On 13 November, the Executive Education department of the Geneva Graduate Insitute organised the public event “The New Diplomat: From Post-Colonial Training to Tech Ambassador” in collaboration with Dr Jérôme Duberry, Dr Ruth Craggs, Dr Jonathan Harris and Yannick Heiniger. This fascinating discussion highlighted the importance of diplomats’ training from the 1960-70’s until today and how the role of the diplomat evolved to adapt to new geopolitical and technological contexts.
Post-colonial training for African diplomats in the 1960-70s, delivered by external global north providers, represented an important site for the (re-)enactment and embodiment of Western, liberal norms in diplomatic practice. More recently, diplomacy and warfare have extended to the digital realm, leading large tech companies from Silicon Valley to play a prominent role in the geopolitical power play. The establishment of tech and cyber ambassadors-at-large positions in various countries reflects their influence.
During this session, our experts explored the evolution of the training for diplomats and what it means to be a diplomat today. They also tackle the main challenges diplomats face with the emergence of AI and, more broadly, tech diplomacy: even if tech diplomacy is maturing, most diplomats still need to be equipped to apprehend the technicity of some discussions with big tech companies in the private sector. They also mentioned the lack of diversity in the international collaboration about AI; no African voices and only a few Asian countries, and how to close this gap through training programmes.
We can witness flavours of multilateralism; it is not just about nation-states engaging with the global technology firms, but it is also international organisations such as the ICRC or the ITU.