A New Diplomacy for the Emerging Global Binary: Digitalisation, Pandemics and the Search for a Reset

Thursday 17 June 2021, 13:00 to Friday 18 June 2021, 17:15

The nature of diplomacy has evolved radically in recent years. Following the Peace of Westphalia, diplomacy was an exercise led almost exclusively by the nation state’s representatives. Its focus was on sovereignty preservation and influence enhancement. In the late nineteenth century, trade and commerce became a legitimate but secondary area for diplomatic activities. New diplomatic actors emerged, including regional organizations and non-state actors. We are now facing a new phase. On the one hand, we see the emergence of a new great power competition with the US and China at the center of an emerging binary contest in which Europe and other players struggle to find an appropriate position. On the other hand, we see the growing influence of the contemporary digital instruments of communication presents a new context in which a new set of diplomatic skills are needed. Can diplomacy manage the emerging global competition? What are the necessary diplomatic skills in the 2020s? How must diplomatic practice adapt to the new global dynamic? Is it possible to reset collective action problem solving multilateral diplomacy given the transnational nature of contemporary global challenges?

Join CSDS and LSE IDEAS for a timely debate on the future of diplomacy in the contemporary global binary era.

The event took place online, please find the recordings below:

1) Opening Remarks

Giulia Tercovich, Assistant director of the Centre for Security, Diplomacy and Strategy (CSDS) of the Brussels School of Governance (BSoG-VUB).

 Opening Plenary Session - Security and Diplomacy: Still the Core Institutions in an Era of Global Bifurcation?

Chair: Christopher Coker, Director of LSE IDEAS


  • Kishore Mahbubani, former Singaporean civil servant and diplomat, now Distinguished Fellow at the Asia Research Institute at National University of Singapore
  • Judy Dempsey, Senior Fellow at Carnegie Europe
  • Peter Westmacott, KCMG, LVO, former British Ambassador to the US, France and Turkey

2) Session 1 - From Economic Diplomacy to Economic Statecraft: A New Mercantilism in an Era of De-Globalisation?

Chair: Linda Yueh, Visiting Professor at LSE IDEAS


  • Simon Evenett, Professor of International Trade and Economic Development and MBA Director at the University of St. Gallen
  • Manuela Moschella, Associate Professor of International Political Economy at the Scuola Normale Superiore
  • Patrick Low, Former Chief Economist at the World Trade Organization (WTO) and Fellow at the Asia Global Institute, Hong Kong.

3) Session 2 - Need for Women Led Diplomacy for a New World Order

Chair: Karen Smith, Professor of International Relations and Head of the Department, LSE


  • Henriette Müller, Professor of Leadership Studies at New York University Abu Dhabi­­­
  • Roberta Guerrina, Professor of EU gender politics and policies, University of Bristol
  • Dame Judith Macgregor, British diplomat, former High Commissioner to South Africa and former Ambassador to Slovakia and Mexico

4) Session 3 - The Diplomacy of Science, Technology and Energy

Chair: Robert Falkner, Associate Professor of International Relations and Interim Director, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, LSE


  • Luk Van Langenhove, Research Professor at Brussels School of Governance (BSoG) and Senior Fellow at the Comparative Regional Integration Studies Institute of the United Nations University (UNU- CRIS).
  • Cho Khong, Chief Political Analyst at Royal Dutch Shell
  • Marga Gual Soler, international expert, advisor and educator in science diplomacy and founder of SciDip Global

5) Session 4 - Cultural Relations or Cultural Diplomacy in an Era of Digitalisation: What’s in a Name?

Chair: Caterina Carta, Professor of International Relations at the Centre for Security Diplomacy and Strategy, BSoG-VUB


  • Naciye Selin Senocak, Chair Holder of UNESCO Cultural Diplomacy, Governance and Education and Director of the Diplomatic and Strategic Studies Center (CEDS) and President of Eurasian Institute of Development (ANKAD)
  • Gideon Rachman, Chief Foreign Affairs Commentator of the Financial Times
  • Bruno Maçães, former Portuguese Secretary of State for European Affairs

6) Closing Plenary Session - Diplomacy for a New World Order: Can We Re-Boot Multilateral Diplomacy?

Chair: Richard Higgott, Emeritus Professor of International Political Economy, University of Warwick, Distinguished Professor of Diplomacy, Centre for Security Diplomacy and Strategy (CSDS), Brussels School of Governance (BSoG-VUB)


  • Amitav Acharya, Distinguished Professor of International Relations at American University, Washington, D.C.
  • Mills Soko, Professor of International Business and Strategy at Wits Business School
  • Clare Wenham, Assistant Professor of Global Health Policy, LSE
  • Andrew F. Cooper, University Research Chair, and Professor, the Balsillie School of International Affairs, the University of Waterloo

Following this workshop, Richard Higgott and Giulia Tercovich explore the key issues in contemporary diplomacy in a report. This report covers the core questions from the workshop and a retelling of the discussions from each session, providing a wider analytical commentary on modern international relations and diplomacy: https://www.lse.ac.uk/ideas/publications/reports/a-new-digital-diplomacy-in-the-age-of-the-global-binary