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International Relations: History and Nature

Evolution of Diplomacy as a Privileged Profession

Diplomats are widely known as representatives of one country to another. In a more technical sense, diplomatic work is associated with negotiation done by an individual or group of individuals on behalf of a sovereign state or nation. Diplomatic work can be traced far back to all the primitive societies that had some form of governance system instituted (Walsh & Duggan 52). There were always people from different clans or tribes entrusted with the task of negotiating terms of engagement with other tribes and clans.

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Diplomacy as a profession has undergone profound changes over the years. At first, diplomacy basically entailed negotiation of agreements or protocols that defined relationship between governments (Walsh & Duggan 88).Traditional diplomacy basically entailed sending envoys to other nations or states for the purposes of cementing peaceful co-existence, furthering economic cooperation, and negotiating areas of conflict. Later, instead of sending envoys on trips, diplomatic activities were institutionalized and legal frameworks created to guide diplomatic work. At this stage in the evolution of diplomacy, embassies were created and envoys sent on a more permanent basis. The conduct of diplomats e.g. ambassadors was restricted by legal frameworks given by signed protocols between nations. For instance in 1927, nations signed the Havana convention agreements, which defined what diplomats were to do in receiving countries (Walsh & Duggan 95).

Ambassadors’ and embassy activities were limited to government relations. The envoys were restricted in their interaction with citizens of the host country. However, Over the years, more precisely, after World War II, diplomatic work went beyond government to government relations to encompass selling of values of own country to foreign countries; persuading others to adopt or follow values of own country(Walsh & Duggan 94). This has changed diplomatic work in a great way because diplomats around the world get more directly involved in the lives of the citizens of the host country.

The shift in diplomacy also entails shift in the roles of diplomats. In the present world, ambassadors act more as managers of a system with varied activities and interests. At one embassy, one will find a representation of all kinds of state employees and not just diplomats from the foreign ministry. Current focus in diplomacy is more in line with advancing own country’s foreign objectives than just maintaining good relations between governments. It is for this reason that some ambassadors can afford to be adversarial in the approach to issue in host countries.

Modern communication technology does not make the work of diplomats obsolete. If diplomatic work had remained basically at the level of negotiation and maintaining good government to government relations, then truly ICT would make diplomatic work obsolete. Contrarily, diplomacy has shifted and diplomats are more engaged in the lives of locals. Public diplomacy requires that the diplomats immerse themselves in the social cultural circumstances of the locals in the host or receiving countries (Walsh & Duggan 89).

Canada’s Most Important Foreign Policy

Canada’s foreign policy is not very different from major western countries’ foreign policy. However, Canada’s policy is unique because each of its provinces has freedom to relate as it wishes internationally (Holloway 31). Canada is a federal state and although the federal government has overall responsibility for Canadian foreign policy, the provinces are free to discern and decide on how to relate to other countries. This policy is important because it allows the provinces to participate freely in international affairs. The only thing that the provinces cannot do is to ratify or sign treaties with any foreign nation or agent. Legislating treaties is left solely to the central or federal government and this provides for sanity in overall Canadian international relationships. Therefore, the provinces continue with their efforts but they do not undermine the federal government as the overall enforcer and controller of Canadian foreign affairs.

Much of world nations’ foreign policies are influenced by ethnic interest groups and Canada is no exception. Ethnic interest groups are pressure groups formed on the basis of culture, race, kinship or tribe and aim at influencing policy (Holloway 62). For instance, the Canadian and USA’s policies towards the conflict in the Middle East are largely determined by the desires of Jewish interest groups within the two countries. The Israel lobby group has proved to be one of the most powerful ethnic interest group that influences foreign policy in Canada. This is the only lobby group that has successfully used propaganda and myths to influence Canadian foreign policy (Holloway 79). They have managed to sustain positive debate on Israel while branding anything Arab as kind of evil. There are other ethnic lobby groups e.g. those pushing of autonomy of Quebec but they are not as powerful as the Jewish lobby group.

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Four Major Contemporary Influences on Diplomacy

The four major factors influencing contemporary diplomacy are development in information and communication technology, increasing natural disasters, international terrorism and shift towards public diplomacy. We are living in what has aptly been described as the information age. Due to improvement in information and communication technology, the traditional diplomatic channels are greatly challenged.

Traditionally, the ambassador represented the president and somehow negotiated issues on behalf of the president or supreme leader of country of origin. Due to improvement in information and communication technology, virtual diplomacy is possible. Through teleconferencing, presidents or national leaders now are able to discuss things with counterparts in real time. Due to technological improvements in communication and information, some people are tempted to think that diplomatic work has become obsolete.

Diplomacy has not become obsolete but rather current diplomacy is more in line with diplomats being responsive to the livelihood of the locals among which they serve. The phenomenon of public diplomacy is characterized by more interaction between diplomats and the locals. Among key embassy or consuls activities are cultural programs e.g. language promotion programs, regular press briefings, etc.

Common threats especially natural disasters and world terrorism have led to a shift from bilateral to multilateral diplomacy, which is likely to be the major form of diplomacy in the future. Changing world economies have also necessitated formation of trading blocs and economic integration. This is a pointer to the fact that, in the future, multilateral diplomacy is likely to be more pronounced than bilateral diplomacy.

