WhatsApp diplomacy is taking off as messaging app becomes vital tool for tactics, huddles, policy talk – and banter
When the worlds nations sit down to talk nowadays, there is a distinct difference to the way diplomacy is done. Influence is no longer defined only by special relationships and old alliances, but which WhatsApp group you are invited into.
The rise of WhatsApp diplomacy is transforming the negotiating chamber. There are countless groups of allies and virtual huddles, exchanges over policy statements and fine print, and fair amounts of banter and even emojis (Vladimir Putin is referred to by widespread use of a grey alien avatar).
You can form small groups of like-minded allies, take photos of annotated documents, ask people what they think without the whole room knowing, a senior western diplomat said.
The tool is useful for communicating with allies who might not be sitting close to them, diplomats say, as well as for agreeing negotiating tactics during difficult sessions and for organising break-out huddles in a way that avoids offending those left out.
One notable recent example of WhatsApp summitry occurred at last months breakthrough talks in Kigali, Rwanda, about banning HFCs. At these talks the instant messaging tool owned by Facebook was used widely to coordinate meetings, discuss strategy during talks and drum up support for different policy positions, said a consultant who was present.