread around the world in the 18th and 19th centuries so too did its diplomatic model, and Asian countries adopted European diplomatic systems.

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Ancient India

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Rama and Lakshmana Receive Envoys,
Page from a Dispersed Ramayana Series, ca. 1634.

Ancient India, with its kingdoms and dynasties, had a long tradition of diplomacy. The oldest treatise on statecraft and diplomacy, Arthashastra, is attributed to Kautilya (also known as Chanakya), who was the principal adviser to Chandragupta Maurya, the founder of the Maurya dynasty who ruled in the 3rd century BC, (whose capital was Patliputra, today's Patna, the chief city of Bihar state). Arthashastra is a complete work on the art of kingship, with long chapters on taxation and on the raising and maintenance of armies. It also incorporates a theory of diplomacy, of how in a situation of mutually contesting kingdoms, the wise king build alliances and tries to checkmate his adversaries. The envoys sent at the time to the courts of other kingdoms tended to reside for extended periods of time, and Arthashastra contains advice on the deportment of the envoy, including the trenchant suggestion that 'he should sleep alone'. The highest morality for the king is that his kingdom should prosper. It is also good to note that Lord Krishna, in the epic Mahabharata, acted as a divine diplomat and statesman between the Kuru and Pandava dynasties.

 

Modern Asia

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Diplomatic Personnel

Diplomatic Personnel

Diplomatic relations within the Early Modern era of Asia were depicted as an environment of prestige and Status. It was maintained that one must be of noble ancestry in order to represent an autonomous state within the international arena. Therefore the position of diplomat was often revered as an element of the elitist class within Asia. A state's ability to practice diplomacy has been one of the underlying defining characteristics of an autonomous state. It is this practice that has been employed since the conception of the first city-states within the international spectrum. Diplomats in Asia were originally sent only for the purpose of negotiation. They would be required to immediately return after their task was completed. The majority of diplomats initially constituted the relatives of the ruling family. A high rank was bestowed upon them in order to present a sense of legitimacy with regards to their presence. Italy, the Ottoman Empire, and China were the first real states that perpetuated environments of diplomacy. During the early modern era diplomacy evolved to become a crucial element of international relations within the Mediterranean and Asia.

Europe

Ancient roots

The ability to practice diplomacy is one of the defining elements of a state, diplomacy has been practiced since the inception of civilization. In Europe, diplomacy begins with the first city-states formed in ancient Greece. Diplomats were sent only for specific negotiations, and would return immediately after their mission concluded. Diplomats were usually relatives of the ruling family or of very high rank in order to give them legitimacy when they sought to negotiate with the other state.

The origins of diplomacy are in the strategic and competitive exchange of impressive gifts, which may be traced to the Bronze Age and recognized as an aspect of Homeric guest-friendship. Thus diplomacy and trade have been inexorably linked from the outset. "In the framework of diplomatic relations it was customary for Byzantine emperors and Muslim rulers, especially the 'Abbāsids and the Fātimids, as well as for Muslim rulers between themselves, to exchange precious gifts, with which they attempted to impress or surpass their counterparts," remarks David Jacoby, in the context of the economics of silk in cultural exchange among Byzantium, Islam and the Latin West: merchants accompanied emissaries, who often traveled on commercial ships. At a later date, it will be recalled that the English adventurer and trader Anthony Sherley convinced the Persian ruler to send the first Persian embassy to Europe (1599–1602).

Ancient Greece

The Greek City States on some occasions sent envoys to each other in order to negotiate specific issues, such as war and peace or commercial relations, but did not have diplomatic representatives regularly posted in each other's territory. However, some of the functions given to modern diplomatic representatives were in Classical Greece filled by a proxenos, who was a citizen of the host city having a particular relations of friendship with another city – a relationship often hereditary in a particular family.

Ancient Rome

Modern Europe

In Europe, early modern diplomacy's origins are often traced to the states of Northern Italy in the early Renaissance, with the first embassies being established in the 13th century. Milan played a leading role, especially under Francesco Sforza who established permanent embassies to the other city states of Northern Italy. Tuscany and Venice were also flourishing centres of diplomacy from the 14th century onwards. It was in the Italian Peninsula that many of the traditions of modern diplomacy began, such as the presentation of an ambassador's credentials to the head of state.

