What is Diplomacy?

by nabila.elassar on October 17, 2014


“Honorable delegate, please maintain diplomatic decorum!”

Any Model UN delegate would know that this phrase is as lethal in our world, as Kryptonite is to Superman. The chair uses it to ensure delegates stay in check with the committee guidelines for diplomatic decorum. In Model UN, this traditionally revolves around a delegate’s manner of speaking, appropriateness of speech content, adherence to council Rules of Procedure, raising motions correctly and maintaining respect and formality at all times.

In reality however, diplomacy is a much broader concept than its simple application in Model UN. Diplomacy is theoretically defined as the art of communication between different parties, both representatives of states, and regular individuals. In International Relations, diplomacy is the art of conducting negotiations, forming alliances, discussing treaties and reaching agreements. On a societal level, diplomacy simply refers to the art of managing and dealing with people successfully, employing tactfulness and skill to ensure there is no ill will. One of the simplest yet on-target definitions I have read was “Diplomacy is the art of letting someone have it, your way”.

It is an art, due to the core aspect that all diplomatic attempts have in common: maintaining personal interest. It may take skill to speak with formality, however, the true art lies in ensuring that your state’s interests are promoted while keeping an eye on common interest and acting in a manner that satisfies all parties. Diplomacy lies in finding the right balance and is a crucial aspect in international politics.

The shape of the international landscape today was carved by diplomatic dialogue, as diplomacy is what creates world order. It is the platform that brings world leaders together in an attempt to agree on mutual interest, or resolve international crisis. It is the common language of all United Nations Members. It is what forms or breaks intergovernmental alliances. It is how the world is ran, and how countries communicate together. Every international treaty, every Security Council or General Assembly resolution, every world summit, every law, and the United Nations Charter itself, all have this one binding concept in common the upholding and application of diplomacy.

So, what is diplomacy in Model United Nations? An experienced delegate would tell you that diplomacy is much more than manner of speaking, or rules of procedure. Diplomacy is an ideology and collection of consistent choices. True diplomacy is a source of power, because it can influence the direction of the committee. That is why the best delegates are usually the best diplomats.

Here are some tips to successfully obtain diplomacy as a delegate:

  1. Complete Your Research

Before stepping into the conference, make sure you have a general idea of other delegations’ stances regarding the case, in addition to your nation’s specific position. What are your nation or representative’s interests, and what are theirs? What do you have in common with some, and against others? This will help you look at the bigger picture, and act or speak appropriately on different occasions throughout the conference.

  1. Understand & Appreciate All Opinions

The only way to reach successful diplomatic dialogue is by truly understanding the opposing side’s interests and concerns. Once you understand the opposing argument, attempt to find mutually satisfactory solutions and look at the committee from a neutral standpoint. What would be the solution that satisfies all? Attempt to sway all possible aspects that would favor the interests of your own delegation.

  1. Recognize the Importance of Procedure

No diplomat is complete without knowing his tools, one of which is Parliamentary Procedure. Do not risk compromising your position in debates or in the committee overall by getting frequent corrections from the chair and other delegates. Look the part, act the part. Know your committee’s rules of procedure by heart.

  1. Keep the Formality of Speeches

Make sure to address the committee with respect. Some delegates choose to give an official thank you and direction to the chair with statements such as “Honorable chair, honorable delegates.” This introduction is, of course, optional, however you must maintain decorum throughout your speeches. Take every chance you can to act formally during speech time; those little gestures can make a big difference in your diplomatic influence.

  1. Be Cognizant of Wording and Speech Content

The way you phrase your speech and the way you express your delegation and the content of your speeches are both indicative of your influence, as well as your overall performance as a delegate stands. Use facts in your speech, mention other delegations frequently, practice some of your speeches before hand, use eye contact, have a confident tone and maintain appropriate body language.

  1. Respect, respect, respect

This is what defines diplomacy; respecting all parties is respecting yourself. If any of your speeches are inappropriately directed toward a delegation, if you attempt to further your stance through ridicule or lack of respect, or  if you ever undermine the authority of the chair, you are poisoning your own position as a delegate. Know that the more you respect, the more you succeed.

  1. Make allies

Yes, speeches are important, but you must also focus on realistic mutual agreements and alliances in committee. Look for allies at every chance you get. Agree on common things, offer your assistance, be a good ally to others, and you will have the purpose of diplomatic dialogue covered.

  1. Listen, listen, listen

The more you understand other delegations, the more you win, and the more successful diplomat you become. Do not waste the time of other delegates’ speeches doing something else. Listen to every word and write down every argument, and this knowledge is what you will use when you try to find common ground with other delegates.

  1. Remember Your Target

Your own state’s interest is an important concern to have. Diplomacy is an excellent tool that can be used to achieve your goals. The committee should end with your delegation having won the most possible benefits.

    10. Resolutions Are the Final Goal

The outcome of the conference is the resolution. Harness it, use it, and do everything possible to put in as many ideas in it to serve the purpose of your own foreign policy. But, never inappropriately fight for this fact or forget the points above. That is what differentiates a delegate, from a true diplomat and best delegate.

Remember, diplomacy is about true respect, and understanding of other sides, and genuinely attempting to find mutually satisfactory solutions or courses of action.

So, honorable delegate, next time you adhere to diplomatic decorum in MUN, know that you are actually practicing the subtle art that has single-handedly shaped civilization and world order.

We want to hear your feedback! Leave a comment and tell us what you think of this article, or if there is a specific topic you would like to see on Best Delegate.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: