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Cultural diplomacy: The linchpin of public diplomacy Report of the advisory committee on cultural diplomacy: US department of state

Cultural diplomacy: The linchpin of public diplomacy


Report of the advisory committee on cultural diplomacy: US department of state


The report of the advisory committee on cultural diplomacy, which was published by the U.S. department of state in 2005, seeks to advise US secretary of state on how to employ cultural diplomacy in the most effective way possible.

In order to practice effective cultural diplomacy the report recommends the US secretary of state to listen to the recipients in other countries and engage themselves with “curators” and writers or filmmakers. The report highlights America’s lack of use of cultural diplomacy, moreover that its image has been damaged by events such as the invasion of Iraq and scandals about the abuse of prisoners in Abu Ghraib. Furthermore, it points out that the US needs to reconstitute its “trust and credibility” within the international community with culture, rather than with military and economic power to influence others abroad. “Cultural diplomacy reveals the soul of a nation”, but the US only employs it when they are at war, therefore the report advises the US to create an effective cultural diplomacy in order to maintain the security of the country. One of the many recommendations for the US secretary of state from the report on how to achieve its goals is the “international exchange of persons, knowledge and skills”. The people who participate in such exchanges “carry to other nations information, knowledge and attitudes” and in reverse they bring those back to their own countries and this can only be achieved through personal experience and personal influence, which helps to sell a better image of the US abroad. Influential and important politicians from the past and today have all experienced such exchange programs.

However, the reports criticized the US that they do not cultural diplomacy enough, moreover after the cold war cuts have been made, which led to the closures of many cultural centres and libraries. Additionally, between 1995- and 2001 the attendees of the exchange programs decreased from 45000 to 29000, which left an enormous gap in the use of cultural diplomacy.

Celebrity Diplomacy!

Globalization has changed the world and it had a massive impact on the procedure of diplomacy. Diplomacy has now taken different forms and different actors also play an important role, diplomats are no longer the only ones on diplomatic missions, also non-state actors, such as Ngo´s and celebrities engage themselves on those missions.

Due to the rise of new economic powers and the new media, traditional diplomacy is facing a challenge of legitimacy and efficiency. Celebrities have now become vital actors in supporting and raising consciousness about humanitarian issues, as well as negotiating with head of states.

Celebrities have long been involved in varying political and humanitarian causes. However, since Andrew Coopers, a professor of political science at the University of Waterloo, intriguing work about celebrity diplomacy, academics have begun to take a deeper look into the involvement of celebrities in International Relations as a form of diplomacy. In his book cooper presents an interesting concept and primary examples of the phenomenon. He argues that anyone can be a diplomat; however celebrities are a specific group that can embrace the role of the diplomat. The message which these individuals deliver is often informal in its nature and they are no experts in these fields with any formal training, also they use the new media and concerts, such as Bob Geldofs Live8 concerts to raise awareness.

Cooper argues that the influence of celebrities on global issues must be appreciated and recognized on a deeper level; furthermore advocates of celebrity diplomacy argue that this concept has immense potential and it draws attention and awareness of a complex set of global concerns to wider audiences, which might go unnoticed. Celebrities of any kind, like Movie stars, musicians or athletes have become rising diplomatic actors in promoting issues such as poverty, climate change, access to fresh water and human rights.

Unlike diplomats, stars like Angelina Jolie, Mia Farrow, Bono and George Clooney are taking action and they have become determined advocates to end the world’s poverty and misery.

For example, actress Mia Farrow has used the media as an open and effective tool to put pressure on the international community in order to intervene in Darfur, her deployment led to Sudan’s formal acceptance of UN peacekeepers in the conflict zone.

As a UNHCR goodwill Ambassador, Angelina Jolie is one of the most respected, important and influential celebrity activists. Her work has been crucial for the UNHCR, in both increasing donations and increasing awareness. With her status and her engagement in global issues she able to discuss humanitarian issues with politicians, policy makers and world leaders.

Also, George Clooney plays an important role in this new form of diplomacy as a UN Messenger of Peace. Clooney has donated millions of dollars in order to stop the genocide in Sudan and he also appealed to the UN Security Council to help stabilize the region.

However, the leading celebrity diplomat out of all of them is musician Bono, who worked closely with international leaders in the G8 summits, lobbying for debt relief in Africa.

Even though the world listens and pays attention when celebrities talk, which makes them more effective than traditional diplomats, there still is criticism from within the diplomatic arena. The critic’s state that celebrities have no knowledge in this domain and therefore are not qualified enough to be effective.

In spite of all the critiques, celebrity diplomacy has been proven very successful and effective in international affairs. Therefore, it needs to be taken serious, since they do a better and more effective job the “professional” diplomats.

The Nigerian way of Citizen Diplomacy!

Citizen diplomacy is the concept where the individual has the right, perhaps even the responsibility to help form its countries foreign relations. Everybody can represent their nation and become a citizen diplomat; they can be students, artists, business people, teachers, athletes, humanitarians or musicians. Their role and responsibility is to engage themselves with the rest of the world in an important, equally and favorable dialogue.

