Digital diplomacy on Medium

March 2017 roundup of recent posts on foreign policy and diplomacy.

[This post is also available on Medium Series: click here]

The beginning of 2017 is signaling an increased interest in Medium as a platform for diplomacy, not only for politics.

After the recent debuts on the platform of the United Nations, former Danish prime minister Helle Thorning S, former Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi, and the Albanian MFA 🇦🇱, in the past few months new high profile international players joined Medium actively posting on the platform. They include the The Obama Foundation, the FAO of the United Nations (the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), the European Commission and the European Ombudsman (part of the European Union), and the Government of Nigeria.

“We believe Medium sits at a unique intersection of beautiful story telling, thoughtful conversation, and potential global impact,” said Matt Higginson, head of politics and government affairs at Medium.

He added:

It is exciting to see the global diplomatic community finding a home here and reaching new audiences with their important perspectives.

From long-form content to photos and videos, the foreign policy community has been experimenting quite a bit, as previous edition of this series show.

And if you’re open to more experiment on Medium, the company has just launched Series, a new way to approach storytelling. Series are “mobile stories that can be added to over time and unfold card by card with the tap of your finger,” as a post by katie zhu, product and engineering at Medium, explains.

This is our first step toward building a new way to read on Medium that’s both seamless and serialized.

Among some of the first most interesting Series stories highlighted: Medium’s co-founder and CEO Ev Williams on Series vs blogging; philanthropist Melinda Gates on effective ways to save the lives of children across the globe; and former US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on the human stories behind rising prescription drug prices.

Also, of note this past month, the U.S. Department of State has re-launched on Medium under the new administration, including a post on the first speech delivered by secretary of state Rex Tillerson (the old posts are archived under State Dept 2015–2017 and the publication Foggy Bottom Archived).

Got ideas for future posts? Or you want to write about digital diplomacy and technology in foreign policy? Ping me here or on Twitter, write a response to this post, or submit your post by email.


Baroness Joanna Shields, UK minister for Internet safety and security, celebrates Safer Internet Day on Medium with a post on the role of young leaders and inventors in making the digital space safer and secure.

I am convinced the brightest future lies ahead. Your generation will do great things that will improve the world for everyone. […] There are over three billion people using the internet today; that’s almost half the world’s population talking to each other, learning and experiencing life in completely new and remarkable ways.


Jared Cohen celebrates Jigsaw’s first anniversary as a technology incubator within Alphabet — from its origins as Google Ideas, a think tank within Google.

At Jigsaw we ask ourselves how technology can make people in the world safer. Specifically we look at the role of technology in some of the world’s toughest geopolitical challenges, from protecting free speech to tackling online toxicity to fighting censorship and radicalization.
Yasmin Green interviewed by NBC’s Ronan Farrow.

Meanwhile, Stanford University’s Liberationtech, part of the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law (CCDDR) of FSI Stanford, debuts on Medium and works on reviving its blog. The Liberation Technology program seeks to understand how information technology can be used to improve governance, empower the poor, defend human rights, promote economic development, and pursue a variety of other social goods.

Photo credits: Theophilos Papadopoulos (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)


European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly tries to answer the question Will the European Union survive the next twenty five years? in her Maastricht Monnet Lecture at Maastricht University on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Treaty of Maastricht. Formally know as the Treaty on European Union (TEU), it represents a new stage in European integration since it opens the way to political integration. It creates a European Union consisting of three pillars: the European Communities, Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), and police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters (JHA). The Treaty introduces the concept of European citizenship, reinforces the powers of the European Parliament and launches economic and monetary union (EMU). Besides, the EEC becomes the European Community (EC).

We have our own values, created from the millions who perished during a period where those Europeans who venerated extreme nationalism, denied the basic humanity of others, and believed in the magic powers of one spellbinding single man to give them all that they wanted, held sway. […] What Europe most needs to do now, is hold its nerve and not follow the populists down a road that will ultimately serve no one’s interests not even their own unless their goal is simply destruction for its own sake.


The European Commission debuts on Medium with a post on the 11th anniversary of EUtube, the European Union’s Youtube channel, and how the EU has evolved in the use of videos and live streams.

Although we didn’t know it at the time, the launch of EUTube marked the first step of the European Commission’s social media journey. In the years that followed, our use of video has evolved: shaped by a diversifying online audience; directed by digital trends; and central to the ways in which we communicate our work and values to a global audience.


Another debut on Medium for The Obama Foundation with a couple of posts on the way forward.

The Obama Foundation is a working, living center for citizenship. Our goal is to develop the next generation of citizens, to shape what it means to an engaged and active citizen in the 21st Century.


Grant Gordon, associate director of R&D at International Rescue Committee (IRC), and Ravi Gurumurthy, vice president for strategy and innovation, focus on how donors and governments must rethink how they respond to the migrant crises and global displacement.

Instead of focusing on providing refugees with short-term handouts, they must expand employment opportunities both for those fleeing their homes and for the communities that host them.

Among the many posts on the refugee crises this past few months, also articles by UNDP Syria (Resilience despite of the losses in Syria); ICRC Lebanon (A home for those who lost theirs…); the International Med. Corps (Who Are Refugees?); and Rhea Suh, president of the NRDC (In a Harsh World, a Safe Haven).

The skin group of a Tiwi is matrilineal; it is inherited from the mother and determines the marriage line. (Photo credits: Kerry Klimm/Australian Red Cross)


A post by Kerry Klimm of the Australian Red Cross talks about the Tiwi people and how one of the world’s oldest living culture is evolving, surviving, and thriving.

Tiwi is like many Indigenous communities across Australia, battling the detrimental impact of colonization, past government practices and policies and community attitudes. The impact on people’s social, economic, cultural and spiritual lives has been devastating; reduced life expectancy, poor health outcomes, limited education, high employment and over-representation in the criminal justice and welfare systems.

8. TPP

The Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA), established in 2007 by a formal agreement among 16 heads of government at the 3rd East Asia Summit in Singapore, believes the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is stranded, but the so-called ‘pivot to Asia’ is not.

For the foreseeable future, the Asia-Pacific relationship will remain an American foreign policy priority. Its abandonment of the TPP is more likely to be a signal that the US will seek better trade deals, than a ‘lights-out’ for its involvement in Asia.


The International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations Migration Agency, launches #LettersForMigrants.

If we want to make it morally unacceptable to mistreat migrants, we have to change the narrative, to show that we — people like you and me — care about them and are willing to speak out about how they’ve positively impacted our lives.

The campaign is an new initiative by IOM X, an innovative campaign to encourage safe migration and prevent human trafficking, funded by USAID. IOM X leverages the power and popularity of media and technology to inspire young people and their communities to act against human trafficking. IOM X moves beyond raising awareness to effecting behavior change by applying a Communication for Development (C4D), evidenced-based and participatory framework to tailor messaging for its activities.


Brad Smith, president and chief legal officer of Microsoft, bylines an op-ed on NewCo on the need for a Digital Geneva Convention, and calls on the world’s governments to implement international rules to protect the civilian use of the internet.

Just as the Fourth Geneva Convention has long protected civilians in times of war, we now need a Digital Geneva Convention that will commit governments to protecting civilians from nation-state attacks in times of peace.