Diplomacy and blogs

A pointer from Lisa’s blog alerted me to an interesting news story on BBC on the travails of UN’s envoy Jan Pronk in Sudan.

Mr Pronk was expelled from Sudan after government anger at comments he made on his personal website. The government accused him of “psychological warfare” after he wrote that government forces had suffered two defeats in Darfur and that it had broken Security Council resolutions.

Jan’s blog, which caused the furore, is, according to the BBC “startlingly detailed, the kind of information that is normally sent back, encoded, only to national capitals.”

I suspect that this incident may result in the development of blogging policies for diplomats and high officials in the UN, with interesting consequences for the future of diplomacy in an increasingly networked world. This also raises the question – are there professions, such as peace negotiators / mediators – who cannot / should not blog about their work? Or should they blog anonymously, using blogs as a vent for their pent up frustrations with lack of progress?

Coincidentally, PCR Blog has an interesting post today on blogs, where it is noted that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran, has started his own blog. The questions the posts ends with are worth pondering:

1) What do you think about Ahmadinejad’s blog? What is his audience?
2) Do you think it is advisable for world leaders to publish their own blogs?
3) Is this the emergence of a global civic culture?
4) What do you think of blogs as a form of public diplomacy?
5) Are you tired of bloggers discussing blogs?

One thought on “Diplomacy and blogs

  1. It’s likely that Pronk used his blog deliberately to raise awareness about the deteriorating situation in Darfur, fully aware of what the government reaction would be. He was on his way out in any case, giving him the perfect opportunity to use his blog as a diplomatic tool – it certainly got the coverage, as the BBC article demonstrates. I wouldn’t be surprised if he raised it with the SG before he posted…

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