November 29, 2021

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Barbados opens an embassy in Metawares and begins the life of virtual diplomacy | Technology

Barbados’ political agenda marked a historic milestone until Sunday: the tiny Caribbean island of just 280,000 people will become a republic by the end of the month, following other former Commonwealth territories. On November 30, the former British colony elected a new head of state, Sandra Mason, to replace Elizabeth II. Despite the different significance, the event is now linked to another: Microstate’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade announced the deal over the weekend. DescentralandOpen one of the most popular digital worlds, a virtual embassy. This is the first stone of the Barbados project: opening embassies in metawares.

According to an official statement that EL PAÍs has access to, the Barbadian executive is in talks to close contracts with other virtual contexts. Dream space And Superworld. Nothing is said about Metavers of Meta (Old Facebook), the company that fashioned the word after announcing that its future runs there. Island officials only refer to metavars that are already in operation (metavars are still under construction). The embassy is set to open in January next year, a month after it officially became a republic.

“The Barbados government is pleased to announce the launch of its diplomatic initiative on Metawares,” Foreign Minister Jerome Walcott said in a statement. “This site will be an important forum in which Barbados will deepen its ties with its traditional partners in the diplomatic arena and work in investment, trade, tourism, the cultural industry and people-to-people contacts. Barbados looks forward to welcoming the world to its metawars embassies,” he added.

To immerse yourself in the so-called metawares, you need an internet connection and virtual reality glasses. Users enter a whole digital world in which they take the form of an avatar, as if they had suddenly become a character in a video game. In that context they may interact with other incarnations or with companies that provide services there. Although Mark Zuckerberg declared with great fanfare a month ago, he wants to win. Bloomberg Intelligence believes that the business that moves there (buying and selling add-ons for avatars, experiences, services, etc.) will be worth about $ 800,000 million by 2024. Other large technology companies, Like MicrosoftWe have already announced specific products in this section, such as the option to use avatars in video calls.

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Political implications

When a country opens an embassy in a place, it recognizes the sovereignty (a state and government) of the territory in which it is located. Does Barbados give official recognition to the 100% virtual environment, which is not the case in the physical world? This measurement is not a prism to be viewed. “In this virtual context the word embassy cannot be interpreted as permanent diplomatic representation before a state because diplomatic relations can only exist before states or other matters of international law such as the Holy See or the Order of Malta,” says Jordi. Sellarés, Professor of Diplomatic and Consular Law at Esade Law School. “Here it can be used as a platform for the dissemination of information in a loose sense, not as a recognition of international subjectivity, that is, international rights and obligations.” Although it is called an embassy, ​​it is still a kind of web in three-dimensional virtual space.

According to the official statement of the Barbadian government, having an embassy in Metawares will provide diplomatic services in that environment and allow the country to purchase land in those imaginary worlds. From Bridgetown they explain their move as one more step in the strategy of positioning themselves Center The cheapest way to expand the network of contacts between the American and your states of new technologies. Barbados Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates Gabriel Abbott says: Interview with Coindesk. Diplomat, good at technology Blockchain, Someone who makes cryptocurrencies possible and the founder of three companies operating in the field are leading the project, however he denies that this has anything to do with the country where he lives.

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There are about twenty embassies on the Caribbean island, which are represented by the size of the country, and its population corresponds to that of the city of Kijon. Thanks to Metawares, and assuming its processing is over, Barbados can easily connect with the nearly two hundred UN-recognized countries. Abbott acknowledges that gaining effectiveness in its relations with other states has been a key motivator in promoting this measure. He also sees it as a form of cultural diplomacy: “Through this embassy we can easily deliver our arts and crafts to countries like Poland or Russia”.

Description of the Statue of Liberty in Bridgetown, the Barbadian capital, commemorating the abolition of slavery on the island.Joe Reid (AFP)

The ambassador also uses the environmental argument: having an official presence in the metawares will allow you to reach many parts of the planet without having to travel by plane. He also hides that his commitment to metawares can serve as an attraction for digital nomads and professionals who work long distances (usually to Western technology companies) while traveling around the world. Providing a wonderful experience for this group to see what services they can enjoy on the island will help them decide where to go.

Andrea G. Rodriguez, Analyst Thought tank He specializes in Cidob and Cyber ​​Diplomacy, so it is desirable to take advantage of the expected channel. Important (Metaverse in this case) To promote the culture of your country. “What seems so subtle is that this is a hyper-centralized and fast-paced space, and in addition, there is no guarantee that it will turn out as Zuckerberg promised,” he says. “The cyber security and privacy risks that are implicit in that environment cannot be ignored, and they certainly are, precisely two of the most worrying things in embassies.”

Then there is the nature (or environment) of the place where the diplomatic or diplomatic missions take place. Will this happen in cyberspace created and managed by one or more private companies? “Organizations, voluntary organizations or individuals are not subject to international law. But, the limits are blurred in areas where companies accept similar shares or tasks that were previously exclusive to the states. Spacecraft and satellite control, citing two examples, represent Sellarés. In addition to the companies of the Indian Isles, there are also pioneers of current businesses with diplomatic relations.

Background of second life

Barbados is not the first country to open an embassy in the virtual world. That credit goes to the Maldives: In 2007, the Indian Ocean archipelago officially opened its embassy. Rebirth, It seemed that it was going to settle into the cybernetic environment that everyone wanted to be at the time. Sweden followed in a few days. Then came Estonia, Colombia, Serbia, northern Macedonia, the Philippines, Albania, Israel and Malta.

What can (and should) be done there? For information on visas, trade and other diplomatic procedures, talk to your embassy official. “The law is valid [de abrir una oficina en un entorno virtual] That’s total; Its comparative value ”, cites Sellarés from Esade Law School. Antonios Kouroutakis, a professor at the IE Law School (IE University), agrees, “It’s more about coding than anything else.” “However, it should be taken into account that metawares is a virtual environment that can be designed by both public and private companies, so it is controlled by both. It is interesting to see how the virtual world interacts with the real world,” he adds. Can it happen? What happens if something illegal happens at the virtual embassy?

Abbott, the promoter of the Barbados e-Embassy project, is confident that his country will still be left behind. It happened in the second life and in his opinion, it will be repeated with new metawares.

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