MANAGING THE GEOPOLITICS OF TECHNOLOGY
– TECHPLOMACY is about something that Diplomacy does not deal with, yet –
The Conference will bring together representatives of business in Romania, academics, politicians, government officials and participants in Plenipot. The Conference will consist of three sessions focused on:
- How to manage geopolitical rivalry in technology and prevent it leading to technological fragmentation;
- How to integrate technology and internet companies into international debates as geopolitical actors in their own right;
- Conveying the key conclusions of Plenipot and the ITU´s 2024-2027 Road Map.
Each panel will have three expert speakers and a moderator. The main language of the Conference will be English. The Conference should be opened and closed by key note speakers from the Romanian Government and the ITU.
Panel 1: Geopolitical Rivalry and “Tech Wars”
Great power rivalry is back. But the major powers, in general, prefer to avoid direct military conflict because of the risks of escalation. Great power rivalries therefore tend to be fought out in other areas like trade and technology. This has been evident in restrictions on the trade in high technology products (e.g. microchips), the adoption of technological superiority as a measure of Great Power status and the debates about the security of 5G networks. The danger is that such rivalries undermine international industrial standards, reduce countries´ access to new technologies (especially in the global south) and increase digital exclusion. The panel will discuss these dangers and the challenges in developing a “techplomacy” to manage these rivalries in such a way as promotes the ITU´s agenda.
Panel 2: Technology and Internet Companies as Geopolitical Actors
The major technology and internet companies are increasingly important players in international relations. Debates about cybersecurity and internet governance would be unthinkable without their participation. But their significance extends beyond issues related to technology and cyberspace. Their concentration in a small number of countries shapes the geopolitical environment. Their wealth and technical capabilities exceed those of all but the wealthiest countries. This asymmetry of power is especially important in the global south, where governments often feel at the mercy of these companies.
Some countries have appointed ambassadors to the tech sector to engage with these companies on political and geopolitical as well as commercial issues.
This panel will discuss the best ways of engaging with technology and internet companies, including the idea of “techambassadors”, and whether a “techdiplomacy” can promote the green, gender and youth inclusive agendas of the ITU.
Panel 3: The Debates and Conclusions of the ITU Plenipot
The Plenipotentiary Conference (Plenipot) of the ITU in Bucharest will elect a new leadership team. But it will also debate an extensive agenda including the upsurge in satellite launches, harmonising 5G networks (which may include issues surrounding the forthcoming 6G mobile telephony) and the issues surrounding digital inclusion.
It will also discuss the role that the ITU can play in promoting the UN´s Sustainable Development Goals, in particular in relation to gender responsiveness, the green agenda and youth inclusion. On the basis of these discussions, it will discuss the Road Map which will guide the organisation´s activities in the period 2024-2027.
This panel will convey the essence of the discussions in Plenipot, and the decisions taken, to the participants. It will discuss the extent to which these dialogues and decisions contribute to managing the issues raised in the previous panels.
Governments need to engage with technology companies as Technology companies need to engage with governments