14. Challenges of “cyber” diplomacy

14 Feb

Challenges of “cyber” diplomacy

1. As societies develop, new scenarios arise in international relations and pose new priorities which require methods consonant with the achievements and the significant changes that are evident in this area. The exercise of diplomacy is thus transformed but continues to take into account the interests of the respective States in the face of the challenges, risks and opportunities posed by the changing international environment.

2. In this context, such changes could be seen prominently in the importance acquired by “Hard Power” versus “Soft Power.” “Hard Power,” which refers to the traditional methods of coercion through the use of force (economic or military), is losing ground against “Soft Power,” the more subtle and effective art of persuasion and influence. This is the consequence of a number of factors which essentially have been identified as the so-called “interdependence complex,” which includes the empowerment of public opinion, the so-called revolution in mass media, the flow of ideas and information through the electronic media and, prominently, the cultural phenomenon known as globalisation.

3. These are elements that require States to reformulate its foreign policy structures and implement and develop the so-called mass diplomacy or “cyber” diplomacy, as a new focal point in international efforts.

4. In the light of the new global environment, States require effective strategies to inform and influence foreign audiences in order to create greater empathy, as a prerequisite for achieving its policy objectives abroad and as a strategic aspect of their diplomacy.

5. The development of this type of mass diplomacy leads to greater facilities to achieve goals that correspond to national interests. Also, this kind of diplomacy can advance more quickly and consistently when it has specific security objectives and economic and political purposes in mind.

6. Mass diplomacy contributes effectively to traditional diplomacy in implementing plans and achieving the objectives of foreign policy issues. In that sense, the so-called public diplomacy of the United States to spread American values and ideas internationally is now one of the priorities of the strategic plan of the Department of State. For American diplomacy this is a natural adaptation to the revolution of the mass media and the growing influence of culture which is now more closely tied to political and social change.

7. Programme evaluations conducted by the Department of State have shown that foreign populations exposed to mass diplomacy develop greater empathy for that country. The ability to reach populations with mass diplomacy increases with strategic communication programmes specially designed for foreign audiences and supported by a wide range of technological facilities, such as the Internet, printed publications, talk shows and processed electronically transmitted information resources , among others.

8. In the same direction, French diplomacy has prioritised to make France’s voice heard in the world to disseminate and share its core values, beliefs, norms and practices. For Germany, culture, information and communication are strategic assets in the field of security policy. That country sees the impact of mass diplomacy as stronger when people have as partners groups of individuals and institutions that have an influential role in the society targeted by forms of mass diplomacy.

9. With respect to “cyber” US diplomacy, the “Cyber Diplomacy Office” was created in 2002 to strengthen the capacity of communication and information dissemination internationally. This office has been incorporated into the Department of Information Management of the Department of State. The general strategic objectives of the “cyber” US diplomacy cover five aspects:

a)      Providing the right information;

b)      Connect to diplomats anywhere at any time and ensuring their involvement in decision making;

c)      Coordinate external partners in cooperation;

d)     Safe and effective risk;

e)      Innovations in practical work to create a highly specialised unit in information technology that can effectively serve the diplomatic missions.

10. It is noteworthy that “cyber” diplomacy, by its actions, has become a prime effective and consistent tool for “Soft Power.” Undoubtedly, the so-called “cyber” diplomacy is an innovative and highly effective factor for the full exercise of contemporary diplomacy.

© by Odeen Ishmael


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