Changes in practice of diplomacy 2000-2020, case study: Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs

Thumbnail Image
NíFhallúinD_MRes2022.pdf(1.13 MB)
Full Text E-thesis
Ní Fhallúin, Deirdre
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
University College Cork
Published Version
Research Projects
Organizational Units
Journal Issue
As the practice of diplomacy has undergone dramatic change in the first two decades of the 21st century, this thesis examines to what extent those changes have had an impact on Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs as the principal actor in Irish diplomacy and foreign policy. Interviews were conducted with a cross-section of serving senior Irish diplomats to investigate how the Irish foreign service – the Department of Foreign Affairs and its diplomats – has responded in a time of challenge and change. A study of the literature suggested that the changes to the practice of international diplomacy could be categorised under three headings – actors, issues and systems. A wide- range of state and non-state actors now participate in international diplomacy, meaning that foreign ministries engage with a far greater range of stakeholders than heretofore. As the distinction between domestic and foreign policy issues becomes less clear and as the diplomatic agenda widens well beyond the traditional areas of international peace and security, foreign ministries are dealing with more complex and cross-cutting issues than ever before. These changes have impacted on both the foreign ministry as an organisation and the individual diplomat practitioner. A review of the literature on Irish diplomacy revealed a gap in respect of how these changes have influenced the role and work of the Department of Foreign Affairs since 2000. By interviewing serving diplomats, insights and analysis were obtained that might not otherwise have been available. The research uncovered developments in the relationships between the Department of Foreign Affairs and other state actors such as the Department of the Taoiseach, other government departments, the state agencies and the parliament. Interaction with non-state actors such as the Irish public, the diaspora and civil society were also considered. The widening of the diplomatic agenda was also reflected in the research in relation to newer issues like values-based diplomacy, climate change and migration, while more long- standing areas of focus such as economic and trade diplomacy, consular work and security and defence issues were also examined. Changes to both the size and organisational culture of the Department of Foreign Affairs emerged as significant themes in the research. Finally, topics related to the individual diplomat were considered including the rise of public diplomacy and whether the characteristics and skills that diplomats have traditionally prioritised enable them to operate successfully in this more complex and challenging environment.
Diplomacy , International relations , Foreign affairs
Ní Fhallúin, D. 2022. Changes in practice of diplomacy 2000-2020, case study: Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs. MRes Thesis, University College Cork.