Our round-up of news, notes, tips, and Tweets exhibiting how public diplomacy affects the world each and every day.
As offline problems concerning freedom and censorship continue to become online ones, we need digital diplomacy to help connect the talkers and thinkers of the world with the doers, to facilitate change. It alone may not save the world, but it will help us find new ways to come together to save it. This was Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt’s message at TedxStockholm, held in conjunction with the two-day Stockholm Initiative for Digital Diplomacy bringing together diplomats, academics and developers in a 24-hour hackathon with a difference. [Wired]
— Fernando Márquez (@feromalo) January 17, 2014
— Twiplomacy (@Twiplomacy) January 17, 2014
It is under the radar, but the Obama administration has amped up citizen diplomacy efforts with Cuba, including many sports exchanges like this example of baseball diplomacy.
Balls and strikes, not politics, ruled the day Wednesday at a baseball diamond in Havana, as last year’s NCAA Division II championship team from the University of Tampa played an exhibition game against a Cuban youth squad. The visitors scraped out a hard-fought 2-1 win, but the encounter was more about bridging the vast gulf between these neighboring nations that disagree on just about everything except their shared love of the game. “Sports bring people together,” Tampa Spartans head coach Joe Urso said. “And when you talk about the history of Tampa and the Cuban roots that we have in Tampa, to be able to come here and play baseball against them, win or lose isn’t the most important thing.” [Washington Post]
Two researchers from the South African Institute for International Affairs looked at soft power from and between the BRICS countries; the results were not overly optimistic.
It begs the question how soft power could be applied in the midst of rising (and sometimes competing) national drives between emerging countries. Perhaps the BRICS platform could develop as such a testing ground. Instead of playing catch up with the West and reacting to prevailing global structures, there is greater scope for improving communication and connectivity between the BRICS. It is this space where the traditional sense of soft power (i.e. people, culture and values) remains limited and the greatest gains could be made in solidifying a group identity. [Polity]
Will 2013 be seen by historians as a “game-changing year” in the realm of global influence?
Just as the emergence of the peer-to-peer music file sharing web site Napster changed the music industry forever, Snowden’s command performance may mark the beginning of the end of an era of unprecedented government surveillance and secrecy. There is no question that it has also illuminated fundamental shifts in the distribution of national power and the exercise of global influence. [CPD Blog]
There is an interesting upcoming conference hosted by the Institute of Cultural Diplomacy on the interdisciplinary analysis of the role of international law in promoting women’s rights.
The digital revolution, which has been highlighted by extensive citizen journalism, the dominance of social networks, as well as growing possibilities for people to travel and move around the world, has brought a renewed awareness and emphasis once more on the current widespread gender imbalance worldwide. It has become apparent to the global community that in both developing to industrialized countries, gender imbalance exists in many forms and creates a burden on society in economic, moral and other terms at local, national and global levels. Global governance organizations, federal governments, parliaments and NGOs from around the world are therefore working tirelessly, and in some cases collectively, to both raise awareness for this situation and to improve it by tackling gender imbalance both directly and indirectly. [ICD]
— APDS (@USC_APDS) January 16, 2014
If you are looking for an entry point into contemporary science diplomacy in the U.S., UK and Canada, here is a good, brief examination.
Science diplomacy is the use of scientific collaborations among nations to address common problems and to build constructive international partnerships. Many experts and groups use a variety of definitions for science diplomacy. However, science diplomacy has become an umbrella term to describe a number of formal or informal technical, research-based, academic or engineering exchanges. [FrogHeart]
The perils of cultural diplomacy: Dennis Rodman’s use of basketball diplomacy brought attention to the negative aspects of North Korea rather than highlighting the potential areas for relationship-building.
Rodman, the highest-profile American to meet Kim, has stressed he is not a statesman and is only seeking to build cultural ties between Pyongyang and Washington through basketball. But the 52-year-old Rodman has been denounced for not trying to use his influence with Kim to secure the release of Kenneth Bae, an American missionary with health problems who is being held in North Korea on charges of “anti-state” crimes. Although Rodman has been accused of becoming a public relations tool for North Korea’s government, Silver regards the publicity from the trips helping to shine a light on a country with a poor human rights record. [SCMP]
— Jonathan Henick (@J_Henick) January 16, 2014
The University of Tennessee’s Center for Sport, Peace, and Society is receiving accolades for its public diplomacy work in empowering women and girls through sports and international competition.
The Center for Sport, Peace, and Society in 2012 was awarded a $1.2 million cooperative agreement to implement the Empowering Women and Girls through Sports initiative. The center is part of the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences. The initiative aims to engage young girls and women on how athletics can develop important life skills and be used to promote positive social change in their communities. It also is designed to increase cross-cultural understanding between international participants and Americans. “It’s unique because it’s a public diplomacy initiative that emphasizes the importance of women as athletes and change agents,” said Ashleigh Huffman, the center’s assistant director. “It’s a launch pad for understanding how sports and politics interface and how sports can be used to make a political impact.” [Tennessee Today]
U.S. ambassadors abroad are slowly moving toward being a better representation of America’s diverse population, including an increasing number of ambassadors who are gay.
Now, the new class of ambassadors will serve in the foreign service after the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” and the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act and overturning of California’s Proposition 8. Most importantly, these ambassadors assume their role after then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared that gay rights are human rights and that LGBT issues would be reflected in Obama’s foreign policy agenda. “At this point, what is extraordinary is that out gay ambassadors are not that extraordinary,” said a modest David Baer after returning from an event he had attended as the recently posted ambassador to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. “Sure, you walk into a room and everyone knows that you are gay, but that dissipates quickly. Public diplomacy is about representing the United States, a job that requires all U.S. ambassadors to promote the general interests of the United States abroad.” [Advocate]
— Andreas Kiss (@andreas_kiss) January 17, 2014
photo credit: Utrikesdepartementet / Swedish MFA