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Transformation of Diplomacy in the Age of Digital Diplomacy


Discuss about the Digital Diplomacy for Foreign and Domestic Citizens.

The modern era cannot imagine its life without the presence of Internet. There have been many revolutions in the field of Internet over many ages and these changes have affected all the aspects of life and on among them are International Relations. One of the most important key of the foreign policy is Diplomacy. This has also been transformed by the effect of revolution. This topic examines the research statement “Foreign policy in the age of Digital diplomacy and its impact on both foreign and domestic citizens”, which would further elaborate on the factors that how nations are utilizing the tools of diplomacy while pursuing the foreign policies. The paper further inspects the challenges and opportunities; the media offer for the diplomatic operations and raise arguments that nations cannot bear the loss of lagging behind. The 21st century is an era of scientific advancement and development. It is a time when life has become a rat race and no one wants to fail in any aspect. All the industries have to carry on a huge amount of research and development activities in order to understand the increasing and changing pattern of the demands of their customers. As a result of which, the companies are adopting all the modern means of technology within their production process. No company wants to fall back in this era of huge competition. Hence, they are always trying to gain sufficient knowledge about the usage of all the modern scientific and technological means (Bijola and Holmes 2015). Digital Diplomacy and the activities in internet entirely provide assistance in projecting the foreign policy of the state to both foreign and domestic citizens.

Digital diplomacy renders promises for conducting global relations, a few is known from the point of view of certain perspective that the way digital diplomacy can be conducted to certain degree of limitations, success within the zone of diplomacy and the way the nations are utilizing the strategies to make the growth of foreign policies effective. The paper further unearths the diplomatic activities and the way it promotes challenges and opportunities with new policies developing around the internet.

Digital Diplomacy also known as ediplomacy is one of the very useful and important tool for achieving diplomatic objectives. It is a method, through which nation designs the international policy and make the efforts coordinated in order to influence  activities of decision making process and attitude of the International Governments through the initiation of negotiations, dialogue and violence. The digital diplomacy, a new form of diplomacy has been interpreted, understood and defined. According to Manor and Segrev (2015), diplomacy primarily identifies the increasing usage and utilization of social media platforms in nations so that it can gain sufficient amount of knowledge from the different foreign policies and the objectives and control reputation effectively. The authors that the presence of digital diplomacy can be found in two levels, foreign ministries and embassies, which are located across the world, have noted it. Through its maintenance of operations on these aspects, countries can frame out international policy and messages of nation branded as a rare characteristics of local citizens in terms to traditions, value, history and culture, thereby allowing the approval of their foreign policy and the image, which has been aimed to be promoted.

Digital Diplomacy: Opportunities and Challenges for Global Relations

Lewis (2014) has defined this diplomacy as the utilization of the digital instruments for initiating communication by the diplomats in order to transmit information to the public. Hanson (2012) has defined digital diplomacy as use of internet and innovative technologies of information and communication to render support in order to carry out diplomatic aims.

The United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) elaborated its understanding of the concept of digital diplomacy in relation to the foreign policy. Digital diplomacy is the process of solving the problems of foreign policy through internet. It is regarded as a convenient method of diplomacy through a separate transmitter. It is through the use of web, that people can listen, evaluate and engage the foreign policy matter in many interesting ways. It is even possible to enlarge the scope of understanding and transmit directly with the government as well as with the society. However, the question arises, why it is significant to use digital diplomacy? It is significant in the sense that it makes the users to update them with the ideologies and policies of the politicians and accordingly, if the person does not consider digital debate, he can lose by default the argument. Therefore, in order to provide both the policy and information advices to the governments, the ministries of foreign have depended on their staff and their diplomatic vision, the confidentiality of international relations communication and their way to entry to foreign decision makers (Bijola and Jiang 2015). The Governments has to depend on their respective ministers of foreign such a way that can explain the national interest in the best way possible. 

