Diplomacy in the 21st Century (compl.)

The 21st century marks an era of fundamental change in the international system: Diplomacy is challenged by the impact of major present-day influences such as greater public attention and involvement, new means of communication, and a greater number of international state and non-state actors. The project aims at bringing academics and practitioners together for an examination of what diplomacy in the 21st century might look like. It wants to arrive at practical conclusions, academically underpinned, though theoretically eclectic, of where, and in which concrete ways, modern diplomacy needs to change in order to be recognized as a modern legitimate, efficient and effective instrument of successful foreign policy. The SWP Working Group“ Diplomacy 21“ is at the heart of the project and represents all SWP Research Divisions; it engages with the questions raised above and fosters an international and interdisciplinary exchange within the project.

The following levels of analysis, namely the individual, instrumental, institutional and global, were identified on the basis of a first working paper:

Individual level: the diplomat

Will the necessary changes in the profile of a future diplomat fundamentally change the character of diplomacy, and if so in which way?

Questions further discussed may be (1) Role and “personal qualifications” of the individual diplomat and their recruitment, (2) new types of diplomats, (3) impact of changed gender roles, family, (4) individually applied work techniques, (5) hierarchies and working structures, (6) accountability, accessibility, ethics, (7) attitudes towards change.

Instrumental level: digitized communication

What are the consequences of digitization for decision-makers, information processing, and employment of social media?

Questions further discussed may be (1) Use and problems of communication technologies, (2) digitization, the gaze of the public, social media, (3) new public diplomacy, cultural work, (4) information protection, (5) crisis management, risk management, (6) digital and social media strategies, (7) integrity of diplomacy vis-à-vis information overload.

Institutional level: state-to-state diplomacy and transnational actors

How can diplomacy as an agency of government interact with the new multitude of state, transnational and non-state actors?

Questions further discussed may be (1) Modern conference diplomacy, (2) United Nations, EU, other international organizations  (3) globalized interdependence and diffusion of power as a threat to diplomatic coherence, (4) business and trade, tourism, civil/uncivil society and NGOs, international organized crime, terrorism, other non-traditional challenges, (5) competition for resources and consequences of the domestication of foreign policy for diplomacy, (6) possible replacement of the (national) diplomatic service/diplomatic system(s).

Global level: “successful” diplomacy in an environment of competing governances

What are the preconditions of legitimate, efficient and effective diplomacy in a field of competing governances?

Questions further discussed may be (1) Delineation of foreign policy and diplomacy, (2) defining success, (3) the use of hard/soft/symbolic power, war, economic and coercive tools of diplomacy, (4) non-Western diplomacies (China, India, Japan, Russia), (5)  new power structures of the public sphere, (6) function, objectives and power of diplomacy.

Head of project:Dr. Volker Stanzel, Ambassador (rtd.), Senior Distinguished Fellow
Student assistant:Esther Kern
Project duration:January 2016 - July 2018
Project funding: ZEIT-Stiftung and Federal Foreign Office

Final Report

Volker Stanzel (ed.)

New Realities in Foreign Affairs: Diplomacy in the 21st Century

SWP Research Paper 2018/RP 11, November 2018, 69 Pages


Rudine Emrich, David Schulze

Diplomacy in the 21st Century – What Needs To Change?

Presentation of the main findings of SWP’s “Diplomacy in the 21st Century” project

Working Paper, Project “Diplomacy in the 21st Century”, No 23, December 2017, 5 Pages
Rudine Emrich

Report of the Workshop on “Diplomacy in the 21st Century”

On March 27, 2017 SWP Berlin

Project Paper, Project “Diplomacy in the 21st Century”, No 03, April 2017
Volker Stanzel

Project Paper Diplomacy in the 21st Century (2)

Project Paper, Project “Diplomacy in the 21st Century”, No 02, March 2017
Alexandra Friede

Report of the Workshop on “Diplomacy in the 21st Century”

On September 8, 2016 SWP Berlin

Project Paper, Project “Diplomacy in the 21st Century”, 2016/No 01, October 2016