From Italy the practice was spread to other European regions. Milan was the first to send a representative to the court of France in 1455. However, Milan refused to host French representatives fearing espionage and that the French representatives would intervene in its internal affairs. As foreign powers such as France and Spain became increasingly involved in Italian politics the need to accept emissaries was recognized. Soon the major European powers were exchanging representatives. Spain was the first to send a permanent representative; it appointed an ambassador to the Court of England in 1487. By the late 16th century, permanent missions became customary. The Holy Roman Emperor, however, did not regularly send permanent legates, as they could not represent the interests of all the German princes (who were in theory all subordinate to the Emperor, but in practice each independent).

During that period the rules of modern diplomacy were further developed. The top rank of representatives was an ambassador. At that time an ambassador was a nobleman, the rank of the noble assigned varying with the prestige of the country he was delegated to. Strict standards developed for ambassadors, requiring they have large residences, host lavish parties, and play an important role in the court life of their host nation. In Rome, the most prized posting for a Catholic ambassador, the French and Spanish representatives would have a retinue of up to a hundred. Even in smaller posts, ambassadors were very expensive. Smaller states would send and receive envoys, who were a rung below ambassador. Somewhere between the two was the position of minister plenipotentiary.

Diplomacy was a complex affair, even more so than now. The ambassadors from each state were ranked by complex levels of precedence that were much disputed. States were normally ranked by the title of the sovereign; for Catholic nations the emissary from the Vatican was paramount, then those from the kingdoms, then those from duchies and principalities. Representatives from republics were ranked the lowest (which often angered the leaders of the numerous German, Scandinavian and Italian republics). Determining precedence between two kingdoms depended on a number of factors that often fluctuated, leading to near-constant squabbling

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French Diplomat Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord
is considered one of the most skilled diplomats of all time.

Ambassadors, nobles with little foreign experience and no expectation of a career in diplomacy, needed to be supported by large embassy staff. These professionals would be sent on longer assignments and would be far more knowledgeable than the higher-ranking officials about the host country. Embassy staff would include a wide range of employees, including some dedicated to espionage. The need for skilled individuals to staff embassies was met by the graduates of universities, and this led to a great increase in the study of international law, modern languages, and history at universities throughout Europe.

At the same time, permanent foreign ministries began to be established in almost all European states to coordinate embassies and their staffs. These ministries were still far from their modern form, and many of them had extraneous internal responsibilities. Britain had two departments with frequently overlapping powers until 1782. They were also far smaller than they are currently. France, which boasted the largest foreign affairs department, had only some 70 full-time employees in the 1780s.

The elements of modern diplomacy slowly spread to Eastern Europe and Russia, arriving by the early 18th century. The entire edifice would be greatly disrupted by the French Revolution and the subsequent years of warfare. The revolution would see commoners take over the diplomacy of the French state, and of those conquered by revolutionary armies. Ranks of precedence were abolished. Napoleon also refused to acknowledge diplomatic immunity, imprisoning several British diplomats accused of scheming against France.

After the fall of Napoleon, the Congress of Vienna of 1815 established an international system of diplomatic rank. Disputes on precedence among nations (and therefore the appropriate diplomatic ranks used) were first addressed at the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1818, but persisted for over a century until after World War II, when the rank of ambassador became the norm. In between that time, figures such as the German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck were renowned for international diplomacy.

Middle East

Ancient Egypt, Canaan, and Hittite Empire

Some of the earliest known diplomatic records are the Amarna letters written between the pharaohs of the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt and the Amurru rulers of Canaan during the 14th century BC. Following the Battle of Kadesh in c. 1274 BC during the Nineteenth dynasty, the pharaoh of Egypt and ruler of the Hittite Empire created one of the first known international peace treaties which survives in stone tablet fragments.

Ottoman Empire

Relations with the government of the Ottoman Empire (known to Italian states as the Sublime Porte) were particularly important to Italian states. The maritime republics of Genoa and Venice depended less and less upon their nautical capabilities, and more and more upon the perpetuation of good relations with the Ottomans. Interactions between various merchants, diplomats, and religious men between the Italian and Ottoman empires helped inaugurate and create new forms of diplomacy and statecraft. Eventually the primary purpose of a diplomat, which was originally a negotiator, evolved into a persona that represented an autonomous state in all aspects of political affairs. It became evident that all other sovereigns felt the need to accommodate themselves diplomatically, due to the emergence of the powerful political environment of the Ottoman Empire


A French Ambassador in Ottoman dress,
painted by Antoine de Favray, 1766, Pera Museum, Istanbul.

