Critical perspective on Science Diplomacy in The Hague Journal of Diplomacy

S4D4C team member Tim Flink published an article entitled “The sensationalist Discourse of Science Diplomacy: A critical reflection”. This piece is part of the series of special articles that S4D4C researchers have contributed to The Hague Journal of Diplomacy Forum on science diplomacy (see link).

In this article, Tim Flink offers us a critical perspective on science diplomacy. Tim criticizes the sensationalist discourse often attached to the concept of science diplomacy. To do so, he first retraces the origins of science diplomacy and elaborates on the rhetoric used by its proponents. Tim argues that the concept of science diplomacy is often over-idealistic and preaches a vision of science and scientists as the great saviours of global challenges, omitting that scientists’ themselves are not free of political values, bias and immoral practices. In addition, science does not only produce positive outcomes but is also at the source of negative externalities. Thus, science diplomacy advocates fail to recognize science as a social system, with its strengths and flaws.
According to Tim, definition(s) of science diplomacy are also problematic as they often define science diplomacy as both promoting scientific cooperation but at the same time as a way to instrumentalise science for diplomatic objectives. Definitions of science diplomacy are unclear which leads to proponents to rely increasingly on success stories from the past to highlight the importance of science diplomacy. Tim calls for science diplomacy advocates to “start asking themselves where their affirmative talks and historical fairy tales of heroic actions will lead to” and to critically assess the concept of science diplomacy to best advance the interface between science and foreign policy.

The article is available here on open access.


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S4D4C Team

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