EASSC Publications

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 emphasizing 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

Publication Details

Author information: Dr. Zhou Jiali is an Assistant Professor at China Foreign Affairs University and is Vice President of the Beijing Chapter of the Association of Image Consultant International. Zhou has published nearly thirty academic articles, three books and one book as second editor. Her main research interest is diplomacy, particularly the personal components of diplomacy such as diplomatic protocol and international etiquette, personal image building and the skill of interpersonal communication. Her doctoral dissertation on “Diplomatic Protocol” was the first of its type to be written in China.

Staff webpage: http://en.cfau.edu.cn/art/2016/11/25/art_2626_50164.html

E-mail address: lijiazhou@cfau.edu.cn



This document has been peer reviewed.