Direct Diplomacy in Iran: the Internet as a Platform for Foreign Policy



Ben Rowswell, Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development in Canada

Date and Time

September 26, 2013 4:30 PM - 6:00 PM


Open to the public.

No RSVP required


Wallenberg Theater

FSI Contact

Kathleen Barcos

Digital technologies have brought disruption to political systems throughout the world, it is disrupting the practice of diplomacy.  State-to-state communication continues, but foreign ministries struggle to understand and engage with the new actors that self-organized citizen movements represent.  Since Canada closed its embassy in Tehran in 2012, its foreign ministry has explored ways to use the internet to engage the people of Iran directly.  Its "Direct Diplomacy" campaign has engaged half a million Iranians in a two-way dialogue, offering Canada the opportunity to better understand dynamics in this crucial country, and giving Iranians another opportunity to bypass their government and share their views with the international community.  This presentation will outline the objectives, tools and lessons learned from this innovation in diplomacy and offer perspectives on the conduct of international relations in a digital age.
Ben Rowswell is Director for Iran, Iraq and the Arabian Peninsula at Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development.  From 2010 to 2011 he was Visiting Scholar in the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law at Stanford, conducting research on the use of technology by democracy activists in the Egyptian revolution.  His diplomatic career includes stints as the Representative of Canada in Kandahar, Afghanistan; as Deputy Head of Mission in Kabul; as Chargé d'Affaires in Baghdad, Iraq; and in the political section of Canada's embassy to Egypt.  He is the founder of the Democracy Unit at DFATD, an alumnus of the National Democratic Institute and a former Visiting Scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington DC.  In 2007 he edited the volume "Iraq: Preventing a New Generation of Conflict."

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