In the globalized world that we live in today people experience their most lasting impressions through personally made experiences, such as travelling abroad. Therefore, citizen diplomacy is a powerful tool in defining one’s own nation to the rest of the world. Citizen diplomacy has the potential to create a group of individual relationships to maintain goodwill when formal diplomacy undergoes disruptions. Historically, this kind of people-to-people interaction was almost impossible through the enormous distances, however in today’s world with the rise of the internet and collapse of distances and increased travel more individuals on the international stage are able communicate and influence one another. For example, Joseph Nye believes that the best way for a country to sell its story to a foreign country is the use of citizen diplomacy, because “selling a positive image is often best accomplished by private citizens”.

The Nigerian government adopted “citizen diplomacy” in 2007, which was based on the ideas of the former foreign affairs minister, Chief Ojo Maduekwe. Nigeria seeks the support of Nigerians at home and in Diaspora, in order to help to develop the country economically and politically. Citizen diplomacy in Nigeria is construed from a different angle of understanding; this means that its foreign policy will be focused on the Nigerian citizens at home and abroad. The foreign minister argues that they are not shifting away from the traditional approach to foreign relations, however that they have “rebranded” this tool and that the focus is more on the citizen. In this sense, citizen diplomacy for Nigeria is a mechanism to protect the “image and integrity” of Nigeria and react against nations which are hostile and who label them as corrupt.



Public Diplomacy and its role in the EU’s external relations



 Report to be accessed under:


   The report presents the Vice President’s of the European Commission, Margot Wallstrom’s, speech at the Georgetown University, the purpose of which was to state the role of public diplomacy (PD) in the European Union’s (EU) relations with non-member states.

Wallstrom specifically highlights the relation between the EU and the United States on the platform of public diplomacy, as both honour the same democratic values in theory but use different approaches in practice.

The report also emphasises, that nowadays the concept of public diplomacy needs to be “refreshed”. If it is to work effectively, factors such as communication in a globalised world, modern technology and reaching many complex networks of individuals have to be considered while utilizing PD’s tools.

Furthermore, it expresses the extreme importance for the EU to realize the shift in power and decision-making and in its efforts of tackling the most important global issues, to try to “go local“. The latter is a crucial public diplomacy element as one must remember that it is about building relations with foreign and not domestic publics.

Wallstrom also recalls the necessary components of a modern PD strategy according to Nicholas Cull, such as attentively “listening and responding” to citizens‘ opinions, connection of practice with policy, “going local”, credibility etc. and relates them to EU’s external affairs.

   It is beyond a dispute that Wallstrom is correct in claiming that PD must adapt to the changing world. Also, all the components she mentions are vital for this adaptation’s success however, it seems that the report does not explore the role of public diplomacy in EU’s policy but rather tries to explain how does the EU respond to all the requirements of the modern PD structure as according to her and Cull. Thus, it appears as a persuasion that EU is doing excellent in fulfilling all the necessary PD-related assignments more than stating what is the specific aim that EU aspires to achieve via the use of PD‘s tools. For comparison, what I have expected from the speech, was identification of some PD stepts that EU is taking or must take soon in order to deal with some current global policy issues. For instance, it could be a development of a European Strategy of External Cultural Policy in response to a strategic vision of a role of culture in external relations as was once proposed by Slovenia during its presidency in the EU.

Nevertheless, the report still touches upon  a few key issues in PD, probably the most crucial being the need for credibility. Its importance relates to the fact that PD’s messages recipients often look at the information through the prism of the messenger and cannot differentiate between a mere propaganda and an attempt to create a “partnership” with the public. Fortunately for the EU, its position as a world leader in providing world’s development aid and fighting climate change increases it legitimacy.

EU also manages to create a link between its PD strategies and its defined policy objectives thus allowing the public to understand them and engage in a mutual dialogue.

Also, thanks to diversity of member states, EU is better prepared to target communication with states outside the EU.

Despite those undeniable attributes, some sources still show that “brand Europe” is far more popular than “brand EU“ as it is comonly associated with all the historical and cultural heritage of the Old Continent. In the report it can be seen that EU has adopted a long-termn approach and is patiently but actively pursuing its goals while trying to reflect what it is and what it stands for rather than what it aspires to be which hopefully will improve its reputation with time. This may be a right path for the EU if considering for instance Anholt’s view on building a brand to increase its credibility.

   All in all the report could have focused more on what EU is willing to build and how it s going to meet its targets. Instead it presented more of a strategic outreach to the US thanks to which it will be able to improve its image in the eyes of American students by emphasizig the goals in common.




Celebrity Diplomacy!

Public Diplomacy=Propaganda?

Public Diplomacy=Propaganda?

Public Diplomacy is aimed at informing foreign publics, its mission is the achievement of national interest by understanding, informing, engaging and persuading foreign audience, Public Diplomacy is as much about a process by which both sides learn, as it is to convince someone. However, there seems to be a disagreement between scholars what public diplomacy is, since some find a connection between public diplomacy and Propaganda.

