Opening ceremony

Closing ceremony

The Future of Diplomacy

In November 2017, we celebrated 15 years of DiploFoundation and 25 years of research and training on Internet and diplomacy. To mark this milestone, we reflected on the role of diplomacy in the modern era, and the impact of technology and other areas on the core functions of diplomacy, while keeping a firm eye on the future. The conference on The Future of Diplomacy took place in Malta, on 17–18 November 2017.

Read the conference report
View the conference photos, day-by-day
Download the anniversary publication
View the interactive timeline
View the programme
View the Press coverage: TVM, The Malta Independent

The conference is under the patronage of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade Promotion of Malta, and the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland.



Download the PDF version of the programme

Click on the speakers’ names for bios

Day 1. Friday, 17th November 2017

Venue: Westin Dragonara Conference Centre, St Julian’s

08.30 – 09.30

Welcome coffee and registration

09.30 – 10.10

High-level address by the Hon. Carmelo Abela, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Promotion

Keynote speeches: 15 years of DiploFoundation, 25 years of training and research on Internet and diplomacy

This session will be webstreamed.

10.10 – 10.45

Conference photo and coffee break

10.45 – 12.30

How is digitalisation affecting core diplomatic functions?

Emerging technologies are transforming everyone’s lives. Diplomatic practice is no exception. There are many technologies which diplomats will need in the next few years, as the Internet affects the core diplomatic functions. Experienced practitioners and academics make a sober but forward-thinking introduction.

Moderator: Dr Katharina Höne

Thinking-out-loud hour:

Pick a core diplomatic function (or two) and join the group to discuss. Pick a second diplomatic function and rotate.

  1. Negotiations: The search for compromise and consensus has been a core diplomatic function. It remains as vital as ever in the digital era. Does more digital information and interaction make negotiations more effective?
    Lead discussant: Amb. Alex Sceberras Trigona
  2. Representation: New actors have triggered new ways of representation. Internet companies in the Bay Area have increased in importance for countries. Users’ data is stored and processed by Google, Facebook and other companies from the area, while many of these companies are vital for national security (anti-terrorism) and economic growth (investment and innovation). How are countries interacting with these actors?
    Lead discussant: Dr Tereza Horejsova
  3. Promotion and public diplomacy: The use of social media is considered a main example of the most recent Internet’s impact on diplomacy. In under a decade, its use has been crystallised, and has evolved into a great tool of e-diplomacy. How has social media shaped public diplomacy and the work of diplomats, and what have been promises, successes, and failures in the use of social media?
    Lead discussant: Amb. Stefano Baldi
  4. Humanitarian diplomacy: Digital tools have become essential in the humanitarian field and crisis management, enabling countries to engage with their nationals in crisis areas, and humanitarians to organise their assistance missions. Which technology and tools can be used by diplomats to assist in crisis? What are the most effective uses of social media?
    Lead discussant: Amb. Christopher Lamb
  5. Diplomatic reporting: Thousands of reports are written every day. They record meetings, analyse situations, and suggest actions. What value do diplomatic reports add to the already available information and analysis provided by Wikipedia and blogs, among others? What is the usability of the new generation of artificial intelligence tools for summarising texts?
    Lead discussant: Amb. Victor Camilleri
  6. Security and crisis management: The Internet is crucial for managing security crisis. Most anti-terrorism measures related to the Internet refer to its use by terrorists for the recruitment and organisation of attacks. Digital tools are used in monitoring security crisis and for confidence building. What are the ways and means in which diplomatic services can deal with security crisis?
    Lead discussant: Amb. Fred Tanner
  7. Protocol and etiquette: Protocol rules are the result of a long evolution of traditions and ceremonial procedures. The Internet has changed the context in which protocol is practiced. How have the new communication tools impacted protocol, and has the informality of online communications affected the rules?
    Lead discussant: Amb. Olaph Terribile
  8. Diplomacy in a  VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) world: Technology has not only impacted diplomatic functions, but also the skills that diplomats require to perform their functions efficiently and effectively. How can the profession of continuity survive in the era of disruption, and what skills does tomorrow’s diplomat need?
    Lead discussant: Amb. Kishan Rana
12.30 – 13.30

Stand-up networking lunch

13.30 – 15.15

The Internet in the premier league of global politics: Ensuring countries’ effective participation in global digital policy

Digital issues are omnipresent on the agendas of the UN, G7, G20, and other diplomatic meetings. They show no sign of retreating. Countries must keep pace or stay behind. How can national capacities for participation in global digital diplomacy be developed? What’s the most effective way for countries to follow, engage, and contribute? How can a country-as-a-whole approach to foreign digital policy be developed? What is the role of security, economic, cultural, and other ministries in foreign digital policy?

Moderator: Mr Dejan Dinčić

Thinking-out-loud hour

Pick a theme and join the group to discuss. Pick a second theme and rotate.

