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Author: Stefano Baldi

The Internet and diplomats of the 20th century


The Internet and diplomats of the twenty century: how new information technologies affect the ordinary work of diplomats.

One director being a kindly man, and desirous of rewarding him for his long service, ordered him to be given something more important than mere copying; namely, he was ordered to make a report of an already concluded affair, to another court: the matter consisted simply in changing the heading, and altering a few words from the first to the third person. This caused so much toil, that he was all in perspiration, rubbed his forehead, and finally said, “No, give me rather something to copy.” After that they let him copy on forever.

    From Nikolai Gogol “The Overcoat”


With the rapid increase in the amount of interesting and useful information available on the Internet for ordinary diplomatic activities, diplomats are already being confronted with the need to learn new skills in order to fully exploit the possibilities offered by information technology (IT). Those diplomatic activities which consist of acquiring and processing information are likely to be deeply affected by the changes wrought by IT.

Major developments in the functioning of both Ministries of Foreign Affairs and their Missions abroad are inevitable, provided that diplomats learn what is available online and how to access it. Obviously a certain amount of experimentation is normal during the present initial phase of supplying and gathering information. If diplomats are to access necessary information through IT, they will have to play an active role in guiding their counterparts (international organisations or national institutions dealing with foreign affairs) through both their input and specific requests.

The challenge for Ministries of Foreign Affairs is now to find new and more flexible ways to exploit IT, as well as to identify the most appropriate tools for this task. The economic constraints faced by most ministries further favour the use of IT, as it means savings in terms of both time and money.

The aim of this brief study is to demonstrate some of the interesting possibilities already available online for the diplomatic community. The first question any newcomer(1)  faces (and not only diplomats) once he is connected to the Web is “what can I do now, where can I go?” That is a perfectly normal question, as the amount of information available is so vast and accessible that it is easy to get confused and be drawn into the World Wide Web (WWW). In order to analyse briefly the kind of “professional” use diplomats can make of the Internet the best thing is to examine an ordinary day at the desk and see how some routine activities can be complemented or substituted by the Internet.

Checking the Mail

The first thing a diplomat would normally do when he arrives at his desk in the morning is to check his incoming “paper” mail. This should also be done once the PC is turned on and connected to the Internet: incoming “electronic” mail (e-mail) should be checked. This simple task is all too often forgotten. There is no point in having a fast carrier (such as the Internet) which acts nearly in real time if, once the message has arrived, no one goes to check it and to read it.

Electronic mail is particularly important for diplomats whose work, by definition, means contacts with colleagues all over the world. Two things make it an indispensable tool in diplomacy: firstly, it’s low cost (in a period when public budgets are being cut drastically, cost becomes a priority) and secondly it overcomes time zone barriers. When a colleague is still sleeping in U.S., it is possible to send him a message from Europe and be sure that he will find it right in his mailbox as soon as he arrives in the office in the morning. And all this at the cost of a local call!

Another big advantage of e-mail is the possibility of sending documents together with the message (so-called attachments). In this simple way, one can save retyping time and modifications to the text can be made directly to the original text. Furthermore, everything which is available in electronic form can be sent by e-mail (i.e., newspaper articles, official UN documents, meeting agendas, etc.). Therefore, if somebody finds an interesting item (such as a press release or an article) on the Internet, he can easily and quickly send it to as many colleagues as he wants, using the same text and simply adding the accompanying message once.(2)  E-mail is particularly useful for sending all those periodical communications (bulletins, circulars, press releases, etc.) which should have a rapid and wide diffusion in an internal organisational structure.

It is wrong, however, to think that the electronic transmission of communications and documents will completely replace traditional transmission and carriers, although it is possible to predict in the relatively near future a mixed system of electronic and physical transmission, which will be more efficient and economical than present systems. It is important to bear in mind that electronic distribution and electronic mail will never completely replace traditional means of communications and is a complement rather than a substitute. Easy access to basic information should free up time, which can then be devoted to analysis and study, consequently permitting more balanced and coherent decision-making.

Reading the News on the Net

However, no diplomat spends the whole day just checking his mail. . .he must be informed and keep up to date on many issues, particularly in international affairs. Therefore, he must read newspapers. Obviously, reading national and international newspapers and magazines does improve considerably diplomatic skills and knowledge and sometimes it is a real advantage. Nevertheless, it can also be both difficult and expensive to buy the last issues of several newspapers on a daily basis. Once again, the Internet is rapidly changing the ways news is circulated and newspapers are adapting to it. The most important international (and national) news agencies and newspapers are already online (see tables 1 and 2), with fairly comprehensive editions and sometimes even a full edition.

Table 1 – News agencies online:

Reuters Online
Agence France Press

It is certainly easier to read printed paper, because we are used to it and because it can be easily transported, but when we find an interesting article on the Internet we can still print it and then read it on paper.