Berridge, for example, relates those two concepts as follows, “Propaganda is the manipulation of public opinion through the mass media for political ends, whether it is honest or subtle or not.” Furthermore he states that Public Diplomacy is the modernised version of white Propaganda, which is aimed at influencing public opinion. In his opinion Public Diplomacy is just a euphemism for Propaganda, because governments who carry out Propaganda cannot call it Propaganda, because of its associations with something negative, evil and lies.

However, his opponent Jan Melissen does not completely agree with the critics of Public Diplomacy. He distinguishes the two terms by their concept of communication, he argues that “Public Diplomacy is a two- way street, it is similar to Propaganda in the sense of trying to persuade People what to think, however the main difference is that Public Diplomacy also listens to what people have to say, which is not the case with Propaganda”.

Joseph Nye also criticises the opponents of Public Diplomacy, he says that those who think that Public Diplomacy is just a euphemism of Propaganda misunderstood the whole concept of it. Public Diplomacy is compare to Propaganda about building relationships between nations it is used to create a better political environment. He furthermore states in his article that “the world of traditional power politics was typically about whose military or economy would win, however in today’s information age, politics is also about whose “story” wins. In current times the strongest element of Power is Public Diplomacy. In addition he argues that reputation was always important in world politics, but credibility has become more vital because of a “paradox of plenty”, therefore politicians should use more often soft power rather than hard power, since it is more effective.

Reflecting the definitions of Public Diplomacy and Propaganda the question arises if those two concepts are the same thing. There are indeed some who would argue that Public Diplomacy has the same intentions like Propaganda, both concept´s purpose is to narrow and close the minds of the people, by trying to tell them what to think. However, there will probably never be a universal agreement on both concepts, since both are difficult o define.


Berridge. G.R. (2010) Diplomacy: Theory and Practice

Melissen, J. (2005) The New Public Diplomacy

A Post-modern Diplomat

When Adolf Hitler occupied European countries and practiced holocaust to make more lebensraum (living space) for Nazi übermenshen (overlords) he certainly did know that it helped to create one of the most powerful and the richest people in the world – George Soros.

One the physical laws says: ”The subject stays in quite position or in stationary movement until it is pressured by external forces to change its status”. Sometimes it is possible to apply technical rules in politics. Possibly, without holocaust George Soros would stays in nativeHungaryand worked all the life for salary 2000 forint/month (equivalent approx $50) But Sores had had to move because of necessity for survival. He successfully moved toLondonand studied at London School of Economics. Later used knowledge obtained inLondonagainst this country when became one of the most dangerous sharks in ocean of global capital. One Chinese military report ranked him just behind Osama bin Laden because in ‘financial war’ against theUnited Kingdomin 1992 broke this country and the Bank of England had to pay millions ofGBPfor wasteful operations.

In the United States Soros proved that theories both of Adam Smith, father of liberal economy and Friedrich Hayek, who lectured at London School of Economics approximately at the time of Soros’ study (may be he was Soros’ professor) work and the United States’ market economy is the environment when everybody has an opportunity to become rich. Soros has become the billionaire currency trader, philanthropist and one of the most important people of public and cultural diplomacy. He helped with his millions to build a new education infrastructure inHungaryand other East European countries which after falling ofBerlinwall needed new millions to throw Marxism and Leninism to dust bins and to build a market economy that helped Soros to become an important meacenas. Maecenas is a person named as an honour for real person from ancient Roma -Gaius Maecenas, a rich patron of culture and friend and political advisor of Caesar Augustus.


Nevertheless, public and cultural diplomacy need also maecenases such as Soros, Ted Turner, the CNN founder who as a generous patron has given $1 billion to start the UN Foundation and support for UNICEF, Bill Gates and other post-modern diplomats. In the other hand critics of these celebrity diplomats argue that they intervene and interfere not only to the economies of states but also into international relations and security. For example, some politicians inRussiasee Soros as an agent of Western policy, but he is much more a “stateless statesman” who funded UN operations to “saveSarajevofrom Serbian fascism” (Khana, 2011, 41-44). Globalization increase gap between rich and poor and financial support of these post-modern diplomats is very necessary to implement some foreign aid programmes and to support the people who need financial help.



Khanna,P. (2011). How to Run the World: Charting a Course to the Next Renaissance, Random House,New York

Prince Harry – A Successful Celebrity Diplomat







Prince Harry is an important celebrity diplomat of theUnited Kingdom. He proved it during his public and cultural diplomacy mission in hisCaribbeantour in March 2012.

Not only Harry but all the royal family is an important asset for theUKpublic and cultural diplomacy. For example, Prince Harry was sent to the Caribbean at the beginning of March 2012 by the Queen to improve international relations between the UK and Caribbean countries. It plays an important role to make theUKmore attractive inCaribbeancountries (Lydall, 2012, 3). The Royal Family is the asset for promotion of theUKabroad. TheUKlost colonies but the Commonwealth create framework of collaboration between theUKand former colonies. The queen as a head of the Commonwealth plays a very important role in communication with public abroad.


