Diplomacy refers to all forms of communications, networking and negotiations practiced in international relations to advance the interests of a given state. Formal international platforms - whether security or economic communities - seek to coalesce states around shared interests, and create protection against conflicts of interest becoming violent.


Libya: the pressing need for dialogue

The western intervention in Libya in 2011 failed to recognise the complex warp and weft of its pre-democratic tribal fabric. Only a regionally facilitated dialogue can repair the shattered state left behind.

An irresistible force? Arab citizens of Israel after the elections

Binyamin Netanyahu may have returned to power by disowning the two-state solution and scaremongering about Arab voters pre-election. But Palestinians in Israel have become a force to be reckoned with.

Arms and the men: Sweden’s revoked Saudi arms deal

From the outside, the Swedish snub to the Saudi royals looks like a big triumph for women’s rights over commercial pressures. Close up, the ethical picture is a little muddier.

Indonesia regresses with the use of the death penalty

The prospect of execution of two Australians in Indonesia has caught international media attention, amid Australian protest. But these are part of a wider official spasm, in a country dominated by a ‘tough on crime’ narrative.

With Ghani in Kabul, will relations with Pakistan change?

There are signs that the long-fraught relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan could improve, following the change of leadership in Kabul. Reciprocation from Islamabad will, however, be needed.

Turkey and Armenia: genocide? what genocide?

April 1915 saw the start of the genocide against Armenians and other minorities in the former Ottoman Empire. Erdoğan hopes he can ignore the anniversary and it will go away—while Armenian politics is stuck in victim mode.

Karabakh truce shaken by gunshots and tough talk

OSCE mediators urge an end to attacks after a month in which the 20-year-old ceasefire was broken in thousands of incidents.

Is there reason to hope for Minsk II?

The last Minsk agreement on eastern Ukraine failed to bring peace. The latest looks similar—but the context has changed.

Ukraine ceasefire announced at Minsk summit—what next?

The ceasefire agreement in Minsk over Ukraine was better than no outcome at all. But only a little better.

Yemen: descent into anarchy

With the resignation of its president and prime minister, Yemen lacks the capacity to steer its political transition towards the goal of greater stability. The alternative, however, does not bear thinking about.

Multilateralism: is the end in sight?

The P5 process was a British attempt to spark multilateral nuclear disarmament. It should no longer be accepted as an excuse for inaction.  

Obama, Netanyahu, Iran, Congress and the Republican Party

An intense political battle is going on over Iran on Capitol Hill. Insular Republicans underestimate at their peril international pressures driven by global security concerns.

In Ukraine, NATO has ceased to be an instrument of US foreign policy

In the renewed cold war over Ukraine, while Russia’s economy has been weakened by European sanctions, the US is no longer the hegemon it once was—and NATO is under strain.

Ukraine steels for more unrest as Donetsk bus attack kills 12

The latest violence in eastern Ukraine would lead most observers to think an end to the military and political attrition is not in sight. They would be right.

Will America's political discord torpedo the Iran talks?

Continued Republican efforts to force further sanctions on Iran threaten the fragile coalition making progress on nuclear negotiations, which already show wear from an outdated zero-sum approach. 

Tensions rise between India and Pakistan

International constraint and mutual nuclear deterrence may have prevented all-out war with Pakistan in the past over contested Kashmir. With thousands fleeing their homes amid escalating violence, that may not remain a secure wager.

Western Sahara: Africa’s last colony

As 2015 opens, the Sahrawi people of Western Sahara have been waiting for a self-determination referendum for four decades. They will wait longer due to the passivity of the international community. 

Reflections on intervention in the 21st century

Where stands now the ‘responsibility to protect’? Recent egregious intervention failures require simplistic nostra to be replaced by a more complex understanding.

Eastern Ukraine: the humanity behind the headlines

The government in Kyiv, aid organisations and the international community must work together to address the humanitarian crisis created by the fighting in the east.

Complacency is slowly killing the non-proliferation regime

Fatalism over the chances of achieving agreement on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation is symptomatic of a failure that goes deeper than the inefficiencies of the diplomatic process.

Myanmar: the human-rights story behind the spin

The authorities in Nay Pyi Taw are steering the former authoritarian pariah state to open engagement with the world. Well, that’s what they say.

Choosing the next UN leader should not be left to three people

The secretary-general of the United Nations holds the world in his hands. It shouldn’t be possible to count those who decide who that is on the fingers of one.

The new cold war Russia (again) won't win

The last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, burst the 25th-anniversary balloon of the symbolic end of the cold war by warning of a new one, fed by NATO's eastward expansion. An economically weak USSR lost the last one; a still weaker Russia will lose this one too. 

Turkey, Kobane and the Kurdish question

The US wants Turkey to join the military effort against Islamic State at Kurdish-dominated Kobane, across the Syrian border—but Ankara’s focus is the Kurds within its own.

Could incapacitating chemical weapons start an arms race?

Chemical weapons are banned, aren't they? Well, maybe not quite all of them are ...

Can NATO be saved from strategic obscurity?

Despite a renewed sense of purpose with a change in leadership and the crisis in Ukraine, the alliance continues to court its own irrelevancy.  

Crisis brewing in Macedonia

Events over the summer in Macedonia revealed just how fragile interethnic relationships remain. The EU and the US must address their responsibilities as guarantors of the country’s peace accord.

Egypt: time to end the diplomatic farce

Many Egyptians are smarting from the betrayal of their revolution while the military-backed regime tightens its grip. The international community can no longer ignore this.

NATO-Russia: time for a change in direction

NATO’s summit this week offers the opportunity to turn the tide against the re-emergence of the cold war in the context of the Ukraine crisis. It is an opportunity, however, unlikely to be taken.

The failure of the UN: rebuilding from the ruins

Navi Pillay offered a scathing indictment of the UN Security Council's failures to address global crises, most notably in Syria. But the paralysed state of the UN may finally offer the chance to address its inherently undemocratic structure. 

In deep water: China tests its neighbours’ patience

China’s rapid growth is placing increasing demands on natural resources in the region but Beijing’s political rise is encouraging the dictatorship to flex its muscles as associated tensions rise.

Chile's support for Palestine: two-faced on indigenous rights

Chile's diplomatic outcry against Israel has been welcomed by supporters of the Palestinian cause, but its indigenous Mapuche communities continue to face discrimination, brutality and repression at the hands of the state. 

On Israel-Palestine and BDS

Those dedicated to the Palestinian cause should think carefully about the tactics they choose.

Syria and Gaza: a false equivalency

Though the indiscriminate violence in Syria and Gaza is becoming indistinguishable, unlike Syria, the west can take relatively simple measures to end the war on Gaza. 

How Qatar's hand casts Syrian shadows

As Qatar assumes an increasing role in the political diplomacy of the Middle East, its subtler interventions in Syria's civil war continue unquestioned.

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