There are two principle advantages for diplomats who read newspapers online, as mentioned above:

a) It is always possible to read the most recent issue. For diplomats posted abroad this is not always the case for the conventional printed version, especially if the newspaper is published on the other side of the world.

b) It is very cheap. Most of the newspapers online offers free access and even those which require a subscription have very competitive rates (if compared to local costs of international press).

But these are not the only advantages:

c) Search facilities: The example of a very famous news agency such as Reuters can be used. The Internet service of Reuters ( is not as comprehensive as the commercial one, but it does cover the most important news. The special advantage offered by the Internet service is represented by the search facilities and by the hyperlinks to previous articles (see point d). Search facilities mean that it is possible to search for a specific subject and within a few seconds receive a list of articles issued recently by the news agency.

d) Easy reference – The list resulting from the search will be clickable (with hyperlinks), meaning that it will be possible to display the full text of every article just by clicking on its title.

Another advantage of the electronic version of Reuters is that at the bottom of every article there is a list of previous articles published recently on the same issue. In this way it is easy to have a quick idea of how a specific event has developed over the last three or four days.

Newspapers have also developed Internet editions which assist diplomats in their activities. Not only do some of them provide search engines, but it is often possible to consult issues of the preceding days. They are also developing services which are not available for the ordinary paper format, such as sections where all the articles concerning one specific issue are grouped together.


The Internet and diplomats of the 20th century

Fig. 1 – Example of search on “Italy” in Reuters Internet Service

Table 2 – International newspapers online:

Financial Times

Le Monde 

International Herald Tribune 

The Washington Post 

The wide range of information accessible through the Internet has another important function for diplomats: they can use it as a source for all sorts of details about the country where they are accredited. Quick and easy access to local newspapers, news agencies, institutions, associations, laws and regulations, etc., through the Internet, permits diplomats to be well-informed at any time without leaving their desk, thus enabling them to have a deeper, more comprehensive (not to mention constantly updated) knowledge of the people and the country where they are posted.

Information Concerning International Organisations

Major improvements are also taking place in the number of documents and databases available on the Internet which are relevant for the diplomatic community. The United Nations, in collaboration with some member states, now endeavours to provide most of the information for distribution also on the Web. A quick perusal of the homepage of the United Nations ( gives an idea of the amount of information already available for consultation online.

A good example could be Security Council resolutions, which diplomats often cite or use as references. Once it was difficult to have the complete final text of a resolution immediately after its release. Now, through the UN Web page, they are easily accessible and retrievable. The same applies for ECOSOC and General Assembly resolutions. All the most recent documents issued by the UN Secretariat (including UNCTAD, DHA, ECE, etc.) are available, but their access is restricted to the diplomatic community in a site protected by username and password, in order to avoid excessive traffic. Table 3 illustrates some examples of interesting news services provided by international organisations on the Internet.

Some interesting magazines for international affairs have also developed useful and original services, as has, for example, “Le Monde Diplomatique” ( This weekly French magazine has set up a free mailing service that sends e-mail periodically to those who have subscribed (for free), concerning the highlights of the current issue, as soon as it is available online.(3)  Since it is impossible to cover all the news agencies/newspapers/magazines online, the information received by e-mail can be a very useful tool to keep diplomats constantly informed.

Table 3 – Selected News Services of International Organisations:

Latest News from the United Nations –

Latest News from the United Nations Office in Geneva –

Daily News Flashes from the European Commission –

News from OECD –

News from US Government –

Obviously diplomats should not be only the end users of the information provided by international organisations. As members of organisations, states have the right (if not the obligation) to provide guidelines and suggestions to the international organisations regarding information available and the way it is provided. On this particular issue the ECOSOC resolution E/1997/28 of 14.7.97 concerning international cooperation in the field of informatics stated that: “The ECOSOC reaffirms the continuing need for representatives of states to be closely consulted and actively associated with respective executive and governing bodies of the United Nations institutions dealing with informatics within the United Nations System, so that the specific needs of States, as internal end-users, can be given due priority.”

The Internet and diplomats of the 20th century

Fig. 2 – United Nations Homepage

Most of the UN bodies have set up a Web site and an official UN Web site locator ( has been created to facilitate both access and the retrieval of information. The different sites are brief, in order to give an overview of the activities and the nature of the organisation, and they often provide additional updated information, such as press releases, programmes, calendars of meetings, reports, description of co-operation programmes etc., which can be most valuable for the diplomatic community. There are also sites with unofficial lists of international organisations and other organisations (UN and international organisations and related links) dealing with international matters which can assist the diplomat. The most renowned is the page prepared by UNDCP(4)  ) which features links not only to all international organisations, but also more than one hundred related links concerning international matters.

