The year 2022 was a tough year for global diplomacy — perhaps the toughest in decades. It was dominated by the forceful use of weapons and tight arms race and marked by the near paralysis of international relations. This stands out in recent history. While international diplomacy was far from perfect over the last decade, not a year went by without at least some conflict resolution or peace breakthrough, until 2022.
Diplomacy was already ailing, but this was the year its symptoms worsened across most parts of the world. A destructive war broke out in Eastern Europe and dragged on into 2023. Fears of another major and even more destructive war blowing up in East Asia are on the rise, while the ghost of a third war haunts the Middle East.
These heightened tensions across the world are compounded by an unprecedented race for arms, including nuclear weapons. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute predicted in June in its annual yearbook that the number of nuclear armaments would rise for the first time since the end of the Cold War.
Impact of Russia’s war
There was already a crisis between Russia and the West before the outbreak of conflict in the Ukraine, and it offered up a portent of the fortunes faced by global diplomacy. With escalation apparent from October 2021, no one was able to stop the rapid slip into the abyss of war, which could easily have extended beyond Ukrainian borders.
In the first weeks of 2022, the omens of war became more vivid. But neither Russia nor the West, as represented by the United States and Nato, showed any willingness to negotiate meaningfully.
Perhaps Russia raised the bar a tad too high with its demands in the early stages of talks, as some in Western circles claim. However, it is usual to start negotiating with a high bar, as it is often lowered during negotiations to reach common ground.
But with neither party ready to sit at the negotiating table, war arrived before the global economy even had the chance to recover from the repercussions of the pandemic.