Sunday, November 07, 2010

Sir Ivor Roberts edits Satow's Diplomatic Practice

Sir Ivor Roberts, former Ambassador of UK to Italy, has recently edited a new edition of the famous book Satow's Diplomatic Practice. This book was first published 90 years ago and has been revised four times since. This is the first revised edition for thirty years, during which time the world and diplomacy have changed almost beyond recognition.

The new edition provides an enlarged and updated section on the history of diplomacy and revises comprehensively the practice of diplomacy and the corpus of diplomatic and international law since the end of the Cold War. It traces the substantial expansion in numbers both of sovereign states and international and regional organisations and features detailed chapters on diplomatic privileges and immunities, diplomatic missions and consular matters. It examines new forms of diplomacy from the work of NGOs to the use of secret envoys and commercial security firms; it furthermore highlights the impact of international terrorism on the life and work of a diplomat.

The Author
Born in 1946 in Liverpool, Ivor Roberts was educated at St. Mary's College, Crosby and at Keble College, Oxford. He graduated in Modern Languages in 1968 and took his MA in 1972. He entered the Diplomatic Service in 1968 as a Third Secretary in West African Department. His first postings included the Middle East Centre for Arab Studies in Lebanon, the Arabian Department of the FCO and the British Chancery in Luxembourg. He was transferred in January 1978 to Canberra as First Secretary in the British Chancery and returned to Canberra as Head of the Economic and Commercial Department and Agricultural Adviser until 1982. From 1989 to 1993 he was Minister in the British Embassy in Madrid. He was appointed ChargĂ© d'Affaires and Consul - General in Belgrade in March 1994, and after recognition of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia by the United Kingdom, he became Ambassador. During his time in Belgrade he conducted negotiations on behalf of the international mediators (Lord Owen and Carl Bildt) with both the Yugoslav authorities and the Bosnian Serbs. He was also involved in the negotiations for the release of British soldiers held hostage by the Bosnian Serbs in May/June 1995. He left Belgrade at the end of 1997. From February 1999 to March 2003 he served as British Ambassador to the Republic of Ireland and from May 2003 to September 2006 as Ambassador to Italy and to San Marino. He retired from the Diplomatic Service in September 2006 on his election as the President of Trinity College – Oxford University.

This classic guide to diplomacy has been stylishly updated and remains a masterly description of the way in which foreign policy should be conducted. It covers comprehensively the diplomatic challenges of a new century in the sort of prose that we must all hope will continue to be an attribute of the best Foreign Office officials. It is in all our interests that the exigencies of public spending control do not constrain the ability of diplomats in Britain and abroad to practise the arts so well surveyed here. (Chris Patten, Chancellor, University of Oxford; Former British Governor of Hong Kong )

Satow's Diplomatic Practice has been the diplomat's bible for nearly a century and the publication of the first new edition for thirty years will receive a much deserved welcome. This new edition of Satow is a treasure trove of information, all of it presented in a wonderfully readable form. It will be indispensable for all practitioners of diplomacy. (Judge Sir Christopher Greenwood )

Having clarity over the rules of the game, developing experience in separating duty from stupidity, finding the right words when the sword might be the alternative, are all part of the practice of diplomacy at its finest. This book is a treasure for illustrating what that is. (Jeremy Greenstock, The Times Literary Supplement. The full interesting article of Greenstock is available at

Sir Ivor Roberts, editor, SATOW’S DIPLOMATIC PRACTICE, 730pp. Oxford University Press. £110.