Taking, for example, the World Health Organisation (, we will find the Weekly Epidemiological Record (WER) which “serves as an essential instrument for the rapid and accurate dissemination of epidemiological information on cases and outbreaks of diseases under the International Health Regulations, other communicable diseases of public health importance, including the newly emerging or re-emerging infections, non-communicable diseases and other health problems.” This publication is made available on the Internet and therefore WHO is not obliged to forward it to local Permanent Missions (in Geneva), which in turn do not have to send it to headquarters. This means not only a saving in money but also in time, as those online who are actually more concerned with the reports’ contents (final users) are able to consult the publication directly, without intermediaries. This small example illustrates the kind of savings in terms of time and resources which can be achieved through the implementation of new procedures in the distribution of documents relevant to international affairs.

Today it often happens that information does not reach the final user, a cause of frustration both for the information source and for the potential beneficiary. Foreign policy information is not an exception and the Internet does offer some unique opportunities to fill the gap existing between the provider and the final user. In fact, Ministries of Foreign Affairs, international organisations, NGOs and others are realising the opportunities available. Many of them already have updated press releases, offering at the same time extensive information on their mandates and activities. The more advanced even send this information through e-mail to subscribers on distribution lists which they have set up for this purpose (for free), thus increasing the probability that at least some the information they produce will reach the interested parties. The Department of Humanitarian Affairs of UN (UN/DHA) is a good example, as it sends Diplomatic Missions updates on emergency situations in different parts of the world via e-mail.

The Internet and diplomats of the 20th century

Fig. 3 – Homepage of Reliefweb

This information is naturally available also on their Web site (, but it is certainly simpler (and more effective) to send it directly to potentially interested parties. The originating organisation can send the same information either directly to headquarters (e.g. Ministries of Foreign Affairs or Ministries For Development Co-operation) or to the accredited missions, which can filter the information according to centrally-established priorities of foreign policy, before forwarding it on electronically. No matter which procedure is followed, diplomats will waste less time as passive intermediaries between the organisation and the ministry and can use this time for more valuable activities.

It is worthwhile saying a few words on the above-mentioned site created by DHA (Reliefweb). In fact this site is a good example of how the correct use of the Internet can increase efficiency. Reliefweb is a project of the United Nations Department of Humanitarian Affairs (DHA). The purpose of the service is to strengthen the response capacity of the humanitarian relief community through the rapid dissemination of reliable information on prevention, preparedness and disaster response. Everybody can access the site and have a comprehensive overview of on-going emergencies and crisis situations.

Taking, for the example, the crisis in the Great Lakes, it is possible to have an updated chronological list of information on the region. The particular value of the service consists not only in the easy and fast access to the information but also in the fact that the information provided does not refer to DHA alone, but also includes other international organisations (UN Secretariat, FAO, UNHCR, ICRC), NGOs (Oxfam, Church World Service, Amnesty International etc.), governmental institutions (USAID, USIA), etc. In this way it is possible to have a broad and varied picture concerning a specific topic on a single page. How long would it take to collect the same information from different sources? Certainly much longer than

The Internet and diplomats of the 20th century

Fig. 4 – Map contained in the service, Reliefweb.

the few seconds needed to access the Reliefweb service. Moreover, there are other important features of this service which can be most valuable for diplomats, such as the areas dedicated to maps, and to financial tracking. In the case of maps it is possible to visualise a geographic or thematic map concerning one of the areas of crises on screen. How many times we have heard of unknown places in some remote part of the globe? Well, now it is possible to locate the place immediately by consulting one of the fully detailed maps available. The thematic maps are even more interesting, particularly in the work of development assistance. A good example is the map concerning the “Rwanda Regional Emergency Transport and Logistics Network” elaborated by the World Food Programme and available on the Reliefweb site.

Another interesting service which caters for the information needs of diplomats is the financial tracking database for complex emergencies. DHA provides financial reporting for all the countries which receive UN Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeals. The scope of reporting is continually expanding in order to incorporate new emergencies, whilst still maintaining financial reporting for ongoing humanitarian assistance programmes.(5)  Consultation of the service allows one to know what has been the response of donors to the different appeals of the organisation (or even inter-agency appeals). It is certainly an important step towards providing the transparency of development assistance funds, as every citizen can monitor the destination of funds decided by national authorities.

