‘Old Diplomacy’ in New York

  • G. R. Berridge


It is a commonplace of commentary on the United Nations that much time is spent in the corridors of UN headquarters on consolidating or sabotaging alliances constructed for the purpose of propaganda exchanges in the Security Council and the General Assembly.1 Whether or not offstage activities also usefully include the private promotion of agreements with more pacific purposes in view, as well as the fulfilling of certain of the subsidiary functions of what is usually referred to as ‘bilateral’ or ‘old’ diplomacy, is a matter of more contention. Those who adopt a negative position on the latter issue, who, in other words, are sceptical of the proposition that the UN is a significant centre for the ordinary conduct of general business between states, include supporters of the United Nations as well as its enemies. Thus, while it is not surprising to find the authors of A Dangerous Place contending that ‘Nations interested in reaching agreements almost always ignore or avoid the United Nations’,2 it is perhaps more remarkable that Shirley Hazzard should arrive at the same conclusion.3


Security Council Small State National Capital Vienna Convention Diplomatic Relation 
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Notes and References

  1. 2.
    A. Yeselson and A. Gaglione, A Dangerous Place: The United Nations as a Weapon in World Politics (New York: Grossman, 1974) p. 6.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Shirley Hazzard served in the UN Secretariat for many years and was devoted to the founding principles of the United Nations. After she left she wrote a bitter and brilliant attack on the quality of Secretariat leadership: Defeat of an Ideal: A Study of the Self-Destruction of the United Nations (London: Macmillan, 1973). For her views on the present theme, see pp. 115–16, 145–6 and ch. 6.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    R. F. Pedersen, ‘National Representation in the United Nations’, International Organization (Spring, 1961) 256–66.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    It is important to note Alger’s admission that there was a particularly high non-response rate to the question on the importance of the UN as a source of information compared to national capitals, and also that a general weakness of the study was its reliance on answers from those with a vested interest in boosting the importance of the UN. As he concedes, a proper investigation would need, at the least, comparable information from diplomats accredited to national capitals, C. F. Alger, ‘Personal Contact in Intergovernmental Organizations’, in H. C. Kelman (ed), International Behaviour: A Social-Psychological Analysis (New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1965) pp. 531–2.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    D. A. Kay, The New Nations in the United Nations, 1960–1967 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1970) p. 21. It is true, of course, that not all ‘new states’ in the 1960s were ‘small states’.Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    See, for example, S. D. Bailey, The General Assembly of the United Nations, rev. edn (London: Pall Mall, 1964) p. 15;Google Scholar
  7. T. Hovet, Jr, ‘United Nations Diplomacy’, Journal of International Affairs, 17 (1963) 29–41, andGoogle Scholar
  8. A. Watson, Diplomacy: The Dialogue Between States (London: Eyre Methuen, 1982) pp. 173–4.Google Scholar
  9. 8.
    Sir Geoffrey Jackson, Concorde Diplomacy: The Ambassadors Role in the World Today (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1981) p. 151.Google Scholar
  10. 9.
    J. Paxton (ed), The Statesman’s Yearbook, 1975–1976 (London: Macmillan, 1975). The year 1975 is the last for which The Statesman’s Yearbook records this sort of information.Google Scholar
  11. 10.
  12. 11.
    E. Plischke, Microstates in World Affairs (Washington, D.C.: AEI, 1977) p. 46.Google Scholar
  13. 12.
    Ibid., p. 46ff.Google Scholar
  14. 13.
    Ibid., p. 49.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    E. Denza, Diplomatic Law: Commentary on the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (New York: Oceana, 1976) p. 28.Google Scholar
  16. 19.
    The Commonwealth Secretariat, Diplomatic Service: Formation and Operation (London: Longman, 1971) p. 72.Google Scholar
  17. 22.
    E. Luard, The United Nations: How it Works and What it Does (London: Macmillan, 1979) endnotes 6 and 7, pp. 173–4, and Kay, New Nations in the UN, pp. 20–1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 23.
    Bailey, General Assembly of the UN, p. 15 and L. P. Bloomfield, The United Nations and U.S. Foreign Policy, rev. edn (Boston: Little, Brown, 1967) pp. 130–1.Google Scholar
  19. 24.
    Kurt Waldheim, Building the Future Order (New York: The Free Press, 1980) p. 240.Google Scholar
  20. 31.
    H. A. Kissinger, The White House Years (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson and Michael Joseph, 1979), especially p. 165, pp. 188–90 and pp. 684–5. The one meeting which was not ‘sterile’, according to Kissinger, was that of 10 September 1955, when ‘an agreement was reached on repatriation of some nationals’, p. 165.Google Scholar
  21. 32.
    See C. Legum, Southern Africa: The Secret Diplomacy of Detente, South Africa at the Cross Roads (London: Rex Collings, 1975) p. 6.Google Scholar
  22. 34.
    T. C. Sorensen, Kennedy (London: Pan Books, 1966) p. 787 andGoogle Scholar
  23. A. M. Schlesinger, Jr, A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House (London: Deutsch, 1965) p. 702. For other cases, seeGoogle Scholar
  24. M. R. Berman and J. E. Johnson (eds), Unofficial Diplomats (New York: Columbia University Press, 1977).Google Scholar
  25. 39.
    R. E. Riggs, US/UN: Foreign Policy and International Organization (New York: Meredith, 1971) p. 125.Google Scholar
  26. 40.
    Ibid., p. 140.Google Scholar
  27. 41.
    C. E. Bohlen, Witness to History, 1929–1969 (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1973) p. 284. Bohlen’s full account of this case is clearly authoritative.Google Scholar
  28. 43.
    It is interesting to recall here that during the discussions at the end of the Second World War on the site for the UN the Arabs had actually opposed the choice of New York on these grounds, P. Gore-Booth, With Great Truth and Respect (London: Constable, 1974).Google Scholar
  29. 45.
    Y. Rabin, The Rabin Memoirs (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1979) p. 109.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© G. R. Berridge and A. Jennings 1985

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  • G. R. Berridge

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