Opinion
August 15, 2012

The socially networked diplomat

Quote of the week

…”eDiplomacy hosts a variety of platforms that equip State Department employees with innovative tools for collaboration…”

— Office of eDiplomacy home page

 
Editor’s Corner

Even diplomats aren’t immune to the trends spawned by social media. What is interesting about the U.S. eDiplomacy initiative is its determination to harness and manage the power of new technology to support government objectives.

A report by the Lowry Institute for International Policy looking at the State Department’s eDiplomacy initiative was passed onto me. The project is part of the department’s response to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s call for “complementing traditional foreign policy tools with newly innovated and adapted instruments of statecraft that fully leverage the networks, technologies, and demographics of our interconnected world.”

The Lowry report notes that in some areas, such as knowledge management, eDiplomacy has achieved significant goals. In others, it has been less successful.

The report describes how eDiplomacy turns ministries of foreign affairs into “high-end consultancies for other arms of government abroad” and lets experts from across multiple departments become privy to, and thus able to analyze, up-to-date information and data.

One objective relates to disaster response, using “connective technologies” to support a response to a crisis. Here in Canada, the Department of Foreign Affairs in Ottawa built a wiki to coordinate the departmental actions during the Haiti disaster that was a great success.

What the report calls the slow pace of adoption by many foreign ministries may simply be confusion about the term. It defines it as “use of the web and new ICT to help carry out diplomatic objectives”.

The report is interesting in that it explores how new technologies can be not only drivers, but also enablers that support doing business better to meet goals.

You can find it at http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/research/files/reports/2012/3/ediplomacy%20hanson/03_ediplomacy_hanson

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