One could come to the conclusion that the atmosphere of diplomacy within the early modern period revolved around a foundation of conformity to Ottoman culture.

Diplomatic immunity

The sanctity of diplomats has long been observed. This sanctity has come to be known as diplomatic immunity. While there have been a number of cases where diplomats have been killed, this is normally viewed as a great breach of honour. Genghis Khan and the Mongols were well known for strongly insisting on the rights of diplomats, and they would often wreak horrific vengeance against any state that violated these rights.

Diplomatic rights were established in the mid-17th century in Europe and have spread throughout the world. These rights were formalized by the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which protects diplomats from being persecuted or prosecuted while on a diplomatic mission. If a diplomat does commit a serious crime while in a host country he may be declared as persona non grata (unwanted person). Such diplomats are then often tried for the crime in their homeland.

Diplomatic communications are also viewed as sacrosanct, and diplomats have long been allowed to carry documents across borders without being searched. The mechanism for this is the so-called "diplomatic bag" (or, in some countries, the "diplomatic pouch"). While radio and digital communication have become more standard for embassies, diplomatic pouches are still quite common and some countries, including the United States, declare entire shipping containers as diplomatic pouches to bring sensitive material (often building supplies) into a country.

In times of hostility, diplomats are often withdrawn for reasons of personal safety, as well as in some cases when the host country is friendly but there is a perceived threat from internal dissidents. Ambassadors and other diplomats are sometimes recalled temporarily by their home countries as a way to express displeasure with the host country. In both cases, lower-level employees still remain to actually do the business of diplomacy.

Espionage

Diplomacy is closely linked to espionage or gathering of intelligence. Embassies are bases for both diplomats and spies, and some diplomats are essentially openly acknowledged spies. For instance, the job of military attachés includes learning as much as possible about the military of the nation to which they are assigned. They do not try to hide this role and, as such, are only invited to events allowed by their hosts, such as military parades or air shows. There are also deep-cover spies operating in many embassies. These individuals are given fake positions at the embassy, but their main task is to illegally gather intelligence, usually by coordinating spy rings of locals or other spies. For the most part, spies operating out of embassies gather little intelligence themselves and their identities tend to be known by the opposition. If discovered, these diplomats can be expelled from an embassy, but for the most part counter-intelligence agencies prefer to keep these agents in situ and under close monitoring.

The information gathered by spies plays an increasingly important role in diplomacy. Arms-control treaties would be impossible without the power of reconnaissance satellites and agents to monitor compliance. Information gleaned from espionage is useful in almost all forms of diplomacy, everything from trade agreements to border disputes.

Diplomatic resolution of problems

Various processes and procedures have evolved over time for handling diplomatic issues and disputes.

Arbitration and mediations

Nations sometimes resort to international arbitration when faced with a specific question or point of contention in need of resolution. For most of history, there were no official or formal procedures for such proceedings. They were generally accepted to abide by general principles and protocols related to international law and justice.

Sometimes these took the form of formal arbitrations and mediations. In such cases a commission of diplomats might be convened to hear all sides of an issue, and to come some sort of ruling based on international law.

In the modern era, much of this work is often carried out by the International Court of Justice at The Hague, or other formal commissions, agencies and tribunals, working under the United Nations. Below are some examples.

·         Hay-Herbert Treaty Enacted after the United States and Britain submitted a dispute to international mediation about the US-Canadian border.

Conferences

Other times, resolutions were sought through the convening of international conferences. In such cases, there are fewer ground rules, and fewer formal applications of international law. However, participants are expected to guide themselves through principles of international fairness, logic, and protocol.

Some examples of these formal conferences are:

·         Congress of Vienna (1815) – After Napoleon was defeated, there were many diplomatic questions waiting to be resolved. This included the shape of the map of Europe, the disposition of political and nationalist claims of various ethnic groups and nationalities wishing to have some political autonomy, and the resolution of various claims by various European powers.

·         The Congress of Berlin (June 13 – July 13, 1878) was a meeting of the European Great Powers' and the Ottoman Empire's leading statesmen in Berlin in 1878. In the wake of the Russo-Turkish War, 1877–78, the meeting's aim was to reorganize conditions in the Balkans.

