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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Diplomatica
Volume (Issue) 2(1)
Page(s) 48 - 56
Title of proceedings Diplomatica
DOI 10.1163/25891774-00201006


How do business actors participate in diplomatic activities? Do companies embrace national diplomatic agendas, or do they pursue atomized aims, disconnected from national contexts? In this article, we review the literature on business actors in diplomacy in search for answers to these questions. It shows that business and state diplomacy were tightly intertwined: business people acting as diplomats, state actors following business goals. We then discuss a neglected private diplomatic arena, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), a business association created in 1920 as a parliament of world business in which capitalists from different nations exchanged in a “diplomacy-like” way. We argue that this very arena, mid-way between firms and states, offers insight into the corporatist dimension of 20th century diplomacy. In a last section, we suggest some effects of this private diplomatic arena by investigating the extent of ICC’s influence on the League of Nations and the United Nations. We want to suggest that private international fora such as the ICC nurtured the fluidity of diplomacy involving both states and non-state actors.