DIPLOMACY IN THE DIGITAL AGE

In today’s complex world we need diplomacy more than ever. Diplomacy is the art and skill to negotiate and to find a common ground through dialogue. It requires communicating, listening, understanding, persuading, building trust. Traditional diplomacy achieves its goals by relying on direct human interaction.

However, as a result of recent technological advances it has become possible to engage with millions of people simultaneously at minimal cost. We now live in a more connected world in which diplomacy is no longer reserved for diplomats behind closed doors. We witness that individuals or non-governmental organizations empowered by social media are able to affect international events at an unprecedented scale. Leaders take advantage of digital platforms to communicate directly. Social networks can challenge hierarchies and can even unsettle regimes.

Digital activity, which reaches millions of people by overcoming age old problems of distance and time zones, necessitates a new mindset and culture: It is based on the norms of transparency, speed, informality and interactivity. Yet, to achieve the desired results, these norms often need to be attuned to traditional diplomacy’s practices of tact, confidentiality, hierarchy and formality. Incorporation of digital platforms in the practice of diplomacy compels Foreign Ministries to develop new strategies and methods.