Revival: The Comeback of Concert Diplomacy in Crisis-Management and the Role of the EU

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UNU Institute on Comparative Regional Integration Studies
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The multilateral order is facing its biggest crisis since the Second World War. This paper attempts to shed light upon one diplomatic option worth exploring in order to breathe new life into it: this option is Contemporary Concert Diplomacy. More specifically, it will focus on the efficiency of Contemporary Concert Diplomacy in the realms of conflict prevention and crisis management. It takes a novel angle by investigating the role and the contribution that the European Union could make in such renewed contemporary concerts of powers. The relevance of the research problem stems from the need to engage in a proper systematization of the phenomenon in the face of the recent resurgence of mini-lateral frameworks of cooperation outside traditional institutional fora. The work posits that Concert Diplomacy, while historically used in contexts which bear little resemblance to our current globalized society based on the rule of law, proves to be a feasible and useful way to counter the potential downfall of the multilateral order. In operationalising Concert Diplomacy, the EU can make a decisive contribution in Contemporary Concerts of Powers as a coalition builder.

The overall structure is articulated as follows: after providing a conceptualisation of Contemporary Concert Diplomacy and an analysis of its features, a more theoretical perspective is adopted, placing Contemporary Concert Diplomacy in the middle of the long-standing theoretical debate between Realist and Institutionalist accounts of international relations. Finally, a brief empirical analysis of four case studies is made for an appraisal of the impact of the European Union in Contemporary Concert Diplomacy. The cases chosen are; the Middle East Quartet, the EU3+3 talks with Iran which led to the adoption of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the International Contact Group for Venezuela, and the project for a contemporary Westphalian Concert of Powers for Syria and the wider Middle East.

European Union, Concert Diplomacy, Concert of Europe, United Nations, Multilateralism, Informal Cooperation, Contact Group, Westphalia