Thursday, November 9, 2017

The Art of Diplomacy

The Goodson Law Library recently received the centenary 7th edition of Satow's Diplomatic Practice, a classic text on diplomacy first published in 1917. (The original edition, then called Guide to Diplomatic Practice by Ernest Satow, can be accessed online through the Making of Modern Law database.) Over the years, Satow's Diplomatic Practice has expanded by hundreds of pages, as the fields of international law and foreign relations have similarly grown and evolved. The current edition begins with "a short introduction" to the history of diplomacy, as well as a separate chapter on the development of international law. Subsequent sections detail the functions of diplomats and consulates, unpack such concepts as diplomatic immunity, and describe the roles of international organizations and agreements in facilitating diplomatic relations. The final chapter, "Advice to Diplomats," provides practical guidance to diplomatic staff about negotiation strategies and handling errors in protocol.

This new edition of Satow's Diplomatic Practice arrives at a time when the U.S. Department of State is experiencing dramatic attrition in diplomatic staff since the start of the Trump administration. Nearly 75 high-level State Department posts are vacant without current nominees, and many career diplomats have departed. Barbara Johnson, former U.S. ambassador to Panama, recently penned a letter in the Foreign Service Journal which expressed concern that more than half of the career diplomats on staff have left the State Department since January. Johnson noted that recruitment of new foreign service staff is also lower than in the previous administration, leaving some experts concerned about the void in advancing American interests abroad.

To learn more about the important work of diplomats around the world, try a subject search of the Duke Libraries Catalog for the word diplomatic. You'll find fascinating practice guides for diplomatic staff, as well as discussion of historical foreign policy crises and academic treatments of diplomatic privileges. The State Department also offers some publications directly on its website, including the handbook Protocol for the Modern Diplomat, last updated in 2013, which provides ambassadors with guidance for understanding the host country's culture and avoiding social faux pas.

For help finding more information about diplomatic practice or the U.S. State Department, be sure to Ask a Librarian.