How are MFAs coping with helping people abroad in an increasingly online world? The “digital shift” in consular assistance reveals how the effectiveness and legitimacy of ministries of foreign affairs (MFAs) are becoming more dependent on citizen participation. In the years ahead governments are likely to become more explicit in making the argument that a digitally literate or digitally native citizenry will assist government assistance to nationals abroad, and that nationals abroad should assume more responsibility for their own security.
This exploration of the effect of digitisation on crisis assistance to nationals abroad throws a light on key changes in how an empowered domestic public and empowered government see one another. Consular assistance in the digital age constitutes therefore not just a technological challenge.
This working paper is written within the context of the project 'Diplomacy in the 21st Century' of the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP) and the German Institute for International and Security Affairs.