Some of the key issues diplomats are currently concerned or negotiating about are global warming and climate change. Natural phenomena are of concern due to world realization that all countries have to work together for a sustainable livelihood on this planet. Terrorism and world security continues to shape world diplomacy. Concern for world security was heightened after the September 11 terrorist bombings in the USA. Dealing with security matters is a key concern for most diplomats. Diplomatic alliances have been formed due to the measures countries are taking to eradicate terrorism and ensure security for citizens.

Many issues that affect the world are resolved diplomatically through world summits. Summit diplomacy has been steadily taking shape and has become a major aspect of contemporary diplomacy. Summit diplomacy basically implies issues being handled by the holders of the highest offices or highest organs in the land. Therefore, diplomacy is not longer the preserve of foreign ministers. In negotiating weighty matters, presidents and prime ministers become directly involved.

Despite the importance of world summits i.e. they bring together world leaders who are able to debate and persuade each other towards a given cause, the summits drain countries foreign relations resources. In the recent past, the summits have become very extravagant meetings that do not come up with negotiated agreements that all ascribe to. Often, a section of leaders agree on something but due to presence of black sheep, issues are never conclusively resolved.

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Three Threats to Canada’s Security and Three Foreign-Policy Goals for Canadian Diplomats and Leaders.

The three major threats to Canada’s security are global terrorism, information based threats i.e. cyber threats and organized crimes of a trans-national nature (Holloway 102). Canada and USA are joined like Siamese twins. The terrorist attack on the USA, on September 11, shows clearly that threat of global terrorism is real. Canada as an avid supporter of the USA is a potential target for all terrorists that have anti-USA sentiments (Holloway 103). There are also internal terrorists in the form of Quebec liberation fighters. Overtime, they have carried out a number of attacks aimed at forcing succession of the Quebec province from Canada. Therefore, Canada has to devise ways of detecting and dealing with terrorist networks.

Cyber crime has been on the rise with government secrets or national secrets becoming a target for malicious use by diabolic international actors (Holloway 103). As technology advances so do the capacity of hackers and other malicious people. Due to high speeds internet and other gadgets, personal information is easily compromised by hackers. Therefore, Canada’s security is largely depended on how well it handles cyber crime.

International criminal gangs are bolder in their operations due to improvement in technology. Some of the prominent international crimes include drug trafficking, human trafficking and money laundering. Due to globalization and technology, criminal gangs have spread their network and become even more sophisticated.

The three goals, I believe, the Canadian diplomats and leaders should pursue are achieving and sustaining world peace, improvement of world trade procedures for prosperity of all and ensuring cooperation in the fight against international criminals and terrorists. World peace can be achieved through objective handling and resolution of conflicts; for instance, the Palestinian conflict. Trade is important for development of Canada and other countries. Dealing with international criminals and terrorists is the only way of assuring security for Canadians

Global Challenges in the 21st Century

Iraq War, Afghanistan War and World Peace

The gains from the Iraq and afghan war are not self evident as of now. It is only time that will tell whether it is the terrorists that are subdued or the anti-American sentiment reinforced in the Arab world. From the justifications given by the proponents of the wars, one would have assumed the world would be more peaceful by now. In my opinion, the world is more violent due to the attacks or wars.

In Afghanistan, although the Taliban are not the central government, they still control much of the country and civilians sympathize with them. This is the reason why American and Nato forces casualties continue to increase. It was recently reported on CNN that the President (Kharzai) is seeking to make peace with Taliban warlords now that withdrawal of American troops may be eminent. This basically means that the mission of defeating the Taliban has failed. The war in Iraq only increased the anti-US sentiment around the world. In Iraq itself, it has only served to split the Iraqis in terms of Shiites and Sunnis.

On the other hand, it is good that the Saddam’s regime is no more. His presence and bravado approach to international security concerns made terrorists bolder. The hope is that over time, Iraq will emerge as a democratic state. Secondly, somehow the terrorist cells in Afghanistan are no longer as bold as they were in the run up to the September 11 attacks in the USA. The only challenge is that the terrorist cells have become even more hidden and cannot easily be monitored.

Canada can best contribute to world peace through focusing on and promoting non-violent resolution of conflicts. For instance, when it comes to the Palestinian conflict, a non-violent approach to peace would mean Canada being neutral and condemning any forms of violence committed by either side.

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Preserving World Peace

The hypothesis that the best way for nation-states to preserve peace is to prepare for war holds some ground. It can be argued that countries have thus far refrained from using nuclear weapons on other countries due to the impact of the bombs but also fear of retaliation with even a much more powerful nuclear bomb.

However, this kind of stance in itself does not provide sustainable peace. There is a possibility of a misguided person wanting to commit suicide by provoking war. With availability of war weaponry, the danger of world annihilation looms. Continued investment in nuclear weaponry is very dangerous because having weaponry alone cannot prevent war. What prevents war is thinking that peace is important and necessary. The build up of weaponry for preservation of peace is only a tool towards reinforcing the idea of need to respect each other so as to live in harmony. There should be better ways of maintaining peace than through weaponry build up; a lunatic may one day decide to experiment with the weaponry leading to more catastrophic results than if the weapons had not been built in the name of peace, in the first place.

