Diplomacy a winner in 2013, say envoys

After a decade in which ‘might was right’ the art of diplomacy has made a comeback in 2013, according to a poll of diplomats.

Nearly three quarters of respondents in the Embassy survey (78 per cent) felt 2013 had been “a good year for diplomacy.”

Envoys cited the deal with Iran over its nuclear programme as a diplomatic success after years of paralysis. Baroness Ashton and patient EU Diplomacy were singled for praise.

The high-stakes diplomacy displayed by US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, which saw the calling off of military strikes against the Assad regime and an agreement to put its chemical weapons beyond use, was praised.

On trade, the historic WTO deal concluded in Bali which could add about $1 trillion to world trade was praised.

However, the naysayers (28 per cent) claimed it was too early to be triumphal. “The worst has been avoided in the short term, but… long-term issues are yet to be addressed: diplomacy merely postpones matters,” said one embassy worker.

Eye-catching deals overshadowed lack of progress in areas such as climate change.

There were also mixed feelings over the Commonwealth. While Some felt CHOGM was a success, others thought the summit in Sri Lanka had been distracted by arguments over the Sri Lankan government’s human rights record. Gambia’s withdrawal from the Commonwealth was described as a “shock”.