We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What are Bilateral Relations?

By T. Carrier
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
Historical Index is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Historical Index, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Bilateral relations — or bilateralism — refers to the relationship between two independent regions. Cultural, economic, and political factors influence this relationship. As such, these relations may be diplomatic or hostile. Positive bilateralism comprises the most common alliance type.

Independent regions have many reasons for seeking a positive relationship with another region. For one, the two regions may be physical neighbors, and thus a harmonious coexistence is both convenient and beneficial for each party. Cultural similarities can further solidify and strengthen a bilateral bond. A friendly region, wherever its location, can make a strong bilateral trade partner and thus enhance economy and commerce. Diplomatic countries can make enduring military allies as well, offering assistance, land use, and essential resources in times of military crisis.

Two regions will generally implement various steps to foster a positive, diplomatic relationship. Each region may install a diplomatic ambassador, or regional representative, in the other region. This representative will act as a conduit between the two regions, promoting political harmony and unity. The heads of the regions may also embark on numerous cross-regional visits to meet with government officials and also to foster public goodwill.

Formal treaties or agreements are another important component of diplomatic bilateral relations. Such agreements may entail a formal declaration of peace and military alliance. Economic and trade relations treaties between the regions can also bolster the relationship.

Bilateral relations differ from unilateralism and multilateral relations: the former typically describes a rogue region that makes important decisions independently of other regions while the latter involves relationships among multiple regions. The United Nations and the World Trade Organizations are two leading examples of multilateral organizations. Such entities may condemn two-party agreements on the basis of their exclusiveness, their use as a leverage tool by wealthier nations, and their probability for negative side effects like raising taxes. Proponents of bilateralism counter that streamlining an agreement to two parties reduces the probability of disputes and makes technical aspects of any agreements easier to implement. Therefore, compromise and mediation becomes much more efficient.

Although bilateral relations usually refer to diplomacy between two regions, in general the term can also reference a less positive relationship. One region may, for example, impose a trade embargo on another region, thereby reducing any commercial and financial assistance the regions may provide each other. A declaration of war is a more obvious example of a negative bilateral relationship. In some cases, one region may approach another region that has a diplomatic relationship with a third region in order to build its own positive relations with the third region. Social, political, and economic compromise are key to these or any other type of successful bilateral relations.

Historical Index is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By Sporkasia — On Feb 27, 2014

Working as a reporter, I always made the attempt to go directly to the source. One-on-one bi-lateral communication is what I prefer. However, the source was not always willing to speak with me--not directly anyway. I found that having a go-between often times elicited information that the source would not tell be directly.

By Markerrag — On Feb 27, 2014

Is a nation involved in bilateral relations properly described as one that is rogue? George Washington warned against getting too wrapped up in the affairs of Europe, leading to a national policy that could be described as bilateral for years. The U.S. dealt with treaties, sure, but was largely bilateral or isolationist when it came to foreign policy. Prior to World War II, the U.S. largely looked after its own affairs and the events happening in North and South America rather than getting bogged down in wars in Europe, Asia or anywhere else.

That all changed with World War II, of course, and the U.S. has been a major international player ever since. The approach to foreign affairs has shifted from an approach that could be called bilateral to one that is more multinational.

By Drentel — On Feb 27, 2014

I firmly believe in cutting out the middle man and going directly to the source when I conduct business. Bi-lateral relationships offer less opportunity for misunderstandings. When three or more parties are involved there is a greater chance of something getting lost in translation.

Historical Index, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Historical Index, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.