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Whilst diplomats must now share the stage with a broad range of actors and institutions, despite much conventional wisdom regarding the impact of globalization, states remain important actors in international affairs. Government diplomacy therefore remains a significant factor in protecting national interests, developing global governance and promoting international peace and security. Coming from the land of Ericsson –Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt has become involved in the international debate in favour of freedom on the Internet.


These are difficult issues that need to be dealt with through transparency and democratic debate.
We need to take all precautions to make sure that the Internet is not becoming the victim of its own success.

Carl Bildt has been Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Affairs since 2006. He was Prime Minister from 1991 to 1994 and has also undertaken a number of international assignments, including roles as a mediator in the Balkans in the 1990s. Bildt served as prime minister of Sweden from 1991 to 1994. His achievements include economic and political reform in Sweden and numerous high-profile diplomatic roles. As an early advocate of new information and communications technologies, Bildt continues to promote the use of social media in international affairs.

He has a keen interest in new communication technologies. As Prime Minister, in 1994 his email to US President Clinton was the first known electronic message between two heads of government.

Mr Bildt often addresses digital diplomacy, and the role of the internet freedom online and offline. A decision that also clearly recognises that the Internet is a key channel for traditional as well as new forms of journalism – often carried out by human rights defenders or bloggers – and that the same rights apply online as offline.

This core principle was affirmed – by consensus and with 87 co-sponsors – by the UN Human Rights Council in Resolution 20/8. (Here is a speech of Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt at Seoul Conference on Cyberspace 17 oktober, 2013). 

The world has become more interconnected—a trend that is likely to intensify in the longer term. The diplomatic environment of the 21st century is marked by change and uncertainty, according to recent Clingendael Institute report on Futures for Diplomacy, prepared by Hocking et al., (2012). Above all, it stresses the importance of the growth of international policy networks and, consequently, the importance to effective diplomacy of collaboration between professional diplomats and the representatives of a variety of international actors.

Particular features include the expansion in the number and variety of international actors empowered by the ICT and social media. These actors now extend beyond traditional NGOs to more amorphous civil society groups. The progressive fragmentation of the rules and norms governing international political and trade relations as more confident emerging states increasingly assert their own values and rules. One consequence will be a continuing weakening of multilateral institutions.

Again, the self-image of actors in emerging states who want to be seen to be following certain ideal types of behavior seems to be at least as important as their narrow self-interest when it comes to ethical as well as international diplomatic processes, business structures and moral issues.  The challenge then is how to integrate or to strike a balance between these rules and norms.

The Integrative Diplomacy framework developed in Hocking et al., report argues the need to integrate change and continuity, different agendas and arenas, different diplomatic processes and structures and machinery of diplomacy.

A key role for diplomats will be to understand the implications of this fragmentation, for both assets and policies, and to navigate between the different alternative rule sets. Both their own government and commercial firms will look to them for reliable advice. The new international security agenda requires new approaches to diplomacy. Conflicts will arise over interference in domestic affairs, which reflect a clash between new and old diplomatic agendas.

To my surprise, conflict/conflict management, a strategy that in effect, positively contributes to the development of relational identity in an international and intercultural relationship models may help in good problem solutions. Similarly, the way we use ICT objects (often based on knowledge that only one member of a group really has and needs to share with others) often based on distributive cognitions, that implies ideas, thoughts, and manipulations of objects has led to push information technology to deal with distributed decision making across international actors.

Todays digital readers can find a list of historical examples of successful acts of cultural diplomacy practiced by different actors since the end of the Second World War. The Alliance Française in Paris has been spreading French language and Francophone culture for more than a century. The British Council creates international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and builds trust between them worldwide.

Foreign policy is fast moving towards more innovative ways to change its elitist undertones and become a truly participatory, collaborative forum.

Few years back, Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt launched a dialogue with companies on Internet freedom. This strategy immediately bears fruit when the terms were presented alongside globalization and information technologies often in the same breath.office

As a number of others can be compared this was more important in Europe with its strict privacy laws than in other parts of the world. He was soon followed by Hillary Clinton, who made an acclaimed speech on Internet freedom in 2010.

