The international Conference on E-Diplomacy, held in Malta, 3-4 June 2010, was a culmination of the e-diplomacy initiative launched by DiploFoundation, which combined online discussions with series of awareness-building events for diplomatic communities in Brussels, Geneva, New York, Vienna and Washington DC.
The Internet has had a significant impact on policy and politics. Today, especially after Obama’s e-driven campaign success, it is difficult to find any policy process without e-support and impact through social networking tools like blogs, Twitter, Facebook and others.
International relations and diplomacy are following this trend. An increasing number of diplomatic services use Web 2.0 tools. Some have established virtual embassies. Significantly, the Internet has opened up two-way channels of communication, providing a tool for individuals and organisations worldwide to influence global policy. Through the Internet, the voice of individuals, marginalised groups and countries can bypass the maze of political representation and be heard globally. For example, the blogs maintained by some non-governmental organisations are more influential than official diplomatic démarches. These processes and developments, which we can refer to collectively as “e-diplomacy,” substantially influence and will certainly continue to influence the way international relations are conducted.
The International Conference on E-diplomacy aimed to create an opportunity for participants to reflect on the developments of e-diplomacy and to discuss practical applications. Participants included leading academics and practitioners in the field of e-diplomacy.
The Conference was preceded by five launches of E-diplomacy Initiative: in Brussels, New York, Geneva, Washington DC and Vienna. The aim of these events was to sensitize diplomats and international officials to how e-tools can enhance their performance. This was be done by mapping the use of e-tools for specific diplomatic functions (e.g. negotiations, representation, organisation of events), examining the (dis) advantages of using specific e-tools in diplomacy (e.g. wiki, blogs, Facebook, Twitter), and presenting available technologies and applications for e-diplomacy.
The participants of the Conference included:
Diplomats and government officials in charge of e-governance, public diplomacy and e-participation
Officials of international organisations in charge of e-participation and public diplomacy;
NGO officials involved in international policy
Academics and researchers dealing with diplomacy, e-governance and e-participation