Negotiations

Sometimes nations convene official negotiation processes to settle a specific dispute or specific issue between several nations which are parties to a dispute. These are similar to the conferences mentioned above, as there are technically no established rules or procedures. However, there are general principles and precedents which help define a course for such proceedings.

Some examples are

·         Camp David accord Convened in 1978 by President Jimmy Carter of the United States, at Camp David to reach an agreement between Prime Minister Mechaem Begin of Israel and President Anwar Sadat of Egypt. After weeks of negotiation, agreement was reached and the accords were signed, later leading directly to the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty of 1979.

·         Treaty of Portsmouth Enacted after President Theodore Roosevelt brought together the delegates from Russia and Japan, to settle the Russo-Japanese War. Roosevelt's personal intervention settled the conflict, and caused him to win the Nobel peace prize.

Diplomatic recognition

Diplomatic recognition is an important factor in determining whether a nation is an independent state. Receiving recognition is often difficult, even for countries which are fully sovereign. For many decades after its becoming independent, even many of the closest allies of the Dutch Republic refused to grant it full recognition. Today there are a number of independent entities without widespread diplomatic recognition, most notably the Republic of China (ROC)/Taiwan on Taiwan Island. Since the 1970s, most nations have stopped officially recognizing the ROC's existence on Taiwan, at the insistence of the People's Republic of China (PRC). Currently, the United States and other nations maintain informal relations through de facto embassies, with names such as the American Institute in Taiwan. Similarly, Taiwan's de facto embassies abroad are known by names such as the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office. This was not always the case, with the US maintaining official diplomatic ties with the ROC, recognizing it as the sole and legitimate government of "all of China" until 1979, when these relations were broken off as a condition for establishing official relations with PR China.

The Palestinian National Authority has its own diplomatic service, however Palestinian representatives in most Western countries are not accorded diplomatic immunity, and their missions are referred to as Delegations General.

Other unrecognized regions which claim independence include Abkhazia, Transnistria, Somaliland, South Ossetia, Nagorno Karabakh, and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Lacking the economic and political importance of Taiwan, these nations tend to be much more diplomatically isolated.

Though used as a factor in judging sovereignty, Article 3 of the Montevideo Convention states, "The political existence of the state is independent of recognition by other states."

Informal diplomacy

Informal diplomacy (sometimes called Track II diplomacy) has been used for centuries to communicate between powers. Most diplomats work to recruit figures in other nations who might be able to give informal access to a country's leadership. In some situations, such as between the United States and the People's Republic of China a large amount of diplomacy is done through semi-formal channels using interlocutors such as academic members of thinktanks. This occurs in situations where governments wish to express intentions or to suggest methods of resolving a diplomatic situation, but do not wish to express a formal position.

Track II diplomacy is a specific kind of informal diplomacy, in which non-officials (academic scholars, retired civil and military officials, public figures, social activists) engage in dialogue, with the aim of conflict resolution, or confidence-building. Sometimes governments may fund such Track II exchanges. Sometimes the exchanges may have no connection at all with governments, or may even act in defiance of governments; such exchanges are called Track III.

On some occasion a former holder of an official position continues to carry out an informal diplomatic activity after retirement. In some cases, governments welcome such activity, for example as a means of establishing an initial contact with a hostile state of group without being formally committed. In other cases, however, such informal diplomats seek to promote a political agenda different from that of the government currently in power. Such informal diplomacy is practiced by former US Presidents Jimmy Carter and (to a lesser extent) Bill Clinton and by the former Israeli diplomat and minister Yossi Beilin.

Small state diplomacy

Small State Diplomacy is receiving increasing attention in diplomatic studies and international relations. Small states are particularly affected by developments which are determined beyond their borders such as climate change, water security and shifts in the global economy. Diplomacy is the main vehicle by which small states are able to ensure that their goals are addressed in the global arena. These factors mean that small states have strong incentives to support international cooperation. But with limited resources at their disposal, conducting effective diplomacy poses unique challenges for small states.

Types

There are a variety of diplomatic categories and diplomatic strategies employed by organizations and governments to achieve their aims, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

Appeasement

Appeasement is a policy of making concessions to an aggressor in order to avoid confrontation.

Soft power

Soft power, sometimes called hearts and minds diplomacy, as defined by Joseph Nye, is the cultivation of relationships, respect, or even admiration from others in order to gain influence, as opposed to more coercive approaches.

