DiploNews - Issue 156 - March 15, 2010

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E-diplomacy: Should diplomats blog?

According to our poll, 85% of respondents think that diplomats should blog. Many respondents expressed more nuanced views through the comments they added. Some argue that blogging is not compatible with the diplomatic function. You can read all the comments on the “Should diplomats blog?” page on our e-diplomacy site. The debate continues on this and other issues such as e-consulates, e-learning, and more. Please join us!

May 2010 Online Courses

You are invited to apply for the following courses, which begin the week of 10 May 2010:

These courses are available as Diplo Certificate Courses (application deadline 5 April). For further information or to apply, click on the titles of the courses above or visit our courses website.

Foundation for ICT Development Third Country Training Programme

The Foundation for ICT Development is offering a Third Country Training Programme on Legal Frameworks for ICT, during 7 - 12 June 2010. The programme will

  • sensitise policy-makers and management to legislative and regulatory issues in the incorporation of internet and communication technology into socio-economic development;
  • illustrate different approaches and experiences through the examination of various model laws and regulatory mechanisms;
  • provide a road-map and tool set for the systematic enactment of a comprehensive and mature cyber-law framework; and
  • provide an understanding of emerging issues and contemporary international dialogue on issues such as broadcasting and interconnection, internet governance, cybercrime, and jurisdiction.

The course is intended for senior and middle management individuals from legal, policy, and operational units. Candidates are expected to approach the one week exercise as an important work and study programme with very tangible personal outputs. The deadline for submission of nominations is 12 April 2009 and details may be found at the Comnet website. You may also contact Marthese Azzopardi at info@comnet.org.mt for further information.

New Rules of War: Making Conflict Cheaper, Smaller, and Smarter

A controversial feature article appears in the latest issue of Foreign Policy (online). The author, John Arquilla, argues that war in the information age needs to be fought differently and that currently huge amounts of money are wasted on wrong strategies. While he acknowledges that military and defence ministries are traditionally very slow to adapt to new circumstances, Arquilla, with the US military in mind, issues three prescriptions: “many and small” beats “few and large;” “finding matters more than flanking;” and “swarming is the new surging.” In case these guidelines do not appear to make sense, take a look at The New Rules of War.

Books on Diplomacy in March

As we know that diplomats have little time to fit reading and study into their schedules, we hope that a monthly review of new publications may assist in choosing some of the most relevant.

1. Diplomacy is increasingly concerned with issues of distributive justice (rather than geopolitical issues and power relations) as it moves towards codifying rights and obligations across national borders. To what extent are claims to justice morally based (‘just desert’), and to what extent are they social conventions subject to political negotiation? A fuller understanding of the concept of ‘justice’ is a prerequisite for claims to justice between nations, groups or individuals. Michael J. Sandel has written two insightful books on this topic: Public Philosophy (2005, Harvard University Press), as well as his more recent: Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? (2009, Farrar, Straus and Giroux). Though geared to the US public, these clear expositions can provide non-lawyers with the intellectual tools for an informed defence of claims to justice – but also a better understanding of the limits of morality based claims.

2. International law has developed basic principles to order international relations. Their application mainly rests on volutary compliance by nations, i.e. the politcal will of sovereign parties in a specific context. Eric A. Posner: The Perils of Global Legalism (2009, Chicago University Press) warns against attempts to derive international obligations from such general principles in absence of political will and legitimate international institutions. Though rather dogmatic at times, this book is a useful reminder that principles of international law may not be used to coerce nations actions that are against their national interests. In the end the ‘consent of the governed’ by the principles is what counts.

3. In How Enemies Become Friends: The Source of Stable Peace (Princeton University Press, 2010), Charles A. Kupchan rejects the conventional wisdom that economic interdependence assures peace between nations. Instead, he argues that deft diplomacy, not trade or investment, is the critical ingredient that will set enemies on the pathway to peace. For scholars as well as practitioners of diplomacy, this bold claim is likely to generate interest. Part of the first chapter is freely available from the publisher’s website and is guaranteed to be an interesting read.

We thank Aldo Matteucci and Katharina Hoene for contributing this month’s book recommendations.

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