18 International Diplomatic Practices That Would Be Condemned in Today’s Political Climate

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The geopolitical landscape has changed significantly since what it was a century ago. Several corrupt practices aimed at destroying and crippling nations have been abolished due to peaceful diplomatic practices. Bodies such as the United Nations and the International Charter, accompanied by the cooperative efforts of the nations, have condemned unethical practices. Previously, strategies included manipulation, threats, and unfair treaties to control other nations, elements that are not appreciated in today’s political climate. Here are 18 international diplomatic practices that would be condemned today.  

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Gunboat Diplomacy

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Pulling up with your best naval warships during a diplomatic meeting sends the wrong message, indirectly hanging a sword by the neck. The term “Gunboat diplomacy” was coined during the 19th-century period of imperialism, when nations flaunted their superior navy in the quest for favorable objectives. The Germans flexed their navy, particularly their SMS Panther, which was ahead of its age. In modern times, such acts would lead to warfare as nations fight to safeguard their sovereignty.

Puppet Rule

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Many nations are still under puppet rule, similar to colonialism but a version that is covered by a veil. Nations control other nations indirectly and use them as puppets instead of directly attacking and ruining them. This results in the same imposition of power, where the government of the smaller state is oppressed and forced to follow orders at the threat of being replaced.

Influential Politics

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A prime example of influence politics would be none other than the Cold War period, during which the communists and capitalists tried to exert their influence. They battle to promote their ideology and values, dividing the region into different spheres that can be controlled. These practices would not be tolerated as they undermine the serenity of the nation and disrupt the peace. It divides people, setting them up against each other, which leads to crime and corruption.

Unfair Treaties

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As the name suggests, unfair treaties refer to the treaties signed among nations where one has a significant advantage over the other. Many nations sign these unwillingly because larger nations pressure them. This leads to the exploitation of all the citizens as these larger nations exploit the resources and treat them as mere markets to sell their commodities. The Treaty Of Versailles after World War I was a treaty that aimed at completely crippling German power.

Secret Alliance

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Secret alliances can ruin generations of friendship among nations and bring fatal consequences. An example was during World War I, when Italy signed secret alliances and sided with Russia, France, and Great Britain. In today’s diplomatic practices, transparency and open communication are paramount, and secret treaties are condemned.

Apartheid Policies

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Apartheid was followed by the diplomats of several nations who treated people of color as inferior citizens. Interracial marriages were banned, living conditions were harsh, and strict measures were adopted. Colored people had to roam around with an identity card to cross into another region, and no one opposed this until the 1960s when people sympathized with them. The apartheid in South Africa is a prime example, which, through international diplomatic pressure and local efforts, was eventually abolished.

Proxy Wars

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The idea of a proxy war is when nations are in constant tension but do not engage with each other directly. There have been many proxy wars throughout history; the best example is the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. The nations increase their weaponry, influence, and trade to stay at par and overwhelm the other nations. They also send aid to other nations who are engaged in warfare, for example, when the US and Soviet Union send arms to Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Korea. Such practices are now condemned as they fuel fire and have a destructive impact.

Coup Assistance

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When nations send aid and work to the local parties to overthrow the current government, they directly assist in coups. Sponsoring such coups leads to a brutal exchange between the current government and the aggressors at the cost of immense bloodshed. This results in a civil war that disrupts the whole political landscape of the region, bringing business, trade, and the normality of life to a halt.

Mandate System

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When nations lose a war, they are placed under a mandate that strips them of their sovereignty. An example is the German and Ottoman empires after World War I, which were mandated by Allied powers. The people’s aspirations are ignored as the winner’s will is imposed upon them.

Policy of Appeasement

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If the British had not followed the policy of appeasement to be in Hitler’s good books, the world would have been saved from World War II. The policy of appeasement revolves around a strategy that includes paving the way to other nations’ demands to avoid conflicts. However, such efforts only come back to haunt other nations, and such appeasement is criticized in modern international diplomatic practices.

Economic Sanctions

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After the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, several economic sanctions have been imposed against them. Whether these sanctions have worked is a separate issue, but forcing a nation to endure economic sanctions is not appreciated. It was the United Nations’ collective call, and many volunteered to impose these sanctions on Russia. However, larger nations indirectly pressured many countries to side with them and impose sanctions. Such pressure tactics and unwanted economic sanctions backfire, increasing global prices of essential goods and commodities.

Ethnic Cleansing

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Ethnic cleansing, which involves the mass murder of an ethnic group, is a crime against humanity recognized by the International Criminal Court. These horrendous acts have been performed throughout history, notably among the Balkan states. Prominent examples of these are the Holocaust, Armenian Genocide, massacre of Poles, etc. Contemporary international law advocates protecting all people, minorities, or the larger population.

Derogatory Language/Disrespecting Culture

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Many nations are theological states, governing themselves by the moral code of conduct in their holy books. When nations disrespect their religion and make offensive comments about their faith, it leads to a heated exchange. The same goes for depreciating a nation’s culture, as the United Nations advocates for respecting all cultures and traditions of different nations. These unnecessary comments can cause problems among nations and are avoided in the current diplomatic space.

Trading Routes

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Previously, nations blocked important trading routes in their sovereign zones. A notable example is the 1956 Suez Canal Crisis, when Egypt blocked the Suez Canal, resulting in a surge in oil prices. Such practices are illegal now and would face widespread condemnation, as nations should cooperate for mutual growth and prosperity.

Non-recognition of Sovereignty

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To this day, China believes that Taiwan is a part of China after the small island nation has clearly expressed its discontent. Another example is when Pakistan claims to have control over Jammu and Kashmir. Such acts go against the norms laid down by international law, which upholds the sovereignty of all nations. Nations indulging in such practices violate international principles, which increases tensions among the nations.


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Espionage refers to spying or using spies in person or hacking into a nation’s database. This practice is common during wars and among nations today, and various tactics are used to get into the database of other nations. Many apps and services are banned in respective countries due to the threat of cyberattacks and the safety of the citizens. Modern diplomatic standards emphasize transparency and mutual respect for privacy, making this a shameful crime.

Debt Diplomacy

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Nations practicing debt diplomacy are never the friends one can rely on when needed because they use debt to control other countries. These begin with loans, which in turn become larger loans to the point that nations cannot refuse the lender’s demands. This worsens conditions that create an unfavorable situation for the debt-trapped nation. Institutions like the IMF and World Bank promote safer lending and borrowing, criticizing any form of manipulation in financial practices.

Diplomatic Hostage Taking

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No country would send its diplomats or students if they were never to return or were at risk of being taken hostage. Previously, instances like the Iranian Hostage Crisis of 1979 -1981 witnessed many students from the US studying in Iran being taken hostage. Whether it’s a pandemic, war, or any situation, countries are responsible for the well-being and safety of their citizens. This goes against the principle of diplomatic immunity, which ensures protection; instead, solving issues through legal and peaceful means is a better option.

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