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Digital Diplomacy: UK Foreign Policy in the Twitter Era

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Chapter 1: Introduction- Digital Diplomacy in the Twitter Age

1.1 Introduction

Digital diplomacy is considered the use of the internet as well as new information communication technologies that help to achieve diplomatic objectives. Digital diplomacy is also the most essential tool in the nation’s foreign policy as it is effective enough to enable direct interaction and engagement with the foreign countries severely. Focusing on the UK, it is observed that the nation is recognized for the powerful potential of digital diplomacy. The government is responsible to promote the incorporation of “new media technologies” into the diplomatic organizations and cultural institutions. Here, the case study of Twitter diplomacy as a tool to promote the foreign policy between the UK and Iran is taken under consideration to narrow down the research topic severely.

1.2 Research Background

Digital diplomacy is beneficial enough to imply the “expanding diplomatic practice" from the government-to-government communication to the public diplomacy through which it is possible to reach both domestic and the foreign public. In the case of the UK and Iran, it has been observed that in the year 2019, Iranian officials released particular footage regarding the “Seized British tanker” in the “Strait of Hormuz” (Mgimo, 2019). It was also found out that as per the suspicion of Great Britain, an Iranian vessel sold the oil to Syria for violating sanctions imposed on Iran by the Western countries. As per the below figure, the exact route of seizing the tanker has been well identified. An open court case was also launched in this regard in order to identify the required justice. Based on this case study, it has been also found that Twitter represented the “most convenient platform” or the appropriate digital diplomatic tool for each of the officials such as the UK government and Iranian government for making their essential statements and providing quick reactions.

In the present day, diplomacy has been going through a different number of changes that are also connected with the "progress in the digital realm". Tweets from the beginning of the conflict up to the final point within the period of 4th July to 27th September, the entire context was highlighted and reported continuously with the help of Twitter. Each of the stages of the whole procedure was also posted step by step. Thus, based on the above context, it is quite clear that by using effective foreign policies and the capability of taking immediate actions through Twitter, it is possible to resolve the whole situation as early as possible. In the case of the existing foreign laws between the UK and Iran, it is observed that the “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” (JCPoA), safeguards agreement with “International Atomic Energy Agency” (IAEA) and “British Iranian dual nationals” are here whereas Iran breached the JCPoA in the year of 2019 (Parliament, 2022). Thus, the UK government has undertaken strong positions on the JCPoA for not only welcoming the other nations to join it whereas to address the regional along with security concerns more particularly. 

1.3 Aims and objectives

The aim of this research is to evaluate the foreign policy in the era of digital diplomacy based on the context of the UK.

Research objectives

  • To identify the importance of digital diplomacy in the present era
  • To demonstrate the effectiveness of foreign policy in the era of digital diplomacy
  • To highlight the facts that how the Twitter diplomacy helped to manage the UK-Iran case
  • To recommend suggestive ways through which it is possible to evaluate suitable foreign policies for supporting the era of digital diplomacy

1.4 Outline of the project

In the introduction part, a short introduction on the business context, an overview of the research background, and specific aim, as well as objectives, are highlighted. In the literature review section, different themes and theoretical contexts are developed to understand the research topic more effectively. In the methodology chapter, the research approach, research method, and ethical contexts along with an overview of used theories are included.

Chapter 2: Literature review

2.1 Critical review of literature

2.1.1 Utilization of the online digital platforms by the ministry of foreign affairs to adopt digital diplomacy in the UK

In the present context, digital diplomacy is observed as the subject of scrutiny as well as public interest. From the viewpoint of Oloo Ong’ong’a (2021), in the UK, Twitter and Facebook are considered the most effective digital platforms that can be used as the relevant tools regarding digital diplomacy. The presence of advanced technical tools in digital diplomacy is suitable enough to gather the required information from "digital social media platforms". In another context, Mazumdar (2021), stated digital diplomacy can be considered as the "internet-based amplifications” through which it can be possible for the foreign ministries to conduct the foreign affairs more adequately. Transformative development can also be conducted in this regard in international relations to ensure the fact that no such foreign affairs can be breached. On the contrary, Bjola and Manor (2018), argued that digital diplomacy is capable to raise such risks regarding “state-to-state relations”. In this context, it can be quite difficult for the UK government to manage the entire aspect as a whole.

2.1.2 Overview of the diplomacy in the digital age

Diplomacy in the digital age is mainly dependent on the fact that how the diplomats are able to understand as well as transform the online influences into the “tangible offline diplomatic influence”. According to Bjola (2018), the digital revolution is mostly needed in order to promote the effectiveness of digital diplomacy at present. The UK government has to provide a strong focus on this aspect to manage the external and internal commodities properly and also to develop the foreign laws to ensure that in the future, no such incidents of legal bridges can be observed.