All major international political events are now followed by the creation of a specific Web site aimed at providing information on the event. The G7 summits, World Conferences and the Presidencies of the European Union all have specific sites where all the information concerning the event is available and, more importantly, where it is possible to obtain any official documents issued (declarations, statements, etc.) as soon as they are made available. Therefore, there is no longer any need to wait for the fax incoming from the local Embassy or for the communication coming from headquarters: all one need do is log-in and print the document available online. For example, the document concerning the reform of the United Nations, officially presented by the Secretary General Kofi Annan on 16 July 1997, was available on the Internet ( that very same day. Consequently all permanent missions (not only the one in New York where the document was presented) and Ministries of Foreign Affairs were able obtain the text immediately.(6)

Information Concerning Ministries of Foreign Affairs

The Internet can also be useful to learn more about the foreign policy of other countries. There are already fifty Ministries of Foreign Affairs which have set up Web sites.(7)  Once again, the type of information available varies greatly from site to site. Nevertheless, most of the basic information necessary for the everyday work of a diplomat, such as press releases, speeches, official positions on specific issues, organigrams, consular information etc., is usually available.

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) has one of the most comprehensive sites(8)  among the Ministries of Foreign Affairs (, providing information which ranges from key foreign policy themes to consular & visa services, from the organisation and the responsibilities of the ministry to commercial operations overseas. For example, the news on ‘FCO ON-LINE’ is updated several times a day, with a wide range of news and information material, including the FCO Daily Bulletin, issued each day at 1200GMT. If somebody is searching for a recent speech, transcript or publication, he can check the site, and presumably easily find what he was looking for.

Information Provided by Permanent Missions, Embassies and Consulates

There are also many embassies, consulates and permanent missions which have opened Web sites. The most comprehensive site with a list of all the relative links is the Embassy Page ( At the moment there are nearly two hundred embassies, consulates and permanent missions online, providing a vast amount of information which is increasing every day and is strictly related to embassy activities. The type of information provided by embassies online is often related to bilateral relations between the host country and the country of the embassy. In the case of consulates, the information is obviously focused on services for citizens abroad and visas, whereas for permanent missions the accent is on the relations between the country concerned and the international organisations.

The Internet and diplomats of the 20th century

Fig. 5 – Homepage of the Permanent Mission of Italy to International Organisations in Geneva:

The site of the Permanent Mission of Italy to International Organizations in Geneva ) is a good example of the kind of information given at these sites, with information ranging from details about the relations between Italy and the international organisations in Geneva (WHO, ILO, ECE, CERN, WTO, WMO, Human Rights, etc.), to a list of who’s who in the mission, a list of vacancies in international organisations and links to other sites related to international affairs.

Other Useful Instruments

There are many other instruments on the Internet which are useful, but which so far have been left outside the framework of diplomatic work, such as the Chat (Internet Relay Chat), the Newsgroups and video conferencing.

Through Internet Relay Chat (IRC) several people can participate simultaneously in a discussion over a particular “channel,” or even multiple channels. There is no restriction to the number of people participating in a given discussion or the number of channels that can be formed over IRC. All conversations take place in “real time.” This is one of the strengths of IRC, which has been used extensively for live coverage of world events, news, sports commentary, etc. It also serves as an “extremely” cheap substitute for long distance telephone calls. People from all corners of the world can use IRC, which makes it particularly well-suited to diplomats, who often need to discuss an issue with colleagues spread around the world.

A newsgroup is a medium which allows people to exchange ideas and information. A newsgroup is basically a forum for discussion. Users post their ideas on a particular subject and other users respond over a period of time. The network which permits this exchange of information between all newsgroups is known as Usenet.(9)  There are now thousands of newsgroups available on the Internet, some of them dealing with international matters.

Video-conferencing through the Internet is still very restricted because of the limited bandwidth of the communications. Nevertheless, the progress being made in data transmission (and compression) procedures will probably soon render videoconferencing more reliable than it is at present: when the service will enter into activity, enormous savings will be possible, as meetings and physical travel will be reduced drastically.

The Diplomat of the Future

It is clear from the few examples given in the previous sections that the diplomat of the future will presumably work in a very different manner, making better use of available technologies. The significance of the Internet for the Diplomatic Corps was pin-pointed by Dr. Chasia, Deputy Secretary General of the International Telecommunication Union, in his speech at a meeting with ambassadors in Geneva: “Electronic methods will change the way diplomats work. As most UN System documents and data are made available electronically, and connection to the Internet becomes possible from most countries, the information which you have here in Geneva will be available just as quickly to the ministries in your capitals. This means that the part of the Permanent Missions’ job concerned with collecting and sending paper will become less necessary, while the ability to identify items of real interest in the mass of information becomes ever more important. The relatively informal nature of email exchanges at the working level, exchanges which can take place independent of distance, will alter the dynamics of consultations. The fact that participants in an electronic discussion do not need to be in the same city is likely to affect the role of a place like Geneva, where the representatives of more than 140 countries are physically present. These changes may seem threatening – and indeed they are, because ministries will be increasingly using electronic methods irrespective of what happens at their missions – but more than a threat, they represent an opportunity. There is an opportunity to be seized immediately to exploit these technologies, especially in the context of the reform of the UN system, to demonstrably increase the effectiveness of the Permanent Missions and multilateral diplomatic processes.”

