Digital Diplomacy and Statecraft

  • “Digital Diplomacy and Statecraft” is funded by the Federal Foreign Office. It focuses on how digitalisation offers new opportunities, challenges, and instruments for foreign policy. It will identify the options and (security) threats of digitalisation to develop timely responses of (digital) diplomacy.
    FFO, 2021-2022

    Guest Fellows

    Dr. Thorsten Kathke

    Guest Fellow

    Working on "Social Media and Politics"

    Ravi Nayyar

    University of Sydney

    Working on "Software Security Standards: The Core of the Quad (Cybersecurity Partnership)"


    Dr. Christian von Soest

    Lead Research Fellow / Head of Research Programme "Peace and Security"

    Prof. Dr. Jann Lay

    Lead Research Fellow / Head of Research Programme "Globalisation and Development"

    Research Questions

    Digital technologies are fundamentally transforming societies worldwide. The Global South is a taker and important shaper in this change. The project analyses drivers and consequences of digitalization across the world regions and delivers useful impulses for German foreign policy.

    The project will serve as a vital resource for researchers to better understand the connections and implications of global digitalisation, and for diplomats and practitioners to handle and shape these transformations effectively. It will investigate both the challenges and opportunities that emerge from two trends.

    On the one hand, digital platforms are facilitating the emergence of a bigger set of actors with amplified voice. This “flattening” effect of digitalisation complicates the process of foreign policy making and diplomacy and its implementation for all states. On the other hand, interdependence gets weaponised and some states emerge as hubs of information networks, power imbalances between states increase.

    “Digital Diplomacy and Statecraft” will analyse the implications of fragmentation of the global digital space in an era of increasing decoupling and growing nationalism. It will study the possibilities of reforming and updating multilateralism to work in a digital age. In doing so, it will explore current debates on connectivity, data protection, digital interference, and governance.

    Contribution to International Research

    Digitalisation and new technologies bring the potential of major power shifts with them. German foreign policy has an interest in making partnership-based offers of cooperation on digitalisation to countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East. A digitally sovereign Germany will be able to foster exchange and build global partnerships. Diplomacy with its world-spanning apparatus could become an access point to an overlooked and unused potential. This could help in the promotion of values that Germany and Europe stand for. Collaboration and impactfully steering the debate will no longer be possible without strongholds in and influence on the digital space.

    As digitalisation is a global phenomenon, it needs multilateral regulation, and it needs to take into account actors from around the world. However, the actions of countries, companies, and citizens from the Global South have hitherto been a blind spot for most analyses on the topic. The GIGA, with its long-standing expertise in these regions and on global issues, seeks to correct the existing imbalance. The project can contribute to advancing standard-setting debates and to developing ways for adequately regulating the informational space at the global level. It is one of our central aims to help raise awareness of various countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East as possible partners and shapers of digitalisation, and explore ideas for successful cooperation amidst intense global competition.

    Research Design and Methods

    The project maps existing academic and policy debates in this area, and also explores the approaches taken by different countries and stakeholders to harness digitalization. It seeks to build a network of scholars, policy-makers and non-state actors from the Global South in this area. The project is deliberately conceptualized as a multi-disciplinary and multi-method one.

    Policy Paper | 10/2021

    Three external Risks to Democracy and how to address them

    In this policy paper, Prof. Amrita Narlikar, member of the World Economic Forum and the Global Future Council on Frontier Risks, outline three key areas of external threat that must be addressed to enable an agenda for democratic renewal.

    GIGA Focus Global | 3/2021

    Cyber Sanctions: Increasing Application of a New Instrument

    Hacker attacks on states and international organisations are increasingly answered with cyber sanctions. Dr Julia Grauvogel and Dr Christian von Soest compare the international use of the new instrument in Focus Global 04/2021 and show which steps could make the measures more effective.

    Dr. Julia Grauvogel

    Senior Research Fellow / Research Team Spokesperson

    Dr. Christian von Soest

    Lead Research Fellow / Head of Research Programme "Peace and Security"

    Organiser, Panelist, Panelist | 09/11/2022

    Closed-Door Digitalisation Roundtable on the Digital Silk Road in the European Union

    Workshop 09/11/2022

    Digitalisation Roundtable on the Digital Silk Road in the European Union with Nora Kürzdörfer and Felix Garten.

    Chair, Panelist | 11/11/2022

    Closed-Door Digitalisation Roundtable on Critical Software and Infrastructure Law

    Workshop 11/11/2022

    Digitalisation Roundtable on critical software and critical infrastructure law with Ravi Nayyar.

    Ravi Nayyar

    University of Sydney

    Organiser, Invited Guest | 16/05/2022

    Closed-Door Digitalisation Roundtable on Data Inequality

    Workshop 16/05/2022

    Digitalisation Roundtable on Data Inequality with Dr Thomas Streinz.

    Thomas Streinz

    New York University


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