Digital Diplomacy

The goal of this SSHRC-funded research project is to examine how 21st Century communication technologies transform diplomacy. Dr. Jérémie Cornut comparatively analyzes the impact of new technologies, such as WhatsApp and Twitter, on diplomacy in Canada and elsewhere.

The transformative impact of new communication technologies on diplomacy

Specific research objectives are to:

  1. Examine how new technologies impact the repertoire of actions and strategies of diplomats;
  2. Study how traditional intergovernmental practices intertwine with public diplomacy; and
  3. Identify the new skills diplomats need to effectively practice diplomacy.

 

Diplomats need to manage renewed tensions between the importance of secrecy and confidentially, which has always been a key element of successful diplomacy, and the importance of openness and transparency that Internet and social media promotes. As never before, diplomats are now able to bypass their intergovernmental counterparts and engage directly with foreign publics. This places diplomats in a complex situation of tensions between traditional (intergovernmental) diplomacy and digital (public) diplomacy. Global interconnectedness fosters both peace through enhanced dialogue, and conflict nurtured by the diffusion of conflicting views and opposing interests. This project will examine how diplomats manage these tensions in practice.

The originality of this project is to start from the practice of diplomacy in the main diplomatic institutions to understand international politics and global governance. For this study, Dr. Cornut and his students conduct interviews with diplomats stationed in Canada, the United States, and Europe. They study the use of new technologies by diplomats in national headquarters, embassies, and permanent representations. Through a series of individual and institution-level case studies, they compare different diplomatic practices in different contexts.

This research project will contribute to a continuing encounter between International Relations and diplomatic studies and will be of interest to academic audiences working on issues of public diplomacy, democratization, international communications, foreign policy, public opinion, social media, international practices, diplomatic negotiations, war and peace and global governance. Its significance stems from its impact on how scholars, students, citizens, policy-makers, and practitioners think about international politics and diplomacy. As the general public is often unaware of the many ways through which diplomats promote the interests of their country, findings will raise awareness of the importance of diplomacy in Canada and abroad.