Digital Foreign Policy

Photo by Franck Veschi on
Photo by Franck Veschi on

Almost all digital communication is currently based on the technical infrastructure of the internet. This infrastructure has a physical component in the form of a global cable network, but also depends crucially on software standards such as the TCP/IP protocol. Regulating this digital infrastructure was long regarded as an apolitical and purely technical coordination task. Increasingly, however, we are seeing that decisions about global digital infrastructures have enormous consequences for the future of digitalisation. Such decisions create path dependencies and alter power constellations, and increasingly represent an arena of political contestation. Internet governance, therefore, is far more than technical coordination; regulatory decisions in this field crucially shape the political development of digitalisation.

Analysis of institutional structures and actor constellations is one important starting point to approach this issue. Internationally, questions of digitalisation are negotiated at different levels and in a wide range of formats. Alongside classical inter-governmental forums like the EU and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) there are also multi-stakeholder formats like the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and the Internet Governance Forum, as well as bodies composed largely of technical experts, such as the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). The debate on “digital diplomacy”, moreover, poses the question of the impact of digitalisation on modes of interaction in international politics.


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Marcel Dickow, Daniel Jacob

The Global Debate on the Future of Artificial Intelligence

The Need for International Regulation and Opportunities for German Foreign Policy

SWP Comment 2018/C 23, May 2018, 8 Pages
Corneliu Bjola

Trends and Counter-Trends in Digital Diplomacy

Working Paper, Project “Diplomacy in the 21st Century”, No 18, September 2017, 10 Pages
Ben Wagner

Agile, engaged, effective diplomacy? Finding the digital in diplomacy

Working Paper, Project “Diplomacy in the 21st Century”, No 16, September 2017, 7 Pages
Corneliu Bjola

Adapting Diplomacy to the Digital Age:

Managing the Organisational Culture of Ministries of Foreign Affairs

Working Paper, Project “Diplomacy in the 21st Century”, No 09, March 2017, 10 Pages
Jan Melissen, Emillie V. de Keulenaar

The Case for Critical Digital Diplomacy

Working Paper, Project “Diplomacy in the 21st Century”, No 07, February 2017, 7 Pages
Marcel Dickow

EurasiaNet – How They Split the Internet

in: Sabine Fischer, Margarete Klein (eds.)
Conceivable Surprises

Eleven Possible Turns in Russia’s Foreign Policy

Contributions to Research Papers 2016/RP 10, October 2016, 78 Pages, S. 43-46
Annegret Bendiek, Christoph Berlich, Tobias Metzger

The European Union’s Digital Assertiveness

SWP Comment 2015/C 43, September 2015, 8 Pages
Ben Wagner, Patricia Mundus

Multistakeholder Governance and Nodal Authority – Understanding Internet Exchange Points

In: NoC Internet Governance Case Studies Series, Centre for Internet and Human Rights, January 2015
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