  1. Cyber-norms: Earlier this year, the Internet industry proposed new norms for the protection of cyberspace, challenging the notion that the development of norms falls solely within the ambit of governments. How are the roles and responsibilities of governments, the industry, and other stakeholders shaping?
    Lead discussants: Dr Jovan Kurbalija and Mr Vladimir Radunović
  2. Cybersecurity: Cyber-driven geopolitical tensions  have dominated cybersecurity discussions since the beginning of the year. Ransomware attacks, and increasingly sophisticated attacks by cybercriminals, are a major concern. How can countries, from individual users via corporate sector to governments, react? Who should be in charge of cybersecurity?
    Lead discussants: Dr Stefanie Frey and Mr David Rüfenacht
  3. Digital commerce: Economic growth is increasingly linked to digital growth. Yet, many countries still lag behind. What can governments and businesses from developing countries do to prepare for the digitalisation of the global economy, and how can developed countries take advantage of new technologies such as virtual currencies?
    Lead discussant: Amb. Alex Sceberras Trigona
  4. Data diplomacy: More and more global policy is centred on data. In fact, it is often described as the oil of modern economy. How can countries deal with security, economic, legal, and human rights aspects of data diplomacy?
    Lead discussants: Ms Barbara Rosen Jacobson and Dr Katharina Höne 
  5. The rise of blockchain: Blockchain opens new policy possibilities. UN is considering use of blockchain for aid pledges by countries. Blockchain provides new possibilities for monitoring implementation of SDGs and other international agreements. How can blockchain increase transparency and responsibility in international affairs? Can blockchain help restore trust in global affairs?
    Lead discussants: Mr Ljupčo Gjorgjinski and Mr Arvin Kamberi
  6. Sustainable development: Digital tools and development have been moving in step for decades. The Internet has been a great enabler but it has also accelerated new divides between urban and rural, young and old, etc. Will the future bring more or fewer divides? How will digitalisation affect development assistance and the role of development agencies?
    Lead discussants: Ms Marilia Maciel and Mr Nicolas Seidler
  7. Digitalisation and jobs: The shared economy has led to a rise in contractual work. Technological advancements and automation are making certain jobs redundant. In the face of the changing nature of employment, how can governments ensure that workers are protected?
    Lead discussants: Dr Roxana Radu and Ms Sorina Teleanu
  8. Digital rights and the Internet: Privacy and data protection rules – such as the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – are being tightened, affecting business practices worldwide. Are we GDPR-ready?
    Lead discussants: Mr Lee Hibbard and Ms Adriana Minović
15.15 – 15.30

Coffee break

15.30 – 16.30

The hype and reality of online learning: Maximising the benefits

Here, there, and everywhere. The nature of a diplomat’s work involves foreign postings and regular assignments abroad. Where does this leave traditional diplomatic training? In the hands of online learning. Leaders in diplomatic training will describe the hype and reality that surround online learning.

MOOCs, short courses, webinars, and blended learning are some of the latest trends in online learning. Infographics, comics, and illustrations are perennial tools. Looking beyond the hype, which trends and tools are most suited for diplomatic training? Join one of the parallel sessions to discuss.

  1. Teaching diplomacy: Can we teach diplomacy, and can we teach it online?
    Lead discussants: Amb. Kishan Rana and Amb. John Paul Grech
  2. Just in time: Learning while working? Flexible online courses can offer a timely solution.
    Lead discussants: Mr Andrej Škrinjarić and Ms Angelic Alihusain-del Castilho
  3. Blended learning: A combined approach of face-to-face and online learning offers the best of both worlds.
    Lead discussants: Ms Hannah Slavik, Mr Patrick Borg and Dr Zemaida Mozali
  4. MOOCs: Massive open online courses are free and unlimited. Is there a catch?
    Lead discussants: Dr Katharina Höne and Ms Barbara Rosen Jacobson
  5. Webinars: Ready, steady, learn. They are interactive, and accessible.
    Lead discussants: Mr Arvin Kamberi and Mr Dejan Dinčić
  6. Visuals: A picture is worth a thousand words, or?
    Lead discussants: Dr Vladimir Veljašević and Ms Darija Medić
16.30 – 17.00

Wrapping up the first day

Lead discussants will summarise the discussion on online learning; comments from participants will wrap up the first day.

Moderator: Dr Tereza Horejsova

19.00 – 21.30

Walking tour of Mdina, followed by dinner (departure from hotel at 18.30)

Venue (restaurant): Rabat

Day 2. Saturday, 18th November 2017

Venues: Aula Magna, Valletta / Westin Dragonara Conference Centre, St Julian’s

09.15 – 10.15 (departure from hotel pick-up points at 08:10)

Emerging technologies: Preparing diplomats for 2030 and beyond

Venue: Aula Magna, Valletta

It’s no longer science fiction. Artificial intelligence is behind the wheel, flying drones, and winning chess games. It’s powering robots to automate tasks, and to replicate human behaviour.  AI is appearing also on international agendas. For example, Elon Musk and other AI pioneers are calling for a ban on the development of lethal autonomous weapons – an area which the UN is now tackling.