Monetary diplomacy

Monetary diplomacy is the use of foreign aid or other types of monetary policy as a means to achieve a diplomatic agenda.

Gunboat diplomacy

Gunboat diplomacy is the use of conspicuous displays of military strength as a means of intimidation in order to influence others.

Public diplomacy

Public diplomacy is exercising influence through communication with the general public in another nation, rather than attempting to influence the nation's government directly. This communication may take the form of propaganda, or more benign forms such as citizen diplomacy, individual interactions between average citizens of two or more nations.

Nuclear diplomacy

Nuclear diplomacy is the area of diplomacy related to preventing nuclear proliferation and nuclear war. One of the most well-known (and most controversial) philosophies of nuclear diplomacy is Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD).

Diplomatic training institutions

Most countries provide professional training for their diplomats and some run establishments specifically for that purpose. Private institutions also exist as do establishments associated with organisations like the European Union and the United Nations.

Foreign relations of India

India has formal diplomatic relations with most nations; it is the world's second most populous country, the world's most-populous democracy and one of the fastest growing major economies. With the world's eighth largest military expenditure, third largest armed force, tenth largest economy by nominal rates and third largest economy in terms of purchasing power parity, India is a regional power, a nascent great power and a potential superpower. India's growing international influence gives it a prominent voice in global affairs. The Economist magazine argues, however, that underinvestment in diplomacy and a lack of strategic vision have minimised India's influence in the world.

India is a newly industrialised country, it has a long history of collaboration with several countries and is considered one of the leaders of the developing world along with China, Brazil, Russia and South Africa (the BRICS countries). India was one of the founding members of several international organisations, most notably the United Nations, the Asian Development Bank, G20 industrial nations and the founder of the Non-aligned movement. India has also played an important and influential role in other international organisations like East Asia Summit, World Trade Organisation, International Monetary Fund (IMF), G8+5 and IBSA Dialogue Forum. Regionally, India is a part of SAARC and BIMSTEC. India has taken part in several UN peacekeeping missions and in 2007, it was the second-largest troop contributor to the United Nations. India is currently seeking a permanent seat in the UN Security Council, along with the G4 nations.

History

Even before independence, the Government of British India maintained semi-autonomous diplomatic relations. It had colonies (such as the Aden Settlement), who sent and received full diplomatic missions, and was a founder member of both the League of Nations and the United Nations. After India gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1947, it soon joined the Commonwealth of Nations and strongly supported independence movements in other colonies, like the Indonesian National Revolution. The partition and various territorial disputes, particularly that over Kashmir, would strain its relations with Pakistan for years to come. During the Cold War, India adopted a foreign policy of not aligning itself with any major power bloc. However, India developed close ties with the Soviet Union and received extensive military support from it.

The end of the Cold War significantly affected India's foreign policy, as it did for much of the world. The country now seeks to strengthen its diplomatic and economic ties with the United States, the People's Republic of China, the European Union, Japan, Israel, Mexico, and Brazil. India has also forged close ties with the member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the African Union, the Arab League and Iran.

Though India continues to have a military relationship with Russia, Israel has emerged as India's second largest military partner while India has built a strong strategic partnership with the United States.

Policy

India's foreign policy has always regarded the concept of neighbourhood as one of widening concentric circles, around a central axis of historical and cultural commonalities.

As many as 21 million people of Indian origin live and work abroad and constitute an important link with the mother country. An important role of India's foreign policy has been to ensure their welfare and well being within the framework of the laws of the country where they live.

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The then Finance Minister of India
Pranab Mukherjee
and the then 
US President George W. Bush
in 2008.

Role of the Prime Minister

Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first Prime Minister, promoted a strong personal role for the Prime Minister but a weak institutional structure. Nehru served concurrently as Prime Minister and Minister of External Affairs; he made all major foreign policy decisions himself after consulting with his advisers and then entrusted the conduct of international affairs to senior members of the Indian Foreign Service. He was the main founding fathers of the Panchsheel or the five principles of peaceful co-existence.

His successors continued to exercise considerable control over India's international dealings, although they generally appointed separate ministers of external affairs.

