Making international diplomacy more accessible and equitable through data science
Can data science level the international playing field?
Diplomacy is the practice of negotiation through which countries and organizations seek their objectives cooperatively, on bilateral and multilateral levels. Just as in the 1990s the rise of cable news gave a new 'real-time policy' pace to this secular practice, the big data revolution is again transforming the tools of diplomacy. Data Diplomacy consists in the infusion of data, and expertise on data, into relations between nation-states or other entities, enabling better governmental decisions and the participation of stakeholders from civil society, academia, and technology sectors. Yet, although digital innovations bear a promise of diffusion and horizontality, such potential is not equally distributed. Less developed countries are at a disadvantage to muster the technical and human resources to produce, collect, and evaluate data in many policy areas, curtailing the assertiveness of their diplomatic apparatuses when compared to better-resourced governments. The policy challenge at hand is how to harness the potential of data science to level the playing field and equip governments more equitably to operate in multilateral arenas across key policy areas.
"Data Diplomacy" consists in "the infusion of data, and expertise on data, into relations between nation-states or other entities", enabling better governmental decisions and the participation of stakeholders from civil society, academia, and technology sectors.
We emphasize three policy areas that are marked by imbalances and call for data-based innovation: energy, security, and multilateralism.
Less developed countries struggle to form negotiating positions in the multilateral energy regime due to information scarcity. Existing datasets cover energy flows but not the formal instruments of cooperation between governments. Mapping the landscape of diplomatic agreements can fill this knowledge gap and outline trends of partnerships and energy matrices for each country.
The UN Security Council (UNSC) is the capstone of global security and it is characterized by an imbalance between permanent and rotating members. The former, being great powers, have more resources and accumulated institutional memory on substance and procedure than the latter. To act with dexterity at the Council, it is important that all members, especially temporary ones, are able to muster intelligence on Council debates and practices
Bureaucratic complexity is a core challenge to the legitimacy of the UN General Assembly (UNGA). The enormous output of resolutions makes it difficult for countries and Secretariat to monitor initiatives, thus encumbering the organization’s ability to report back on progress to its stakeholders. This complexity can be overcome with digital tools that facilitate navigation across the corpus of UN documents
The project "Data Diplomacy" gathers researchers on International Relations, data science, and UN practitioners to exchange knowledge that enhances multilateral diplomacy.To overcome disparities in the policy domains of energy, security, and multilateralism, the following products are planned
By bringing together multiple stakeholders from academia, government, and international service, the project contributes to SDG 17:
"Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development"
Specifically, it furthers SDG 17.6:
"Enhance North-South, South-South and triangular regional and international cooperation on and access to science, technology and innovation and enhance knowledge sharing on mutually agreed terms, including through improved coordination among existing mechanisms, in particular at the United Nations level, and through a global technology facilitation mechanism"