Equally relevant is one of the chapters of the Report on the Reform of the United Nations, presented by the Secretary General Kofi Annan on 16 July 1997, concerning the creation of an “Electronic United Nations.” In his report Annan mentions some of the new services developed by the UN exploiting information technologies:

• All permanent missions in New York are connected to the Internet and thus to UN documents via the Web site and the Optical Disk System, by 30 June 1997. Workstations are installed in the Delegates Lounge.

• An enhanced Web site, including information on Peace and Security, international law, and the environment.

• 4200 users and all servers at headquarters supplied with standardised software via a centrally managed system, cutting down on distribution costs and reducing trouble calls.

• Transition from cable and telex to e-mail and fax underway at headquarters, to be completed in 1998.

• Documentation reduced through a variety of steps, including voluntary reductions by missions because of electronic availability, shorter documents and cleaning of distribution lists. Projected decline in document production at New York headquarters: 3,975 pounds of paper in 1997, down from 5,862 pounds in 1995, a 30 per cent decline.

There is still room for improvement in most of the facilities and systems described in this brief study, despite their utility. However, if we consider the progress made by the Internet over the last couple of years,(10)  it is very likely that in the near future new and more powerful facilities will be implemented and the everyday work of diplomats will be even more affected.

The big challenge which diplomats now face is not technical, as the means are already available, but concerns their capability to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the quickly evolving world of international technology so that they can improve both their work and their efficiency

Annex 1 – Comparison on cost of messages

The estimated cost is referred to a text of one page (A4) composed of about 300 words sent from Switzerland to Italy. (in Swiss Francs)

Message type

Real transmission time of the message

Cost for 1 minute trasmission

(in SFR.)

Cost for sending the message

Time to deliver the message to the final user






D =
B * C




Telex 6 minutes 1 (+ 6 Frs. per call) 12.00 1 – 2 days – Valid for all kinds of communications -It is not possible to send documents originating from other sources– It is a text-only means
Message through X40 connection 1 minute 0.42 0.42 1 – 2 days see telex See telex
Fax 49 seconds 0.75 0.75 Between 1 minute and 1 day – It is possible to send copies of documents originating from other sources – Often a fax cover is needed– To send the same fax to the different destinations you have to repeat theprocedure (unless it is a group registered in the machine)
Note by diplomatic pouch 1 day n.a. n.a. 4 – 6 days – Valid for all kind of communications– It is possible to send copies of documents originated by other sources – Slow delivery times
E-mail 20 seconds 0.16 0.16 1 – 30 minutes – Message send directly to the final addressee without intermediaries– The same message can be sent simultaneously to different addresses. – Limited use for official communications– the final addressee needs an e-mail address


For the sake of comparison, the time to read the text was calculated as 3 minutes. An International telephone call to Italy lasting the same time costs about 2.25 Frs.

Note: Most of the times indicated refer to estimates based on experience.


1. The so-called newbies.

2. This is substantially different to a fax where one must repeat the actual operation on the fax machine for every person (telephone number) to every addressee of the fax. The other big difference is cost. While Internet e-mail is always at the cost of a local call, fax costs vary according to the country of destination.

3. The infor-diplo e-mail service offers the index of Monde Diplomatique, special issues and announcements concerning new debates and services proposed. Five or six messages are sent every month.

4. United Nations International Drug Control Programme, located in Vienna.

5. DHA actively collects data from UN Agencies, donor governments and NGOs. DHA also follows-up on specific pledge references carried in the media, quoted in pledging conferences, mentioned by in-country UNDP/DHA representatives or by the DHA complex emergency desk in New York/complex emergency support structure in Geneva. The Financial Tracking System (FTS) works under strictly defined procedures, which include considerable cross-checking and reconciliation of data from various sources.

6. For the occasion, the UN transmitted live the presentation of Kofi Annan through the Internet, experimentally, taking advantage of the multimedia possibilities offered by the Net.

7. An indicative list, with hyperlinks, can be found at

8. This service is maintained by the Information Department of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, London in conjunction with numerous other public and policy departments. It was launched on 1 May 1995, and is updated on a daily basis.

9. Usenet is not the Internet, but is a part of it; its traffic flows through the Internet.

10. In fact generalised use of Internet did not start till 1995.

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Established in 2011, the Polynesian Leaders Groups serves to fulfill a vision of cooperation, strengthening integration on issues pertinent to the region and to the future of the PLG. Its nine – American Samoa, French Polynesia, Niue, Cook Islands, Tokelau, Tuvalu, Tonga and Wallis Futuna, is argued to have strength in numbers, resources and diversity, and a positive addition to the growing regional diplomacies in the South Pacific.


