2007-2008 will forever be an historic year, a milestone in digital diplomacy. It was the year when the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office gave its imprimatur to social media, and officially encouraged and supported its diplomats to start blogging.
This coincided with renewed interest in diplomatic, military, policy and development circles in the use of “soft-power”. In the UK, the Foreign Secretaries who drove this were first Margaret Beckett with her emphasis on climate change and energy security, then David Miliband, who embraced strategic communications and digital diplomacy in a bold and unprecedented way and pursued the climate change and energy security agenda internationally. Ed Miliband was soon to become Energy and Climate Change Secretary.
John Ashton, who served three Foreign Secretaries as Special Adviser on Climate Change, was a critical senior colleague who helped me develop a more campaigning approach to international diplomacy, by being almost messianic on the need to see tackling climate change as the most important policy challenge, and putting value on collaboration at every level of society.
The most recent blog to read is the one below from Nigel Baker, our man at the Vatican, and the FCO Annual Report for 2007-08 gives a full account of communications and public diplomacy.
FCO Departmental Report 2007-08, pages 96 to 99