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Curtis: Are diplomats needed in the digital age?

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17 October, 2011
By: John Curtis
Adjunct Professor at Queen's University and Chair of Statistics Canada's Advisory Committee on International Trade Statistics

No, diplomats are not needed in this digital age; a much smaller group of diplomatic experts is needed to carry out operational matters such as consular services and specific tasks such as the Afghanistan mission in the Canadian context.

The digital age means that governments have lost their power over information…the central function of what diplomats did in the past….seeking/assessing information about any manner of things in both the host and home country; others can do this now, often with more skills and more impact. In essence, the digital age has supplanted the diplomat; the golden age of diplomacy of the 19th and 20th century is well behind us. The diplomatic function, while still a niche and important activity, needs re-tooling in this new, digital age.

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