When Greta Thunberg travelled by boat and train to attend the recent UN Climate Change Summit in 2019, she sent a wake-up call to diplomats and policymakers to search for innovative digital diplomacy tools, such as online conferencing, to reduce flying and thus, their carbon footprints.
Fortunately, the technology is available. There is a wide range of tools and platforms that can facilitate engaging meetings at an affordable cost.
As the new decade dawns the promise of technology seems endless. The horizon is unlimited. Beyond it the sky looks blue. Now more than ever tech looks like a kind of magic, carrying us above old limitations and beyond the predicaments of the here and now. The analogy is nothing new: as Arthur C. Clarke said, ‘any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.’
In our November WebDebate, we discussed the diplomacy of natural resources in the Middle East. In particular, we focused on water in the Middle East and conflict and co-operation around this scarce resource. We were joined by Nadav Tal, water officer and Jordan Valley field co-ordinator at EcoPeace, and Lutine F. de Boer, senior advisor on environmental policy, urban planning, and water for the Dutch regional government, and DiploFoundation alumna (Master in Contemporary Diplomacy).
Artificial intelligence (AI) is starting to influence decision-making in foreign affairs and diplomacy. It has been reported that in recent years, a Chinese AI system has reviewed almost every foreign investment project. The Chinese Department of External Security Affairs (涉外安全事务司) - under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs - used AI systems in several ways.
We set out to bridge the gap between the sphere of mediation of armed conflict – traditionally defined as a low-tech environment – and the sphere of technology. Mediators and practitioners need a better understanding of the potential role of private technology companies in the field of peace mediation. Areas of co-operation and potential risks need to be clearly identified.
One could say that the wish list for cyber-peace was already written in 2015, when states agreed on some rules of behaviour in cyberspace - including that existing international law applies to it. Are we good to go? Not so fast. The devil is in the details: The positions of states on what exactly this means for various cases of cyber-attacks and accusations stand across the sides of the abyss. Geo-political tensions crumble the edges further.
In December of last year, New York City was the place for diplomats to write a long list of New Year cyber-wishes, which came in the form of resolutions that established the first UN Open-Ended Working Group on Developments in the Field of ICTs in the Context of International Security (OEWG) and the sixth UN Group of Governmental Experts. A year later, it is time to show that they have put in the work to make these wishes come true. So far, so good.
DiploFoundation, with the support of Microsoft, organised the Cyber-diplomacy web discussion: Norms and confidence building measures (CBMs): Are we there yet? This webinar was the fourth in a series of cyber-diplomacy web discussions, following the web discussions: Cyber-armament: A heavy impact on peace, economic development, and human rights; Applicability of international law to cyberspace: Do we know the rules of the road?; and, Traceability and attribution of cyber-attacks: How confidently can we point a finge