Diplomatic Theory of International Relations

Diplomatic Theory of International Relations

Diplomacy does not take place simply between states but wherever people live in different groups. Paul Sharp argues that the demand for diplomacy, and the need for the insights of diplomatic theory, are on the rise. In contrast to conventional texts which use international relations theories to make sense of what diplomacy and diplomats do, this book explores what diplomacy and diplomats can contribute to the big theoretical and practical debates in international relations today. Sharp identifies a diplomatic tradition of international thought premised on the way people live in groups, the differences between intra- and inter-group relations, and the perspectives which those who handle inter-group relations develop about the sorts of international disputes which occur. He argues that the lessons of diplomacy are that we should be reluctant to judge, ready to appease, and alert to the partial grounds on which most universal claims about human beings are made.


“This is a wise, humane, and fascinating account of diplomacy as a philosophy of conduct intended to enable peaceful relations between collectivities in a pluralistic world. Skeptical of grand claims and human perfectibility, diplomats seek to accommodate human differences by preferring live-and-let-live arrangements to definitive solutions. Paul Sharp has written a beautifully crafted book in the grand tradition of the English School, full of profound insights into the realities of international relations, that deserves to become a modern classic.”
Raymond Cohen, Chaim Weizmann Professor of International Relations, Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Corcoran Visiting Chair in the Center for Christian-Jewish Learning, Boston College

“In any field of endeavor there are those widely acknowledged to be master practitioners, whose work not only exhibits the highest standard but who are continually pushing the boundaries. In the study of diplomacy, Paul Sharp is certainly one who comes immediately to mind, and this wise book is a case in point. Sharp reflects upon the diplomatic tradition, how it has been viewed by other traditions of international thought, and how ‘thinking diplomatically’ can help us understand key dynamics of international societies and also wrestle with thorny international issues.”
Yale H. Ferguson, Division of Global Affairs, Rutgers University-Newark

“The need for diplomacy in world politics has never been greater and nor has the need for a theoretical perspective that allows us to make sense of what diplomacy is all about. Paul Sharp has done us the immense service of demonstrating the existence of a long diplomatic tradition of thought, and in doing so, revealing the origins, history and essence of diplomacy as well as the role it needs to play in the 21st century. This book takes English School thinking about diplomacy to a new level of sophistication. It is a real tour do force.”
Richard Little, University of Bristol

“Sharp puts forth the provocative argument that diplomacy and diplomats are not necessarily linked or connected to international relations theory...This book will be considered necessary reading for some time to come for the international relations specialist considering the concept of diplomacy. Highly recommended.”
-CHOICE, S. R. Silverburg, Catawba College

'… an exquisite style … This book will be considered necessary reading for some time to come for the international relations specialist considering the concept of diplomacy. … Highly recommended.' S. R. Silverburg, Choice