Universiteit Leiden

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Digitization and the Securing of Nationals in a Citizen-Centric World

  • Jan Melissen - Clingendael/University of Antwerp
Wednesday 26 October 2016
Stichthage, The Hague

About the lecture

Jan Melissen's research is about change and innovation in diplomacy. In this paper he examines the ways in which ministries of foreign affairs (MFAs) assisting nationals abroad are adapting to the demands of the digital age, how their established work processes are being questioned, and what is the significance of newly emerging communication patterns in the context of one of the principal MFA functions. Policy innovation in this sector helps diplomats understand the importance of adopting communicative styles that are in sync with wider societal trends. He will review lessons that MFAs have learned and are still learning from operating in data-rich and real-time environments during contemporary international crises, and restrictions on their ability to innovate. A more networked “duty of care”, drawing on the use of social media and more analytical digital collaboration with the non-governmental sector, is producing results and often making collaboration a condition of success. Informational aspects of securing nationals abroad are increasingly citizen-driven. Jan will argue that the “digital shift” in consular assistance reveals how MFA effectiveness and legitimacy are becoming more dependent on citizen participation, and that achieving policy objectives has become more underpinned by understanding trends in people’s online behaviour. His paper, which will be published in the electronic EISA journal Global Affairs, concludes that MFAs are likely to become more explicit in making the argument that a digitally literate and natively digital citizenry will assist government assistance to nationals abroad, and reinforce their emerging view that nationals abroad should assume more responsibility for their own security.

About the speaker

Jan Melissen is a Senior Research Fellow at the Clingendael Institute. He is a Professor of Diplomacy at the University of Antwerp and he also teaches at Leiden University. Before joining the Clingendael Institute, he was Director of the Centre for the Study of Diplomacy at the University of Leicester (UK). At Clingendael he held various management positions (2001-12). He is a Senior Research Fellow at the Charhar Institute, China’s leading public diplomacy think tank, he has been a visiting scholar at China’s Foreign Affairs University (Beijing), and he taught at the College of Europe (Bruges). Jan Melissen has written research reports on diplomacy for various governments and he lectured in many countries in North America, the Asia-Pacific region and Europe. He is founding co-editor of The Hague Journal of Diplomacy and editor of the Diplomatic Studies book series with Brill Nijhoff. His current projects are on change and innovation in diplomacy, including the impact of digitalization on diplomacy, public diplomacy, cultural relations and foreign policy strategy, consular diplomacy, and trends in East Asian and EU diplomacy.

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About the seminars:

Diplomacy and Global Affairs (DGA) Research Seminar Series

The Diplomacy and Global Affairs (DGA) Research Seminar is a series launched by the Research Group on Diplomacy and Global Affairs at the Institute of Security and Global Affairs. The seminars of internationally acknowledged guest researchers and faculty members deal with current research topics in diplomacy, international relations, global affairs, and political economy broadly conceived and target a broad audience through their interdisciplinary focus.

For more information, please contact:

Prof. dr. M.O. Hosli (coordinator)

Dr. J.J. Kantorowicz

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