Professor Rebecca Adler-Nissen asks what happens to diplomacy when it becomes socially distant or is forced to move online, replacing handshakes with touchless greetings and video conferencing? This presentation, co-authored with Dr Kristin Enggeling, explores how the practice of multilateral diplomacy, which understands itself as bringing people and polities together, copes with lockdowns, social distancing and the move into digital settings. The starting point is the Covid-19 pandemic, but the presentation addresses how the very composition of international social interaction is undergoing transformation. The argument speaks to ongoing debates in IR scholarship on international practices; specifically the role of face-to-face encounters, technological change, and the political sociology of diplomacy.
Associate Professor Corneliu Bjola looks back at how the Covid-19 pandemic has influenced the conduct of diplomatic affairs in the past year, and the surprising aspect is not the scope of the digital adaptation undertaken by Ministries of Foreign Affairs and international organisations around the world during this period. The remarkable aspect is that it has worked so well. The pandemic has served as an accelerator for pre-existing digital transformation trends especially in consular affairs and virtual diplomacy, it has activated new trends with respect to the use of new technologies (AI) in decision-making, but it has also shelved the illusion that the post-truth environment is likely to recede into oblivion any time soon. Drawing on a comprehensive survey conducted with 104 digital diplomats, the presentation will take stock of recent trends of digital transformation in diplomatic affairs and examine potential trajectories of digital disruption in the post-pandemic period.
Last updated on 28/04/2021