Updating International Geneva to the Data-driven Era (Briefing Paper #12)

In this briefing paper, Ms Rafaela Marinho and Mr Avi Krish Bedi outline their research on how international organisations (IOs) in Geneva address and use big data in their work.


Emerging Leaders for the Digital World

Emerging leaders, whose stories feature in this publication, are among 501 participants from 60 ACP countries who participated in the Capacity Development programme in ICT Policy and Internet Governance for Africa Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) 2010/2011.


The use of Information and Communications Technology (ICTs) in human rights promotion: A case study of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights

The employment of ICT tools as a weapon of choice at the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, an organ established within the African Union with a broad mandate of spearheading human rights promotion on the African Continent has not been emphasised as a crucial element in the struggle towards achieving human rights promotion and protection on the African continent, with the resulting consequence that the Commission is not as visible and known to the people that it is supposed to serve.

E-diplomacy and Diplomatic Law in the Internet Era

Peacetime Regime for State Activities in Cyberspace (ed by Katharine Ziolkowski) covers in a multi-disciplinary approach the technical, legal, policy and diplomacy aspects of State activities in cyberspace during peacetime. It consists of 23 chapters of academic nature, elaborated by 24 authors specialised in the respective areas of expertise. Diplo's Dr Jovan Kurbalija contributed this chapter on E-diplomacy and Diplomatic Law in the Internet Era.


Crossing the Executive Digital Divide

Information and communications technologies (ICT) have become critical in business, government, manufacturing, critical infrastructures, academia, and, literally, everywhere else, and yet, despite the large sums of money involved, ICT remains the least well understood function in an organization.


China’s Soft Power in the Information Age: Think Again

This essay provides a comprehensive analysis of the Chinese public diplomacy in the digital era.


Improving the practice of cyber diplomacy: Training, tools, and other resources – Phase I

Cyber diplomacy, the conduct of diplomacy with respect to a state’s interests in cyberspace, is too important to ignore. Yet, the participation of countries is far from ideal.


From Harmonising Cyberpolicies to Promoting Twiplomacy: How Diplomacy Can Strengthen Asia-Europe’s Digital Connectivity

This text was published in the ASEF Outlook Report 2016/2017.


Cybersecurity in the Republic of Fiji

This paper discusses cybersecurity in Fiji and offers recommendations to challenges such as the vulnerability of systems due to lack of a cybersecurity framework. The poorly framed laws and lack of appropriate policies.


Net neutrality in Europe

The European Union upholds net neutrality, ensuring that all internet traffic is treated equally, without discrimination or interference from internet service providers. This regulation protects consumers' rights to access online content freely and without limitations set by providers.


Going Public: Diplomacy for the Information Society

The text is about the importance of public diplomacy in the Information Society.


The use of ICT in human rights promotion: A case study of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights

The paper seeks to render a critical analysis that will lead and co-ordinate a programme of promotional work across the region, including the integration of ICT strategies in its promotional work.


Internet governance (IG) as a diplomatic priority

This dissertation demonstrates that IG is a significant, emerging diplomatic process that should be studied and addressed seriously by diplomats to prepare them to manage the implications it has for future impact on global governance of the Internet.


Virtual Diplomacy: Diplomacy of the Digital Age

Olesya Grech investigates the impact of information and communication technologies on the conduct of modern diplomacy.


Revolution @State: The Spread of Ediplomacy

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Humanitarian public diplomacy: International calls to action in the digital era

This dissertation examines IOs (IOs) as emerging stars in the constellation of diplomatic actors, as extra-state and supra-state entities that do not replace, but rather complement, align with and encourage states. Specifically focusing on humanitarian - those attentive to the needs of people - international organisations, the paper explores their use of calls to action as a public diplomacy tool that both activates the public and reflects the needs and desires of individuals and their communities, translated to policy context. Calls to action should be strategic, well-researched, authoritive,...


A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace

The message emphasizes the autonomy of cyberspace from governmental control and promotes self-governance by its users. It calls for a declaration of independence for cyberspace, asserting that traditional governments have no authority over this virtual realm. The author believes that cyberspace should be free from external regulation and should be governed by the individuals who inhabit it.


Mediation and artificial intelligence: Notes on the future of international conflict resolution

Over the last years AI has emerged as a hot topic with regard to its impact on our political, social, and economic lives.


Book of Abstracts (Internet Governance)

This collection of abstracts comes from from research projects conducted during the 2010/2011 Internet Governance Capacity Building Programme (IGCBP).


2021: The emergence of digital foreign policy

While digital tools, in particular social media, have been gradually introduced to the practice of diplomacy, many open questions remain regarding the impact of digitisation on foreign policy and the environment in which diplomacy is practised. This is where digital foreign policy becomes important. The report is available for download. The summary and recordings of the online conference 2021: The emergence of digital foreign policy are also available.


