This chapter traces back the history of multilateral diplomacy since 1648, which first took the form of ad hoc conference diplomacy aimed at restoring peace after recurrent wars in Europe. It then shows that contemporary diplomacy has been institutionalized since the creation of the League of Nations and of the United Nations, leading states to adapt their diplomatic practices to the proliferation of international organizations. The chapter concludes by analyzing the features of contemporary multilateral negotiations: The high number of states and other actors involved, the technicality of issues at stake, the frequent research for consensus, and the added value of “soft leadership” and coalition building.
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