Public and cultural diplomacy play very important role in promotion theUKabroad, improvement of nation branding and achieving the goals of foreign policy. Improvement of nation branding means to improve perception about theUKand increasing of attraction of the country abroad by communication a fresh image of theUK.

The aim of the British public and cultural diplomacy is to improveBritain’s image abroad and at home, to promote theUK’s values, to make it more attractive for foreign audiences and to shape public opinion in accordance with the national and business interests of theUnited Kingdom.

According to Cambon, “Diplomacy will always have ambassadors and ministers; the question is whether it will have diplomats” (Cambon cited in Khana, 2011, 30). Nowadays, both traditional diplomacy and public and cultural diplomacy are very important to achieve foreign policies goals. Celebrity diplomats are important, useful and necessary at the present time because they possess prestige which helps to achieve success in diplomacy. On the other hand, traditional diplomats play also very important role in international relations at the present time. For example, US ambassador Richard Holbrooke, known as “The Buldozer” successfully brought Serbs to the negotiation table to end conflict in former Yugoslavia in 1995 (Khana, 2011, 35). He played also an important role in theUSdiplomacy during the Afghan war. When Holbrooke died on13 December 2010, Hilary Clinton proclaimed at his Memorial that he understood that in the end the only solution of conflict inAfghanistanwas political (Cowper-Coles, 2011, 275).



Cowper-Coles,Sh. (2011). Cables from Kabul: The Inside Story of the West’s Afghanistan Campaign, Harper Press, London

Khanna,P. (2011). How to Run the World: Charting a Course to the Next Renaissance, Random House,New York

Lydall,R. (2012). “Hugging Harry the Diamond diplomat.”, The Evening Standard, March 7, 3

Critical Review of the Danish Foreign Ministry’s ‘Danmark i Dialog Med Verden’


Due to the accelerating speed of globalization and the communications revolution the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has recognised the importance of grabbing the prominence of public and cultural diplomacy to promote a more positive image of Denmark abroad. Reasoned the major diplomatic setback Denmark experienced as a result of the Cartoon Crisis, Denmark has assigned greater priority to the MENA-region as a crucial strategic target of PCD.

The report, ‘Danmark i Dialog med Verden’ (Denmark in Dialogue with the World) provides a range of examples of public and cultural diplomacy initiatives around the world with a particular focus on the MENA-region. A special emphasis on cooperation with non-state actors such as NGOs, companies, interest-organisations and the media is articulated. 

In concordance with Nicholas Cull’s statement that action speaks louder than words[1], the report attempts to draw attention to Denmark’s top position among donors of development assistance to promote an image of Denmark as a development assistance role model. This can prove to be a rather effective strategy as Denmark as of 2009 was among the only five nations who have met the International Aid Target of 0.7% of GNP.

The report promotes the necessity of nation branding as it aims to project its ‘50 years of participation in peacekeeping operations and defense efforts, a top spot on the quantity and quality of development assistance and a place in the first ranks in the struggle for human rights are the main motives in the image of Denmark’s global engagement[2].’This constitutes a part of the idea of ‘borderless responsibility’ which attaches importance to stability, peace and democracy aimed at international organizations, opinion-makers, decision-makers and the broad public in selected countries. It is obvious that the report finds its inspiration domestically. Because Denmark’s job market model flexicurity (a contraction of the English words ‘flexibility’ and ‘security’) has been promoted as the road to economic growth and employment by the European Commission, Denmark has used this as a public diplomacy tool in Greece in order to generate better acquaintance with Danish experiences and expertise in this area. The Danish welfare model is something it has in common with other Scandinavian countries but Denmark has been more eager than for instance Norway and Sweden to market this image. Hence, it can be argued that the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs truly comprehends the importance of congruence between words and deeds adding enhanced credibility to the country’s efforts abroad.

Project Hip Hop Palestine is directly aimed at resurrecting the image of Denmark in Palestine where 59% of the population view Denmark as an enemy of Islam and only 4% believe that the Danish government handled the cartoon crisis appropriately[3]. The initiative is one among many and is characterised as ‘offbeat’ remaining apolitical but cultural in nature where ‘intercultural dialogue’ often occurs in the rhetoric. To enhance this intercultural dialogue, the report and its Palestinian collaborators have in particular appreciated the credibility that Danish youths with Palestinian backgrounds bring to the dissemination of information about Denmark and hence these cultural non-state ambassadors comprise an essential part of the project. The primary goal of the project, which has also involved song contests, has been to raise the prospects of Palestinian participation in the Eurovision Song Contest. The success of the project has been so highly-profiled that even Israeli media has picked up on it.

Project Hip Hop Palestine is part of a larger initiative called Det Arabiske Initiativ (The Arabian Initiative) whose purpose it is to create a foundation of strengthened dialogue (two-way communication), understanding and cooperation between Denmark and the Arab world to support ongoing local processes of reform.

Because Denmark as a nation initially failed to understand the implications of the Cartoon Crisis, this report constitutes a crucial effort to rectify that mistake. Denmark has understood that it’s success as a nation, also domestically due to its large Muslim population,  is dependent on its image abroad leading to an appreciation of mutual understanding and cooperation across borders.