Negotiation is one of the most important tools in the field of foreign policies. It is considered to be very important and very useful in case of achieving the diplomatic objectives. Diplomatic negotiation processes are very important in case setting up international relations between countries and also between international organizations as well. Among the seven methods, negotiation is the first useful instrument that is used to settle many disputes between countries. In case of international relations between two countries or two organizations, there can be many sensitive issues like conflicts, mismatch of opinions and several other such problems. If these issues are not properly and timely handled then these can also lead to war and consequently it would lead to the disruption of peace. Hence, negotiation appears to be the most important tool in case of solving such disputes. This is because negotiation is a process that starts in a peaceful way by following methods of enquiry, persuasion, arbitration, judicial settlements and several other things.

Definition and Understanding of Digital Diplomacy

Origin of Digital diplomacy can be traced down to the public diplomacy, which is an important form practicing diplomacy. It is defined from the perspective of, the instruments utilized by the states to have a clear idea of cultures, behavior and attitudes, manage and build relationships, manipulate thoughts and mobilize activities to make their values and interests active. Sotiri 2015has argued that bringing a larger number of public into the equation of diplomacy has enhanced many important stakeholders, who are taking participation in the field of International diplomacy, from the state-to-state interactions to the international non- governmental organizations and international Government organizations.

Digital diplomacy is largely based on the usage of internet. In the modern day scenario, the most easy and quick means of sharing information is through the social networking media. As international relations require the sharing of many new polices and business decisions within a very short period of time and across far and distant regions, the social networking media like face book, twitter, blogs often become very handy and useful. Schwarzenbach (2015) noted that the largest transformation Twitter has given the foreign policy the entry to the real information and international engagement irrespective of political status of Nation. The first and foremost foreign ministry to set up dedicated unit of ediplomacy was the United States Department that has given birth to a taskforce on e-diplomacy in the year 2002. It has 160 full time employees engaged in the platform of social media, who are functioning across 25 different offices. The primary reason of creating the Office of eDiplomacy was to overcome the obstacles in knowledge making its contribution to the attacks 11 September and to bring improvements the State Department ability to transmit and share knowledge. After 9/11, the foreign policy of America became quite proactive, keen to penetrate because of the consistent agenda of digital diplomacy (Bijola and Jiang 2015).

Other foreign ministers across the globe have started to welcome diplomacy. The UK FCO is having Digital Diplomacy office which is engaged in wider range of activities of ediplomacy. Sweden is also very active in the promotion of digital diplomacy, especially by following the strategy of online communication of the countries minister of foreign affairs Carl Bildt, who became the best connected leader in Twitter. In the year 2008, France has been indicated that the soft power of the country is believed on the digital technologies, while the foreign affairs department of Japan and Poland use a wide and extensive of the networks of social media (Holmes 2015). Furthermore, Germany turned to the platforms of ICT to the crowd source opinion and innovative ideas from the people that have fed into its year 2014 review of foreign policy. Israel is successful in while matching its assaultive traditional diplomacy with one of the important active units in the world of digital diplomacy, which has worked harder to influence the outcome of US-Iran nuclear deals.

Significance of Digital Diplomacy in Foreign Policies

A larger number of embassies are now having interactive based websites and accounts in Facebook and increasing ambassadors are actively present in Twitter, though certain accounts of social media are performing better. Some good examples can be Australia’s High Commission had made an attempt to answer live session of Question and Answer. Hashtags like #innovationXchange have been performed by the Twitter account to promote initiatives and stakeholders in the discussion (Holmes 2015). A report stated that, Twiplomacy in the year 2016 revealed that social media is regarded as an important communication mode for the Governments around the world and Twitter has become one of the important channels for choice to conduct diplomacy. 

In the continent Asia, in the field of digital, India is leading the way. The country has continued to invest in constructing its online outreach despite the constraints found in resources (Pamment 2016). The country has used Twitter to the excellent effect in order to gear the successful emptying of more than 19000 citizens from India from Libya during the start of civil war, which took place in 2011. India has started experimenting with the various ways in order to link overseas and local audiences through the application of mobile apps, live streaming of any issues or situations and through a responsive presence of social media (Pamment 2016).

