International Relations in the Twentieth Century: A Reader by Marc Williams (eds.)

By Marc Williams (eds.)

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On the other hand the technicality of the issues often places special burdens on diplomats from smaller countries, especially many of the newly independent ones. It may be impossible for their capitals to keep abreast of developments or to form a view on every issue. A great deal of discretion will rest with the leader of the delegation who may well have the opportunity to influence policy of his group or the latitude to follow group consensus. Though the view is sometimes expressed that improved communications, faster travel, and the growth of multilateral diplomacy make the traditional THE EXPANSION OF INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY 37 forms of bilateral diplomacy irrelevant in modern conditions - even 'as obsolete as the sailing vessel' - yet missions in, or accredited to, capitals survive and proliferate.

This major breach by a constituted government of an international convention generally regarded as necessary for the effective conduct of diplomacy was deplored by the Security Council of the United Nations, which was unanimous in calling for the release of the hostages; and the International Court of justice made an order for their release. Terrorist acts should not be allowed to induce the belief that a code of practice which has been developed over centuries, and which for the most part works well, is in imminent danger of collapse.

Changes in technology have removed some of the drudgery, and changing social habits many of the distinctions between diplomats and others. The balance in a mission's work depends on local circumstances and is regularly assessed. Over the years, in the British service at least, increasing emphasis has been placed on commercial rather than more traditional diplomatic work. Information work almost unknown before the war as a distinct specialization, developed to its peak in the 1960s and has since been on the decline.

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