In the 20th cent. there have been numerous meetings of heads of state and foreign ministers and various types of international conferences, all of which have tended to lessen the traditional diplomatic function. Moreover, some claim that modern communications have also changed diplomacy greatly by removing whatever autonomy diplomats may once have had in making policy decisions. The possibility of telephone or other direct contact with a superior has allegedly reduced diplomats to a quasi-messengers. Even if this may appear true, diplomats continue to serve as expert advisers, and while not empowered to make final decisions, they greatly influence the decision-making process.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.