Diplomacy is an age old practice, Lorena De Vita says

Lorena De Vita in BBC The Forum

Assistant Professor Lorena De Vita talks about diplomacy in BBC The Forum. She discusses its long history, provides some examples, and highlights the importance of diplomacy for us all.

Evidence of treaties

“Communication, trying to understand other groups, and understanding where others come from were very important things thousands of years ago and arguably they are still very important now,” De Vita says. One of the earliest examples dates back almost five thousand years. “Archaeologists have found evidence of treaties between city states in Mesopotamia.”


Another important example can be found in Italy during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Venice’s position was threatened by the Ottoman Empire, De Vita explains, and it quickly became clear that waging war was not the best idea. The Venetians started to rely on diplomatic and political means instead, and started sending ambassadors. “This was the beginning of something that we might recognise today as this system of embassies and permanent foreign missions.”

Nuclear war avoided

Diplomacy has been key in some recent major events. “I am thinking in particular about the Cuban missile crisis,” De Vita says, “a thirteen day standoff between the United States and the Soviet Union, which is really widely regarded as the closest the world has ever come to global nuclear war.” In October 1962, the US detected a Soviet missile in Cuba, that could hit a large part of United States territory within minutes. “It was through diplomacy and not through tough confrontation that this potentially massive nuclear war had been avoided.”

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