In November 2022, I had the fantastic opportunity to attend the Summit on Digital Diplomacy and Governance organized as part of the 20th anniversary of the DiploFoundation.
The main takeout of the superb conference is that, as in the past, technology is changing diplomacy very fast. Diplomats and ministries of foreign affairs (MFAs) need not just to try to keep up with the changes but be prepared to take advantage of the opportunities it brings and protect against the threats it presents.
As it was a decade ago with the appearance of social media, nowadays, diplomats and people who perform diplomatic functions must be aware of the rapid changes happening in the digital realm. From the rise and consolidation of TechPlomacy (Technology Diplomacy) and Digital Foreign Policy to the upcoming arrival of quantum computers and the fast-changing face of Artificial Intelligence, technology is changing diplomacy and the world´s geopolitics.
The adaptation of diplomacy to technological revolutions is not new. To learn more about the topic, make sure you visit Diplo´s interactive page on the History of Diplomacy and Technology or watch the very educational and informative Masterclass Diplomacy and Technology: a Historical journey, which at the end of each chapter has a great surprise.
There are few places or institutions in today´s world that bring together specialists in ICT and internet governance and practitioners of diplomacy in such a dynamic way like Diplo does. It has achieved this perfect communion through consistency, innovation, and total commitment to capacity building with a particular focus on small and developing states.
Another marvelous aspect of Diplo is that the Summit and all events it organizes have an incredible array of participants from all corners of the world, with a considerable proportion of women and the Global South. Furthermore, many of the attendees were Diplo´s Alumni, so the camaraderie of the Summit was just unbelievable. I even learned how to dance Jerusalema!
Summit on Digital Diplomacy and Governance. The Future of Diplomacy: From Geopolitics to Emerging Technologies.
According to Diplo, the Summit had 33 sessions, 68 speakers, and 510 participants (DiploFoundation, 2022). Here is a video about it.
For a summary of the event, read the Digwatch Newsletter, Issue 75 (December 2022). One of the highlights was the idea that digital diplomats “need to acquire new skills in digital governance: An understanding of the new geopolitics and geo-economic landscape, knowledge of the technology fuelling these developments, and the skills to engage with other actors, including tech companies, academia, and civil society” (Geneva Internet Platform, 2022, p. 6). For a complete summary of the meeting, visit Highlights from the Summit on Digital Diplomacy and Governance
To learn more about the participants' perspectives, Diplo created a series of videos and messages titled “Summit in a minute”, which I recommend watching/reading. You will see the significant diversity of the Summit´s attendees and their broad perspectives.
Opportunities for learning about new technology and its impact on diplomacy.
The future is happening now, as Tech giants and digital nomads are working hard to code new technologies and apps that will transform the world. In the last decade, we have seen the disruptive power of social media. The coming changes will likely have a more significant impact, from automation affecting millions of jobs and livelihoods to data mining and artificial intelligence.
Therefore, I encourage diplomats to ride the wave of technological changes before it is too late. Fortunately, DiploFoundation has many tools and options for learning and engaging. Here are some courses offered by Diplo:
DiploFoundation. (2022). Highlights from the Summit on Digital Diplomacy and Governance.
Geneva Internet Platform (2022) Digwatch Newsletter, Issue 75 (December 2022).
DISCLAIMER: All views expressed on this blog are that of the author and do not represent the opinions of any other authority, agency, organization, employer or company.
Rodrigo Márquez Lartigue
Diplomat interested in the development of Consular and Public Diplomacies.