Foreign Policy And Cyber Security


Madhavji Shrestha


Foreign policy alone does not travel on its own trajectory.  It is much influenced by the internal situation and external push.  In fact, it is indeed the twin-mixture product of domestic need and foreign influence. Additionally, the global concern like security from cyberspace does impact on the formulation of foreign policy. In these early decades of the 21st century, foreign policies of big powers, and smaller and weaker countries are also apparently anxious with the fast rising question of cyber security posing from the cyberspace.  No member of the international community could remain untouched by this development.  The use of Internet connected with information technology has much affected the face and style of the conducting of foreign policy.



We come across myriad uses of twitter as a much loved tool of harboring diplomatic dealings by the very influential political leaders of the world.  Hence, many experts around the world have come to employ the term “Twiplomacy” for the use of twitter, although it has not yet been formally recognised.  Similarly, the term techplomacy has also come to occupy space in diplomatic behaviors.  People remember how in June 2017 the government of Denmark decided to accredit one of its senior diplomats as ambassador- designate to the Silicon Valley, which is closely linked with cyber security. Main reasons behind this unique decision - perhaps first of its kind of accreditation by the government of a nation- state to the non-state agency- are that the Danish government desires to put Denmark’s cyber technology on par with the Silicon Valley whose Facebook GDP is 341 billion pound sterling which amount is greater than Denmark’s GDP 242 billion pound sterling per annum; to defeat cyber theft, espionage and hacking and to control and prevent much feared global terrorism.  It is reportedly said that the policy of cyber-security is adapted as one of pillars of its foreign policy.

Today the global tendency is unfolding to adopt the policy of cyber security as one of the integral part of various principal elements of foreign policy as the concern of cyber security has very visibly and frequently haunted the heads and minds of the architects of foreign policy and diplomacy around the globe; much more so for the foreign policy designers and executers of very big powers and even the super power United States.  Their avowed purpose is mainly concerned with the maintenance of their national security first and foremost followed by the prevention of the hacking, espionage and theft of secret data of corporate houses, and banking and insurance and other sensitive arena of national importance.

Many challenges related with cyber-security have come out on the global scene like the many headed –monster threatening human beings with gruesome fear.  The people even with little knowledge of international affairs and diplomatic dealings feel that no global understanding has so far appeared on the concern.  As of yet, the dealings on the foreign policy and diplomacy have been and are being dealt with by various provisions of two important Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic Relations 1961 and Consular Relations 1963.  Hence, the great need for universally accepted similar convention is widely felt and realistically needed to fill- in the void created by the apparent absence of such convention to regulate the necessary rules and guide the state and non-state actors for global stability and peace.  If global initiatives and actions on this highly wanted subject come out, a big jump- start would certainly go a great length in meeting challenges thrown up by the meteoric development of this ultra modern information technology. 

Creativity and innovation are most welcome insofar as human civilisation and human security are related with the global development.  Even those positive progresses may have some negative and unwanted outcome like the concern and question of cyber-security. Progress and development are both boon and bane at the same time.  However, people would see that positive gain and advantage need to be property utilised with the dexterous avoidance to misuse the darker side.  Human ingenuity and wise statesmanship are greatly warranted to fulfill the aspirations of the global populace. 

The absence of a system of the global governance and its proper management with regard to the cyber-security is frequently discussed and deliberated.  No appreciable outcome has, though, appeared so far.  The need is felt everywhere.  To eliminate this void global genuine effort must come up.  In this much debated subject, Richard N. Haass, an eminent foreign policy expert of the U.S. in his book ‘A World in Disarray’ has deservingly observed, “the goal should be to create international arrangements – a “regime” in the academic jargon –that would encourage certain uses of cyberspace and discourage others.  It would become part of a government’s obligation to act consistently with this regime and to do all in its power to stop those acting from its territory that do not.”

As far as this concern of cyber-security is talked about in Nepal, no apparent initiative is visibly in the offing until now.  As a diplomatic demarche, it has become high time for the Nepali diplomatic handlers to take steps for making safe from espionage, theft, hacking, etc. which are stealthily done through cyberspace while appropriately utilising advantages and benefits bestowed on by cyber technology.  In this regard foreign experts with their incisive knowledge and expertise suggest five valuable things as pillars for cyber-security.


Five pillars

First, there needs to create awareness on this matter; second, proper preparation; third, detection with a view to recover whatever has been stolen; fourth, collaboration with the agreeing state or non-state agencies, and finally certification with ethical values maintained.  These five pillars encompass almost all areas of cyber-security from the misuse of cyberspace with the vicious mind very much in action, and meanwhile, to turn the vicious mind into virtuous one for greater good of the global populace. Better it would be to give serious thought to Nepal committing itself to integrate itself into this global venture of positive nature.  Finer it would be if Nepali diplomats could do something substantive in this vital concern of today’s global anxiety.  Way forward should be in the offing without delay and dithering.



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