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date: 15 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This article discusses the changes faced by heads of government when determining their foreign policy objectives and, in turn, the challenges and opportunities that these new changes present in fulfilling agendas. The first section introduces the actors and the political institutions that frame their roles and determine the extent of their powers. Drawing on the author’s personal experience as a Canadian foreign minister, the changing diplomatic contexts at the end of the last century and into the twenty-first century are evaluated. Given the roles that individuals play in the practice of diplomacy, the second section introduces some of the changes that have occurred since the end of the Cold War, which can be viewed as both constraints and opportunities to open up pockets of influence within which foreign actors are able to press their issues. These changes are the rise of civil society and the idea of public diplomacy, expanding communications technologies (exemplified most specifically by WikiLeaks), and the prominence of new state powers and summit diplomacy.

Keywords: heads of state, foreign policy, foreign minister, diplomatic practice, civil society, public diplomacy, state power, summit diplomacy

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