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08 April 2019

Increased protection for officials

Diplomats could become less effective in light of enhanced security measures


The safety of diplomats has animated recent public and political debates. As diplomatic personnel are increasingly targeted by terrorism and political violence while overseas, sending states are augmenting host nations’ security with their own measures.

Diplomatic Security, a new book on this topic, was launched at King’s College London on 4 April. It demonstrates the range of protective arrangements being used globally, from deploying military, police, and private security guards to relocating embassies to suburban compounds.

“Reinforced security and protection for diplomats could have consequences for their ability to effective diplomacy and international relations. This book brings to light for the first time a large body of empirical information investigating this shift,” commented Dr Chris Kinsey, Reader at King’s College London and co-editor of the book.

“US diplomatic posts and personnel have been targeted most frequently, notably the 2012 Benghazi attack, and responses have included the increasing use of private security contractors. However diplomatic security is not a uniquely American challenge and this collection of essays reflects that,” added Dr Eugenio Cusumano, co-editor.

The book features case studies from the different diplomatic security arrangements in the U.S., China, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Turkey, Israel, and Russia. Considering the historical and legal contexts, authors examine how states protect their diplomats abroad, what drives changes in existing protective arrangements, and how such measures affect the safety of diplomats and the institution of diplomacy.

The case studies show how diplomatic security not only reveals how a wide variety of states handle security needs but also illuminates the broader theoretical and policy implications for the study of diplomacy and security alike.

Dr Christopher Kinsey is a Reader in Business and International Security with King’s College London, Defence Studies Department at the Joint Services Command and Staff College, where he teaches military officers from around the world. His research examines the role of the market in conflict. He has published widely and presented papers to the UN Intergovernmental Working Group on PMSCs, NATO and the EU Sub-Committee on Human Rights.

Eugenio Cusumano is assistant professor in International Relations at the University of Leiden. His research concentrates on the influence of international norms such as the state monopoly of violence, diplomatic inviolability, and maritime rescue in shaping non-state actors’ provision of security and their interaction with state agencies.

In this story

Christopher Kinsey

Reader of Business & International Security