How to be a Diplomat in the Information Age

Yesterday, the STU Library hosted a talk by the Deputy Consul General of Argentina in Miami and Puerto Rico, Gustavo Martinez Pandiani on the challenges of diplomacy in a wired, 21st century world.

According to Martinez Pandiani, countries (nation-states) are losing power, even “Super powers” have to share the decision process with new players. As a result, diplomats have to deal with multiple powers and play many roles to fulfill their duties.

Many players affect the international decision-making process. One of the major players in diplomacy today is the media. Consequently, diplomats have to communicate with the world through the media; therefore, they need to know how to interact with cameras and journalists.

The information age has added a sense of immediacy to news and events. Communication and decision-making among diplomats used to involve diplomats alone. The immediacy of the media has changed the role of “timing” in diplomacy.There used to be delays between events, decision-making, and communication, but these delays have lessened. The change in timing means that diplomats now have to react to events and decisions immediately.

There is a growing need for diplomats to adapt to these changes, as well as to the growing democratization within nations. As Pandiani Martinez explained, decisions on public and foreign affairs used to be made by a select group of individuals, citizens were not taken into account during the process. Now there is a new sense of involvement between citizens and decision-makers, as well as a need for decision-makers to understand the electorate’s views as well as the electorate process.

Pandiani Martinez suggests that today’s diplomats need to know how to talk to everyone, and interact with many groups (people, press, academics, diplomats) to be a true diplomat . It is necessary to be a true citizen to be a true diplomat.

New pressures make it necessary for diplomats to have communication skills in addition to diplomatic skills. The new rules of diplomacy are the rules of the media – diplomats need to know how to work with these rules to combine the demands of diplomacy with the demands of the media.

Check out books by Gustavo Martinez Pandiani and other works on Argentina on display in the library!

Thank you to Gustavo Martinez Pandiani, Dr. Giselle Jamison, Dean Scott Zeman, and Biscayne College for arranging  this event.

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