Since the 1960’s, public diplomacy has been discussed as a concept. Ever since, it has emerged to become the practiced reality for influential diplomacy in international affairs today. Twitter and Facebook are part of shaping the world, and to gain an influence for a nation state.
Taking use of new tools, spreading the influence of a nation, or indeed an international organisation is being done through various means, in a combination of technical tools and ordinary diplomacy. Looking at public diplomacy in the light of the new technologies makes it even more pertinent.
Coined by Edmund A. Gullion in 1965, “public diplomacy” is about the influence of public attitudes in foreign policy, beyond ordinary diplomacy; i.e. reaching out to public opinion in other countries; online reporting and commenting on politics. “Central to public diplomacy is the transnational flow of information and ideas.“
Since then, world politics have taken note of social media in public diplomacy. Megan Kenna wrote in 2011 that the effects of social media was “changing the landscape of diplomacy, governance and international relations. Social media has become an important limitless resource to connect and inform people, transcending borders and impacting all demographics. It presents a real-time stream of information in which one source can instantaneously broadcast to many sources and stimulate debate on a personal level. These developing communication methods have dramatically changed politics: democratising the flow of information, exponentially increasing awareness and quickly globalising ideas and concepts. In the Arab Spring, social media facilitated action in the Middle East and North Africa).”
But how is it applied? In practice, basically e.g. all Swedish Embassies twitter. Some even make films, living the Bergman dream of all Swedes. One of the most popular politicians on Twitter is the Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt. He is in fact the leading politician in the world who has most contacts with other politicians worldwide over Twitter. He is also among the politicians in the world who answers most tweets from other users. Most followers has the US president Barack Obama. Another top Twitterer is the Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes. Clearly, influential politicians use Twitter.
Will Twitter change diplomacy?
Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau said in 1969, “Why pay good money to keep an army of diplomats abroad so they can report something I have already read in my morning newspaper?” Likewise, the question has arisen, if diplomacy is practiced instantly online, by the Foreign Minister, what is the use of diplomats? Yet, they are needed.
But what is the impact of this new public diplomacy in diplomatic interaction? Long gone are the times when it would take diplomats two weeks on the horseback to deliver a declaration of war. Nowadays, it is rather a digital war, fought with words, to win the minds and hearts. The twitter streams, like flocks of birds, are spreading the memes of how your country wants to perceive the world, being followed and retweeted, according to how well you sharpen and shape the words. The understanding of the digital diplomacy’s potential impact is thus crucial for any nation, to spread its view online on welfare, human rights, and other policy areas.
So, what does this mean for diplomacy in practice? Using a study of US embassies, the numbers of followers is a frequently stated metric to look at influence. But does not say anything of the quality of the followers, i.e. what their influence is. Or, you can look at which embassies are followed and considered influential and necessary to follow by the other embassies in DC.
Clearly, to obtain trust and influence, you need online communication activities that goes hand in hand with your politics. In that sense, trust itself must be obtained, through your actions. It cannot be “managed”, it must be practiced. Thus, you need a proper digital strategy to decide tone, frequency, etc, and the correct social media platform to reach specific target audiences, to reach your policy objective. A nation’s communicators can thereby manage the systems to improve its reputation. This is why, today, the skills of writing in public diplomacy has become an important policy influence tool. Today, a sharp pen is a sharp diplomatic sword.
By being better online, you can influence negotiations. But you can also create twitter wars. Evidently, the risks for misunderstandings are high, and the possibilities to solve a diplomatic online conflict with 140 characters is challenging. At best you can establish the classic “We can agree to disagree.” with 24 characters.
Pakistan and India: Changing Minds, Winning Peace
With the emergence of world as a global village, relations between two nations getting more popularity as compared to relations among respective governments. Governments always attempt to communicate with foreign public to export their ideas, its institutions and culture, as well as national goals and current policies. Public diplomacy can be defined as the efforts of one nation to influence public or elites of the next nation for using foreign policy to achieve its targets and cherished goals. Pakistan and India as two rival nuclear powers in south Asia have fought many battles because of their conflicting regional interests and still both states are on the edge of a new war. This leaves public diplomacy as the only option to normalize the situation.
