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ICT for diplomacy

9 May 2012 09:28 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


Sri Lanka is one of the fastest growing nations in South Asia. South Asia and South America as two fast growing regions of the world could contribute immensely to global trade. Sri Lanka has maintained very cordial diplomatic relations with Cuba for over half century and both countries have been loyal to the ethos of the Non Aligned Movement throughout the years lobbying against polarity in the international system.

The dawn of the 21st century saw a great leap in the evolution of ICT and its uses. Technological advancements have reached all aspects of life beginning from the microcosm of the family unit to the society at large spilling over to the international arena. ICT has created equal platforms to all players in the international arena notwithstanding hard power inequalities that exist between countries. This is especially relevant to countries such as Sri Lanka and Cuba where geographically, the countries are outsized by super powers in the region. ICT is and can be utilised as a leveraging tool to overcome disproportions in size and resources.

Taking a brief look at the challenges of the ICT invasion, diplomatic communications have been forced to explore methods beyond that have been prescribed by the Vienna Convention of 1961. ICT has changed the environment in which diplomacy operates. The three factors that have driven this transformation are: speed of application; increase in capacity; and shrinking costs. Diplomatic agencies due to their ‘ill preparation’ towards the convergence of traditional diplomatic practices and the free,

rapid flow of information have been in ‘catch up mode’ for a long time. This is not to say that diplomacy has not been adaptive.

21st century statecraft which has invested a huge premium on internet freedom, civil society and innovation has coerced foreign missions to be adaptive or face disaster in the face of the dynamic international system. It is true that international policy has increasingly become militarised in the 21st century yet incidents such as the Wiki leaks debacle, and the Arab Springs have called for investments in ‘cyber diplomacy’.

Considering all this it is essential that diplomacy takes note of technological advancements and gets up to speed with dynamic operational environments created by them in order to prevent ‘fossilisation’ and redundancy in the digital age. ICT creations are best viewed as ‘blessings in disguise’ that empower diplomats in developing countries to overcome socio-political and economic obstacles that are thrown their way in the path to development.

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