The post 9/11 era and its focus on combatting terrorism has profoundly impacted
diplomacy and intelligence. It has brought up challenging ethical issues that have come to the
forefront. Most of these ethical issues are centered on the business of policing globalization in
the contemporary period. The developments and changes offer novel opportunities for exploring
ethics and the role of diplomacy and intelligence in a modern democracy.
Ethics, Intelligence, and Diplomacy
Diplomacy, intelligence, and ethics have always had a controversial association, mainly
due to the ethical responsibilities and constraints that diplomats and intelligence officers have in
juggling their duties. The very nature of diplomacy restricts, on the one hand, the diplomat’s
duties to exercise morality. It is important to note that diplomats are third parties since they do
not represent themselves (Kerr & Wiseman, 2017). Rather, they perform their actions on behalf
of a collective author, either a state or regional body. It means that the diplomatic agency is the
consequence of a conditional shift of priorities from the state or regional authority to the
diplomat. It is the delegation of duties that enables diplomats to execute their traditional role of
information-gathering, representation, and negotiation. On the other hand, the diplomat’s
aptitude to execute duties is limited by diplomatic work. Diplomats work and live within the
proximity of power; however, it is hard for them to use their power directly. Overall, while the
limited range of diplomatic agency protects diplomats against moral and ethical scrutiny, their
exercise of power, even indirectly, subjects them to issues of moral accountability.
Ethics and Diplomacy
The rise of social media has compounded the ethics surrounding diplomacy. The rise of
social media has transformed the information space that surrounds conflict (Kerr & Wiseman,
2017). Individuals impacted by conflict exceedingly have the resources to record and share what
they have experienced with the world and to contribute to the media by using the cell phone
camera and using the internet. The information passed through these networks can affect the
nature and result of conflict, impacting public opinion, and gaining support domestically and
internationally. Social media contributed to peaceful solutions, stability, meaningful dialogue,
and a mutual identity in war-ridden and weak nations; it had adverse effects. Power-hungry
people utilized these same platforms to arrange for political influence, recruit members, and plan
political influence (Kerr & Wiseman, 2017). Besides, citizens used information technology to
polarize people, reinforce biases, spread rumors, and instigate violence. Despite the evolution of
the media environment, policymakers and donors have vigorously debated and developed
programs and policies in weak states affected by the conflict based on traditional media forms.
This has been prevalent with examining media's impact on early warning signs, reconstruction
after disputes, nations' stability, governance, and conflict. Projects and evaluations associated
with peace journalism and war reporting and reinforcement to independent media forms are also
mainly based on traditional media despite the threat that has been brought about by novel
innovations. Social media platforms, especially Twitter, are key in increasing practices related to
Digital Diplomacy. As a practice, Digital Diplomacy has gained a negative reputation, similar to
public relations, due to the conventional top-down flow of asymmetrical information that is the
primary basis of the practice.
Ethics Intelligence-Gathering and Espionage
The controversies of the last few years around mass surveillance and espionage have led
to unprecedented ethical concerns regarding the role of intelligence in the modern world. On the
one hand, the perception is that the very nature of intelligence and espionage is unethical, but the
tasks need to be performed to safeguard national security (Richards, 2012). On the other hand,
the perspective is that the unethical nature of espionage and intelligence damages the security
and legitimacy f democratic states hence is unacceptable. The situation has become more
multifaceted due to the exceedingly open environment in which covert intelligence activities
currently occur, along with public assertions by policymakers on the vital role of intelligence in
safeguarding national and global security.
The Historical Research Method
The historical research method is suitable for this study as it enables the researcher to
examine the topic from the lens of past events. The ethical issues surrounding diplomacy and
ethics have been studied since the Cold War era. It is crucial to tap into these insights to
determine the relationship between the three concepts in the modern era.
The ethics of diplomacy and intelligence gathering is a multifaceted area due to the
evolving nature of international relations. The ethics surrounding the sectors have become even
more multifaceted with the advent of social media. The challenges offer a novel opportunity to
explore ethics amid modern democracy.
Kerr, P., & Wiseman, G. (2017). Diplomacy in a globalizing world. Oxford University Press.
Richards, J. (2012). Intelligence dilemma? Contemporary counter-terrorism in a liberal
democracy. Intelligence and national security, 27(5), 761-780.