Many efforts have been made in nineties during the democratic government in Pakistan which can offer a wide canvas for interaction such as South Asian Dialogue, Pakistan Peace Coalition and Pakistan-India Peoples Forum for Peace and Democracy. More recently two media groups one from each country has started a media campaign Aman ki Asha to promote sector-wise cooperation and engagement on both sides and provide a human touch to serious matters of war and conflict.
This campaign has organised several events bringing people of two countries to a common forum including women empowerment, poverty alleviation and basic human rights. Every year many Sikh’s Visit Pakistan to pray their Holy Places and Pakistani people always welcome them and show hospitality. Many civil society organizations and NGO’s are working to promote peace and harmony between Pakistan and India which include South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA),Pakistan Green Circle Organization (GCO),ISSP etc. Both countries also paying much attention in education sector as well.
In present time, the tension is decreased because of human rights, civil society , artists , scholars role which brought two countries closer to each other and is also providing new ways for a peaceful and democratic relations. Both countries also relaxed their citizens for visas making it more comfortable. Not only this, both countries are also paying attention for releasing prisoners from jail.
We found our many artist like Rahat Fateh Ali Khan is working for Indian industry. Rahat Fateh considered as a success symbol for films in India. So media can bring the people of two nations closer to each other and create harmony between both nations.
Every year, Aaghaz-e-Dosti launches an Indo-Pak Peace Calendar which includes paintings from students of both countries. This calendar exists of shared dreams of peace and friendship. It is a reflection of shared dreams and hopes from both sides for a better tomorrow. In addition to these efforts, there has been a rise in trade between both countries. This multi-layered diplomacy has ensured that during the time of tension, links between both sides were not totally broken
Lastly cricket diplomacy has played and still can play a pivotal role in bringing both nations together beyond anyone’s imagination.
Public diplomacy in its real sense can bring these two rival countries closer to each other as it enables a country to reach out to a large audience in the other country, whether through social media or books or events for a greater good. It can lead us towards social and economic development in which both the countries lag behind from the rest of the world.
UK Public Diplomacy: Soft Power games in South Asia
Public diplomacy refers to the ability of a country to attract foreign states through image building rather than using old coercive and stiff methods to forcefully get the things done in one’s own way. One may say that public diplomacy is a public face of traditional diplomacy. In this diplomacy neither a relationship that a state has with other state can be neglected nor the role of public in the government’s policies. States use various ways to stand tall on international forum thus no state ever wants to do anything against their international reputation. This reputation is achieved through huge efforts and then requires consistency to maintain it. Britain with no denying fact is among those states who have been prominent in international society since centuries. It already has a better and strong image in the eyes of world as for as its public diplomacy is concerned. All it needs to do is to maintain this very image by sticking to its various soft power approaches.
In today’s global politics Britain seems much interested on enhancing its soft power image throughout the world. As we know that Public diplomacy of a state is highly linked with state’s foreign policy as well. The steps adopted by Britain in achieving its foreign policy goals through soft power include exchange programs for students and scholars, visitors programs, cultural events and exchanges, language training, radio and television broadcasting etc. Generally, Britain has been carrying out these practices all around the globe for quite sometimes however in South Asia, she has done a lot in recent years. In Bangladesh in 2013, for example, the English in Action project (funded by the UK’s Department for International Development) promoted the learning of English ‘as a route into work and out of poverty’. In Pakistan, British Council has been working in the areas of Arts, Education, English and Youth Engagement in all four provinces as well as in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. For instance Abaseen Foundation is a UK’s 3-year project with UK Aid directly focused on improving maternal health and reducing child mortality through developing health service delivery for a poor and marginalized community in North West Pakistan. Moreover, UK-India Education & Research Initiative i.e. UKIERI is a multi-stakeholder partnership program funded by both Indian and the UK Governments to support educational programs, develop professional capacities and facilitate policy dialogues on areas of mutual interest. Whereas Sri Lanka has the largest British Council Library membership.
