Applying Data to Diplomatic Protocol

Build SQL Database to Understand the G7 Leaders’ Summit 2021

The G7 leaders posed for the “family photo” on June 11, 2021. How did they decide who stands where? (CNN)

Who is the Chief Here?

The answer to these questions is not so simple. In diplomatic protocols, the “family photo” is often the product of careful deliberation. Understandably, who would want to be pushed aside on the world stage? Every leader wants to be seen as the “Chief” in the pack to their constituents.

Basic Rules: Center - Right - Left & Front - Back

The members of the royal family pose for the picture. It seems clear who has a higher rank. (Gatty Image)

Got the idea? According to the protocols, a person with the highest rank stands at the center. The second-highest rank would stand on the right; the third-highest rank positions on the left. Likewise, the people in the first row would have a higher rank than the people in the second row. How intuitive!

Who’s Higher?: Setting Rank

  1. The host country of the event has the highest rank. The host countries of the previous and following summit have the next highest rank.
  2. The heads of state precede the leaders of international organizations. In this case, all G7 leaders have higher ranks than the European Union.
  3. A leader with a longer served as a head of state would have a higher rank than a leader with a shorter term.

Let’s Build Database to Check

1. Create File: In the terminal, start sqlite3 by typing the following.

sqlite3 protocols_database.db

2. Create Table: In the sqlite prompt, create a table.

CREATE TABLE leaders (id INTEGER PRIMARY KEY, full_name TEXT, country TEXT, start_date INTEGER, host_year INTEGER, title TEXT);

3. Insert Information: In the sqlite prompt, type the following.

INSERT INTO leaders (full_name, country, start_date, host_year, title) VALUES (“Boris Johnson”, “UK”, 20190724, 2021, “Prime Minister”);INSERT INTO leaders (full_name, country, start_date, host_year, title) VALUES (“Joe Biden”, “U.S.”, 20200120, 2020, “President”);INSERT INTO leaders (full_name, country, start_date, host_year, title) VALUES (“Emmanuel Macron”, “France”, 20170514, 2019, “President”);INSERT INTO leaders (full_name, country, start_date, host_year, title) VALUES (“Justin Trudeau”, “Canada”, 20151104, 2018, “Prime Minister”);INSERT INTO leaders (full_name, country, start_date, host_year, title) VALUES (“Angela Merkel”, “Germany”, 20051122, 2022, “Chancellor”);INSERT INTO leaders (full_name, country, start_date, host_year, title) VALUES (“Yoshihide Suga”, “Japan”, 20200916, 2016, “Prime Minister”);INSERT INTO leaders (full_name, country, start_date, host_year, title) VALUES (“Mario Draghi”, “Italy”, 20210213, 2017, “Prime Minister”);INSERT INTO leaders (full_name, country, start_date, host_year, title) VALUES (“Charles Michel”, “European Council”, 20191201, null, “International Organization”);INSERT INTO leaders (full_name, country, start_date, host_year, title) VALUES (“Ursula von der Leyen”, “European Commission”, 20191201, null , “International Organization”);

4. Confirm Data: Verify the information by selecting all data in the table.

SELECT * FROM leaders;
  • With .headers on or .mode column command, you can improve the visibility like below.

5. Sort Data: Identify the rank of each leader by sorting data.

SELECT * FROM leaders WHERE host_year BETWEEN 2019 AND 2022;SELECT * FROM leaders ORDER BY start_date DESC;SELECT * FROM leaders WHERE title = "International Organization";

What Can We Learn from the PHOTO and DATA?

  • However, the data above do not fully explain some of the anomalies. Why German Chancellor Merkel was pushed far to the left even though she has a longer time in office than French President Macron or Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau?
  • The diplomatic protocol is considered both art and science. The rules of rank are not straightforward, sometimes conflict with each other. In this case, the 46th G7 summit was supposed to be held in the U.S. but canceled due to the COVID-19. Yet, President Biden still held the second-highest rank!.
  • SQLite can be a useful tool for diplomatic protocol because it provides quick references for multiple purposes. Imagine you are inviting a large number of heads of state, instead of seven leaders, the G20 Summit, EU Summit, ASEAN Summit, etc. This type of database can be very helpful.
The 12th G20 Summit was held in Hamburg, Germany in 2017. Chancellor Merkel stands at the center.
In the Nuclear Security Summit in 2014, 58 world leaders participated (5 from international organizations).