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date: 22 February 2020

(p. x) Preface

(p. x) Preface

A central purpose of public policy think tanks is to bring under one roof people of shared interests, yet different backgrounds, to let creative sparks fly, new ideas germinate, and exciting projects emerge. In 2008 the three co-editors of this volume became closely connected as Distinguished Fellows at the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI). We all shared a passion to understand better the changing nature of the international system in the new century, to grasp more precisely the role of intellectual endeavours in effecting these changes, and to craft more finely the tools needed to translate conceptual capacity into operational practice.

We hail from three different continents and have come to our current interest in the study of diplomacy via different routes. Cooper, by way of an extended trajectory in foreign policy research in many countries around the world, with a special focus on middle and small powers; Heine, as a political scientist and practitioner, with eight years as an ambassador accredited first to South Africa and then to India; Thakur, as an international relations scholar who served for nine years as the Senior Vice Rector, at the rank of UN Assistant Secretary General, at the United Nations University in Tokyo. We had all been associated, in one way or another, with CIGI from its inception: Cooper, as the founding associate director; Heine, as a founding member of the International Board of Governors; and Thakur, as an advisor and leading participant in many of CIGI's initial conferences and activities. In that capacity, we were to be witnesses to and part of an extraordinary process reflecting the power of ideas to change the way the world is run.

From day one, that is, from its establishment in 2001, CIGI's mandate was ambitious: to improve the multilateral governance of world affairs. In 2003, Paul Martin, shortly before becoming prime minister of Canada, gave this broad mandate a specific focus: he asked CIGI to put the proposal of a G20 at leaders’ level—an L20, as the acronym at the time had it—on the table of the international marketplace of ideas. As Canada's minister of finance, Martin had played a leading role in establishing and then running the G20 at finance ministers’ level. He was keen to take it one step further. Martin's view was that the world's global challenges needed urgent attention from a small and manageable group, a steering group rather than a central committee, at the highest possible level—that is, that of heads of state or government.

As Canada's minister of finance for much of the 1990s, Martin had seen first-hand the central challenge that the forces of globalization pose to governments all over the world. On the one hand, the ability of transnational firms to pack up and leave whenever taxation rates are deemed too high or regulations too tight triggers an unseemly race to the bottom in the matter of tax rates and business regulations. On the other hand, the (p. xi) inequality and growing disparity of incomes and wealth within and among nations, triggered by those very same forces, generates enormous popular pressures on governments to redress those inequalities, something for which governments are ill prepared as government revenue dwindles.

Lax business regulations, particularly in issues like finance, generate problems of their own, as the global financial crisis of 2008–2009 made only too apparent. Though there are no easy answers to these challenges, a grouping of the leaders of the world's key nations that meets regularly does at least get a chance to come up with them. Martin was also convinced that the G7/8, whatever its other virtues, was unable to cope with an environment in which emerging powers such as Brazil, China, and India were turning into the growth engines of the world economy, displacing the North Atlantic economies which had played that role for so long.

Over the next five years, CIGI promoted the idea of the G20 in a variety of fora, put together conferences and workshops, and published books, articles, policy briefs, and opinion pieces on the subject. It partnered with sister institutions in the United States and elsewhere in this endeavour and otherwise beat the drums about the advantages of such an enlarged, more representative group to take on global economic challenges. All three editors were closely involved in this project. Many others were sceptical, arguing that the United States would never acquiesce to be part of such an undertaking, one that would seemingly dilute its role as the world's only superpower and its largest economy. Others insisted that the George W. Bush administration, given its distrust of multilateral institutions, would be particularly opposed to such an initiative. Yet, perhaps to the surprise of many, it was President George W. Bush himself who called the first meeting of the G20 at leaders’ level, to be held in Washington DC on 15 November 2008. A scarce seven years after its founding, CIGI's main public policy proposal on global governance, what has come to be known as ‘the steering committee of the world economy’, and something that The Economist has termed as the best thing to come out of the global financial crisis, had come into being. Since then, the G20, meeting once or twice a year, has become a regular part of the landscape of global international institutions. Many would say that it played a key role in stopping the world economy from falling off the cliff in the aftermath of what turned out to be the biggest recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

