Science diplomacy in 2021
What is science diplomacy?
There are three types of science diplomacy (AAAS and Royal Society, 2010):
- Science in diplomacy is about the use of scientific advice for foreign policy decision-making. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of the United Nations is an important example. Established in 1988, the IPCC brings together the latest scientific advice on climate change.
- Diplomacy for science often include large-scale research facilities, which given their cost and resource intensity can only be built through collaboration among a number of countries. The most example of diplomacy for science is the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), which was established in 1954 after negotiations between 12 founding member states.
- Science for diplomacy is the promotion of a more peaceful world through scientific cooperation. CERN is also an example of science for diplomacy. A commonly cited recent example of science for diplomacy is the Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East (SESAME), a research facility based in Jordan. It’s members are Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Pakistan, Palestine, and Turkey. This is very notable as the diplomatic relationships between some of the members are very strained. Iran54 and Israel, for example, have not had direct diplomatic relationships since 1979.
Why does science diplomacy matter?
Science diplomacy mirrors the importance of science for modern society from the fight against pandemics to nuclear non-proliferation and the fight against climate change. Science for diplomacy can also contribute towards more international cooperation and, ultimately, more peaceful international relations.
How is science diplomacy conducted?
Science diplomacy includes:
- Development and management of international cooperation
- Diplomatic reporting
Where is science diplomacy performed?
International organisations are the main multilateral venue for science diplomacy. The include:
FAQs on Science Diplomacy
They can often be interchanged. There are however some patterns emerging in their usage. Cyber diplomacy is used more to refer to diplomatic activities related to cyber security issues. There is more confusion about digital diplomacy being used to implement digital foreign policy (new topics in diplomatic agenda) and the use of new tools in diplomatic practice like social media, websites and online meeting platforms.
It is possible to avoid confusion in the current, transitory phase of terminology settling.
– The evolving geopolitical ENVIRONMENT for diplomacy: impact of digital technology on sovereignty distribution of power, and global interdependence among other issues.
– The emergence of new TOPICS in diplomatic agenda: cybersecurity. internet governance, e-commerce, online human rights, and more than 50 other policy topics.
– Use of new TOOLS in diplomatic practice: social media, AI, big data, online meetings, virtual and augmented reality.
You can read more on terminological confusion and other aspects of digital diplomacy.
The future of the metaverse is still not clear.
Facebook has the network, financial and technical capabilities to make this happen. The government should be ready to address data protection, cybersecurity, digital identity, and other digital policy issues. These issues need to be addressed in a way that balances “real” reality (physical), virtual realities, and augmented realities.
It all comes down to semantics and context usage. These prefixes are frequently used in interchangeable ways. It is crucial to determine if a specific usage of cyber diplomacy/digital diplomacy or even e-diplomacy refers only to digital geopolitics, topics, or tools. You can learn more about different usages of prefixes in digital diplomacy.
The Vienna convention (1961) on diplomatic relations does not specify how countries will be represented. They are typically represented in another country by an embassy or other types of diplomatic missions. However, there are many other options available such as rowing (nonresident Ambassadors). Online diplomatic representation can be considered legal. It is yet to be seen if this practice will increase in popularity over the next few years.
Cybersecurity is a protection of the Internet and other information systems from malicious threats, misuse and malfunctioning. Cybersecurity covers wide area including protection from cyberwar, terrorist attack and cybercrime, among others. Cybersecurity is implemented through policies, procedures and technical solutions.
Digital diplomacy refers to the impact of digital technology on diplomacy in three realms:
- changing digital geopolitical and geoconomic ENVIRONMENT for diplomatic activities (sovereignty, power redistribution, interdependence)
- emerging digital TOPICS on diplomatic agenda (e.g. cybersecurity, e-commerce, privacy protection, and
- new TOOLS for diplomatic activites (e.g. social media, big data, AI).
Digital divide refers to social inequalities created by the introduction of computers and the Internet into human society. It is manifested in differences in number of computers, access to the Internet and available applications. Digital divide is most commonly used to describe the difference between developed and developing countries in the use of digital technology and the Internet. However, divides exists on various levels, including between young and old, urban and rural, and among different professions.
In its broadest sense, diplomacy is the conduct of international relations by peaceful means. More restrictive is this definition: diplomacy is the peaceful conduct of international relations by official agents of states, international organisations, and other international actors. Even more restrictive is the definition of diplomacy as the conduct of relations between sovereign states by members of their respective foreign services. There are also a wide range of definitions based on functions of diplomacy:
Representation is one of the most important functions of diplomacy. Costas Constantinou blends the concepts of representation and communication in his definition: “At its basic level, diplomacy is a regulated process of communication between at least two subjects, conducted by their representative agents over a particular object.”
The next set of definitions is focused on communication and the sharing of information. In The International Law of Diplomacy, B.S. Murthy defines diplomacy as, “the process of transnational communication among the elites in the world arena.” Brian White defines diplomacy, both as “a communication process between international actors that seek through negotiation and dialogue to resolve conflicts” and as “one instrument that international actors use to implement their foreign policy”. Tran Van Dinh’s most concise explanation of the importance communication has for diplomacy is: “Communication is to diplomacy as blood is to the human body. Whenever communication ceases, the body of international politics, the process of diplomacy, is dead, and the result is violent conflict or atrophy.” Constantiou describes diplomacy as “a regulated process of communication” (Constantinou) and James Alan as “the communication system of the international society”.
