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DiploFoundation publishes a series of papers called Diplo's Policy Papers and Briefs. In our policy papers, we give concrete policy recommendations in areas related to diplomacy and Internet governance. In our briefs, we provide overviews of recent and historic developments with relevance for Internet governance, diplomacy, and international relations in general. 

If you have any questions or would like to contribute to our series, contact Katharina Höne at

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DiploFoundation Briefing Paper 6: September 2017

Ten theoretical clues to understadning United Nations reform
By Petru Dumitriu

DiploFoundation Policy Paper 6: September 2017

In this briefing paper, Dr Petru Dumitriu offers ten theoretical clues to understanding UN reform. Among other issues he discusses the UN mandate, limits of power, and questions of legitimacy. 

He finds that

  • The concept of United Nations (UN) reform should not be determined by existing limitations and obstacles, but mainly by the anticipation of future challenges.
  • Recognising the irreplaceable role of the UN means accepting multilateralism as the fundamental backbone of international cooperation.
  • A substantive direction of reform should be the emphasis on mobilising and catalysing a new generation of partnerships.
  • A progressive codification of a normative framework for democratic conduct and support for democratisation processes may be the key to other transformations.
  • The UN represents the maximum of power allowed to an organisation of global competence: What is necessary is not an institutional surplus, but extra functionality.
  • Reforming the working concepts of the UN constitutes a credible alternative to reforming institutions and mechanisms.


DiploFoundation Briefing Paper 5: August 2017

Leaving no one behind in the data revolution
By Barbara Rosen Jacobson

DiploFoundation Policy Paper 4: April 2017

In this briefing paper, Ms Barbara Rosen Jacobson analyses data-related discussions of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) between 2014 and 2017.

She finds that

  • Data is becoming an increasingly central element in discussions around sustainable development.
  • The sustainable development goals (SDGs) and their aim of ‘leaving no one behind’ has generated a growing demand for disaggregated data, leading to increased pressure on small and developing countries to report a comprehensive amount of data.
  • Digital technologies have given rise to new data forms and sizes that can be used for monitoring the SDGs. Nevertheless, capacities to effectively collect and analyse this data remain unevenly distributed, leading to increased inequality between countries. Capacity building initiatives are of vital importance to bridge this data capability gap.
  • Given the large variety of data sources, as well as the growing inequality between countries in their ability to ‘mine’ and use this data, the HLPF discussions signal a need for harmonisation and standardisation of data for the SDGs.
  • It remains to be seen whether the increased centrality of data mirrors an in-depth recognition of its importance or is the result of the pursuit of a hype.


DiploFoundation Policy Paper 4: April 2017

Promotion methods in foreign ministries
By Kishan S Rana

DiploFoundation Policy Paper 4: April 2017

Ambassador Rana looks at promotion methods in foreign ministries around the world. He introduces the distinction between merit-based, seniority-based, and ad-hoc promotions and highlights the different exam methods in foreign ministries.

He makes three policy recommendations:

  1. Often, countries that do not have a promotion system are also countries that appoint a large proportion of political ambassadors; this demoralises their career diplomatic personnel, and undermines professionalism. It is thus useful to establish a proper method for promotion.
  2. Seniority is a poor basis for promotion, because it neither takes into account performance, nor rewards merit. Countries that rely on seniority often tend not to have a mechanism to monitor performance. While assessment of merit may have flaws, it is vital to shift to performance-based promotions, again to strengthen professionalism.
  3. Promotion methods are rooted in the tradition and ethos of each country. Despite this, it is useful for countries to identify best practices, and to look to the experience of other foreign ministries. About a dozen-odd major Western countries hold annual meetings of their heads of human resources management, to share their experiences. It is useful for developing countries to consider such a method. This can also be attempted on a regional basis.


DiploFoundation Policy Paper 3: March 2016

Namibia's digital foreign policy and diplomacy
By Katharina E Höne

DiploFoundation Policy Paper 3: March 2016

This policy brief emerged from Diplo's participation in Namibia's Foreign Policy Review Conference (July 2016). Dr. Höne suggests a three-pronged approach to Namibia's digital foreign policy and diplomacy and looks at the discourse on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and development.

She makes five policy recommendations:

  1. There are notable policy initiatives in Namibia, the SADC region, and at the level of the African Union that have the potential to address the digital divide and promote ICT development.
  2. A three-pronged approach to Namibia’s foreign policy, consisting of Internet infrastructure and digital geopolitics, digital policy and Internet governance, and digital diplomacy is recommended.
  3. Despite advancements in connectivity via undersea cables, mobile access is the most important factor to connect the unconnected in Namibia and Africa as a whole. Further national infrastructure development and the promotion of greater cross-border connectivity in the region remain crucial infrastructure challenges.
  4. Policies and regulatory frameworks are key in order to fully benefit from ICT possibilities. ICT policy needs to be approached as a cross-sectoral issue and cannot be treated in policy silos. It will be important to ensure a ‘whole-of-government’ approach to manage the digital impact on economic development, security, culture, education, etc.
  5. ICT is crucial for achieving the ambitious SDG agenda. By aligning ICT-related foreign policy explicitly with the SDGs, additional momentum can be gained and international co-operation can be fostered.


DiploFoundation Policy Paper 2: February 2015

The MIKTA way forward
By Barbara Rosen Jacobson

DiploFoundation Policy Paper 2: February 2015

Ms Rosen Jacobson assesses the potential, risk, and future of MIKTA, a co-operation scheme comprised of Mexico, Indonesia, the Republic of Korea, Turkey, and Australia, which was officially launched in September 2013. 

She makes five policy recommendations:

  1. After the initial brainstorming phase, MIKTA needs to generate concrete initiatives with appropriate visibility.
  2. MIKTA’s initiatives should be broad enough to ensure support (or at least no opposition) from all members and be focused enough to have practical relevance and impact.
  3. MIKTA should use its flexible organisational structure to move quickly in areas of international concern and focus. In addition to the five key areas identified by MIKTA’s permanent missions in Geneva, MIKTA should consider areas of growing concern, such as cybersecurity.
  4. In order to generate broad visibility, MIKTA countries need to co-operate in the MIKTA framework at key events, including G20 summits and important conferences in MIKTA’s key focus areas.
  5. MIKTA’s small size has the potential for great efficiency. Nevertheless, in order to avoid losing out on inclusivity, MIKTA members could provide mechanisms that allow regional actors to provide input to MIKTA’s proposals. 


DiploFoundation Policy Paper 1: January 2014

Global inviolability of the Internet root zone
By Jovan Kurbalija

DiploFoundation Policy Paper 1: January 2014

Dr Kurbalija explains the Internet root zone and highlights the context and controversy of questions about its inviolability. Possible solutions identified by him include legal elements (customary law, diplomatic law, common heritage of mankind), 'software' inviolability, and 'hardware' inviolability. 

He makes four policy recommendations:

  1. The Internet root zone should be inviolable at any time, wherever it may be located.
  2. The Internet root zone may only be modified through existing procedures or new ones that might be introduced in September 2015.
  3. No state should have the jurisdiction to prescribe, adjudicate, or enforce policy over the Internet root zone.
  4. The inviolability of the Internet root zone should be based on customary law that recognises the consistent practice of no unilateral interference by the US authorities in the content of the Internet root zone. 


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