Digital diplomacy: Conversations on Innovations in Foreign Policy

The text discusses the role of digital diplomacy in shaping innovative foreign policy strategies.

Understanding the Digital Divide

The digital divide refers to inequalities in access to and usage of technology. Factors such as income, education, geography, and age can contribute to this gap. Bridging this divide is crucial for ensuring equal opportunities for all individuals in today's technologically-driven world.


Intergovernmental organisations sharing and linking open and real-time data for inclusive governance

The rapid rise of the Internet has encouraged the use of open, real-time, and linked data to help understand and improve development processes.The advancement of data use for development without an Internet governance framework, however, raises the importance of inclusion of the most marginalized, as well as privacy and security. This paper will examine such issues, as well as the role inter-governmental organisations can play in helping to encourage the use of data while supporting the protection of privacy and security.


The era of digital foreign policy: Comprehensive approaches to digitalisation

As the theme of this issue, ‘foreign policy for the 4th industrial revolution’, suggests, diplomats and foreign ministries are faced with tremendous changes brought about by digitalisation. The ability to respond to these changes appropriately and effectively determines the future prosperity of countries. Foreign policy is already digital in many ways - including its tools and the topics on bilateral and multilateral agendas. In this article, we introduce the idea of ‘digital foreign policy’ as a comprehensive way of responding to the challenges of digitalisation and the 4th industr...


International cyber security diplomatic negotiations: Role of Africa in inter-regional cooperation for a global approach on the security and stability of cyberspace

This research paper examines African countries cybersecurity readiness and how Africa can play a role in shaping international negotiations and discussions on global cybersecurity governance.


Introducción a la Gobernanza de Internet

Aunque la gobernanza de Internet trata de los fundamentos del mundo digital, la gobernanza no puede manejarse con la lógica digital binaria de lo verdadero o lo falso, lo bueno o lo malo. En cambio, el sujeto exige muchas sutilezas y sombras de significado y percepción, requiriendo un enfoque analógico, cubriendo un continuo de opciones y compromisos. El objetivo del libro Introducción a la Gobernanza de Internet, del Dr Jovan Kurbalija, es proporcionar una visión general de los principales temas y actores en el campo a través de un marco práctico para el análisis, discusión, y resolu...


World Summit on the Information Society and development of Internet diplomacy

The purpose of this paper is to identify new developments and innovations in diplomatic practice resultant from the WSIS and WGIG. First, the author describes the overall WSIS framework and specific aspects of the WGIG. Second, he identifies the new developments and innovation in diplomatic practice that are likely of lasting importance. The author does so by comparing WSIS diplomatic practice to the practices developed during other major UN summits held since the Rio Earth Summit in 1992.


The EU’s New Commission: Digital Policy in the Limelight (Briefing Paper #13)

In this briefing paper, Dr Stephanie Borg Psaila analyses Ursula von der Leyen's new EU Commission's emphasis on digital policy for 2019–2024.


Une introduction à la gouvernance d’Internet

La gouvernance d’Internet n’est pas un sujet simple. Bien qu’elle traite d’une notion qui se veut être un symbole représentatif majeur du monde numérique, elle ne peut pas être abordée avec une simple logique numérique binaire qui ne reconnait que le vrai et le faux, le bon et le mauvais.


Namibia’s Digital Foreign Policy and Diplomacy (Briefing Paper #3)

This briefing paper emerged from Diplo's participation in Namibia's Foreign Policy Review Conference (July 2016). In this paper, Dr Katharina E. Höne suggests a three-pronged approach to Namibia's digital foreign policy and diplomacy, and looks at the discourse on information and communications technology (ICT) and development.


Twitter and Diplomacy: How Social Networking is Changing Foreign Policy

The article discusses the impact of social networking, particularly Twitter, on foreign policy and diplomacy, highlighting how governments and leaders are using these platforms to engage with each other and the public in real-time, influencing international relations. Diplomacy is evolving through social media, shaping public opinion and enabling direct communication between officials and citizens.


Rapport: Des voix africaines plus fortes dans le numérique : construire une politique étrangère et une diplomatie africaines du numérique

À mesure que le dynamisme numérique de l'Afrique s'accroît, sa participation à la politique numérique mondiale doit augmenter. Dans cette transition, les pays africains doivent composer avec les réalités géopolitiques de notre époque.


Promoting e-Commerce in developing countries

This study examines the advantages and possibilities for the use of digital signatures to carry out electronic transactions. It focuses on developing and transition countries that have not fully implemented the use of digital signatures in their economic, commercial and productive processes. An important aim of this research is to create awareness on the likely effects for enforcing the use of digital signatures to carry out e-commerce transactions on the economies of developing and transition countries. The study also proposes key issues to be considered for policy-makers in countries in orde...