Will emerging technologies redefine the core social and ethical pillars of humanity? How can mankind ensure growth and the positive effect of new technologies, while addressing potential risks? And which core diplomatic functions can, and can’t, be automated? Can negotiations be programmed, and can empathy be digitalised? A high-level panel will talk robots, risks, and reality-checks.

High-Level panel with the participation of:
H.E. Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, President of Malta,
Prof. Andre Liebich,
Amb. Petru Dumitriu,
Dr Richard Hill,
Mr Michael Nelson,
Dr Stephanie Borg Psaila

Moderator: Dr Jovan Kurbalija

10.15 – 10.45 Conference photo and coffee break
10.45 – 11.45

Walking tour of Valletta

12.30 – 14.00

Seated lunch
(Venue: Westin Dragonara Conference Centre, St Julian’s)

14.00 – 15.45

Riding the waves of technology: The trends and practical uses of technology

Venue: Westin Dragonara Conference Centre, St Julian’s

Throughout the decades, Diplo has been both researching, and using, digital technology and e-tools. This experience will provide a backdrop for discussions on underlying trends and for sharing practical insights on how to adopt technology for our daily practices.

Moderator: Mr Vladimir Radunović

Thinking-out-loud hour

From e-mails and tools for promotion, to remote work and new styles of communicating, eight parallel discussions will tackle very practical aspects. Pick a theme and join the group to discuss. Pick a second theme and rotate.

  1. Hype and trends: The last few decades were dotted with technological hypes that fizzled away. Some were more sustainable, and turned into trends. By looking at the past, how can we distinguish the hype from the trends in the future?
    Lead discussant: Mr Dejan Dinčić
  2. The right tool for the right purpose: Selecting the most appropriate digital tools for promotion can make all the difference. What can we learn from the business community?
    Lead discussant: Mr Pierre Vacherand
  3. Working remotely: The joys of working remotely can be quickly overshadowed by working in isolation. Where’s the balance?
    Lead discussant: Ms Hannah Slavik
  4. Between the lines: Diplomatic language is changing. Simplicity is in, subtlety is out. Does implicit communication still have a role?
    Lead discussant: Dr Biljana Scott
  5. Constructive contrarianism: How do we move beyond the binary logic in policy debates? Two different views for the digital future (decentralised/enabling vs control/monopoly), will lead to an in vivo cognitive experiment to show the limitations of the either/or framing of policy issues and the need for more analogue insights.
    Lead discussants:
    Mr Aldo Matteucci and Dr Jovan Kurbalija
  6. Knowledge of the few, wisdom of many: Knowledge management has new means to store data and information in the digital era. Do digital tools make us wiser?
    Lead discussant: Amb. Petru Dumitriu
  7. Offline is the new luxury: In today’s ‘always online, everywhere’ craze, being constantly online comes at a cost. Can we afford to be offline and for how long?
    Lead discussant: Dr Stephanie Borg Psaila
  8. Disruptive communications: Social media and online communications challenge traditional hierarchies within an institution. How do we adapt?
    Lead discussant: Amb. Stefano Baldi
15.45 – 16.00

Coffee break

16.00 – 16.30

Drum-roll: Concluding the conference

Closing remarks: Amb. Valentin Zellweger, Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the United Nations Office and to the other international organisations in Geneva

This session will be webstreamed.

19.00 – 21.00 (departure from hotel pick-up points at 18:10)

Anniversary reception: Happy birthday, DiploFoundation!

Reception hosted by the Hon. Carmelo Abela, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Promotion, and Mrs Abela

Venue: Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade Promotion, Palazzo Parisio, Valletta

All times are in Central European Time (GMT+1)

Last updated: 12 November 2017.

Build up

The celebrations officially started on 1 September 2017. Our alumni have been sharing messages on social media to mark Diplo’s anniversary, using the hashtag #Diploturns15. More messages can be read and posted here, on the website.

As part of the build-up, we are also publishing articles that reflect on the future of diplomacy. Follow the links:


Happy Birthday Diplo!

IGF India 2008 DiploFoundation 15th birthday

I have had the privilege to collaborate with Diplo in various capacities for the last 12 years. I will be forever grateful to the opportunity I had as a student, tutor and research coordinator of… Read more “Happy Birthday Diplo!”

