Ten Moments That Changed Diplomacy

1. Language. Several thousand years BC: through grunts and gesticulations, a Neanderthal convinces a rival to stop clubbing him and join forces against a mutual threat. Diplomacy is born. 

2. Writing. 1274 BC, Egypt: Hittite Pharaoh creates first international peace treaty, on stone tablets. 

3. Travel. 1285: having had no response to his letter to Pope suggesting an alliance against Islam, Mongol Prince Arghun sends first embassy to West. His envoy finds European diplomacy primitive.

4. Rules. 13th century: Genghis Khan (not renowned for his diplomacy) introduces a diplomatic passport and immunity, and enforces it with extreme violence. His ideas are codified centuries later in 1961 Vienna Convention.

5. Ships. 15th century: Renaissance Italian city states send first permanent representatives to other capitals. 

6. Institutions. In 1626, France establishes first Foreign Ministry, followed by Russia and Prussia. The British Foreign Office was set up in 1782, with Charles James Fox, the first Foreign Secretary, and staff of twelve: “nine male clerks, two chamber keepers and a ‘necessary woman’ “. 

7. Decline of deference. 1778: Benjamin Franklin shocks French society by becoming first diplomat to attend Louis XVI without a hat.  

8. Multilateral diplomacy. 1815: Congress of Vienna begins most important century of face to face Great Power diplomacy, by road and rail. 

9. Telephone. 1962: Cuban missile crisis is first war averted by telephone. In 2003, Iraq is first war planned by secure videoconference.

10. Digital. 2013: Iran/US talks first diplomatic breakthrough on Twitter (though this will only really count if Iran now lets Iranians on to Twitter too).

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