2.2 Theoretical work

2.2.1 Putnam’s two-level theory

International negotiations need to be conceptualized as a two-level game where the interest groups and constituents can be able to pursue the interests of individuals. Based on the statement of scholar such as Putnam, the important concept within this theory is the win-set context. In another context, the small win set is able enough to enhance the risk regarding negotiation failures (Bjola and Manor, 2018). In this context, it can be stated that by using this theoretical aspect, it might be possible for the UK government to deal with the issues regarding the adaption of digital diplomacy more adequately.

Chapter 3: Methodology

3.1 Research approach

The Deductive research approach will be used here as through this, it can be possible to identify the major and minor premises related to digital diplomacy. In this context, it will also be possible to conduct the logical conclusions based on the fact how the UK government can be able to implement foreign policies more adequately in digital diplomacy to gain relevant outcomes (Pearse, 2019).

The deductive approach will develop meaningful decisions in this regard and also help to evaluate clear concepts on the fact that how Twitter diplomacy is relevant in the present context or to cope with the digital era. The aforementioned aspects are the strengths of this research approach whereas the limitation is that there is a strong chance to have wrong premises through which the arguments can be generated as an invalid one.

3.2 Used theory

The theory that will be used here is “Putnam’s two-level theory” through which it can be possible for an individual to demonstrate the “win state situation” clearly. It is most relevant to evaluate the positive consequences of the foreign policies adequately to mitigate such concerns of facing issues in the era of digital diplomacy. The limitation is that the theory cannot be able to suggest any such ways to avoid risk regarding negotiation failures.

3.3 Research method

A secondary research method will be used here as it is relevant enough to gather the required information within a short time frame (Browne et al. 2019). In this aspect, it can also be possible to identify the ability of the UK government to develop its foreign business policies with Iran to avoid such breach incidents in the upcoming future.

3.4 Ethical issues

Ethical issues will be raised here while gathering information from the authorized web sources. The existing information based on the research topic is quite sensitive and if it cannot be possible to refer to the used data by the name of the authors, there is a high chance to face legal hazards. Another ethical issue that can be raised here is the use of personal information for getting access to the articles. Thus, the aforementioned aspects need to be avoided completely.

3.5 Literature or datasets

In the case of literature or datasets, secondary literature sources will be sued here to gather relevant information. Secondary sources such as published articles, journals, and government websites can be taken under consideration here. Moreover, the articles must be published within 5 years from now and the English language of the articles will be considered here only.

Reference list

Bbc, (2019). News. Available at: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-49849718 [Accessed on 3rd June, 2022]

Bjola, C. and Manor, I., (2018). Revisiting Putnam’s two-level game theory in the digital age: Domestic digital diplomacy and the Iran nuclear deal. Cambridge review of international affairs31(1), pp.3-32. https://doi.org/10.1080/09557571.2018.1476836

Bjola, C., (2018). Diplomacy in the digital age. Elcano Royal Institute113, pp.1-8. https://media.realinstitutoelcano.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/ari113-2018-bjola-diplomacy-digital-age.pdf

Browne, J., Coffey, B., Cook, K., Meiklejohn, S. and Palermo, C., (2019). A guide to policy analysis as a research method. Health Promotion International34(5), pp.1032-1044. doi: 10.1093/heapro/day052

Mazumdar, B.T., (2021). Digital diplomacy: Internet-based public diplomacy activities or novel forms of public engagement?. Place Branding and Public Diplomacy, pp.1-20. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1057/s41254-021-00208-4

Mgimo, (2019). Twitter-diplomacy-uk-iran-case. Available at: https://sgpjournal.mgimo.ru/2019/2019-5/twitter-diplomacy-uk-iran-case#_ftn4 [Accessed on 3rd June, 2022]

Oloo Ong’ong’a, D., (2021). Systematic literature review: Online digital platforms utilization by the ministry of foreign affairs in adopting digital diplomacy. Humanities9(1), pp.8-18. DOI: https://doi.org/10.34293/ sijash.v9i1.3313

Parliament, (2022). Uk-government-policy-on-iran-the-iran-nuclear-deal-and-dual-nationals. Available at: https://lordslibrary.parliament.uk/uk-government-policy-on-iran-the-iran-nuclear-deal-and-dual-nationals [Accessed on 3rd June, 2022]

Pearse, N., (2019), June. An illustration of deductive analysis in qualitative research. In 18th European Conference on Research Methodology for Business and Management Studies (p. 264). DOI: 10.34190/RM.19.006

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