The matters pertaining to the Internet and its ‘governance’ are broad and varied, and include aspects such as human rights, cybersecurity, infrastructure and connectivity, and skills learning, among others.
Disease grips humanity’s imagination with a chokehold. It distances people from each other and can create animosities between groups. The fear of disease trumps even war, since you can see guns and tanks. You cannot see the bubonic plague, or Ebola, or COVID-19 with your bare eyes.
History books remember the use of disease in war with disdain and scorn.
Referring to Prof. Geoff Berridge, we learn that ‘diplomacy is the most important institution of our society of states’. Further on, according to Sir Ivor Roberts, diplomacy is both ‘that funny old trade’ as well as a the ‘most rewarding of professions’. This is the frame where Brian Barder’s quite unique and eloquently written book What Diplomats Do: The Life and Work of Diplomats fits in.
The term soft power (and its siblings hard power and smart power), employed to embrace a particular category of resources of potential power, originated in the stable of JosephSNye, Jr, a Harvard University distinguished service professor and former senior member of the US military-intelligence complex.
I am a keen gardener, and during the Covid-19 lockdown I had the great good fortune to be allowed by our neighbour, Janet, to take over the care of her very large, tree-lined, and blissfully quiet garden. The weather was also unusually good, so I spent on average six hours a day working in it through late March, April, and May. I could have wished for nothing more.
The UN Secretary-General’s Roadmap for Digital Cooperation, presented on 11 June, comes at the time when the world is trying to grasp the tectonic economic, political, and social shifts triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Digitalisation is the nexus of these shifts as digital tools shape the future of work, learning, trade, and our society in general.
On 2 July 2020 I received an e-mail from Razvan Constantinescu, the energetic Romanian honorary-consul general for the south-west of England based in Bristol and president of the Bristol Consular Corps. This told me how the COVID-19 pandemic first revolutionised the nature of his workload, and then reduced it to a ‘walk in the park’.