Hanane Boujemi

Thank you for your work…

Thank you for your work in capacity building in Small States! #Diploturns15 – I had the great privilege to be nominated to attend the Modern Diplomacy for Small States Course in Malta as part of a… Read more “Thank you for your work…”

Mike Guy
The Embassy of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas

Happy Birthday …

Happy Birthday Diplo, and many more years to come – In early 2008 I was bored. Well, not so much bored as restless. Retirement for teachers here is compulsory at 60. The papers had been… Read more “Happy Birthday …”

Deirdre Williams

Being grateful to Diplo

Diplo has come to me after my first Master in European Studies. It has been a great experience, starting from the Conference in Malta (2003), the after-conference Course, with all sessions included, the excellent guest… Read more “Being grateful to Diplo”

Zemaida Mozali

Thank you Diplo!

My first e-learning experience was with Diplo Foundation. It was a great experience! I learnt so much as well. I got good grounding in the following areas – Internet Governance, ICT policy, and strategic planning.… Read more “Thank you Diplo!”

Gameli Adzajp

Happy birthday and many thanks!

Both as one of the thousands of grateful DiploFoundation´s alumni and as the current Director of the Argentine National Foreign Service Institute, I cannot but entirely subscribe Dr. Kurbalija´s message on Diplo´s valuable and successful… Read more “Happy birthday and many thanks!”

Diplomacy course…

“Diplomacy course gave me speed….” This is an expression of my appreciation to Diplo Foundation for given me the scholarship that enabled me to be a part of the 2016 cohort on Education Diplomacy on… Read more “Diplomacy course…”

15 years of excellence!

Mission achieved! Indeed I believe that I am an example of the successful mission of DIPLO. Today I count as a professional and successful diplomat due to my involvement with DIPLO. Because of the options… Read more “15 years of excellence!”

Angelic Caroline Alihusain-del Castilho


DiploFoundation Internet Governance Capacity Building Programme – IGCBP was a game-changer in my career. I participated in the IGCBP class of 2009 and it had a huge impact in my professional activities and in my… Read more “Game-changer”

Vanessa Copetti Cravo

Diplo a key stakeholder..

Diplo a key stakeholder in diplomacy and Internet Governance – DiploFoundation is a valuable stakeholder in the field of diplomacy and internet Governance and during 15 years shaped the landscape of diplomacy and Internet Governance… Read more “Diplo a key stakeholder..”

Issoufou Seynou

Thank You

For the 15th anniversary of DiploFoundation, I would like to share how the numerous courses I have followed since 2008 have helped me on my way to becoming Ambassador of Mauritius to Germany in 2010.… Read more “Thank You”

Sarojini Seeneevassen

The Age of Diplomacy

“Public Diplomacy is everyone’s business. It is an art of winning hearts and minds and a natural way to share and care for a prosperous, peaceful and healthy society. The Diplo-Foundation course on Public Diplomacy… Read more “The Age of Diplomacy”

So thankful for Diplo

I have been collaborating closely with DiploFoundation since 2015. I took the Intro. to Internet Governance course in spring 2016, which provided the foundation for my Internet policy-related work and knowledge going forward. The range… Read more “So thankful for Diplo”

Michael J. Oghia

About Diplo

DiploFoundation emerged from a project to introduce information and communication technology (ICT) tools to the practice of diplomacy. In 1992, with the help of the Governments of Malta and Switzerland, the Unit for Computer Applications in Diplomacy was established at the Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies.

In November 2002, this Unit evolved into DiploFoundation, established by Malta and Switzerland, as a not-for-profit organisation. Since then, Diplo has worked to increase the role of small and developing states in global diplomacy, and to improve global governance and international policy development. We have also sought to assist actors to deal with the fast-emerging policy field of Internet governance and digital policy.

This year, we are celebrating 15 years of DiploFoundation and 25 years of training and research and diplomacy. Join us in Malta on 17-18 November.

Diplo’s main activities

Diplo works in a number of areas and runs many programmes and activities. These include:

Capacity development programmes in areas such as Internet governance, e-diplomacy, and public diplomacy. Our approach includes online training, policy research, policy immersion, and the development of communities of practice.

Events. To deal with pressing issues in global governance, our events bring together people from different areas, including diplomats, business professionals, and members of civil society. We work to make our events more accessible through online participation.

Courses. Diplo offers a Master’s programme in Contemporary Diplomacy in collaboration with the University of Malta, and many postgraduate-level academic courses and training workshops on a variety of diplomacy-related topics for diplomats, civil servants, staff of international organisations and NGOs, students of international relations, etc. Courses are delivered online, face-to-face, and in a blended format.

Research and publications on topics such as e-diplomacy, online learning, e-participation, Internet governance, and digital policy. We build on traditional policy research methods through Internet-based techniques, including crowd-sourcing, trend analysis, and collaborative research. Many of our publications are available online as well as in print, and some have been translated into several languages.

Diplo also operates the Geneva Internet Platform and the GIP Digital Watch observatory.

For more information about Diplo, visit