'Your 37 friends are waiting', says the Facebook e-mail which I have just received. They’re waiting for me to accept their friend request. That is, for me to share personal information, photos of me and my loved ones, and other bits of info which six months from now I wish I hadn’t.
Consular departments take advantage of several e-tools to keep in touch with nationals overseas. Here are three recent trends in using e-tools for consular assistance and protection. (Links point to examples on the web)
Call centres: 24/7 call centres operate from the capital to respond to calls from nationals overseas during emergencies. Nationals are also encouraged to register online with the foreign ministry or the nearest mission. (See Australian DFAT’s Smartraveller website)
On Wednesday, March 3, an interesting event was organized during the visit of theSecretary of StateHillary Clinton in Brazil. Significantly, it was called townterview – a mix between the ideas of “closeness” and participation embodied in town meetings with the press conferences organized for the traditional media channels. The event provides some interesting points for the debate about the current US public diplomacy strategy.
The Internet and e-communication affect parts of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, in particular those that deal with the facilitation of the free communication of diplomatic missions (article 27), communication with local indviduals and institutions (article 41), and the set of articles dealing with privileges and immunities.