[1] N. J. Cull, ‘Public Diplomacy: Seven Lessons for its Future from its Past’, Place Branding and Public Diplomacy, Vol. 6, No. 1, 2010, p. 14.

[2] This part is translated.

[3] Independent Media Review Analysis,


Jazz Diplomacy and the Cold War


At the height of the Cold War years, “Jazz Diplomacy”, proved to be the most powerful tool of the United States to diminish both the credibility and appeal of Communism beyond the Eastern bloc (Rosenberg Jonathan: 2012). From the 1950s to the 1970s however, the U.S State Department sponsored programs; sending its finest jazz musicians to the far end corners of the world (Costigliola Frank: 1984)  . Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman and Dizzy Gillespie among others toured in more than 35 countries from Eastern Europe, to the Former Soviet Union, the Middle East, Asia and Africa (–Promoting-America-in-the-Cold-War-Era_51802.html) in order to win the hearts and mind of people as well as to promote a positive view of America as a Democratic nation free of racism.

Moscow, Soviet Union 1962 [Goodman Benny

Under the U.S State Department’s Office of Information and Cultural Affairs, ‘Voice of America’ offered each weak countless hours of jazz music, which became the informal hymn for many Soviets and “kept hopes of freedom alive in the darkest days of oppression in communist Czechoslovakia” pointed out Havel at the White House Millennium Evening in 2000 ( Therefore, jazz as an instrument of American cultural diplomacy, transformed the U.S -Soviets relations and also reshaped the image of democracy in the world, particularly for those living under Soviet Communism. The result of which had far more positive influential  impacts than initially imagined. Jazz music successfully opened the doors towards a better understanding of ‘American Culture’ by offering a unique way of connecting with people; transcending political and language barriers. In sum, we can argue that there is no doubt that jazz  diplomacy played a key role in promoting a positive image of America abroad during the Cold War.

Cairo, Egypt 1961 [Amrstrong Louis



-Ambassador Cynthia P. Schneider, Cultural Diplomacy: Why It Matters, What It Can and Cannot — Do? Short Course on Culture Industries, Technologies, and Policies, Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Philadelphia, August 30, 2006:

-Cultural Diplomacy and The National Interest; In Search of a 21st-Century Perspective, Arts Industries Policy Forum. Available at:

-Costigliola Frank: (1984), “Awkward Domination; American Political, Economic, and Cultural Relations with Europe, 1919-1933”, pp.167-182, Cornell University Press.

-Jonathan Rosenberg: America on the World Stage: Music and Twentieth-Century U.S. Foreign Relations, Diplomatic History, (Jan2012), Vol. 36 Issue 1, p65-69

-Jazz Diplomacy: Promoting America in the Cold War Era:–Promoting-America-in-the-Cold-War-Era_51802.html

New Zealand’s Cultural Diplomacy


Cultural diplomacy is a very ambiguous term as its aims truly overlaps with the traditional public diplomacy, propaganda and nation branding (Gienow-Hecht Jessica et al.: 2010). Traditionally, it  meant ‘high culture’;

implying arts, literature, theatre, dance and music  but it now includes activities aimed for mass audiences called ‘popular culture’ (Mark Simon 2009). However, unlike this little puzzlement, some have define cultural diplomacy as  “the deployment of a state’s culture in support of its foreign policy goals or diplomacy” ( which implies that not only it is a matter of foreign policy, aimed to further the state’s national interests abroad but also a tool of interacting with the outside world by promoting a positive image of the country. It does that by endorsing the cultural aspect of a country; language for instance but it can also take the form of exchange between people as well as academics in order to foster mutual understanding ( In the case of New Zealand’s cultural diplomacy however, the Ministry of Culture and Heritage has putted more emphasis on the practices contributing more to the advancement of their national interests rather than that enhancing mutual or international understanding (Simon Mark: 2009). However, the New Zealand’s CDIP ‘Cultural Diplomacy International Programme’, established in 2004 sought to associate the nation branding to cultural diplomacy in order to demonstrate to investors, buyers as well as international media that New Zealand, in addition to its creativity and innovation, is also a technologically advanced country (Ibid). This insight of New Zealand is largely associated to its tourism brand which promote it as a ‘clean and green’ tourist destination with a modern economy and an exciting culture which seems to very attractive for international business investment (  At the 2005 World Expo in Japan, New Zealand was portrayed as a great land of natural beauty as well as a creative and technologically sophisticated country during which the group ‘Kapa Haka’ of the Maori culture performed every day (Simon Mark: 2009), the purpose of which was to broaden the Japanese perceptions of New Zealand.


–  Gienow-Hecht Jessica C.E and Donfried Mark C.: (2010), Searching for a Cultural Diplomacy”, pp.3-27 and pp. 162-175, Berghahn Books.

–  MacDonald Katherine: “Expression and Emotion, Cultural Diplomacy and Nation Branding in New Zealand”, Victoria University of Wellington, March 2011. Available at: Accessed on the 27th March 2012.

