Open Source Diplomacy: Negotiations Between Humans Not Governments

Sketch of Civil society going around governments in stead of through them

Can civil society start conducting open source diplomacy around governments in stead of through them?

Still trapped in the realm of imagination, I think about what it would be like to create a forum for open source diplomacy based on civil society rather than governments and diplomats.

We know open source from things like:

Jonathan Spalter argues in an interesting article in “Democracy – a Journal of Ideas” that diplomats need to keep up with the new developments in information technologies. His argument is based on Stewart Brand’s claim that information wants to be freeHe suggests that the State Department should start using open-source inspired communication. Much research out there is looking into how states can take advantage of these new developments, but it all runs into one problem. Jonathan Spalter points it out himself:

“For any bureaucratic organization, change is hard. But for an institution as globally dispersed and organizationally complex as the State Department, it is exquisitely challenging.”

My question is, do we have to wait for governments to make that transition or can civil society start going there without them? The sketch above tries to show that in the field of International Relations (IR) civil society can increase their influence either through government actors or try to route around them.

People did not wait for publishers to make their encyclopedias available for free online before they started creating wikipedia, and I am afraid that it would take too long if we wait for governments to create the channels for civil society to get increasingly involved in international negotiations.


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