The impact of the Internet on diplomacy was the focus of yesterday’s e-diplomacy workshop in Strasbourg, attended by 40 diplomats based in Strasbourg and officials of the Council of Europe. Diplo’s team addressed the issue from three main perspectives: Alex Sceberras Trigona (political and legal aspects), Vlada Radunovic (technical aspects), and Jovan Kurbalija (diplomacy and policy processes).
First, we painted the larger landscape of the influence of the Internet on international relations and focused on a few issues such as the Internet and the end of geography (interdependence and sovereignty), empowerement of a new actors, and the almost impossibility of dealing with the Internet in policy silos (technology, economy, human rights).
This led discussion to the second segment of new topics on diplomaticc agendas. Here we had a very lively discussion on the five Internet governance baskets (intrastructure and standardisation, legal, economic, development, and sociocultural). The most controversial issue, as usual, was the position of ICANN, the root zone file, and the domain name system. We also discussed policy complexity using the example of ACTA.
The workshop concluded with a discussion on e-tools for diplomats, including social media tools, information aggregators, and e-participation.
While we were going through broader policy issues, we anchored discussion in the CoE’s policy agenda, including its new Internet Governance Strategy. The CoE is one of a few intergovernmental institutions which covers at least 60% of the Internet governance policy agenda under one root. It is well placed to overcome some of policy silos in dealing with multidisciplinary issues such as cybercrime (security, human rights, technology). Moreover, the CoE has a long tradition in engaging non-governmental actors which could be a crucial aspect in the forthcoming Internet governance debate.