After going through the blogs and comments, I’m beginning to digress like Ginger on the e-participation blog. We have been going back to the question of definition, and as she has suggested, a chart or categorization strategy might be very useful at this point.
Here is a possible chart of what seems to appear after reading the blogs, forums and comments on this site.
I treated the e-government aspects such as e-parliament and e-justice separately. This is because e-government mainly uses e-tools to improve coordination between state institutions (including foreign ministry and its network of missions), and to stay connected with nationals (in and outside borders). It does not directly fall into the foreign relations domain (?). And in many countries, e-government may be part of internal e-democracy initiatives, but it can also become an idealized foreign policy objective.
In the E-diplomacy definition forum it was emphasized that in the definition of e-diplomacy, “the key element is not electronic but diplomacy”. If that is so, and if diplomacy is only “the communication system of the international society”, our discussion does not move beyond e-tools that improve communication (and forms of representation) between states. So we quickly start regressing to the definition of e-diplomacy to some modern form of the traditional diplomacy (more thoughts on this posted here).
However, as we’ve been discussing, the emergence of the Web as a foreign policy tool challenges this narrow definition of e-diplomacy. Our need to understand e-diplomacy goes further than this notion that e-diplomacy is all about communication between states and multilateral bodies.
In the chart, what I’ve tried to do is separate this narrow notion of e-diplomacy from the notion that a State either attempts to limit (e-censorship) or freely engage (e-democracy) on the Internet using traditional and electronic diplomacy to achieve its foreign policy goals. So, the questions that beg clarification are, how do states use the Web to achieve its specific foreign policy goals, and how do they attempt to control the Web space?
FCO’s Stephan Hale recently offered some highlights of the British digital diplomacy campaigns and approaches, which ranges from “influencing campaigns” on human rights issues to campaign websites on climate change.
In the chart, the box titled ‘foreign policy’ is probably the area that needs most elaboration. The sketchy chart is to provoke, and invite your comments 🙂