Diplo is as Swiss-Maltese non-governmental organisation that specialises on capacity development in the field of Internet governance and digital policy. Established in 2002, Diplo, among other things, works to improve the role of small and developing states in global diplomacy by:
- training officials through online courses, workshops and simulation exercises;
- developing capacity on Internet governance, data, artificial intelligence, and other emerging tech issues;
- promoting and developing digital tools for inclusive and impactful governance and policy-making.
Over the years, Diplo has successfully trained over 6,400 alumni from over 200 countries and territories, including individuals working in governments, the private and civil sector, media, and academia.
Since 2014, Diplo has been operating the Geneva Internet Platform (GIP) which provides a neutral and inclusive space for digital policy debates, digital policy monitoring and analysis, and capacity development. Its activities are implemented through just-in-time briefings and events, policy research, and the Digital Watch online observatory which serves as a comprehensive one-stop shop for the latest digital policy developments, overviews, trends, events, actors, instruments, and other resources.
Diplo’s capacity development support begins with individuals, but through the activities of these individuals, our impact reaches into larger systems of which they and their organisations are a part.
Diplo’s capacity development activities center around education, online training, courses, workshops, as well as online events, webinars, and research of topics such as AI, big data, science diplomacy, and cybersecurity.
Online training and courses
Diplo organises and conducts courses and training programmes in contemporary diplomacy and digital affairs, in particular for developing countries. Some of the thematic areas include multilateral and bilateral diplomacy, language and diplomacy, as well as tech oriented subjects including cybersecurity, and Internet governance.
Combining a highly developed learning methodology with our unique online learning platform, our courses are flexible, personal, and interactive. Courses are delivered online, face-to-face, and in a blended format.
In cooperation with the University of Malta, Diplo also offers an online Master/Postgraduate Diploma in Contemporary Diplomacy that helps students build knowledge and practical skills for addressing current challenges in diplomacy and international relations, including Internet governance, AI, and data. In addition, the Advanced Diploma in Internet Governance programme gives current and future Internet policymakers a solid foundation in practical and diplomatic skills, as well as the knowledge and techniques necessary to engage effectively in international policy processes.
In 2020, Diplo launched two new courses in response to increasing tech developments and COVID-19: a course on artificial intelligence (AI), and a course on organising and moderating online events.
The Artificial Intelligence online course provides in-depth knowledge that enables students to critically assess the consequences of AI, and understand the opportunities and challenges AI is creating across a broad spectrum of topics, including policy and diplomacy. It provides an interdisciplinary coverage of AI, encompassing technical, political, legal, economic, security, and ethical issues.
The course Online Meetings and Conferences: How to Run Effective and Secure Events, teaches participants how to plan, manage, and run successful online events, including: choosing and using appropriate tech platforms, planning the entire process from the initial idea to the follow-up, and effectively moderating interaction in an online environment.
ConfTech: Helping organisations to move from onsite to online
Following the outbreak of COVID-19, Diplo established the ConfTech initiative in order to help countries and organisations transition from onsite events to online and hybrid ones. Capturing Diplo’s 20+ years of experience in e-learning, e-diplomacy, and e-participation, Conftech organises its mission through five areas of work:
- ConfTech lab
- Help Desk for online events
- Online meetings and conferences online course
- Hands-on support for organisers of online events
- Research and library
In order to deal with pressing issues in global governance, our events bring together people from different perspectives, including diplomats, business professionals, and members of civil society. Our events often evolve into training activities, publications, or online interaction.
Diplo’s efforts on capacity development also include research on a variety of digital topics such as AI, big data, science diplomacy, and cybersecurity that have been conducted in collaboration with a number of partners including swissnex, and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland.
- Browse though our research papers.
In the area of AI, Diplo has established its AI Lab, a multifaceted initiative that includes: research and analysis on AI policy, capacity development in the field of AI and related areas, reports from main events and discussions on AI, and analysis of the impact of AI on diplomacy.
At IGF 2019 in Berlin, Diplo launched its humAInism project as a response to calls for regulation and oversight of AI technologies. The project aims to anchor AI in the core values of humanity by understanding how AI functions and what are the reasonable policy trade-offs that need to be made. It looks under the AI bonnet to understand the technology, and analyse the policy, legal, and ethics-related impacts of algorithms and other AI tools.
Diplo’s AI and data tools
In 2020, Diplo’s Data and AI team developed several tools, including the humAInism Speech Generator, the Countries-Companies Comparison tool, and the Data Sandbox, in order to showcase the potential of data and AI in diplomacy and research.
The humAInism Speech Generator combines AI algorithms and human expertise to help diplomats and other practitioners draft statements and speeches. It currently covers cybersecurity topics, and will be followed by other policy areas.
Diplo’s Data engine collects, processes, and presents large datasets in a way to be easily understood and used by diplomats, policymakers and the general public. The Data Engine offers practical and impactful tools for optimised and evidence-based policy-making, including the Countries-Companies Comparison tool and the Data Sandbox tool.
Diplo has a small, flexible structure: over 40 managerial, research, technical, and administrative employees and around 70 teaching staff, tutors, coordinators, and project-related consultants. We turn over a yearly budget of about €2 million.
You can download our latest Annual Reports for 2017, 2018 and 2019 (PDF format; Adobe Acrobat required) or read them online from our Annual Reports page.
In 2020, 547 participants from 132 countries around the world attended 26 Diplo online and blended learning courses: 61.2% diplomats and other civil servants, 16.4% representatives from civil society, 13.6% staff of international organisations, 4% representatives of business, 3.6% from academia, 0.8% from media, and 0.4% from other sectors. Some 50% of the participants were female. The table below summarises online course statistics for the last three years.
|Number of online courses
|Number of online course participants
|Number of countries represented
We consistently achieve good results in community building: at present in our Internet governance community more than 1600 community members participate in 46 active discussion groups.
Supporting small and developing countries
In today’s interconnected and interdependent world, diplomacy is more important than ever before. Despite this, diplomacy stays undermined by a fundamental imbalance.
Small and developing states are in a relatively weak position in the conduct of international policy processes. Their limited resources mean that they do not have a large enough pool of professional, confident, and competent international staff. As a result, small and developing states are not equally or effectively represented, so the total effect is diminished and lacks the creativity they would bring. Also, they may feel excluded and therefore reluctant to commit to processes that they perceive do not represent their interests and needs.
Diplo is addressing this problem by helping small and developing states build the capacity to engage effectively in international policy processes, negotiations, and diplomacy.
Diplo emerged from a project to introduce information and communication technology (ICT) tools to the practice of diplomacy, that was initiated in 1992 at the Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies in Malta. In November 2002, Diplo was established as an independent non-profit foundation by the governments of Malta and Switzerland.
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