The third approach focuses on the definition of diplomacy as negotiation. Quincy Wright defines diplomacy as: “the art of negotiation, in order to achieve the maximum of group objectives with a minimum of costs, within a system of politics in which war is a possibility.” Hendely Bull defines diplomacy as “the management of international relations by negotiations.”
Unfortunately, online politeness is declining. Language is divisive and offensive.
It’s possible to regain your e-politeness with careful language usage. Sarcasm should be avoided as it can easily lead to offence.
Internet governance is defined by the World Summit on Information Society (Tunis Agenda, 2005) as “the development and application by Governments, the private sector, and civil society, in their respective roles, of shared principles, norms, rules, decision-making procedures, and programmes that shape the evolution and use of the Internet.”
Term online diplomacy is loosing its relevance and traction.
E-politeness is about online behaviour that reflects respect and courtesy, just as it should be in real life.
Public diplomacy only covers one aspect of digital diplomacy related to the use of TOOLS for diplomacy including Twitter, Facebook and other social media. Other aspects of digital diplomacy include new TOPICS on diplomatic agenda and changing geopolitical or geo-economic ENVIRONMENT.
However, digital diplomacy may sometimes be seen as just public diplomacy because of high media visibility of the use of Twitter and Facebook in international politics.
Science and technology are both considered the foundations of modern society. These terms are often used in modern parlance. The fundamental difference between science and technology is that it can be viewed as “disinterested knowledge and research” but not necessarily aimed at solving a practical problems. Technology is commonly referred to in this way as “applied science”.
But, it’s difficult to discern such clear distinctions in practice. Technology and science are often interconnected. It is not easy to tell the difference between scientific discoveries in mathematics, and the development of computers. Science and technology have been complementing one another. This distinction has become more blurred in the last ten years.
In the complex interplay of multiple issues and actors in diplomacy, the key challenge is to place certain issues on global diplomatic agendas. Similarly to the media in general and the world of the Internet, a fight for attention takes place, in this case diplomatic attention. Kehone and Nye suggest that states “struggle to get issues raised in international organisations that will maximise their advantage by broadening or narrowing the agenda.”
Currently, there are many unresolved issues related to Internet governance. As a result, extensive manoeuvring by different actors trying to place their own issues on emerging Internet diplomatic agendas is taking place.
From our blog
In our May WebDebate, we discussed science diplomacy, focusing on the question of preparing the future generation of diplomats for this emerging field. We unpacked the concept of science diplomacy and discussed its gr...
25 June 2019
The practice of diplomacy is changing. Unlike some years ago, it now involves new actors and subjects. These changes have necessarily created new ways of interactions. Governments, the private sector, academia, and th...
In our September WebDebate, we looked at space diplomacy. While space diplomacy is a hotly debated issue of geopolitical dimensions, it also reminds us of the need for multilateral efforts and pooling resources togeth...
[WebDebate #9 summary] Science diplomacy: approaches and skills for diplomats and scientists to work together effectively
The WebDebate on ‘Science diplomacy: approaches and skills for diplomats and scientists to work together effectively’ was organised by DiploFoundation within the framework of the International Forum on Diplomatic ...
11 May 20 - 11 May 20
01 Jul 19 - 05 Jul 19
27 Jun 19 -
25 Jun 19 -
07 May 19 -
16 Feb 19 -
22 Nov 16 - 23 Nov 16
04 Nov 16 - 25 Nov 16
07 Jul 16 - 08 Jul 16
11 Feb 00 - 13 Feb 00
29 Jan 99 - 31 Jan 99
Crucial global topics are becoming increasingly dependent on the world’s rapidly changing scientific knowledge and technological capabilities: from global health to digital society, sustainability to development, and beyond. To tackle this growing complexity, countri... Read more...
Knowledge and Diplomacy presents papers on knowledge and knowledge management from the January 1999 Conference on Knowledge and Diplomacy in Malta. The papers in this book, examining the topic from a variety of backgrounds, academic interests and orientations, reflect ... Read more...
Dietrich Kappeler analyses the new approaches for training institutions in knowledge management and diplomatic training, departing from the premise that a distinction is important between personal characteristics and qualities of the diplomat on one hand, and the knowl... Read more...
In this chapter, Walter Fust talks about the role of knowledge management, and knowledge for development, in diplomacy. He describes various methods to assess what knowledge should be stocked, and explains the need for managers who are assigned the task of deciding wha... Read more...
In this paper we aim to provide a comprehensive introduction to the topic of knowledge management in diplomacy. First we provide working definitions of knowledge and knowledge management, and examine the evolution of the concepts. Next, we consider specific features of... Read more...
In this paper, John Harper and Jennifer Cassingena Harper talk about knowledge as a vital resource, and the necessity of building competencies and establishing new skills. Analysing the theories by Ernst B. Haas in When Knowledge is Power: Three Models of Change in Int... Read more...
In this paper, Maltese diplomat Gaetan Naudi explains how the Maltese MFA embraced the changes introduced by the informatics era. He looks at such changes from a business management perspective, to show how ICTs were introduced to such a fairly large organisation, the ... Read more...
In his paper, Richard Falk reflects on the application of information technology on diplomacy, and discusses the challenge of converting information technology to ‘knowledge technology’, and subsequently to ‘wisdom technology’. Yet, the ‘crossroads in human e... Read more...