Category Archives: international relations education

Facing Indonesia :: World’s Largest Muslim Population

The Interpreter Fergus Hanson’s blog from the Lowy Institute for International Policy, cites the great leap upward for
Embassy Jakarta’s Facebook fans. The Interpreter’s banner photo is worth the price of admission.

President Obama’s visit to Indonesia in February 2010 was a pivotal event for the increase from 50,000 to nearly 310,000. Hanson proposes that State Department financial support played a role in outreach that drove new fans to the Embassy’s site. But it’s not clear that extra public outreach funding was forthcoming at that time, or since.

The viral nature of social media pushes audience growth exponentially. If the content grabs, Facebook connections ensue. Maybe Embassy Jakarta’s Facebook site is the place to be for Indonesian social medians. If you want to reach people you speak their language and the Embassy’s Facebook site displays Bahasa Indonesian. Would be interesting to see the metrics on where those 309,878 fans live and vote.

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What’s happening in Tunisia

Some may be aware of the pro democracy street activism now occuring in Tunisia. I saw a news report last night on French TV in Washington. This blog reports government oppression, citizen censorship and street violence. Social media tools give citizens a voice. Are there any colleagues in Tunisia who can comment on this ongoing movement?

Since early January, Embassy Tunis’s Facebook page has become one of the frontlines of freedom of speech in a country that is in the process of a democratic transition. Many Tunisians are now using it as their primary source of up-to-the-minute information about current events and popular sentiment.

Capital City vs Seat of Government


The Hague or Amsterdam?  Which is the capital of the Neterlands?  

Maps confirm that the Hague isn’t the capital of The Netherlands.  The Hague is where diplomatic business occurs, where embassies are maintained, and the seat of government for The Netherlands. So it is a bit of a suprise to learn that Amsterdam is the capital of the country. In Amsterdam, the source reminded me, they’re sensitive about it.

Ecocide::Will UN Treat Seriously?

Ecocide — an international crime to destroy or contaminate the environment that humans live in.

Sustainabilitank.info reports that supporters of a new ecocide law  believe it could be used to prosecute “climate deniers” who distort science and facts to mislead the uninformed and to discourage voters and politicians from tackling climate change and environmental degredation.

British innovator and lawyer Polly Higgins presents a declaration of planetary rights, and a proposal that declares mass destruction of ecosystems a crime on a par with genocide.  Well, actually, destroying where humans live is the essential genocide, not “on a par with”.

Consider ::  Will it matterwhether it is a crime to eliminate any categories of humans  (genocide) if there is no habitable place for any humans?

World Leaders Use Social Media

Real Leader’s Tweet  — Digital Daya  presents data that 15 percent of the world’s 163 countries are represented by political leaders or governments on Twitter.

Huffington Post presents a list of 15 world leaders who tweet —  old news from mid-March 2010.  Probably more now. 

No10 Muzzeled: 10 DowningStreet twitter updates will be restricted during the run up to the UK election.

Estonia knows about the value of online communication.  The cyberwar of April 2007 disrupted government, media and banking during days of distributed denial of service attacks. Estonia is preparing for the next cyber meltdown.

Chile’s President and Cabinet use Twitter and blogs  for direct interaction with citizens.  Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India may have a blog somewhere, but I didn’t find it.  Meanwhile, here is a November 23, 2009  interview with Prime Minister Singh presented by the Council on Foreign Relations and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.  

And here’s one Head of State who isn’t happy about tweets and blogs about his family life.

Promote National Agriculture Effectively

Mais oui, bien sur!  Of course France would have a gorgeous website for the  sector responsible for food and fishing.   Alimentation France is colorful, enticing, a banquet of pixels.

Can’t say the same for the US Department of Agriculture website, which is trying hard to cover everything upfront, and the effort shows.  At the gateway, there’s no feeling of nourishment, growth or life and it’s not clear whether the site has a vision from the list of news stories and random topics on the side.  Why is the People’s Garden buried at the bottom of the page? That’s the one topic with celebrity and it’s hidden below the fold!people's garden logo

But wait!  USDA has launched new media sites and uses social media.  I just couldn’t see the link in the vast washes of mono-colored typeface on the main page. And Twitter for the People’s Garden!  But how would we know unless we dug down, down, down…. Advice — lead with the lively.

In September 2009 Argentina created a cabinet level ministry responsible for fishing, agriculture and food trade by expanding and elevating the previous secretariat.

The new Ministry’s site appears to be up and running.  Check out the prices of agricultural futures in lower left corner.

Agriculture trade is a hefty leverage element in the diplomatic portfolios of many nations.

Old + Young Diplomats :: E-training?

Myth:  Anybody with a real job is too old and too busy for social networking.

Reality: Average age of a participant in the social media universe is 37 according to Pingdom. A third of all social network site users are over age 45.   Pew Internet & American Life Project  Nine Tribes of the Internet  explains the personality and behavioural features of new media adapters.

^^^^

How does this impact eDiplomacy?  Diplomats span demographics and job titles.  There are citizen exchange programs and competitions for student diplomats and  Diplomats in Residence at universities.  Ideascale  wants your opinion on a proposed program for school age diplomats. The American Diplomacy Foreign Affairs Oral History Program archives interviews of senior diplomats.

Great Britain maintains a tradition of grooming young diplomats through the Foreign Service Programme at Oxford as described in this article by Jimmy Burns of the Financial Times.   Will they explore the skills and tools required for 21st Century eDiplomacy —  when a modulated voice and firm handshake translate to streaming video convocations and Twitter text?

The United States is still debating the creation of a U.S. Public Service Academy .  Many prospective American diplomats study their trade at private schools  — Georgetown, George Washington, Tufts and other universities.  Yet any U.S. citizen can apply for the Foreign Service Exam,  a step in the application process for career positions with the U.S. Department of State.   U.S. diplomats receive specific training at the Foreign Affairs Training Center .   

Affaires étrangères et Commerce international Canada (Foriegn Affairs and International Trade Canada) presents their Foreign Service Exam with a practice test.  Find out whether you have the proficiency to represent Canada to the world.

German diplomats embrace diplomacy by networking. Germany’s Federal Foreign Office sponsors international training programs for diplomats with networking opportunities for seminar alumni.  “German foreign policy is peace policy” is a vision statement we can all learn from.