Declaratory Diplomacy: Rhetorical Initiatives and Confidence Building

in Program

Michael Krepon, Jenny S. Drezin, and Michael Newbill, eds.

Well-chosen words delivered in public declarations by national leaders can serve to reassure neighbors, demonstrate good will, reinforce common interests, open lines of communication, break deadlocks, and promote regional stability and security. The first comparative analysis of public declarations ever published, this report concentrates on the mixed successes of declaratory diplomacy in managing troubled bilateral relationships in four case studies: the US-USSR; Egypt-Israel; India-Pakistan; and Argentina-Brazil.

  • Preface and Introduction, by Michael Krepon and Jenny S. Drezin.


  • Words and Deeds: The Role of Declarations in US-Soviet Relations, by Deborah Welch Larson, Professor of Political Science, University of California-Los Angeles, examines four important instances of US-USSR declaratory diplomacy during the Cold War. She concludes that the role of declaratory diplomacy has been instrumental in sparking positive initiatives in some cases, as with President Kennedy’s 1963 American University speech which helped paved the way for the Limited Test Ban Treaty. Ill-defined declarations have also had a negative impact, as with the 1972 Basic Principles Agreement which was ultimately too vague to have a positive impact.


  • The Role of Public Declarations in Egyptian-Israeli RelationsEmily Landau, Research Associate at the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, Tel Aviv, investigates the challenges of cross-cultural understanding, political symbolism, and psychology in the Egyptian–Israeli relationship. She examines the difficult balance between bilateral and multilateral negotiations, and concludes that declaratory diplomacy has been most successful when one side possessed a good understanding of the psychological needs of the other, as with Egyptian president Anwar Sadat’s historic 1977 address to the Israeli Knesset.


  • Declaratory Statements and Confidence Building in South Asia. Public declarations have been largely unsuccessful in the case of India and Pakistan, as P.R. Chari, Visiting Professor at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies and Co-Director of the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, New Delhi, notes in his essay. Chari discusses three important agreements and proposals–the Indus Waters Treaty, the Simla Agreement, and the No-War Pact/Treaty of Friendship proposals–concluding that Indian and Pakistani leaders have used public declarations primarily to firm up domestic support instead of build confidence.


  • From Rivals to Friends: The Role of Public Declarations in Argentina-Brazil Rapprochement. Argentina and Brazil offer the best examples of building confidence through declaratory diplomacy, writes Paulo Wrobel, Research Fellow at the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House), London, in his essay. Dr. Wrobel focuses on presidential declarations in two areas–nuclear and economic cooperation–noting the connectivity between both realms, as well as the common use of these declarations by national leaders to consolidate civilian rule and to pursue rapprochement.


  • Declaratory Diplomacy and Confidence Building. Editors Michael Krepon and Jenny S. Drezin review the literature on declaratory diplomacy and confidence building, summarizing the four cases studies. They also suggest the keys to successful practice, as well as practices to avoid, if national leaders seek to use public declarations as part of a broader effort to alleviate tension and promote reconciliation.


  • Contributor’s Notes.
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