In the past 10 years, digital diplomacy has gone through many transformations, names, tools, phases, and crisis. From a small task force incubated in 2002 by then U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell to what his successor Condoleezza Rice championed as “Transformational diplomacy,” to the era of Diplomacy 2.0 — as some have illustrated — with Hillary Clinton and Alec Ross’s “21st Century Statecraft.”

Inside and outside Washington, digital diplomacy has expanded into very effective programs, involving new partners, regional and non-state actors, and the public as well. This is what British Ambassador to Lebanon Tom Fletcher calls “Naked Diplomacy;” what Philip Seib of the University of Southern California’s Center on Public Diplomacy brands as “Real-Time Diplomacy.”

What are the implications for future diplomacy of the growing culture of digital participation?

In conflict management the parties involved are often given a good opportunities to learn about each other´s personalities and way of viewing this world. How a conflict was handled often determines whether a friendship can last or not.

Foreign Ministries will remain responsible for managing their diplomatic networks. Demands on these networks will increase not reduce. With increasing pressures on expenditure, this will require clear prioritization of interests and innovative organizational solutions.

The skill sets for the two agendas are very different. The national diplomatic system may need different diplomatic skills, and even different agencies, to pursue the various agendas. A key role for diplomats will be to understand the implications of the fragmentation, for both assets and policies, and to navigate between the different alternative rule sets. Both their own government and commercial firms will look to them for reliable advice. The pressure of consular work will increase with growth in international travel in an uncertain world.

There is a fundamental, and to a degree broad range of international knowledge or skills through networks both in the academic and private sectors. According to the UN E-Government Survey 2012 e-government initiatives in information and communication technologies applications enhance to support sustainable development both in public and private sector and streamline governance systems.

Among the e-government leaders, innovative technology solutions have gained special recognition in which citizen are increasingly viewed as an active customers.

In the 21st century, we see also the beginning of people-to-government diplomacy as the Internet permits organized networks of citizens to talk back to governments. As a result, the public demand to participate in governments’ responses to these events will continue to grow.

We will still have ambassadors in the 22nd century. And the rituals of diplomatic engagement in rooms adorned with national flags will continue as they have for centuries. Stripped naked, diplomacy is nothing more than a conversation between leaders.

It is highly ritualistic. The relationships between the individuals matter. And people prefer to sit and talk in person when the decisions they will make are consequential. This has been true since there were nation states that dispatched diplomats to see their neighbors. It will remain the same or?

Conventional diplomacy alone is not sufficient, and new ideas are needed to better tackle the challenges we are facing. Technology is certainly a factor in what will come ahead, but innovation has to lead our efforts, says Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt.

“Diplomacy is essentially about communication — human minds getting together to share information and change the way in which we think, act and do. Thus diplomacy is about changing behaviour, it’s about informing and creating better opportunities that might not have been there before. Can we save the world? At least we can change things.

In the Swedish capital, Bildt has envisioned a start-up environment aimed at crafting a more collaborative diplomacy around technology, tools, best practices, experiences and ideas.

The idea is to further investigate the implications for future diplomacy of a growing culture of digital participation, and to look into what will be required of the diplomats of tomorrow. A great deal of evidence testing models, when it comes, to pave the way for stronger networks and new methods for the diplomacy of the future.

Is Stockholm the next 3.0 step in digital diplomacy?

Bildt, who will personally take part in the Stockholm Initiative on Digital Diplomacy, said the world today needs modern diplomats: “We are continuously modernizing and improving our Foreign Service, and a modern Foreign Service must be ready to meet people in the arenas where they are present.”

it’s the Stockholm Initiative for Digital Diplomacy, January 16-17.
A new innovative hub:  where Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt has grouped diplomats and digital diplomacy practitioners from all over the globe to work together with some of the best minds from academia and research, business and the media, to produce concrete, feasible solutions for the diplomacy of the future.