Digitalization is here to stay – and so is diplomacy. For governments, reconciling the implications of digitalization with the functional performance of diplomacy is essential to achieving global and national needs. Brian Hocking and Jan Melissen argue that digital diplomacy is more than the application of social media to familiar diplomatic functions, even though the challenge of their use in diplomacy should not be underestimated.
Foreign ministries have no choice but to develop digital strategies if they are to survive. Digitalization will enhance the need for them to redefine their roles and to develop narratives to explain what they are for. The conventional wisdom is that digitalization does not change the fundamental objectives of diplomacy, but offers new ways through which these can be achieved. Governments need to take a more nuanced look: digitalization will put fundamental norms and rules of diplomacy to the test.
Diplomats of all types will need to function in the offline and online environments. Foreign ministries are advised not to respond to the challenges of the digital age by ‘following the herd’. They should not treat digital resources as another form of top-down communication, and define their objectives clearly.
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