Diplomacy: The Alternative Dispute Resolution of the Ancients

As the oldest form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), diplomacy involves country representatives to reach a conclusion that both parties are happy with, without the use of violence. As in arbitration, diplomacy uses negotiations instead of weapons.

Here we will discuss how three ancient countries, China, India, and Persia, and how they used diplomacy, rather than violence, to keep the peace.

Ancient china

In the 6th century BC. C., Sun Tzu became one of the first men in the world to be recognized as a diplomat. At a time when emperors competed for all land and power, Sun Tzu created peace treaties between countries, established allies, and traded land and property. Sun Tzu is the author of the well-known book “The Art of War”.

Ancient india

A book entitled “Arthashastra”, written during the Mauray dynasty in the 3rd century BC. C., is a book on economic policy, strategic military advancement, and how leaders should use diplomacy. It has been compared to a more well-known writing, Machiavelli’s highly political work “The Prince.” However, “Arthashastra” deals with subjects that Machiavelli ignores, such as having compassion for slaves, women and the poor.

“Arthashastra” is very much like a guide for wise and virtuous kings, or Rajarashi, and how they should rule the lands and kingdoms of India.

Ancient persia

The land of the Persian Empire, which is the area surrounding present-day Iran, instituted a new form of conflict resolution. At that time, any civilian was allowed to approach the King with a complaint about anything he wanted. No one was allowed to come between the civilian and his complaint, or that person would face serious consequences. If the problem was with the King himself, the King had to rise from his throne, remove his crown, and correct the problem immediately before resuming his royal seat. This shows that in ancient Persia, royalty considered even seemingly unimportant people.

Judging by the wisdom these two ancient cultures possess, modern politics may have some valuable lessons to learn. Furthermore, the great wisdom of these three Eastern cultures illustrates that they were actually far more advanced than their Western counterparts. Presumably much of what we know as modern diplomacy and international alternative dispute resolution is probably heavily influenced by these developed cultures of antiquity.