–  Simon Mark: “Discussion Papers in Diplomacy, A Greater Role for Cultural Diplomacy”, Netherlands Institute on International Relations ‘Clingendael’, April 2009. Available at: Accessed on the 23.03.2012

– Simon Mark: “A Comparative Study of the Cultural Diplomacy of Canada, New Zealand and India”, Research Space Auckland. Available at: Accessed on the 15th March 2012

China’s Response to Western Culture


The increasing influence of American culture: popular music, movies, food, exhibitions to the Chinese young population has led the government to take actions (Edward Wong,2012). In addition to its strict policy on the importation of cultural goods, the present Chinese leader; President Hu Jintao published an astonishing essay on January 3th 2012 in the famous magazine ‘Seeking The Truth’ in which he strongly advocated “We must clearly see that international hostile forces are intensifying the strategic plot of westernizing and dividing China, and ideological and cultural fields are the focal areas of their long-term infiltration” ( and he added “We should deeply understand the seriousness and complexity of the ideological struggle, always sound the alarms and remain vigilant, and take forceful measures to be on guard and respond” (ibid). This clarified that the Chinese government in order to save its culture would have to both promote as well as strengthen their cultural heritage and values.  However, like the French’s ‘Alliance Francaise’ and the German’s ‘Goethe-Institut’, China chose to promote its language, ‘Mandarin’ as a tool to reshape its influence worldwide as well as to advance their public diplomacy agenda (Seib, 2012). Though, its first institute was established in 2004, there are now over 320 Confucius Institutes in about 96 countries, offering a variety of activities, ranging from music, cooking, Chinese traditional medicine, their history and culture and above all, teaching Mandarin (Wey-Shen Siow M.:2011). But how successful the Confucius Institute been in transforming people’s perceptions about China? Well, for some it is nothing but a new form of the Chinese government’s propaganda. And yet for others, unlike its success in promoting both their language and culture beyond their borders, the lack of efficiency and a good degree of professionalism in some centres has led many students to drop the courses (Ibid). Thus, from this point of view, we can argue it still got a long way to go.


  1. Alterman Jon B., Bliss Katherine E., Chow Edward C. et al, Chinese Soft Power and Its Implications for the United States, Competition and Cooperation in the Developing World, A Report of the CSIS Smart Power Initiative, March 2009: on the 8th February 2012.
  1. Blanchard Christopher M. et al.: Comparing Global Influence; China and U.S Diplomacy, Foreign Aid, Trade and Investment in the Developing World, CRS Report for Congress, August 15th 2008. Available at: Accessed on the 7th February 2012
  1. Edward Wong: “China’s President Lashes Out at Western Culture”, The New York Times, January 3th 2012. Available at: Accessed on the 17th March
  1. Seib Philip: “Intellectual Containment and U.S.-China Relations”, posted on 2th March 2012 at 2:47om. Available at: Accessed on 15th March 2012
  1. Wey-Shen Siow Maria, (2011): “China’s Confucius Institutes: Crossing the

River by Feeling the Stones”, Asia Pacific Bulletin, Number 91, January 6 2011

US Public Diplomacy During the Cold War


Under the 1936 Convention for the Promotion of Inter-American Cultural Relations, the government agreed to establish a model of exchange programs as a public diplomacy tool aimed to counter Soviet influence during the Cold War (US State Department, 2005). This agenda, known as “The Fulbright Program”, first enacted in 1946 consisted of enhancing educational and cultural exchanges between the US and other countries in order to foster mutual understanding (Kennon H. Et al., 2009). Many people including students, teachers, scholars and even leaders came to the United States under the International Visitors Program to share the American cultural and experiences. This was quite effective as many world leaders among whom Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, Afghan President Harmid Karzai and many more made their ways through this program (Ibid). Thus, it was a very successful method of engagement with foreign people for long-term connections.  Nevertheless, “Since 1993, budgets have fallen by nearly 30 percent, staff has been cut my about 30% overseas and 20% in the U.S, and dozens of cultural centres, libraries and branch posts have been closed” (  This implies that it was no longer the priority since the cultural Cold War battle was over. Does that entail that the U.S only uses their diplomacy tool in triggered situations? Well, it is not to be excluded.


Ambassador Cynthia P. Schneider, Cultural Diplomacy: Why It Matters, What It Can and Cannot — Do? Short Course on Culture Industries, Technologies, and Policies, Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Philadelphia, August 30, 2006: Accesed on the 18th March 2012

Cultural Diplomacy and The National Interest; In Search of a 21st-Century Perspective, Arts Industries Policy Forum. Available at: Asseced on the 17th April 2012

Harvey B. Feigenbaum: Globalization and Cultural Diplomacy, The George Washington University, Centre for Arts and Culture, pp.2-53. Available at: Accessed on the 19th April 2012

Kennon H. Nakamura and Matthew C. Weed: Us Public Diplomacy: Background and Current Issues, December 18th 2009: Accessedon the 20th April 2012

Voices of America: US Public Diplomacy for the 21st Century


Lord’s “Voices of America” report published in 2008, highlights the need to improve American public diplomacy tools  in a growing interconnected world in a bid to re-promote itself in light with its negative records in many parts of the world as well as to be better equipped to further their national interests. To achieve this goal, will be required new strategies aimed to engage, cooperate and persuade foreign audiences[1].

