The limits to diplomacy via blogging

UN envoy to Sudan Jan Pronk has been removed by the UN although they will call it something else. So much for openness and truth telling. Everything we learn is either a lie, a distortion or spin. Civility is a cloak and a cover for callousness, self-interest oppression and the inquisitor. Justice is administered by the Star Chamber. We have lost and we rarely are allowed a glimpse of exactly where we stand. Here the mist parted for an instant.


By Mark H Jones
Mark Jones is Global Community Editor for Reuters and has run AlertNet
for nearly five years. He's interested in what makes media reporting of humanitarian crises so inconsistent and whether bloggers can fill the gap.

UN envoy to Sudan Jan Pronk runs a blog detailing the realities of peace negotiations in Darfur.
He's admirably open and last week reported that Khartoum-backed forces had been beaten in two major battles.
Predictably, the Khartoum government didn't like being accused of direct involvement in violence by a UN official. It asked for an apology, according to ABC news. Having received none, it has now told Pronk he has three days to leave the country.
Pronk's blog gives the kind of detail that mainstream media can rarely provide. But the ability of officials to pursue diplomatic methods to end conflicts has conventionally required them to display a degree of discretion.
Pronk is experimenting with the limits of diplomacy by blogging. He's doing so within an apparent UN vacuum -- the organization has rules on what can be published in books by its employees but no guidelines on blogs.
The fate of Pronk's blog will be of interest not only to those watching the unfolding disaster of Darfur, but also to organizations struggling to balance the benefits of blogs' openness with their ability to damage reputations and constrain the room for maneuver.


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