The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the attention to the fact that we live in a very fragile world with a complex equilibrium of international powers. In this sense, if just a year ago, diplomats and governments were asked where they would see themselves in a year’s time; most probably no one would have guessed the current international scenario. In just 6 months, all countries in the world have been affected by a crisis of unprecedented magnitude which does not understand borders and has hitted most of the world economies. No country can remain isolated from the unprecedented global consequences of COVID-19. In this, traditional diplomacy has been looking into digital diplomacy as an option to recover the lack of face to face encounters and meetings.
Digital diplomacy is usually conceptualized as a form of public diplomacy. It involves the use of digital technologies and social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Weibo by states to enter into communication with foreign public usually in a non-costly manner (Adesina, 2017). One might think this is not such a new practice. Indeed, it is not. However, the acceleration of the use of digitalization in diplomacy, overcoming traditional diplomacy channels, is in fact a quite new phenomena. Within a very short period of time, Foreign Ministries have been pushed to shift and modify their strategic public diplomacy agendas and country branding strategies into the digital world.
In a time of budget and travel restrictions, digitalization offers a new world of opportunities to diplomats. Nevertheless, the dilemmas behind the loss of face to face diplomacy, which for centuries has ruled the International Relations, is still unknown. The traditional soft power that international diplomacy offered to countries begins to diminish in an era of renewed protectionism and populism. How effective digital diplomacy can be in an international arena fooled by fake news and rumours? How can countries design a reliable strategy, with a clear and solid public diplomacy message in a moment of general distrust and new cybersecurity threats.
Within this context, the need for answers, both for public practitioners, journalists and researchers; appears mandatory in order to be able to correctly analyse the ongoing International Relations. Which digital diplomatic sources and messages are reliable? Diplomacy can be a tool of peace, conflict or neutrality, therefore, digital diplomacy can serve the same aim. With this goal, the upcoming webinar «Digitalization of foreign policy in times of crisis« (part of the webinar series of the Master in International Affairs and Diplomacy offered along with UNITAR) will try to create a dialogue for both the academic and professional worlds to understand world in order to understand and analyse what is going on in the current digital diplomatic affairs.
Digitalization of foreign policy in times of crisis
Wednesday, 15th July // 3pm CET
Register to the open webinar: https://unitar.org/DigitalForeignPolicy