Need for reforms and adjustments !
By Roy Lie Atjam.
As has been the case in many sectors of public and private life, diplomacy has also been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The virus has spread all over the world from Alaska to the remote Andaman archipelago and beyond with tremendous consequences. The high-level meetings of the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly in September 2020, was a video messages spectacle of leaders delivering pre-recorded video presentations. There was certainly no room for boring and unstimulating presentations.
Foreign Ministries without any doubt will learn vital lessons from the pandemic. Consular services, for instance, have surpassed most other business at embassies worldwide in 2020. Consulates played an important role in assisting their citizens by steering them through a world replete with pandemic restrictions. Besides, consular work facilitates opportunities to interact closely with the diaspora.
Due to lockdowns, curfews and other restrictive measures, diplomatic functions such as receptions, conferences, seminars, book launchings and the like have been scaled down and have been reorganized via Zoom conference or other digital platforms. These new measures have served as an avenue for the diplomatic community to pivot and continue networking and explore business opportunities. Additionally, the pandemic has prevented diplomats from gathering in person to celebrate their respective National Days.
Interesting to note that no one can escape video conferencing, not even the Queen of England. Last week HM Queen Elizabeth II took time out of her busy schedule to join a Zoom conference to discuss matters relating to science, technology and space travel. The virtual conference was part of an event to celebrate British Science Week which was held from 5th -14th March 2021. The event celebrated the role played in society by science and aims to inspire a new generation of British scientists. The monarch was joined by space scientist Dr. Maggie Aderin-Pocokc, Professor Caroline Smith and schoolchildren from Thomas Jones Primary for the virtual presentation.
No need to give up in despair, digital diplomacy is not the end of diplomacy, rather, it is the re-discovery of diplomacy! Because of the coronavirus, diplomats can interact without meeting face-to-face. Digital diplomacy is now perceived as a medium of diplomacy and involves the use of various digital platforms and features of communication in the exchanging of ideas. Diplomacy had to change and the role of the ambassador continues to change accordingly.
The pandemic and you
There is no doubt that the pandemic has had an impact on your life for over a year now, right? Why not try beating the pandemic fatigue by making the best of your current circumstances. Using your time wisely can help you to stay positive and avoid excessive worry. Rather than focus on what you can no longer do, look for ways that you can take advantage of your current situation. For example, are there projects that you now have time for or hobbies that you can now pursue? Can you spend more time with your family and friends?
The COVID 19 pandemic has impacted diplomacy and the lives of diplomats. You may wonder, will digital diplomacy be the way of the future? Well, take courage, sooner or later the pandemic will peter out and life will go back to (a new) normal. Nevertheless, there will be some changes in the diplomatic sphere.
About the author:
Roy Lie Atjam is Diplomat Magazine’s editor.