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Could Social Networking Enhance the Position of Ukraine in the International Arena?

March 7, 2013 - Iuliia Kononenko - Bez kategorii

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Today, e-diplomacy is growing on a huge scale and in many different areas, and the importance for diplomats to employ the tools of e-diplomacy is enormous. Diplomats are able to spread information and receive feedback from both the public and the international community, strengthen connections with foreign partners, as well as make communication within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs easy, practical, rapid and cost-saving. All these features are applicable for Ukrainian diplomats, who are still lagging behind the leaders. Despite this fact, Ukrainian diplomacy has just made its first steps in e-diplomacy and now has to be more assertive in benefiting from the opportunities offered by digital diplomacy. Ukraine’s diplomats and policymakers should therefore engage much more in efficient employment of e-diplomacy. In order to catch up with leaders who implement e-diplomacy, following the following steps for fostering e-diplomacy in Ukraine are recommended:

1. Developing a specialised programme and unit that would be solely dedicated to promoting and building the capacity of digital diplomacy within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This department would be responsible for fostering diplomats to use social media in two ways: firstly, to ensure outreach to the wider public and foreign nationals within the country, in order to increase the awareness of major foreign policy issues; in addition, the programme would employ digital channels to inform the public in case of crises, and utilise digital diplomacy as an opinion-making tool. Furthermore, it is salient to underline that messages delivered through social networks by diplomats should be consistent with the general policy pursued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and secondly, to build digital networks within a diplomatic corpus and diffuse it across the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

2. Employing training programmes and specialised courses that would be offered to diplomats in order for them to learn how to apply means of digital diplomacy in their work, including facing the challenges of e-diplomacy. It is important to encourage diplomats to be bold in employing innovative practices and use twitter diplomacy to craft their image as a diplomat open to the public in their daily work. In addition, a special course at the Diplomatic Academy of Ukraine (within the structure of Ukraine's Ministry of Foreign Affairs – editor's note) on the use of e-diplomacy should be introduced.

3. Increasing the web presence of the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs by publishing its messages in news and blogs across the global web network. Moreover, this initiative should be aimed at turning virtual space into the proper forum for public debates, forming partnerships with relevant organisations and the implementation of initiatives which reflect the foreign policy of the country. Furthermore, the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has to ensure that conferences, summits and forums initiated by the ministry need to have high presence within social networks and be promoted by the tools of digital diplomacy. This is especially relevant in the context of Ukraine's chairmanship of the OSCE.

Introducing Twitter diplomacy into the everyday practices of Ukraine's Ministry of Foreign Affairs will undoubtedly mean the initiation of a significant level of modernisation. From a more technical perspective, this is related to more usage of English (Twitter accounts and social media pages should be duplicated into the diplomatic lingua franca), which means allowing Ukrainian diplomats of different levels to be more active within the realm of virtual diplomacy, and thus become more interconnected by means of Twitter diplomacy. On a deeper level it means introducing more openness for ideas and initiatives expressed by public opinion, NGOs and the media both in Ukraine and abroad. By ensuring fruitful mutual communication between grassroots and top level diplomacy, Ukraine's foreign office could become more efficient and effective in performing constructive conversation with its addressees.

For further details see the full version of the policy-brief by the Institute of World Policy: http://iwp.org.ua/img/policy_brif_1_01_23_ok.pdf

Leonid Litra is a senior research fellow at the Institute of World Policy in Kyiv and an associated expert of the Institute for Development and Social Initiatives "Viitorul" (IDIS) in Chisinau. He has previously worked as deputy director of IDIS in Moldova (2010-2012) and programme coordinator at European Movement of Moldova (2008-2009). His main areas of interests include EU-Moldova and EU-Ukraine relations, visa liberalisation and Schengen related processes, Eastern Partnership and conflict settlement. Leonid was a Carnegie Research Fellow at Yale University and holds a MA in International Relations and European Studies from the European Institute of High International Studies in Nice, France.

Iuliia Kononenko is an analyst at the Institute of World Policy and her main fields of expertise are international relations, development and conflict resolution. Iuliia co-authored the chapter of the book that scrutinised the involvement of children in the North Caucasus region. She is also author of articles that analyse issues of security and human rights violations in international relations. Iuliia holds an MA in International Development from Jospeh Korbel School of International Studies (Denver, USA) with a certificate in Human Rights and Humanitarian Assistance. She graduated from the National University "Kyiv-Mohyla Academy" with a BA in History and a certificate in the History of Diplomacy.

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