lighting, Diplomacy

[WebDebate] How COVID-19 is changing diplomatic practice

06 October 2020


Event description

[Update] The recording of this WebDebate is now available.

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Since March 2020, the image of diplomats and heads of state and government at virtual meetings has become ubiquitous. We get the impression that online video conferences have replaced the traditional conference room. Beyond the novelty of these images, we need to wonder how social distancing and lockdowns, as responses to COVID-19, have impacted the conduct of diplomacy.

In this episode, our participants (two diplomats and two scholars of diplomacy), will take a closer look at how diplomats have adapted to the new circumstances over the past months, and how these changes might shape the future of diplomatic practice. On the one hand, we hear statements like ‘operating online is not real diplomacy’, and on the other the suggestion that ‘the more time spent in the digital diplomacy environment, the less likely foreign ministries will return to previous practices’. There is a lot to explore here and opinions differ widely, while new ways of doing things are continuously being negotiated. 

Going beyond the notion that nothing can replace face-to-face meetings in diplomacy, this debate will explore:

  • how diplomatic practice has shifted and how diplomats have adapted;
  • what aspects of this shift are likely to stay with us in the mid- and long term; and 
  • what are the limits of virtual and socially distant diplomacy.

Join us on Tuesday, 6th October, at 12:00 UTC (08:00 EDT | 14:00 CEST | 20:00 CST). 

Registrations are now closed, but you can follow the event live on Facebook.


EggelingDr Kristin Eggeling is a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Political Science,  University of Copenhagen (Denmark). She currently works on a research project  on digitalisation and diplomatic practices in the EU, which is funded by the European Research Council (ERC). She holds a BA in Liberal Arts and Sciences from the University College Maastricht (Netherlands), an MLitt and PhD from the School of International Relations at the University of St Andrews (United Kingdom), and has previously worked in the private and policy sector in Doha and Brussels. She is the author of Nation-branding in Practice: The Politics of Promoting Sports, Cities and Universities in Kazakhstan and Qatar (Routledge, 2020). For more information, please visit the departmental website.

RiordanMr Shaun Riordan is director of the Chair for Diplomacy and Cyberspace at the European Institute for International Studies (EIIS), a senior fellow of the Charhar Institute (Beijing), and a senior consultant with the UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) for digital and cyber diplomacy. He has taught at diplomatic institutes in Armenia, Bulgaria, the UAE, the Dominican Republic, and Spain. A former British diplomat, he served in the UN (New York), Taiwan, China, and Spain, as well as the Counter-terrorism and East Adriatic departments in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. He is the author of The New Diplomacy (2003), Adios a la Diplomacy (2005), Cyberdiplomacy: Managing Security and Governance Online (2019) and The Geopolitics of Cyberspace: A Diplomatic Perspective (2019).

RobertsonDr Jeffrey Robertson is an associate professor at Yonsei University, and a visiting fellow at the Asia-Pacific College of Diplomacy (APCD) at the Australian National University (ANU). Before moving to academia, he worked for the Australian government in the field of foreign policy and North Asia, focusing on China, the Korean Peninsula, and Japan. This included a period as a senior research specialist for the Australian parliament where he provided advice to members of parliament, senators, and parliamentary committees on foreign policy, and political and strategic affairs relating to North Asia.

SalinasMs Dalya Salinas-Perez is a Mexican diplomat. She is currently posted to the Embassy of Mexico to the Kingdom of Norway, where she serves as head of the Consular Section and leads a special project on innovation in diplomacy. She holds an MA in international communication management from The Hague University of Applied Sciences. 



  • Dr Katharina Höne (Director of Research, DiploFoundation)

About our WebDebates

Our WebDebates on the future of diplomacy are live-streamed on the first Tuesday of every month. They are organised by DiploFoundation within the framework of the International Forum on Diplomatic Training (IFDT). Learn more about our series of WebDebates.

If you form part of a dynamic circle of practitioners in your community, we encourage you to establish a diplomatic hub to follow the WebDebates and to facilitate discussions. For more information, contact Diplo’s Ms Mina Mudric.