Summits 2017-04-11T18:32:22+00:00

Diplomacy: Theory and Practice, 5th ed.  –  Online updating pages

Chapter 12: Summits

p. 186, dangers of summitry: Incidents attending the arrival of President Obama at the G20 meeting in China in September 2016, especially the absence of a red carpet welcome, illustrate very well the manner in which poorly handled protocol arrangements can cause tensions between states. What is believed to be an insult to a head of state becomes a ‘national insult’ to a degree unlikely to be reached by an insult to a diplomat. Were someone with the temperament of Donald Trump to be the US president involved in this sort of affair, the consequences would be only too predictable. In fact, Trump immediately announced that, had he been shown such ‘disrespect’, he would have had the doors of Air Force One closed and ordered its return home. President Obama, of course, handled the matter perfectly.

p. 188, serial summits: the editors of a recently published collection of 2012 conference papers (who in their brief discussion of that awful word ‘governance’ are noticeably innocent of English School thinking about the role of the ‘great powers’ in the states-system) prefer the dull term ‘regular summits’ (see Mourlon-Druol and Romero in Further reading below)

p. 194, sherpas: The presence of ‘sherpas’ in summitry has led the senior editors of a recently launched journal (Global Summitry) to ‘propose’ the ‘iceberg theory’ of this diplomatic institution, as if the value of the sherpas’ work is a recent suggestion that needs testing. And talk about mixing metaphors. The ‘iceberg theory’ conjures up the image of the way being prepared for mountaineers in the Himalayas by Nepalese sherpas dressed as frogmen!

Further reading: additions and links

For recent funeral summits (aka ‘working funerals’), search key words ‘funeral>world>leaders’

BBC News, ‘US-China diplomacy: Spy agency tweet adds to protocol spat’, 4 September 2016

Global Summitry [This is a new journal from OUP. It should be worth a look, despite the rather vacuous, meandering ‘working definition’ of ‘global summitry’ with which it has been launched.]


Guardian, ‘Xi Jinping holds all the cards ahead of Mar-a-Lago meeting with Trump’, 5 April 2017

Mourlon-Druol, E. and F. Romero (eds), International Summitry and Global Governance: The rise of the G7 and the European Council, 1974-1991 (Routledge). [The Introduction to this collection of essays can be read in the preview on the publisher’s website, where the additional references in the footnotes might prove useful.]

New York Times, ‘Obama plays down confrontation with China over his plane’s stairs’, 5 September 2016

Nuclear Security Summit

Reynolds, David, ‘Summit Diplomacy: Some lessons from history for 21st century leaders’, 4 June 2013 [transcript of lecture]

Suhasini, Haidar, ‘Limits of summit-style diplomacy’, The Hindu, 27 September 2014

Tarrosy, Istvan, ‘A U.S.-China summit diplomacy rivalry’, The Diplomat, 21 February 2014

The Telegraph, ‘Donald Trump says he would have left G20 summit in China over Barack Obama’s Air Force One plane “snub”’, 5 September 2016

Time, ‘7 Things you might have missed at China’s G20 Summit’, 6 September 2016