The digital networks that constitute cyberspace have radically changed the environment in which diplomats and diplomacy operate. Nation states remain the key actors, but they have been joined by a broad range of other state and non-state actors. Digital tools have increased the reach of diplomats and their ability to promote broader diplomatic agendas, but they have also enhanced the capacity of non-state actors to participate in international debates. Foreign ministries and diplomats were slow to adopt digital technologies, and they remain overly focused on social media, largely ignoring the potential of more innovative online platforms and gamification processes. At the same time, cyberspace has thrown up a series of problems which range from internet governance and data protection to cyber conflict, espionage and crime. Cyberspace risks becoming a Hobbesian anarchy in which state and non-state actors pursue hybrid warfare strategies. The techniques and approaches of diplomats are as necessary in cyberspace as they in physical space, and they must craft some form of international law or “rules of the game” to constrain the behavior of both state and non-state actors. At the same time, the combination of AI, machine-learning and digital networks promises to present a new series of challenges and threats.
This course will explore both the use of digital tools to promote broader diplomatic agendas and the application of diplomacy to the problems arising in cyberspace. It will explore the implications of digital technologies with relation to foreign ministries in terms of practice, structure and culture. It will explain the continued relevance of diplomacy and how it can effectively engage with cyberspace, including the development of multi-stakeholder diplomacy for dealing with the broad range of non-state actors. Finally, it will engage with the implications of new technologies for diplomacy and diplomats, including the potential roles of AI and machine learning in diplomacy itself.
The Specialization Course “Diplomacy in Cyberspace” is organized by the Chair for Diplomacy and Cyberspace at European Institute of International Studies.