Sixteen countries attended the Regional Conference on Digital Diplomacy in Jakarta on Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of the Foreign Affairs Ministry)

Foreign Ministry Steps Up Game in Digital Diplomacy

BY : NUR YASMIN

SEPTEMBER 10, 2019

Jakarta. The Foreign Affairs Ministry held its first Regional Conference on Digital Diplomacy in Jakarta on Tuesday. The event is designed to encourage digital innovation in diplomacy and create more tech-savvy diplomats.

The conference was attended by the 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) plus Australia, India, Japan, South Korea, China and New Zealand.

"If we can't keep up to date with technology, we'll be left behind. This affects diplomacy, too. If we can't adjust to rapid transformations [in the tech world], diplomacy will be rendered irrelevant. Diplomacy has to go hand-in-hand with digital innovation," Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said.

Government staff, digital technology experts and business representatives were guided through three intensive sessions during the conference.

The full-day conference focused on ways to maximize the benefits of digitalization, analyzing best practices in digital diplomacy – especially methods to spread peaceful messages to combat terrorism, learning how to manage information and communication during a crisis and how to boost economic development using digital innovation.

Retno said diplomats should work with tech giants to combat violence, extremism and terrorism.

"We need to lobby tech giants such as Facebook, Google, Instagram and Twitter to help spread peaceful messages and combat extremism, violence and terrorist ideologies on their platforms," Retno said in her opening speech.

The conference delivered the Jakarta Message, a statement and action plan for cooperation between governments, the private sector and other stakeholders to increase the use of digital technology in diplomacy.

"The Jakarta Message will be a reference point for future partnerships to improve digital diplomacy in all parts of the world," the ministry's director general of information and public diplomacy Cecep Herawan said.

Communication and Information Technology Minister Rudiantara also stressed the importance of digital innovation for today's diplomats.

"Nowadays, you can't call yourself a diplomat if you don't have a social media account. State officials use Instagram to communicate with the public. We need to know how to maximize the way we use social media and other technologies," Rudiantara said during one of the sessions.

During the conference, the ministry also approved new collaborations with tech institutions such as the United Nations-sponsored Pulse Lab to improve its system and help its diplomats to be more tech-savvy. 

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