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With the further advance of IT the technique of using hyperlinks in reports and information notes will provide additional opportunities. Hyperlinks can lead the reader towards specific paragraphs of a document, background material or other related reports. This technique, once accepted has the potential of reforming substantially the format of reporting and information sharing.


As a matter of course most Foreign Ministries and more and more individual missions nowadays maintain their own web sites. They assume important information functions: presentation of leading personalities, photographs and CVs, lists of embassies and opening hours, what to do if you are about to become a ”consular case” in a far away country. In addition web sites can be used as policy oriented tools to:

- provide important statements and position papers with some background note (hyperlink);

- put more information within easy reach of visitors: statistics, archival sources;

- publicise position-papers;

- guide visitors through indication of useful links;

- create interactive programmes to generate interest in foreign policy issues or to sound out public opinion, web-chats with the minister, letterbox, etc.

Web-sites assume an important function in the ”representation” of a country, one of the traditional functions of diplomacy. Web-sites need to be professionally developed and maintained. There has to be close co-ordination of the ministry’s central web-site and those of missions abroad to prevent contradictions and in order to demonstrate corporate identity.

Negotiating per Internet:

Within the EU there is by now a fairly well established and totally unspectacular use of the email-system: in many domains EU foreign policy co-operation occurs through working groups. They meet at more or less regular intervals in Brussels. In between meetings, members of the group quite successfully are in contact with each other by COREUs, or less formally, by email and comment on a draft, which might have been established by the chairman of the group (presidency delegation). When they meet again, they have a text on which a fairly large extent of agreement has already been established and in their discussion they can concentrate on the remaining points of divergence.

Techniques for group editing of texts make it possible to integrate IT even more in the negotiating process. There is, however, as yet only limited reported practical experience on the usage of information technology for negotiations. The author has experienced some of the advantages of the tools provided by modern technology for the conduct of complex negotiations when in 2000 and 2001 he served in a pro bono function as the head of the Austrian negotiating team on the issue of restitution of property rights to victims of the national-socialist Regime in Austria. This experience was encouraging enough to recommend the wider use of this tool in diplomatic practice. The conclusions summarized here are drawn from that recent experience.

Negotiating per Internet - Advantages:

- concentration on content and substance, no ”emotional noise”;

- clarity, lucidity of formulation, less misunderstandings;

- facilitates comparison of texts proposed;

- transparency, easy to maintain record of proposals made and revisions added;

- time factor: each delegation can work according to its rhythm, time difference can be turned into advantage;

- easy and reliable method of establishing the final text;

- more than two parties can participate;

- cost efficient


- partners must share a common view on the purpose of the negotiations and the timeframe;

- ground-rules need to be established (who are the active negotiating partners? with whom can you share the text? who establishes the final text?)

- it helps to have a central facilitator who maintains control over the process and convenes meetings in person, when needed;

- basic trust among negotiating partners must have been established in prior face-to-face meetings and further personal meetings at regular intervals will be needed to advance the process;

- within delegations there has to be a clear understanding about delegation of authority (once a proposal has been made electronically it cannot be easily withdrawn); as head of delegation you must be comfortable with a fairly flat structure of hierarchy within your team;

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