The Lab for Science in Diplomacy (SiDLab) emanates from the joint realization by the University of Geneva (UNIGE) and the ETH Zürich (ETHZ) that addressing most global mega-challenges (think next pandemic, climate change, and international security) requires cooperation and innovative governance while dealing with the rising complexity of diplomatic negotiations in a multipolar world. Current global challenges are not only difficult to address by themselves, but they also exacerbate a few other issues resulting in heightened geopolitical risks
So interconnected is the world today, yet riven with geopolitical strife, that diplomacy is a fraught exercise involving the intersecting interests of a long tail of diverse stakeholders. This joint research lab brings scientific insights and state-of-the-art computational methods (including data science, machine learning and agent-based modelling) into the diplomatic realm with the aim of deciphering the knotted international relations. Indeed, understanding the critical tenets of diplomatic relations can be seen as a key social imperative to support and foster conflict resolution and promote the multilateral consensus deeply needed to address multifaceted global challenges currently faced by mankind.
The SiDLab envisions that a systematic method of inquiry based on computational science can be used to quantitatively analyze, study, and understand critical mechanisms underpinning foreign policy and international relations. A promising approach towards a Science in Diplomacy would be through the development of the nascent field of Computational Diplomacy that leverages recent advances in computational science—particularly in AI and Data Science. Beyond Big Data availability, any progress in Computational Diplomacy will require interdisciplinary collaboration among computational and social scientists to develop data-centric capabilities and robust testing of generative models seeking to dissect the intricate dynamics of diplomacy, international relations, and patterns of collaboration (or lack thereof) of its actors in global governance.
Our societies’ climate and health challenges have exposed the weaknesses of current multilateralism, especially when seeking solutions to global crises. The climate crisis, unfortunately, epitomizes this. Scientists from all disciplines have contributed to understanding its origin, forecasting its impact, and mitigating its consequences. However, tackling the full spectrum of the climate crisis requires a global-level strategic and collaborative response, which can only be achieved through effective diplomacy. Conventional diplomacy has been unable to bring about the necessary consensus on critical issues, which raises the question of whether Science in Diplomacy holds the key to developing a new paradigm in diplomacy. This constitutes the SiDLab’s primary goal.