The Philippines and the United Arab Emirates are the closest friends in the Facebook world. Serbia is among Austria’s best friends. Georgia and Russia are good friends as well! A map of more (or less) expected Facebook friendship is available at the Mapping of the World’s Friendship. The level of friendship for each country is calculated by the number of Facebook friends people have abroad.
The recent attacks on diplomatic missions in the Middle East have brought into focus the discussion on embassies and the tension between their function and protection. It reminds me of sessions in the early 1990s when I assisted young Maltese architectural students to design an ideal embassy for a pan-European architectural competition. They found my explanation of diplomacy as a profession that builds bridges between nations through engagement and dialogue counter-intuitive. Most embassies are surrounded by high walls and guarded by heavily armed soldiers.
‘Balkanisation’ has become a popular term in Internet politics. It is reported that Erich Schmidt from Google introduced the concept of ‘Balkanisation through regulation’ in his warning about the risk of Internet governance being overtaken by the ITU during the upcoming Dubai Summit. Coming from the Balkan region myself, and knowing the history of Balkanisation, Schmidt’s warning triggered a few reflections in my mind.
If you are following recent Internet politics, you will have found hundreds of articles and blogs dealing with the main Internet governance battle, usually portrayed as a struggle between ITU and ICANN. The next big round in this ongoing battle is planned for December in Dubai at the World Conference on International Telecommunication (WCIT-12).
To understand why the UK’s handling of the Assange asylum case has provoked such a strong reaction in the global public, we need to go back in time – way back. Back to the point where our predecessors first realized that it was better to hear the message than to eat the messenger (see the image). This was the moment when diplomacy, one of the oldest professions in the world, first emerged.
Over the last few days, one of the underlying questions in the Assange asylum has been if the frequently quoted 1987 UK Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act is against international law. The short answer is the Act is in accordance with international law (the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (VCDR) and international customary law).
A slightly longer explanation should rely on the sequence in establishing diplomatic relations between states with three important moments:
What is the difference between diplomatic, territorial and political asylums?
Diplomatic asylum differs from territorial asylum in the place where is it requested. Diplomatic asylum is requested in diplomatic missions, while territorial asylum can be requested within the borders of the state that is asked to grant asylum. A few terms, such as political asylum, are used interchangeably for both diplomatic and territorial asylums.
Julian Assange has spent the last few months in the Ecuadorian embassy in London awaiting a decision about his request for diplomatic asylum, which Ecuador granted earlier this morning (16 August 2012). A few days ago, the United Kingdom warned Ecuador that Assange could be arrested by force. But can he? Can UK authorities enter the Ecuadorian embassy in London and arrest Assange?