The changing phases of diplomacy in a Small Island Developing State: A case study of the Kingdom of Tonga

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Tupou, Kathleen Nina
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University of Malta; DiploFoundation
Diplomacy is an integral tool of communication utilised by nations as a means to achieve their intended interest and goals. The foundations and mode of diplomacy practiced by nations differs according to their circumstances. For Small Island Developing States who differ in size, economy, location, resources, the use of diplomacy has become a vital tool for survival. The aim of this study is to investigate and understand the changing phases of diplomacy that transpire within a Small Island Developing State and in this case, from the perspective of a Pacific Small Island Developing State such as the Kingdom of Tonga. The study thoroughly evaluates the origins of diplomacy in Tongan society, its evolution throughout the 19th century to the 21st century (1900-1970/1970-2010/2010-2016) and the different elements of diplomacy utilised by Tonga. Additionally, the study highlights new aspects of diplomacy that had resulted from the constant evolution of Tonga’s statecraft. The main line of argument traced throughout the study is the notion that diplomacy is a dynamic tool that evolves with time and that PSIDS like other nations, need to recognise this and capitalise on it. Furthermore, the study also highlights the fact that change is indeed an inherent part of Pacific history. However, as the wave of democratic change continues to flow into Tonga, determination of how such changes will affect Tonga’s future statecraft is still uncertain and proves a suitable area for further research.