As a common problem in international politics, accepting and supporting international institutions or mechanisms is a precondition for their functioning (Boon and Edler 2018; Colebatch 2006; Oosterveer 2018; Schot and Steinmueller 2018; Stone 2020). Upholding national sovereignty and the absence of common legally binding arrangements present reasons to undermine the legitimacy of processes and outcomes addressing global challenges (e.g., USA & WHO; several countries & International Court of Justice; etc.). Furthermore, their footing in the worlds of science as well as diplomacy should pave the way for stakeholders to perceive Science Diplomats as authoritative actors when addressing global challenges.
This leads to the following principle:
Science diplomatic activities should strive for the mutual acceptance of shared “rules of the game” in the interaction space, respecting participating stakeholders’ expertises and framings. Science Diplomacy activities should enable ‘democratic quality’ of proposed and implemented mechanisms, processes and solutions.
To ensure this principle is considered, ask yourself:
- What are the relevant stakeholders’ core values?
- How might the planned activity threaten these core values?
- How can the specific activity reinforce these core values instead?
- What are the determinants of the activity’s legitimacy?
- How do you intend to maximize that legitimacy?
- What can be accomplished thanks to such legitimacy?
- Under which circumstances can the activity lose legitimacy?
- What would be the consequences of losing legitimacy?
Nadia Meyer (DLR)
A new and very contagious virus breaks out in Country A and it spreads quickly! Country A desperately tries to protect its citizens and realizes quickly: national activities will not suffice, while more funds as well as multidisciplinarity and internalization of research are urgently needed! To put the fight against the virus on the international agenda, country A’s national academy of sciences suggests to endorse “Global Health” for the agenda of the upcoming G20 summit to secure support for substantial supply of funds and research frameworks on multinational level from important partner countries. As the setting is much more encompassing to be limited to a science-only or health-only committee, a success seems to be more likely – the academy of sciences, the prime minister’s office and diplomats agree on that. Country A’s academy of sciences prepares the G20 Sherpa meetings and the summit together with its prime minister’s office thoroughly in advance. It turns out to be a success: all G20 countries commit to the new global health agenda and a trust fund for international and multidisciplinary research on the virus is set up.