At first, Lord’s suggestions and recommendations seems both very convincing and rational, because it embodies concrete actions towards building better relations with foreign public by making use of the media and social networks. The stress on the importance of long-term relations, takes us back to Melissen’s (2005), “The New Public Diplomacy” who provides a good account on the relevance of ‘two-way communication’ or ‘dialogue’, the foundation of all strong relationships[2] . This implies Lord’s claim that “the views of foreign populations matter”[3], because only through this way can the United States realistically seek to adjust their reflection on the world[4]. To that end, the U.S will first need to be credible and get strong support, which may not be an easy task after the Abu Ghraib scandal and human rights violations at Guantanamo[5]. This complexity of American adaption argues Lord “when the United States is not just disliked but also distrusted, when not just our policies but our moral authority is questioned, it is politically difficult for foreign leaders to support U.S policies and potentially popular to block them”[6]. However to improve that situation, Lord strongly believes that with the support of both local and foreign audiences, the United States will be best able to understand foreign concerns and incorporate those into their public diplomacy strategy.

Nevertheless, despite having recognized the improvement of certain aspects of U.S diplomacy tools, it seems that the true underlying goal of this report is to advance U.S interests.  However, Lord says “to protect America’s moral authority, as well as the trust and even power that authority conveys, our policies should be in line with our highest ideals. They must also be constructed to advance U.S interests, taking into account the full range of costs and benefits”[7]. This implies two things. First, the report seems to overestimate American traditional values in the world stage and as such fails to consider the possibility of its refutation by others. Are American values universal? Are they casted and seen by others as do Americans? Today, the United States need to discuss more than ever before the interpretations of their actions abroad and as such acknowledge the consideration of values, perceptions and opinions of foreign audience without which the struggle to better their image abroad would be insignificant.

Overall, the United States need to build strong and concrete engagement based upon genuine dialogue that recognizes differences in terms values, historical perspective and cultural tradition.  To that end, they need to both recognise and accept that there are others ways to do things.


Lord Kristin M.: “Voices of America; U.S Public Diplomacy for the 21st Century”, November 2008, Foreign Policy at Brookings. Available at: Accessed on the 30th April 2012 at 13:12

Melissen. J. (2005): “The new public diplomacy: soft power in international relations”, Palgrave MacMillan.

[1] Lord, 2008

[2] Melissen, 2005

[3] Lord,2008: 8

[4] Ibid, p.9

[5] Ibid, p.10

[6] Ibid,p.8

[7] Ibid, p.3

Public Diplomacy: Strengthening U.S. Engagement with the World

Public Diplomacy:

Strengthening U.S. Engagement with the World,

A Strategic Approach for the 21st Century

Review of the Report



This report was written by the Office of the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs of theUnited States. Mission statement of US public diplomacy is to support the achievement of US foreign policy goals and objectives, advance national interests, and enhance national security by informing and influencing foreign publics and by expanding and strengthening the relationship between the people and government of the US and citizens of the rest of the world. The report offers the Strategic Framework forUSpublic diplomacy and contains tactics, strategic imperatives and identification of objectives and challenges in US public and cultural diplomacy.



Public and cultural diplomacy play increasingly important role inUSforeign policy. Expansion of American capital in the world has also negative aspects. TheUnited Stateshegemony is the fact but in some part of the world, mainly in theMiddle Eastit creates very negative reactions. After the 9/11 attacks American had to ask themselves: “Why do they hate us?” TheUnited Statesnation brand suffered very much by George W. Bush’s implementation of hard power into theUSforeign policy. For example, the invasion to Iraq, which is by Muslim considered as the second most important holly land, and involvement of media and war propaganda in spreading of pictures how American kill Muslims, including civilians, has worsened the image of the US, mainly in Arab and Muslim countries. Therefore, implementation of public and cultural diplomacy is increasingly important to improve the image of theUSabroad.

The strategic framework of the report offers a good roadmap for USpublic diplomacy. The Office of the Under Secretary of State clearly and correctly identified that to meet the challenges and seize the opportunities of the 21st century, the US need a foreign policy that uses tools and approaches to match a changing environment of the globalized world. According to Hayden, “the strategic culture behind US diplomatic institutions needed to change, in response to new threats and opportunities that challenged existing diplomatic organization – such as global terrorism, failed states, environmental security, law enforcement, and democracy promotion” (Hayden, 2012, 235).

The report correctly identifies demographic, technological and political changes in global landscape. For example, that 45% of global population is under 25 but women are 50% of population but earn only 10% of income and own 1% of property. Advanced technologies make communication almost instantaneous. It helps better and faster connect the people and it offers new opportunities for public and cultural diplomacy and it makes it more important. The report correctly identifies that traditional bilateral diplomacy can not address the full range of actors now engaged on global issues. Necessity of using increasing number of non-state actors to achieve foreign policy makes public and cultural diplomacy an important instrument of foreign policy and it helps to make it more efficient. It is necessary because as the report clearly states there are competing influences in the world such as threat of extremists who developed sophisticated media strategies,China’s growing economical importance, etc.

