The Emergence of New Diplomacy


There are different factors that led to the development of new diplomacy;this essay focusses on three areas only: the causes of the new diplomacy; explanation of new diplomacy; and the effectiveness of new diplomacy. This essay focusses on the period of the 1920s only.


There were several reasons that prompted the new diplomacy of the 1920s, the main reason being to prevent a new war around the world. The world had already witnessed the devastation caused by the the World War I. Public opinion played a part in driving the development of the new diplomaty; for example, Prussia’s war with Austria and France in the 1860s and 1870s led to hundred thousand casualties, and the American Civil War of 1860 claimed millions of lives, which coloured the way the populations of these countries viewed war or desired avoidance of war. The British public opinion on war and conflict was different in 1918 as compared to 1914, because between this period, Britain lost two million lives in the World War I. This led to strong public opinion against war and led to the development of mass movement outside the political mainstream which was against the war. The British public opinion was opposed to politicians and diplomats who were not working for peace and there was a strong sentiment against “politicians and diplomats who, in their view, had caused the war in the first place” (Meye 2009). Therefore, the public opinion against war was one of the principal factors that led to the development of the new diplomacy.

The beginning of the new diplomacy movement can be traced back to 1 December 1925, when a delegation from eighteen states come to London to sign a treaty agreed upon earlier in Locarno in Switzerland. This marks the first event in which European diplomats came together to negotiation on peace. Eventually, new diplomacy changed the way diplomats practiced diplomacy, as the foreign policy of the states became accountable to its citizens in order to prevent wars. All states accepted to equally participate in preventing war around the world, and share commitment to work for peace. This meant that under the treaty all states had equal status and sovereignty irrespective of their size or power.

The aim of new diplomacy was that the states should work together and develop close diplomatic relations, so that conflicts and issues between the states could be resolved peacefully through diplomatic means instead of resort to war. With regard to this, German foreign minister G Stresemeann noted that “Locarno is the end of the policy of opposition and conflicting aims ... the powers are cooperating'.

There was a link between war and diplomacy; states had foreign policy strategic goals, and to achieve those goals they use wars or negotiations. The new diplomacy in 1920s changed the way states resolved their conflicts without mobilisation of army, and instead trying to achieve their goals through negotiation and reconciliation. The League of Nations provided the platform for the states to come together and implement the new diplomacy goals and aims, including resolution of disputes throughnegotiation and reconciliation and to work towards the achievement of collective security(Meye, 2009). According to the principle of collective security, a state should try all measures to prevent war and encourage every possible measure towards negotiation and peaceful resolution of disputes. The League of Nations also had provisions of economic sanctions so that if one state resisted peaceful settlement of disputes and resolved conflicts through war, then the other members have issue economic sanctions against that state.

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In the early years the League took steps toward the maintenance of peace; for example, countries like France, Germany, and Belgium undertook to not attack each other, and Britain and Italy acted as guarantors of the agreement (Meye 2009).

Although there were high expectations of the League of Nations that it would lead to maintenance of peace around the world, but the structure of the League was too weak and there were obstacles for the League to achieve these aims. One of the main obstacles was that as each state sought to protect its own interest, it would seek to sideline the interests of the other states and this was an obstacle in reaching consensus. The League of Nations did not have its own standing force and that made it difficult for the League to enforce rules. I believe that the new diplomacy was successful in the 1920s, as there were no major failures of the League during the 1920s, and there were no wars that erupted in Europe or around the world. Some countries used negotiation and peaceful methods of settlement of disputes; an example can been seen in the case of agreement between France, Germany, and Belgium to not attack each other (Meye, 2009).

To conclude, public opinion against wars was the principal factor that led to the development of new diplomacy after World War I; the British public opinion changed, and there was a movement against coercive methods of dispute resolution like wars. New diplomacy led to more transparency of the foreign policy as foreign policy became accountable to citizens.

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