Place Branding and Public Diplomacy

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 47–54 | Cite as

Foresight revisited: visions of twenty-first century diplomacy

  • James Pamment
Original Article


In 1999, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) board sanctioned an internal report into how the organisation should look in 2010. It was conducted by the successor generation of faststream diplomats and was eventually completed in 2000. The Foresight Report was never released into the public domain, and indeed its existence was not openly acknowledged for a further 3 years. In particular, a controversial “memo to ministers,” criticising the interaction between elected officials and diplomats, created a major stir behind the scenes. Its discussions of digital technologies and the role of public discourse in diplomacy paint a compelling picture of the institution in a process of irreversible change. As a document marking the crossroads between the end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first, Foresight provides crucial insight into the currents and trends motivating diplomatic reform. This article focuses upon visions of twenty-first century British diplomacy from the perspective of the late 1990s. Its particular point of interest is in the trajectories surrounding the future of diplomats, digital technologies, public diplomacy, and the integration of the FCO in Whitehall.


Cool Britannia Foreign & Commonwealth Office Public diplomacy Soft power United Kingdom 


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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • James Pamment
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Strategic CommunicationLund UniversityLundSweden

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