Creating a Common Communications Culture: Interoperability in Crisis Management
Virtual Diplomacy Series, No. 17
Delivered to the Conference on Crisis Management and Information Technology, Helsinki, Finland, September 12, 2003
No technologies have been more powerful in reshaping the post-Cold War international system than those of the information revolution. Over the past two decades, nation-states and subnational groups, international businesses, and multinational organizations have struggled to incorporate the dramatic possibilities for their work of satellite communications, the Internet, inexpensive telephone and cell phone services, fax machines, and global computer networks. The innovations have occurred largely without central direction or a clear game plan, and the effects of the ongoing revolution in the way we communicate on international affairs will continue. We are only beginning to see purposeful efforts to channel all the power in these technologies in support of good governance or effective and expedient management of international conflicts and crises.
About the Report
This publication was presented as a speech at a conference, "Towards Interoperability in Crisis Management," cosponsored by the United States Institute of Peace's Virtual Diplomacy Initiative (USIP/VDI) and the Crisis Management Initiative's Information Technology and Crisis Management project (CMI/ITCM) in Helsinki, Finland, September 11-14, 2003. Former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari, president of CMI, provided the opening framework for the conference; Richard Solomon, president of the United States Institute of Peace, delivered this keynote speech at the conference's culminating banquet.
The conference, the second in a series launched by CMI, was organized to explore practical steps toward improving information sharing, coordination, and cooperation from headquarters to the field and between and among the various organizations responding to humanitarian crises, a subject that VDI has pursued since 1995.
Conference participants included senior management from the European Union (EU), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the United Nations (UN), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), government agencies, practitioners from international, regional and local nongovernmental organizations, the military, information and communications technology companies and standards-making organizations.
About the Authors
Richard H. Solomon has been president of the Institute since 1993. As assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs in 1989-92, he negotiated the Cambodia peace treaty, the first United Nations "Permanent Five" peacemaking agreement; had a leading role in the dialogue on nuclear issues among the United States and South and North Korea; helped establish the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) initiative; and led United States negotiations with Japan, Mongolia, and Vietnam on important bilateral matters. In 1992-93, Solomon served as United States ambassador to the Philippines. He is the author of several books.
Sheryl J. Brown is chief information officer, director of the information and communications technologies office, and director of the Virtual Diplomacy Initiative. Brown is editor of the Virtual Diplomacy Series and coauthor of several articles on theoretical perspectives and applications of information and communications technologies in international conflict prevention, management, and resolution.