EASSC Publications


Responsibility and contribution as determinants of hierarchy: Rationalizing the principle of sovereign equality within diplomatic protocol and etiquette

Date of this Version


Document Type

Conference Paper


The core principle of protocol and etiquette in modern diplomacy is “Sovereign Equality.” However, some exceptional cases of protocol and etiquette in modern diplomacy prove that the Principle of Sovereign Equality remains an elusive ideology; with an intrinsic sense of hierarchy evident in international relations. The Principle of Sovereign Equality derives from the pursuit of equality and the denial of hierarchy. This paper attempts to argue that hierarchy among countries is an undeniable reality, and that hierarchy can have positive impacts. To optimally harness this inherent potential to impact positively on international relations, a new system needs to be designed that recognises the reality while protecting every country’s interest; thus preventing large states from intimidating small states. The paper concludes by emphasising the need to pursue balance between hierarchy and equality; power and right. Every country in the world should find its hierarchical position, no matter how big or small; weak or strong. The status of a country functionally corresponds with the international responsibility it may, and can, take. Thus, the rationale of hierarchy could refer to the power of a nation state as it relates to its capacity to bear a corresponding responsibility; not as it relates to its dominance as a hegemon.

Journal, Book or Conference Title

East Asia Security Symposium and Conference 东亚安全座谈谈论会

This document is currently not available here.



This document has been peer reviewed.