Global interdependence promotes peace. However, world regions are not entirely exclusive in advantage that would promote interdependence. The only thing that cements global interdependence is security. Majority of the countries on their own cannot defend their sovereignty. Therefore, through collective power, they are able to have influence on international matters. Security related interdependence is critical to maintenance of world peace.

Therefore, the strategy I would suggest for meeting the challenge of peace is forging of more collective power ties. Without promoting hegemonic thinking, I believe that restructuring of the UN and empowering its operations can best serve world peace. Secondly, efforts towards world peace should be peaceful in themselves. World actors should not be Machiavellian i.e. the means to peace should not be justified by the end. Wars like the Iraq and Afghanistan one would have been averted if diplomacy had been embraced by all major actors in the conflict.

World Peace after WWII

The world experienced relative calm and peace in the twentieth century compared to the past. Before WWII, the thinking was that war was an inevitable reality. People discussed conditions for declaration of war rather than ways of preventing wars. The World War II brought the world to its senses. Many people died and people witnessed the horrific effects of using nuclear bombs. It can rightly be argued that fear of nuclear weaponry and its effects in case of a war have led to many countries refraining from provoking others. During the cold war period, many countries sort to arm themselves and sophisticated weaponry was developed (Carlsnaes et al 356). However, fear of and possibility of world annihilation has kept countries away from provoking each other to war. The major powers in the world treat each other cordially because a war between them would only be catastrophic. Knowing very well that others have nuclear weapons plus other assorted biological and chemical weapons encourages dialogue rather than confrontation when it comes to world issues.

Negotiated arms control agreements have helped a lot in reducing arms around the globe. The protocols reached provide frameworks through which governments or states hold each other responsible when it comes to armament. The agreements stipulate rules and procedures that guide national armament and disarmament procedures that promote world order. Such an agreement is currently subject of scrutiny as nations seek to lower the level of nuclear armament. It is argued that, for instance, the money the USA uses on nuclear research and weapon building if deployed into other projects is enough to stimulate economic growth in many sectors.

Disarmament of the world is very beneficial economically (Carlsnaes et al 360). However, we have not yet reached at a point when total disarmament is feasible. Total disarmament is not desirable at this point in history because many criminal elements still abound in the world. The only way of bringing such people to book and handling them is through use of more sophisticated weaponry and machines than what they have access to.

Population Problem

Population is a big problem or crisis that world leaders have to contend with and address appropriately. With each passing day, the world population increases in leaps by hundreds of thousands. Unfortunately, world resources are limited and scarce. Therefore, unless population growth is managed, sustainability for mankind becomes a big nightmare. If population growth is not controlled and managed, world population will soon be far beyond available resources. As a result, people will not afford or access food. Provision of shelter, education, health and meaningful work for all will become impossible.

However, population control has to be done with respect to human freedoms and rights. If population control and family planning can be instituted within the context of human rights, such efforts will bear more fruits than otherwise. In countries like china, such policy as one man one child has been adopted. As a result, individuals tend to commit all sorts of abuses in search for the right kind of baby to bring up. Population control is a very emotional issue with religious extensions or connotations fueling lack of understanding. However, through education and empowerment of men and women, populations around the world can be controlled. It is true that if a woman gets empowered, number of pregnancies will reduce significantly.

The Major Causes of Environmental Degradation

The major causes of environmental degradation are deforestation, soil erosion, industrial waste disposal, farming related practices but above all carbon emissions from factories, farm houses, transport sector and others (Carlsnaes et al 451). All states in the world, especially the developed nations, are contributors to environmental degradation. Carbon emissions lead to the green house effect and consequently degradation of ozone layer resulting in global warming and related climate change. Environmental degradation can only be reversed fully if all states or nations agree to reducing carbon emissions and embrace green technology and practices.

“Sustainable Environment” As a Human Right

In my opinion, sustainable environment is a human right. This is an entitlement once denied; one cannot live his or her normal life. All other human rights depend on environmental sustainability (Carlsnaes et al 519). If the environment cannot sustain a human being, his or her right to life is not guaranteed. Therefore, just like individuals can only enjoy other human rights if their right to life is respected, individuals can only enjoy their right to life if their right to a sustainable environment is respected.

Each individual has a role to play towards ensuring a sustainable environment. At the municipal level, we have to start with proper waste disposal. Secondly, municipals need frameworks to guide or enforce reduction in carbon emissions. Finally, through going green and planting of trees. Pollution of any kind should be treated as a crime because its effects on sustainability of the environment are catastrophic.

Works Cited

Carlsnaes, Walter, Thomas Risse & Beth A. Simmons. Handbook of International Relations. London: SAGE, 2002.

Holloway, Steven Kendall. Canadian Foreign Policy: Defining the National Interest. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2006.

Walsh, Edmund Aloysius & Stephen Duggan. The History and Nature of International Relation. Manchester: Ayer Publishing, 1969.

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