In similar manners Nation branding is another technique used by the Great Britain to cash their better reputation. This not only provides an opportunity for states to interact on international platform but also mitigates cultural barriers among their citizens. Brands such as Burberry London, Dove and Sunsilk are acting as sensor that opens diplomatic door for Britain in various states. Actress and Model Humaima Malick is the brand ambassador for Sunsilk in Pakistan, whereas Sunsilk’s brand ambassador for India is currently Alia Bhut. The overall nation branding of Britain is famous owing to six factors i.e. Tourism, Culture, People, Immigration-Investment, Exports and Governance. According to one of the British Council’s report the UK ranked 3rd out of 50 nations for Tourism and 5th for Culture.
Furthermore, British government entities related to public diplomacy are well active in South Asia, for instance British Council and FCO (Foreign and common wealth office). BBC on the other hand is also playing its key role to inculcate right image of United Kingdom in the region.BBC Urdu not only provides its Pakistani viewers with right information of Pakistan in Britain but also shares unbiased analysis on Pakistan’s current domestic as well regional issues. Similarly BBC Hindi has also been so vociferous for the rights of Indian immigrants in United Kingdom and finally gained trust in public masses. Hence these public diplomacy techniques served as binding force between the UK and the region.
To cut the long story short, Britain seems much focused to safeguard its national interests. Its foreign policy is proving as stepping stone for its national interest whereas public diplomacy is acting as lubricant to it. By doing so it is successfully promoting its culture, tradition, products etc. in the world generally and in South Asia specifically. Since decolonization from subcontinent, The United Kingdom has always tried diplomatic ways to build friendly relationship with south Asian countries. Public diplomacy though is considered new in the racks of overall diplomacy yet UK has successfully used it to promote its culture and to keep influence in this region.
Italian Culture: An asset for country’s public diplomacy
Public Diplomacy is important for long term relationship and to create a positive image of a country. Italy, a European country with a long Mediterranean coastline, has left an effective mark on Western culture. Its capital, Rome, is home to the Vatican and also point of interest for ancient remains. Over the span of 3,000 years, Italian history has been set apart by series of temporary unification and long detachment, of intercommunal friction and failed empires. At peace for more than half a century now, Italy’s inhabitants enjoy a high standard of living and a highly developed culture.
One example of Italian Public diplomacy is the exhibition of “Italian Style dressing body and daylife”, which was organized in Doha (Qatar) by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Culture, which opened on 12th November, 2007. That day, the Italian President, Giorgio Napolitano, inaugurated an event about Leonardo, composed by the Ministry of External Commerce. Napolitano presented the Emir’s wife, Moza bint Nasser al Missned, with a Bulgari handbag (a popular Italian brand) as National brands are helpful for attracting people’s attention towards a country and showing its quality.
The Year of Italian Culture in the United States was a phenomenal act of Public diplomacy. The fellow Italians in the United States, among them 26 million Italian Americans – companies, and institutions that worked hardly day and night to promote the “Italian brand” and even the press, which gave many positive articles to the initiative that felt the strong urge to rediscover the charm of Italy’s past, to uncover the best of its present, and to feature the examples of how it is progressing towards the future. This has done to open new doors for the citizens of both countries. It’s about over 200 events in more than 200 U.S. cities. The main objective of this campaign is to bring the best of the most important country (Italy) which they have to depict through its culture, traditions and the elegance of its ‘Made in Italy’. “Italy inspires U.S.” is the slogan that has been chosen to best enfold the meaning of the Year of Italian Culture in the U.S. what they want to express is that Italy is not just a country, it is a lifestyle.
On December 12, 2012, at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, Italians inaugurated the exhibition of the popular David Apollo by Michelangelo. On this date, a huge number of visitors, observers and enthusiasts were all ready enjoy their ‘piece of Italy’ i.e. paintings, sculptures, present and past achievements, music and theater. Above all, the Year brought new partnerships between public and private world of two nations: among them, a cooperation agreement between NASA and the Italian Space Agency and in addition various new agreements between museums and cultural institutions, companies, local agencies and universities were made.
The Italian government should organize some more events and undertake nation promoting projects including its territorial and regional brands, with a basic aim of giving guidelines for Italy’s external cultural relations, through the promotion of their single regions and also national language and culture.
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