May 05 2017
By Nicole Andreou

Rebecca Adler-Nissen

Behind the Scenes of Digital Diplomacy

Hashtags and 140 characters are becoming the norm in how we talk about anything. What we’re currently doing, what we think about that article by The Guardian, democratic vote outcomes, or what we ate just yesterday. As world leaders and politicians are equally engaged with social media, could this immediate and intense way of communicating ever affect foreign affairs?

At this year’s TEDxCopenhagen event Rebecca Adler-Nissen, a Political Scientist specialised in International Relations and Diplomacy, will be addressing how social media in the hands of political leaders and diplomats is transforming and challenging conventional diplomacy.

Having formerly worked for the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Rebecca gained hands-on experience with decision and policy making at the highest political level. She believes that the current state of social media use by political leaders, when leaders tweet from inside the negotiation room, threatens the confidential space needed to negotiate peaceful deals.

“We are opening up the black box of diplomacy.”

Social media is increasingly enabling citizens to read more, know more, and ask questions about foreign policy. These social networks have created a non-elite virtual public space for debate, and one that can hold leaders accountable.

However, Rebecca will direct our attention to the fact that the political leadership is also part of the social media world. Even more so to how conscious political leaders are of constantly being watched. There is a growing concern about protocol not being followed, hasty tweets and the rushed spread of information that can lead to a spiral of international conflict and misunderstandings. Rebecca identifies and questions this big contrast between long convoluted compromises - ones that take up pages - and smart or funny 140 character messages shared online.

“Leaders are over aware they have an audience, that they are being followed.”

Rebecca Adler-Nissen will take the TEDx audience on a journey through the political Wild West of the social media world, and tell us that there are ways in which these tools can be used constructively.

Join her on June 12th to navigate digital diplomacy.


- By Nicole Andreou


Rebecca Adler-Nissen is a Professor at the Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen. Her research focuses on international relations theory, diplomacy, sovereignty, security and European integration. She is former Head of Section in the Department of European Policy, at the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.