Digital diplomacy is not free from any kinds of criticisms. The utilization of social media media in the field of politics has added danger. It has been pointed by the diplomats of United States that Information regarding breaking the international crises that once upon a time took place days or hours for the officials of government has played a good  time to the audiences, not only through television and radio, but also over the internet. Ironically enough, for the creators of policy, immediate propagation about the events both near and far has proved to be useful for the audiences (Holmes 2015; Pilegard 2016). In the other words, it can be stated that Digital diplomacy is carrying risks, which includes information leakages, anonymity of internet users and hacking. The most recent example is interference of Russia in the US election in the year 2016. The Government of Russia began its process of hacking through its attempt to infiltrate an election technology of America, which is known by the name VR systems, which is a company based in Florida. The attackers used a technique of spear phishing, sending emails at a personalized level to various employees of the company, trying to trick the employees or manipulating them into entering into a false login Google form.

Negotiation: An Important Tool in Foreign Policies

There are both pros and cons of this process of digital diplomacy. As the very name suggests, the process of digital diplomacy is largely based on the usage of social networks which is increasing and changing day by day. Hence, it often becomes a major problem to keep in pace with the ever-changing and the ever-growing world of social networks. On the other hand, one of the last important issues that need to be handled very carefully in case of foreign policies is the issue of hacking. There are many risks that are associated with relying upon the social networking platforms as a tool of foreign diplomacy. Another important issue that needs tom checked is the issue of blackouts and censorship on the media. In other words international relations are mainly carried on between many two or more foreign countries tries and the government or political scenario of different country varies. There are many countries where the media is often subjected to blackouts, which would greatly affect the process of digital diplomacy. Another risk associated is the information leakage. A good example can be the Wikileaks episode.  On 28 November; turmoil was spread among the foreign ministers across the world as the website of Wikileaks started publishing 260,000 diplomatic cables, which were sent between the missions of United States across the world and the Department of State in Washington. The cables incorporated frank based assessments by the diplomats from US, governments and the host nations.

Another risk that was very much prevalent right from the time of the invention of internet is hacking. A good example incorporates the case of a hacking attack on Yuli Edelstein’s personal website, a Minister from Israel for the Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs. The minister commented on this and stated that nothing will stop him from practicing public diplomacy on behalf of Israel State. He intended to continue to defend the state interests on all fronts of the state including in the internet (Constantinou 2016). Another incident that took place recently is a hacking group known by the name Fancy Bear made an attempt to spy on the artillery unites of Ukraine due to its distribution of application of androids apps used for targeting of weapons. It is still unclear how successful was the effort. However, according to the firm, the android app has the potential to map out the composition of an unit and hierarchy, determine their plans and even their location approximately. The app, which is in question, allowed the military forces of Ukraine to quickly pinpoint their aims and distributed to the units, which are operating the Soviet era towed Howitzer (Constantinou 2016). The hackers from Russia distributed their version of the application on the social media platforms, which are famous among the service members from Ukraine. The troops from Ukraine operating the D-30 suffered above the rates of average casualty and according to Crowdstrike, that this might have taken place because of being tracked by a malicious natured application (Constantinou 2016).

Origin of Digital Diplomacy

Another obstacle of this diplomacy is the anonymity’s culture which states that anyone can work on the adoption of any persona, attack and addresses anyone. Any person can imitate pretends to be someone else or best described as an imposter, who is active to cause mischief. Interestingly, as well, even the advocates of digital diplomacy and committed several mistakes in the different uses (Constantinou 2016). For example, the day before the world economic forum this took place in Davos, the foreign minister from Sweden, Carl Bildt, posted a politically incorrect tweet “Leaving Stockholm and heading for Davos. Looking forward to World Food Program dinner tonight. Global hunger is an urgent issue! #davos”. The Twitter users immediately have banned the minister’s post on twitter and LSO banned it from being viewed by the rest of the public (Constantinou 2016).

In today’s world, the use of digital diplomacy is important. The word is framed in such a way that both non- state and states waged in the field of competition with each other, but online. This online space now help more than 2.5 billion users, most of the users can only access the internet through their cellphone. However, if the digital diplomacy is used properly, the diplomacy is persuasively supplementing the old diplomacy that can provide help to the country in its foreign policy goals, extend the global reach and influence the people who would never set their foot in any of the embassies of the world.