A study of the UN Working Group on IG – MSP in communication technology for development at the global level

The paper aims to identify best practices and lessons learned in multi-stakeholder partnership (MSP) practices at the global policy level through a participatory methodology based on interviews and an online electronic survey.


From a Safer Internet to a Better Internet for Kids

The text is about transitioning from a safer internet to a better internet for kids.


Cyber-diplomacy: Managing Foreign Policy in the Twenty-first Century

Cyber-diplomacy: Managing Foreign Policy in the Twenty-first Century" discusses the importance of digital diplomacy in modern international relations. It explores how governments can leverage technology to engage with other countries, protect national interests, and navigate cyber threats effectively. This book offers insights into how cyber-diplomacy is reshaping traditional diplomatic practices and the key role it plays in shaping foreign policy in the digital age.


Enterprise Data Strategy: Empowering Data Informed Diplomacy (U.S. State Departement)

The Enterprise Data Strategy (EDS) aims to ensure that State Department’s workforce is equipped with the timely and relevant data necessary to make informed management decisions.


Exploring the need for speed in deploying information and communications technology for international development and bridging the digital divide

This paper comes on the eve of the millennium development goals deadline of 2015 which acknowledges ICT as the enabler for speeding towards the finish line. The quest is to explore whether we are all speeding towards a clearly defined goal, given our varied capacities and affinities.


Foreign Ministries and the Information Revolution: Going Virtual?

The ongoing information revolution is perceived as a profound organizational challenge for foreign ministries. Yet there is only scant empirical evidence on the nature of the change dynamics. Anchored in new institutionalist approaches in political science, this book reconceptualizes diplomacy as an institution of the modern state order and identifies its key organizing principles maintained by the global group of foreign ministries. With this conceptualization as a point of departure, the book provides a comparative analysis of information technology effects in the foreign ministries of Canad...


The role of knowledge in the cyber-age of globalisation

In his paper, Richard Falk reflects on the application of information technology on diplomacy, and discusses the challenge of converting information technology to ‘knowledge technology’, and subsequently to ‘wisdom technology’. Yet, the ‘crossroads in human experience’ brings many challenges and dangers which the author analyses.


The waning of the state and the waxing of cyberworld

This paper discusses whether IT is functioning mainly as an instrument of states in their quest for power and wealth or is principally operating as a transformative agent by market forces and various sectors of civil society.


Digital Diplomacy and the ICRC (Briefing Paper #7)

In this briefing paper, Ms Alice Maillot discusses the potential of digital diplomacy for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). She looks at the changing nature of diplomacy, new developments in digital diplomacy, and how the ICRC can implement and adopt some of the current trends.


The Role of Information and Communication Technologies in Diplomacy and Diplomatic Service

Rapid development of information and communication technologies (ICT) has lead to significant changes in social, economical and political relations of the modern society.


Digital Opportunities for All: Meeting the Challenge

The text is about embracing digital opportunities to overcome challenges and ensure access for all.


Futures for diplomacy: Integrative Diplomacy in the 21st Century

The text discusses Integrative Diplomacy in the 21st century, emphasizing the importance of adapting traditional diplomacy to current global challenges and opportunities. Diplomacy is viewed as a tool for addressing complex issues through collaboration and integration, fostering mutual understanding and sustainable solutions. The changing dynamics of international relations require a more inclusive and interconnected approach, focusing on partnerships and cooperation in order to navigate the complexities of the contemporary world. Diplomacy is seen as essential in shaping the future of global ...


Hands on digital diplomacy

The text "Hands on digital diplomacy" suggests a practical approach to engaging in diplomatic efforts using digital tools and platforms.


Leaving No One Behind in the Data Revolution (Briefing Paper #5)

The text offers policy recommendations and insights on cybersecurity, focusing on building resilience, fostering cooperation, and addressing challenges in the digital domain.


Towards a secure cyberspace via regional co-operation

The study Towards a secure cyberspace via regional co-operation provides an overview of the international dialogue on establishing norms of state behaviour and confidence-building measures in cyberspace.


Peacetime Regime for State Activities in Cyberspace

The publication covers in a multi-disciplinary approach the technical, legal, policy and diplomacy aspects of State activities in cyberspace during peacetime. It consists of 23 chapters of academic nature, elaborated by 24 authors specialised in the respective areas of expertise. Diplo's Dr Jovan Kurbalija contributed the chapter on E-diplomacy and Diplomatic Law in the Internet Era.


Challenges in Virtual Collaboration: Videoconferencing, Audioconferencing and Computer Mediated Communications

This report was developed as part of a larger project on aids to highlevel national-security decisionmaking. It discusses the effects of the medium of collaboration (face-to-face, videoconferencing, audioconferencing, or computer-mediated conferencing) on group processes and outcomes.