Erin Hunt, Mines Action Canada
COVID-19 has forced the international community to embrace digital diplomacy, including for humanitarian disarmament. This shift to digital platforms has opened up new possibilities while highlighting distinct challenges. Digital diplomacy could end up creating a more inclusive and effective method of informing diplomatic decision making, or not. Respecting social distancing impedes development of the good working relationships necessary for success. At the same time, the spread of digital diplomacy is an opportunity to strengthen informal connections while maintaining our formal responsibilities.
With the right approach, it is possible to mitigate the challenges and take advantage of the potential for increased transparency and inclusivity. We cannot let COVID-19 stop progress towards humanitarian disarmament so the international disarmament community needs to find ways to work effectively in our temporary isolation.
Civil society, especially within global humanitarian disarmament coalitions, has worked for decades making decisions across continents without the benefit of frequent shuttle diplomacy. Drawing on the community’s breadth of knowledge, a group of civil society experts has prepared a guide to “Digital Diplomacy Dos and Don’ts.” The two-page document offers advice for how to make the best use of the current situation and to think about ways to build towards the future.
The Dos and Don’ts paper was drafted by Susi Snyder of PAX and Erin Hunt of Mines Action Canada based on conversations with Bonnie Docherty of Harvard Law School’s Armed Conflict and Civilian Protection Initiative, Camilo Serna and Natalia Morales of the Colombian Campaign to Ban Landmines, Jeff Abramson of the Forum on Arms Trade, Chris Loughran of The HALO Trust, and Alma Al-Osta of Humanity and Inclusion.
To comment on or contribute to discussions about the “Dos and Don’ts,” visit the Forum on the Arms Trade’s comment page.