According to Fisher (2013), the advantages of using social media provide opportunities in order to reach out to the citizens of the other nations in the real time. The platforms of social media provide spaces for the purpose of interaction, enhances engagement and thus accelerating the objectives of diplomacy. The social media can be accessed with the potential ease because of the low cost comparing to the other methods, which have made it an attractive tool for many embassies, government offices, which are witnessing cut in the budgets and the demand to increase the potentiality of engagement. There are many platforms, which allow the utilization of dynamic contents such as photos, videos than the accidental procedures of delivering lectures or giving out pamphlets. Along with this, social media act as important channels while trying to reach out the young populations, which is now a major aim of the efforts of public diplomacy (Live 2016).

Impact of Social Networking Media on Digital Diplomacy

Digital technologies can be made useful in the information field, processing, collection, in the zone of actions of consulate and for the purpose of communications, during disasters and emergencies. The global practices presented that skillful utilization of this diplomatic tools can bring forth the bigger dividends to the investors. To top it, always, digital diplomacy does not require any monetary investments (Melissen and Caesar 2016). On the contrary, the diplomacy has aimed to reduce its costs. The human factors involve the need for the employees to grow and develop and also master the skill of using the new technologies and spending a part of their time while working with the targeted audiences in Internet. Much of the Foreign minister’s work across the world is continuing to be controlled through the ordinary processes of diplomacy, instructions given to the foreign embassies, negotiations and meetings (Cooper 2016). Thus, digital diplomacy would not be substitute the classical diplomacy, only  if this diplomacy is being properly controlled with skills, this particular instrument can strengthen the functioning of the state in the international relations and foreign policy much faster and make it a cost effective.


Therefore it can be concluded that the present day scenario has been largely influenced by the Internet and its uses. The social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook look forward for different missions with straight access to the citizens outside and inside of the nations. The developments and innovations in ICT resulted in the handling of the information, which gets generated everywhere, rendering the information disseminate, far and wide, allowing the common people to work upon and make  their own judgments, expressing their feelings,concerns and even leave an impact on the makers of policy. Consequently, the process followed by the government for waging interaction, which would reach faster in other parts of the world. The diplomacy brings challenges and opportunities. On one hand, the social media is updating country with the information to bring solutions to the problems and on the other hand, it has been misused for the self-purpose. It is needless to say that digital diplomacy is a new kind of diplomacy and it is impacting the foreign policy by directly linking with the public diplomacy.


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Bjola, C. and Jiang, L., 2015. Social media and public diplomacy: a comparative analysis of the digital diplomatic strategies of the EU, US and Japan in China. Digital Diplomacy: Theory and Practice, ed. Corneliu Bkola, and Marcus Holmes, pp.71-88.

Constantinou, C., 2016. Everyday diplomacy: mission, spectacle and the remaking of diplomatic culture. Diplomatic Cultures and International Politics: Translations, Spaces and Alternatives, pp.23-40.

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Hanson, F. 2012, October 25. Baked in and wired: eDiplomacy@State, Foreign Policy Paper Series no 30 (pp. 1–41), Washington, DC: Brookings Institution.

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Manor, I., & Segev, C. 2015. America’s selfie: How the US portrays itself on its social media accounts. In C. Bjola & M. Holmes (Eds.), Digital diplomacy: Theory and practice (pp. 89–108). New York, NY: Routledge

Melissen, J. and Caesar-Gordon, M., 2016. “Digital diplomacy” and the securing of nationals in a citizen-centric world. Global Affairs, 2(3), pp.321-330.

Pamment, J., 2016. Digital diplomacy as transmedia engagement: Aligning theories of participatory culture with international advocacy campaigns. new media & society, 18(9), pp.2046-2062.

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Schwarzenbach, B. 2015. Twitter and diplomacy: How social media revolutionizes interaction with foreign policy. Retrieved from twitter-and-diplomacy-how-social-media-revolutionizesour-interaction-with-foreign-policy/

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