Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird threw his lot in with digital diplomacy in a speech given yesterday at the Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD Canada) headquarters in Ottowa.
Just look at the grasping futility of Turkey’s Twitter ban last week. The speed of information and communication demands agility. The world of diplomacy may never quite adopt the Facebook maxim of “move fast and break things.” But neither can our mantra be “move slowly and don’t change things. In this digital age, no outward-facing organization can afford to be in analogue mode. We’ve made some great progress in this field. I won’t list all of the examples, but you’ll have seen some of them on these slideshows. In the last few months, our missions have made a lot of progress on social media. All outgoing heads of mission are getting training in it. And consular services are evolving to meet the needs of a digital generation. In the case of Iran, we may not have an embassy there, but over 1.2 million unique users inside Iran have accessed an online platform that we’ve supported. This form of direct diplomacy is something we need to build on. Authoritarian regimes are very aware of the potential of these tools, and are using them to their own ends. So we must do the same. [DFATD Canada]
In the age of viral videos, #twiplomacy and mobile apps—the old levers are no longer enough. – @HonJohnBaird #DigitalDiplomacy
— DFATD (@DFATDCanada) March 27, 2014