Tracks of Diplomacy

Traditionally, the term “diplomacy” referred to interaction between nation-states. More recently, however, scholars have delineated several levels of diplomacy. Tracks 1 and 2 are the most frequently used terms. A composite term is multitrack diplomacy.

Track 1 diplomacy: Official discussions typically involving high-level political and military leaders and focusing on cease-fires, peace talks, and treaties and other agreements.

Track 2 diplomacy: Unofficial dialogue and problem-solving activities aimed at building relationships and encouraging new thinking that can inform the official process. Track 2 activities typically involve influential academic, religious, and NGO leaders and other civil society actors who can interact more freely than high-ranking officials. Some analysts use the term track 1.5 to denote a situation in which official and non-official actors work together to resolve conflicts.

Track 3 diplomacy: People-to-people diplomacy undertaken by individuals and private groups to encourage interaction and understanding between hostile communities and involving awareness raising and empowerment within these communities. Normally focused at the grassroots level, this type of diplomacy often involves organizing meetings and conferences, generating media exposure, and political and legal advocacy for marginalized people and communities.

Multitrack diplomacy: A term for operating on several tracks simultaneously, including official and unofficial conflict resolution efforts, citizen and scientific exchanges, international business negotiations, international cultural and athletic activities, and other cooperative efforts. These efforts could be led by governments, professional organizations, businesses, churches, media, private citizens, training and educational institutes, activists, and funders.


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