Diplomacy: Theory and Practice, 6th ed.  –  Online updating pages

Chapter 11: Conferences

p. 180, mid-page, ‘… during the great conflict of 1914-1918 (Hankey: 14)’: A little over a century later it is strikingly illustrated by the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, a.k.a. the Ramstein Group. This has over 50 member states and was formed in April 2022 to coordinate – at monthly meetings – the supply of military aid to Ukraine.

p. 181, line 10 down, bilateral diplomacy: Giving evidence to the Foreign Affairs Ctee of the House of Commons, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, formerly perm rep of Jordan at the UN, said that ‘in my experiences at the UN, out of 193 ambassadors and their Ministers, only about 30 worked for the whole, chaired meetings, put forward initiatives and basically kept the machinery running; 160 were just doing bilateral work in a multilateral forum, exacting what they could out of it and paying little in.’ p. 20, n. 102.

pp. 188-9, Box 11.3: Simon McDonald, the top civil servant in the UK foreign ministry from 2015 until 2020, has some interesting ideas on Security Council reform in his Beyond Britannia, pp. 57-8.

p. 193, bottom para. and Box 11.4 over page: The Foreign Affairs Committee of the British House of Commons condemned ‘the creeping capture of [multilateral] organisations by China’ while seeing no inconsistency in this attitude with its demand that the UK should strive to use them in pursuit of its own foreign policies, see pp. 3, 9-10 etc. of this report.

p. 195, The ‘New Multilateralism’, opening sentence: It may well be, too, that this non-state multilateralism is being further encouraged by the withering of some of those international organizations that have hitherto been part of the backbone of the ‘old multilateralism’, among them the World Trade Organization and the United Nations itself. This is a consequence chiefly of the opening of serious rifts between the major powers, as Nathalie Tocci rightly emphasises (see Further reading below), although she makes no connection with the ‘new multilateralism’.

Further reading

Borger, Julian, ‘Zelenskiy says only way to ensure peace is fundamental UN reform’, The Guardian, 20 September 2023

Clarke, Ken, Kind of Blue: A political memoir (Macmillan, 2016), Ch. 21

Foreign Affairs Committee (House of Commons), ‘In the room: the UK’s role in multilateral diplomacy’, 8 June 2021

McDonald, Simon, Beyond Britannia: Reshaping UK foreign policy  (Haus, 2023)

Michel, Leo G., ‘NATO decision-making: The ‘consensus rule’ endures despite challenges’, in Mayer, S. (ed.), NATO’s Post-Cold War Politics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014)

NATO, ‘Consensus decision-making at NATO’, 30 June 2023 [It’s interesting that this page is available in English, French, Russian and Ukrainian.]

Nicolson, Harold, The Congress of Vienna. A study in Allied Unity: 1812–1822 (Constable: London, 1946), Chs. 8 and 9. Ch. 9 on ‘The problem of procedure’ is particularly interesting. I must have read my copy years ago because there are faint pencil lines here and there but I had quite forgotten about it.

Tocci, Nathalie, ‘Multilateralism is broken’, Politico, 10 October 2023

Tocci, Nathalie, ‘Multilateralism is on life support – but does the G7 any longer have the power to revive it?’, The Guardian, 21 June 2024

‘UN Security Council Reform: What the World Thinks’, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 28 June 2023

Wellesley, Victor, Diplomacy in Fetters (Hutchinson: London, 1944), Ch. 3 – succinct and spot on. Certainly still worth reading, and freely available here.