Digital Diplomacy

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13-Sep-2017

What is the issue?

Social media has empowered citizens, putting diplomats under pervasive public scrutiny.

What is the present state of diplomacy?

  • The digital age has disrupted traditional diplomacy, forcing diplomats to be less formal and more accessible, reaching out to ordinary people both within and outside their countries.
  • Leaders are often directly in touch with one another and believe, sometimes with good reason, that personal diplomacy may yield more substantive results than diplomats negotiating with one another.

What is the role of digital media in diplomacy?

  • Diplomacy in the digital age places a premium on the speed of communication.
  • Social media like Facebook and Twitter enable instant dissemination of information and opinions that form around it.
  • Leaders are on Twitter and their comments on events spread instantly and widely.
  • In the digital age, the authority of the state itself has diminished and the diplomat must now represent his people and not just the government.
  • The digital technologies have a premium on secrecy, and have given way to transparency.

What are the challenges involved?

  • Staying ahead of the information curve may weaken a very integral aspect of diplomacy.
  • Transparency and the involvement of the public and the media have become significantly more salient than before and pose a challenge to effective diplomacy.
  • The digital world is complex and constantly mutating; in a congested area of competing states there are heightened dangers of inter-state conflict.
  • Instant and unmediated reactions can be risky, particularly when inter-state tensions may be high.

How issues can be addressed?

  • States can remain relevant only if they become the source of expeditious distribution of high quality and reliable information.
  • Diplomats should use the digital tools to get credible information and assessments into the public domain so that misperception and misinformation are minimised.
  • Diplomats must aspire to become critical nodes in networks and not always the most significant and influential component.
  • Modern diplomacy requires mastering the art of networking through different channels.
  • Diplomacy needs to keep abreast of these changes and constantly upgrade and update the principles and practices of the profession.

 

Source: Business Standard

 


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