India's second prime minister, Lal Bahadur Shastri (1964–66), expanded the Prime Minister Office (sometimes called the Prime Minister's Secretariat) and enlarged its powers. By the 1970s, the Office of the Prime Minister had become the de facto coordinator and supraministry of the Indian government. The enhanced role of the office strengthened the prime minister's control over foreign policy making at the expense of the Ministry of External Affairs. Advisers in the office provided channels of information and policy recommendations in addition to those offered by the Ministry of External Affairs. A subordinate part of the office—the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW)—functioned in ways that significantly expanded the information available to the prime minister and his advisers. The RAW gathered intelligence, provided intelligence analysis to the Office of the Prime Minister, and conducted covert operations abroad.

The prime minister's control and reliance on personal advisers in the Office of the Prime Minister was particularly strong under the tenures of Indira Gandhi (1966–77 and 1980–84) and her son, Rajiv (1984–89), who succeeded her, and weaker during the periods of coalition governments. Observers find it difficult to determine whether the locus of decision-making authority on any particular issue lies with the Ministry of External Affairs, the Council of Ministers, the Office of the Prime Minister, or the prime minister himself.

The Prime Minister is however free to appoint advisers and special committees to examine various foreign policy options and areas of interest. In a recent instance, Manmohan Singh appointed K. Subrahmanyam in 2005 to head a special government task force to study 'Global Strategic Developments' over the next decade. The Task Force submitted its conclusions to the Prime Minister in 2006. The report has not yet been released in the public domain.

Ministry of External Affairs

The Ministry of External Affairs is the Indian government's agency responsible for the foreign relations of India. The Minister of External Affairs holds cabinet rank as a member of the Council of Ministers.

Salman Khurshid is current Minister of External Affairs. The Ministry has two Ministers of State Preneet Kaur and E. Ahamed. The Indian Foreign Secretary is the head of Indian Foreign Service (IFS) and therefore, serves as the head of all Indian ambassadors and high commissioners. Sujatha Singh is the current Foreign Secretary of India.

Look East Policy

In the post Cold War era, a significant aspect of India's foreign policy is the Look East Policy. During the cold war, India's relations with its South East Asian neighbours was not very strong. After the end of the cold war, the government of India particularly realised the importance of redressing this imbalance in India's foreign policy. Consequently, the Narsimha Rao government in the early nineties of the last century unveiled the look east policy. Initially it focused on renewing political and economic contacts with the countries of East and South-East Asia.

At present, under the Look East Policy, the Government of India is giving special emphasis on the economic development of backward north eastern region of India taking advantage of huge market of ASEAN as well as of the energy resources available in some of the member countries of ASEAN like Burma. Look-east policy was launched in 1992 just after the end of the cold war, following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. After the start of liberalisation, it was a very strategic policy decision taken by the government in the foreign policy. To quote Prime Minister Manmohan Singh "it was also a strategic shift in India's vision of the world and India's place in the evolving global economy".

The policy was given an initial thrust with the then Prime Minister Narasimha Rao visiting China, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and Singapore and India becoming an important dialogue partner with ASEAN in 1992. Since the beginning of this century, India has given a big push to this policy by becoming a summit level partner of ASEAN (2002) and getting involved in some regional initiatives such as the BIMSTEC and the Ganga–Mekong Cooperation and now becoming a member of the East Asia Summit (EAS) in December, 2005.

Overview

India's relations with the world have evolved since the British Raj (1857–1947), when the British Empire monopolised external and defence relations. When India gained independence in 1947, few Indians had experience in making or conducting foreign policy. However, the country's oldest political party, the Indian National Congress, had established a small foreign department in 1925 to make overseas contacts and to publicise its freedom struggle. From the late 1920s on, Jawaharlal Nehru, who had a long-standing interest in world affairs among independence leaders, formulated the Congress stance on international issues. As a member of the interim government in 1946, Nehru articulated India's approach to the world.

India's international influence varied over the years after independence. Indian prestige and moral authority were high in the 1950s and facilitated the acquisition of developmental assistance from both East and West. Although the prestige stemmed from India's nonaligned stance, the nation was unable to prevent Cold War politics from becoming intertwined with interstate relations in South Asia.

In the 1960s and 1970s India's international position among developed and developing countries faded in the course of wars with China and Pakistan, disputes with other countries in South Asia, and India's attempt to balance Pakistan's support from the United States and China by signing the Indo-Soviet Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation in August 1971. Although India obtained substantial Soviet military and economic aid, which helped to strengthen the nation, India's influence was undercut regionally and internationally by the perception that its friendship with the Soviet Union prevented a more forthright condemnation of the Soviet presence in Afghanistan. In the late 1980s, India improved relations with the United States, other developed countries, and China while continuing close ties with the Soviet Union. Relations with its South Asian neighbours, especially Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Nepal, occupied much of the energies of the Ministry of External Affairs.


Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, India has forged a closer partnership
Western powers. Shown here are
Manmohan Singh with Barack Obama in 2009.

In the 1990s, India's economic problems and the demise of the bipolar world political system forced India to reassess its foreign policy and adjust its foreign relations. Previous policies proved inadequate to cope with the serious domestic and international problems facing India. The end of the Cold War gutted the core meaning of nonalignment and left Indian foreign policy without significant direction. The hard, pragmatic considerations of the early 1990s were still viewed within the nonaligned framework of the past, but the disintegration of the Soviet Union removed much of India's international leverage, for which relations with Russia and the other post-Soviet states could not compensate. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, India improved its relations with the United States, Canada, France, Japan and Germany. In 1992, India established formal diplomatic relations with Israel and this relationship grew during the tenures of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government and the subsequent UPA (United Progressive Alliance) governments.

In the mid-1990s, India attracted the world attention towards the Pakistan-backed terrorism in Kashmir. The Kargil War resulted in a major diplomatic victory for India. The United States and European Union recognised the fact that Pakistani military had illegally infiltrated into Indian territory and pressured Pakistan to withdraw from Kargil. Several anti-India militant groups based in Pakistan were labeled as terrorist groups by the United States and European Union.

In 1998, India tested nuclear weapons for the second time which resulted in several US, Japanese and European sanctions on India. India's then-defence minister, George Fernandes, said that India's nuclear programme was necessary as it provided a deterrence to potential Chinese nuclear threat. Most of the sanctions imposed on India were removed by 2001.

After the 11 September attacks in 2001, Indian intelligence agencies provided the U.S. with significant information on Al-Qaeda and related groups' activities in Pakistan and Afghanistan. India's extensive contribution to the War on Terror, coupled with a surge in its economy, has helped India's diplomatic relations with several countries. Over the past three years, India has held numerous joint military exercises with U.S. and European nations that have resulted in a strengthened U.S.-India and E.U.-India bilateral relationship. India's bilateral trade with Europe and United States has more than doubled in the last five years.


India has often represented the interests of developing countries at various
 international platforms. Shown here are Manmohan Singh  with
Dmitry Medvedev,
Hu Jintao and Luiz In
ácio Lula da Silva during BRIC summit in June, 2009.

India has been pushing for reforms in the UN and WTO with mixed results. India's candidature for a permanent seat at the UN Security Council is currently backed by several countries including France, Russia, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, Brazil, Australia and UAE. In 2004, the United States signed a nuclear co-operation agreement with India even though the latter is not a part of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The US argued that India's strong nuclear non-proliferation record made it an exception, however this has not persuaded other Nuclear Suppliers Group members to sign similar deals with India. During a state visit to India in November 2010, US president Barack Obama announced US support for India's bid for permanent membership to UN Security Council as well as India's entry to Nuclear Suppliers Group, Wassenaar Arrangement, Australia Group and Missile Technology Control Regime.

Strategic partners

India's growing economy, strategic location, friendly foreign policy and large and vibrant diaspora has won it more allies than enemies. India has friendly relations with several countries in the developing world. Though India is not a part of any major military alliance, it has close strategic and military relationship with most of the fellow major powers.

Countries considered India's closest include the Russian Federation, Israel, Afghanistan, France, Bhutan and Bangladesh. Russia is the largest supplier of military equipment to India, followed by Israel and France. According to some analysts, Israel is set to overtake Russia as India's largest military and strategic partner. The two countries also collaborate extensively in the sphere of counter-terrorism and space technology. India also enjoys strong military relations with several other countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States, Japan, Singapore, Brazil, South Africa and Italy. In addition, India operates an airbase in Tajikistan and signed a landmark defence accord with Qatar in 2008.

India has also forged relationships with developing countries, especially South Africa, Brazil, and Mexico. These countries often represent the interests of the developing countries through economic forums such as the G8+5, IBSA and WTO. India was seen as one of the standard bearers of the developing world and claimed to speak for a collection of more than 30 other developing nations at the Doha Development Round. India's "Look East" Policy has helped it develop greater economic and strategic partnership with Southeast Asian countries, South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan. India also enjoys friendly relations with the Persian Gulf countries and most members of the African Union.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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