Book Launch of The Oxford Handbook of Modern Diplomacy |

Book Launch of The Oxford Handbook of Modern Diplomacy

Diplomacy has become more critical, even as it faces new challenges today. Failing to resolve issues through diplomatic means and channels could mean “catastrophic consequences”, said Prof. Ramesh Thakur, Director of the Centre for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (CNND). In the book launch of The Oxford Handbook of Modern Diplomacy, the invited panelists discussed challenges and changes facing diplomacy in a changing context of today.

Negotiations can become more fraught in a more interconnected world. Prof. Ramesh notes this in hot-button issues such as nuclear energy, and the financial crisis. He also alluded to the historic haze caused in Singapore by forest fires in Indonesia. He said this has implications in how sovereignty is treated. He said, “If extra-territorial and systemic consequences extend beyond one’s own borders, sovereignty as a privilege and exclusive control within borders is no longer relevant, and the international community has to a right to hold you to that responsibility.”

The new diplomatic landscape

Features in today’s diplomatic landscape include “summit diplomacy” and “commission diplomacy”. Referencing the chapter by former Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin on the G20, Prof. Ramesh said the former changes the dynamic of interaction, becoming useful for breaking down veto points. Leaders can trade “apples for oranges” in a way trade ministers may be unable to do.

Such forums also create discipline to mobilize resources and show commitment.  He also said civil society and NGOs are “pressure points”, and national diplomats need to act in that multilateral diplomacy.

Strategic challenges

Prof. Simon Chesterman pointed out the limitations, of international law in problems, Alluding to the haze hitting historic highs in Singapore, he said, “Even if wrong could be proven and attributed, what can then be done? There is no international forum, and no enforcement (by the Singapore government), so it falls back on diplomacy, in the form of moral persuasion, and other legal techniques in the individual jurisdiction.” Diplomacy becomes not only “an incredibly important institution, but also an incredibly problematic one”.

Prof. Simon Chesterman, Dean of Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore, said that old assumptions have become broken down. One is the shift from club diplomacy to network diplomacy. It debunks the assumption that diplomacy is a relationship between states.

Representatives also involve international organizations, not only of states. Prof. Chesterman cited examples in peace-building and post-conflict reconstruction, such as Timor Leste. After independence three years ago, it only existed as administered under the UN with its officials carrying out functions of cabinet ministers as a kind of military occupation.

He also said that confidential communication can no longer be assumed kept secret. Referring to Wiki Leaks, he called it a misguided assumption that this would lead to more transparency. He points out diplomacy’s inherent need for discretion, saying confidences leaked could perversely lead to less transparency. “Because diplomats now much more careful about what they will commit to writing, meetings take place without oral records, and all this leads to less transparency and worse decisions.”

Prof. Kishore Mahbubani shared his thoughts on making multilateral diplomacy stronger. He said, “We need to stop delegitimising agencies such as the UN, stop starving them of resources, for example the WHO, if we want them to solve world pandemic, and to recruit the best and brightest talents.”


On 24 June 2013, the LKY School hosted a book launch of The Oxford Handbook of Modern Diplomacy. Panelists include: Professor Ramesh Thakur, Director of the Centre for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (CNND), The Australian National University; Professor Simon Chesterman, Dean of Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore. Dr. Jayantha Dhanapala, former UN Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs and Professor Gareth Evans, Chancellor of The Australian National University and former Foreign Minister of Australia were unable to attend. The Guest of Honour was Mr. K. Shanmugam, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Law.

The book is an authoritative reference tool for those studying and practicing modern diplomacy. A comprehensive collection of essays (50 chapters, 941 pages), it provides an up-to-date compendium of the latest developments in the field.


The writer, , is Editor for Global-is-Asian, the quarterly magazine of the LKY School.

Synopsis:

Diplomacy is going through seismic changes. The communications and IT revolutions are transforming an ancient craft known for its glacial pace and long-form reporting. Nothing could be farther from the 21st-century world of the 24-hour news cycle, Twitter and Facebook. How are diplomats and foreign ministries dealing with these challenges? Is it just the tools that are changing, or is it also the substance of this ‘labour in exile’ that is being altered?

The Oxford Handbook of Modern Diplomacy is an authoritative reference source with an up-to-date survey of the latest developments in the theory and practice of diplomacy. Co-edited by three distinguished academics and former practitioners, and with contributions by heads of government, cabinet ministers, senior practitioners and leading specialists in the field, it provides a comprehensive overview of the state of diplomacy in the 21st Century, and of its future course. It is an essential resource for diplomats, practitioners and academics.

There will also be a panel discussion on the book with the co-editor and some of the contributing authors: Professor Ramesh Thakur, Director of the Centre for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (CNND), The Australian National University; Professor Simon Chesterman, Dean of Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore; Dr. Jayantha Dhanapala, former UN Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs; and Professor Gareth Evans, Chancellor of The Australian National University and former Foreign Minister of Australia.

Please click here for more details.

Speaker(s):
Panelists:

Professor Ramesh Thakur, Director of the Centre for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (CNND), The Australian National University;
Professor Simon Chesterman, Dean of Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore;
Dr. Jayantha Dhanapala, former UN Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs;
Professor Gareth Evans, Chancellor of The Australian National University and former Foreign Minister of Australia

Guest of Honour:

Mr. K. Shanmugam, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Law

Date:
Monday, 24 June 2013
Time:
5:15 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.
Venue:

Auditorium,
Level 3, Block B,
Faculty of Law,
NUS Bukit Timah Campus,
469G Bukit Timah Road,
Singapore 259776

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