It was in the weeks after that very gratifying moment in November 2008 that the idea for this book developed. The three of us had worked together on a variety of different projects in the past, mostly on themes related to global governance, but also in the field of diplomatic studies. Heine was also fortunate in being able to watch first-hand, if as a ringside observer, the emergence of South Africa from the dark days of apartheid under the inspiring leadership of Nelson Mandela, and then the rise of India as a significant player in world affairs. Thakur was one of the international commissioners who formulated the responsibility to protect principle, which many observers have called one of the most significant normative advances since the Second World War. Cooper attended the first four G20 summits and wrote extensively about the shape-shifting of diplomatic processes. All three of us felt that the practice of the ancient craft of diplomacy was (p. xii) undergoing seismic changes, changes that were not reflected in the curricula of most diplomatic academies, let alone in the day-to-day management of many foreign ministries and diplomatic missions. The communications and IT revolutions have transformed a profession traditionally known for its glacial pace and long-form reporting. Nothing could be farther from the 21st-century world of 24-hour TV news channels, Twitter, and Facebook. The spread of instant global communications that these technologies has spurred have changed the pace and rhythm of diplomacy. They have also added new ways of doing things to the exercise of this ‘labour in exile’. To chart these changing circumstances in a manner accessible to diplomats, policy-makers, students, and scholars of international relations is the purpose of this volume.

After discussing the project at some length among ourselves, we concluded that a brainstorming session in which we could lay it out and subject it to the critique and suggestions of our colleagues would be the best way to kick-start it. This session, sponsored by CIGI, took place at Woerner House, in Cambridge, Ontario, on 11 May 2009. The meeting brought together eighteen scholars and practitioners, mostly CIGI-affiliated, several of whom are contributors to this volume, who generously shared their insights on the changing nature of diplomacy and the key topics any such volume ought to address. Our thanks go to Alan Alexandroff, Manmohan Agarwal, Gregory Chin, Jennifer Clapp, John Curtis, John English, Louise Fréchette, Patricia Goff, Paul Heinbecker, Eric Helleiner, Bessma Momani, Daniel Schwanen, Mark Sedra, Andrew Thompson, and David Welch for participating in it. The help provided by Deanne Leifso and Joseph F. (Joe) Turcotte in coordinating that event and documenting the deliberations was also critical in allowing us to move forward with the project.

We then proceeded to assemble the necessary group of contributors to meet the ambitious goals of the project. We aimed for a global and eclectic mix of practitioners and scholars. We are fortunate to have had a positive response from such a broadly representative group of distinguished authors from all five continents. We were especially delighted that Prime Minister Paul Martin accepted our invitation to write a chapter on the G20, whose creation was one of the great diplomatic breakthroughs of our time.

Close to two years after our Woerner House retreat, from 14–16 March 2011, we had an authors’ workshop in Ottawa, at the headquarters of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). A little over half of the contributors to this volume presented first drafts of their chapters. Our thanks go to the IDRC team, especially to its president, David M. Malone, for his generous support for this project. Bruce Currie-Alder and Elizabeth Mohan and the rest of the IDRC team were instrumental in arranging the workshop and in making it a successful event. Wilfrid Laurier University, as the recipient of the IDRC grant, ensured its administration flowed smoothly.

Since the Ottawa workshop, we have also brought The Oxford Handbook of Modern Diplomacy project to the meetings of the American Political Science Association (APSA). The Annual Meetings in Seattle in 2011 provided us with a valuable platform to present earlier versions of our chapters. Andrew Cooper, David Forsythe, Patti Goff, Jorge Heine, and Carlos Portales participated in a panel on the changing nature of diplomacy in Seattle in September 2011. We thank Irene Wu of the Practising Politics Group (p. xiii) of the APSA, as well as APSA's Foreign Policy Division, for their unwavering support for our panel proposal, that enabled these deliberations to take place.

As this preface shows, much time and many hands have gone into putting this book together. For much of the time, CIGI provided us with the infrastructure and human resource assistance needed to bring such an ambitious project to completion. Thanks to it, Joe Turcotte, now a PhD student in Communication and Culture at York University in Toronto, has been able to work on this project throughout and effectively coordinate it. Indeed, Joe's talents as an editor, honed in his time as a senior editor of The Cord, the student newspaper at Wilfrid Laurier University, have been instrumental in helping us bring this project to completion. The Balsillie School of International Affairs, whose new building was inaugurated in September 2011, and is now the home of half a dozen of the contributors, provided a stimulating environment in which to carry out our work, as did the University of Waterloo for Andrew Cooper, Wilfrid Laurier University for Jorge Heine, and the Australian National University for Ramesh Thakur from 2011 onwards.

Our final thanks go to Dominic Byatt from Oxford University Press, who so warmly and enthusiastically supported this project from the very beginning. He and his editorial team at OUP, in which Sarah Parker took the lead in managing this project, made our work especially rewarding.

Andrew F. Cooper and Jorge Heine, Waterloo, Ontario

Ramesh Thakur, Canberra, Australia

April 2012