Our round-up of news, notes, tips, and Tweets exhibiting how public diplomacy affects the world each and every day.
The CPD Blog named their top 10 public diplomacy stories of 2013. Spoiler alert: The Pope had a very good year.
CPD, on a daily basis, aggregates English-language public diplomacy (PD) news stories from around the world. This year, we collected more than 1,500 stories. To select the top 10 we convened a panel of international public diplomacy experts and asked each to choose the most significant public diplomacy stories of 2013 from a list of 50. From the panelists’ choices we ranked the top 10 stories based on the number of votes, comments, and global PD significance. To narrow our list of 1,500 stories to 50, we took into account the following factors: the frequency of the story being covered in various news sources, the implications of the public diplomacy event, the credibility of sources publishing the news about the PD moment, and the frequency of an actor’s participation in public diplomacy activities either as the initiator or receiver of public diplomacy. The CPD staff then reviewed the stories to ensure that the full spectrum of PD content across the broadest geographical regions was represented and that they included cultural, governmental, soft power and non-state activities. [CPD Blog]
Speaking of the Pope, here is an enthusiastic breakdown of how the @Pontifex is utilizing his soft power.
Pope’s Twitter strategy is like his style and his personality: simple, but highly effective. There are nine set-up accounts, but they do not fall into the category of “multiple accounts” of the same. The rationale for setting up 9 Twitter’s accounts had been the willingness to approach people in as many as possible languages: hence, the accounts just tweet the same messages, only that they do it in different languages. [Codrin PO]
And one more Pope-related news item for good measure: he recently gathered all 180 of the ambassadors to the Holy See to encourage a culture of dialogue and encounter.
The Pope said peace is always threatened by the denial of human dignity, beginning with the lack of access to adequate nutrition. He said we cannot be indifferent to the hunger and suffering of children, especially when we consider the “throwaway culture” of waste in other parts of the world. Even human beings themselves are discarded as unnecessary, for example victims of abortion, child soldiers or those who are bought and sold in human trafficking which he called a crime against humanity. Speaking of those forced to flee from famine, violence or oppression, especially in the Horn of Africa or the Great Lakes Region, Pope Francis again spoke of the plight of refugees and migrants seeking a better life in Europe or the United States. Recalling his brief visit to the Italian island of Lampedusa, he stressed again the attitude of indifference in the face of those who lose their lives crossing the Mediterranean Sea. [Vatican Radio]
— Holy See News (@HolySee_News) January 15, 2014
Dr. John H. Brown reviews James Sherr’s new book on Russia’s influence abroad, Hard Diplomacy and Soft Coercion.
But soft power, while today part of the global foreign affairs vocabulary, doesn’t mean the same thing to everybody. This, as I see it, is the main point of the book by James Sherr, Associate Fellow and former Head of the Russia and Eurasia Program at Chatham House. His study focuses on three characteristics of Russian soft power or, as he sometimes calls it, soft coercion: its history; its strong links to the state; and its role in legitimizing the regime at home. [American Diplomacy]
— Wael Eskandar (@weskandar) January 15, 2014
Andreas Sandre examines Carl Bildt’s push for public diplomacy 3.0 in Stockholm.
Is Stockholm the next 3.0 step in digital diplomacy? It’s hard to say, as digital diplomacy is still deeply rooted in social media. In the Swedish capital, Bildt has envisioned a start-up environment aimed at crafting a more collaborative diplomacy around technology, tools, best practices, experiences and ideas. The aim is to look beyond social media, but not away from social media tools. It’s a creative, stimulating environment built around DiploHack sessions and TEDx talks. “By using the tools of digital diplomacy, we can reach out to people in a fast and efficient manner, particularly in consular matters,” Bildt said. “In this dramatic and dynamic world, we can also receive information from those in the know and eye-witness reports that we wouldn’t otherwise get.” [Huffington Post]
— Swedish MFA (@SweMFA) January 16, 2014
In what is being called a failure of Israeli public diplomacy in The Netherlands, the biggest Dutch pension fun is divesting in Israeli banks due their operating branches in the West Bank and financing construction of new settlements.
A diplomatic row has erupted between Israel and The Netherlands concerning the decision by certain major Dutch companies to join the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement. These divestment decisions were taken after the companies took advice from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Dutch ambassador was summoned twice by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs over the issue. What is now clear is that the lobbying efforts of pro-Palestinian NGO’s and confusing political signals by the Foreign Ministry of The Netherlands were highly influential. It has also has become evident that the intensifying BDS campaign is connected to the abject failure of Israel’s public diplomacy activities in The Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe. [The Times of Israel]
— Efe Sevin (@efesevin) January 15, 2014
Clear-eyed editorial in pro-government Chinese paper points out that China and Japan’s relationship is too closely tied economically for Yasukuni Shrine incident to cause serious rift. Instead, it calls for China to aim for upper-hand in mediated public diplomacy.
Given that China and Japan have developed close economic ties and social connections in the past, the bilateral political relationship cannot become that hopeless, and will return to a normal state in the long run. Therefore, at this moment, China should try to win support from the international community. Japan is not only provoking a single country like China, but also tries to challenge the postwar world order. The US, despite being annoyed by Japan’s words and deeds, has to secure its alliance with Japan. With the US left embarrassed, it is time that China shoulders its responsibility as a major global power. National ambassadors are supposed to know their host country well. They are also supposed to know how their opinions can be disseminated and how to make the foreign public accept their viewpoints. [Global Times]
[Today in PD] Building A World Of Human Rights And Dignity: What’s Ahead For… http://t.co/5WOuFbg6Pn #publicdiplomacy
— USC Public Diplomacy (@PublicDiplomacy) January 16, 2014
— USC Public Diplomacy (@PublicDiplomacy) January 16, 2014
Interesting investigative reporting by Foreign Policy highlights how mediated public diplomacy affects diplomatic negotiations: the U.N. put a gag order on the U.N.-funded news-agency IRIN because its stories were offending key players in Syrian negotiations.
The United Nations has for months been in the thick of a series of sensitive diplomatic negotiations aimed at resolving the conflict and securing greater humanitarian access for aid workers. Some diplomats said IRIN’s reporting was curtailed to avoid the potential for an awkward story offending any of the key players. The interests of free reporting, it was feared, might clash with the United Nations’ efforts to pursue quiet diplomacy. On Jan. 22, for example, the United Nations will host, along with Russia and the United States, a major diplomatic meeting in Switzerland, aimed at prodding Syria’s warring parities to discuss a possible political transition.) [Foreign Policy]
— Meridian Intl Center (@MeridianIntl) January 15, 2014
Global international travel to the U.S. is down 30% in the first decade of the new millennium, so the U.S. government and the tourism industry are teaming up for global ad campaigns promoting Brand USA.
Brand USA functions as a public-private partnership—in 2013, 339 travel-industry partners contributed $139 million in services and cash; it also took in $100 million through a $14 fee levied by the Department of Homeland Security on visitors from countries that qualify for visa-free travel to the U.S. The television ads debuted in 2012 in Canada, Japan, and the U.K.—since those countries’ tourists have traditionally spent the most money on trips to the U.S— and the campaign also features videos of native-language narrators giving tours of various American locations deemed of interest to respective audiences: a Chinese woman recommends outlet malls in California, a German man kayaks around Virginia Beach, a French woman tours New Orleans. [The Atlantic]
— Twiplomacy (@Twiplomacy) January 14, 2014
photo credit: Reuters/L’Osservatore Roman