On the other hand, weakness of the report is that in strategic imperatives – combat violent extremism – is not clearly stated how should be smart power used in counterterrorism and how to achieve a synergetic effect by using correct foreign policies and public and cultural diplomacy.



Hayden, C. (2012) The Rhetoric of Soft Power: Public Diplomacy in Global Contexts,   Lexington Books,Plymouth

From Telegraph to Twitter.

In reading an American Diplomat’s government report (full text in link below), I came across the different ways in which diplomats now work as a pose to many years ago. With the change in technology, the work of governments has become quicker, easier and more efficient.

As technology thrives and the world changes, diplomats have to adapt and accept these changes and learn to work with them.

Assistant Secretary of Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance, Rose Gottemoeller recently published a governmental report on this new technological change. Around the time of 1866, the transatlantic cable, which linked the United States to Europe, was complete. This new method of communication was to change the world.

This new communication method was fast and reliable, with the possible only flaw being that as it was so fast in comparison to previous methods, the time one had to sit and make a decision was vastly reduced ergo not allowing diplomats to think long enough to make informed decisions.


Technology plays a great role in public diplomacy and getting the message across the globe. From the 2009 Iranian Presidential election protests through to the Arab Spring of 2011, the use of technology has grown immensely. Protestors from both years used mobile technology to show the true events that were occurring in their cities. With growing technologies, diplomats are using social networking sites such as Twitter to interact with the public, this way the public can get up to date news about the work they are doing and should it be relevant, how the public can get involved.

When working under a prestigious role, such as a diplomat, one must always be sure to take extra security measure and be diplomatic. Online posts can be misread and deemed offensive if not explained properly, but from the lengthy Telegraph to the 21st Century technologies, how can one not be vague with a 140-character limit on Twitter?

“A European Agenda for Culture in a Globalizing World”

Link to the Report:


The communication emphasises on the importance of culture as part of the European integration process, and the growing role of the EU in promoting its cultural richness both withinEuropeand world-wide. It consists of three main chapters addressing the contribution of the EU in the field of culture, the importance of respecting cultural diversity and promoting intercultural dialogue within the context of globalisation, and the need of a strong EU consensus for cultural cooperation. Based on extensive consultations of the Commission, the communication proposes a set of shared objectives and new working methods in achieving a European agenda for culture in today’s globalising world.


The communication refers to culture as the core of human development and civilisation, and points out that even before Europe was united in an economic level, it was first and primary “a cultural entity” (p. 2). History shows that Europeans share a common cultural heritage and enjoy a rich cultural and linguistic diversity as a result of centuries of interaction, migratory flows and exchanges. While recognising the importance of fostering common understanding and cultural promotion among EU member states, globalisation with more exposure to different cultures has also called for aEurope’s identity and increased capacity in exchanging and interacting with other cultures around the world. However, there are concerns that the establishment of a European identity or the notion of unity could bring a risk of homogeny toEurope’s cultural richness and diversity, including those of the minorities (Jehan, 2012, p. 89).

Understanding the profound link between culture and development, the report then explores theUnion’s perception of culture based on its legal basis, action and policies. For instance, article 151 of the Maastricht Treaty on European Union states that “the Community shall contribute to the flowering of cultures of the member states, and foster cooperation with third countries and international organisations in the sphere of culture” (p. 4). As a result, numbers of cultural activities have been operated by the EU to enhance its cultural heritage, such as the Cultural Programme in facilitating mutual understanding and cultural exchanges at European level with a budget of 400 million EUR for 2007-2013 it can support around 300 different cultural actions per year, the Erasmus Mundus aims for academic cooperation and educational exchanges of young people, the MEDIA programme promotes the competitiveness of the European audiovisual industry, or the EU’s Digital Libraries Initiative which aims to make Europe’s cultural and scientific heritage easier to access online (European Commission: Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency).

On the other hand, with the growing EU’s presence in the world, the communication identifies the three main objectives of a EU agenda for culture: “promotion of intercultural dialogue, promotion of culture as a catalyst for growth and jobs and culture as a vital element in theUnion’s external relations” (p. 8). For instance, intercultural dialogue is seen as a constructive instrument of peace and conflict prevention, and cultural industries are an essential asset for EU’s economy as in 2004 more than 5 million people worked in the cultural sector, which was equivalent to 3.1 % of total employment population in EU-25 and contributed around 2.6 % to the EU GDP (KEA European Affairs, 2006).

Alongside addressed objectives, the Commission also suggests new working methods to enhance the EU’s cultural capacity, such as the establishment of a “Cultural Forum” for consulting cultural issues by individual artists and intellectuals, or the employment of an open method of coordination (OMC) for increased cooperation and exchange of practice between member states in the field of culture (p. 12). Nonetheless, in order to achieve these objectives and agenda, the EU will need the support and engagement of all different kind of actors and stakeholders, such as the European Parliament, member states, professional organisations, cultural institutions, foundations, non-governmental networks and involving civil societies.

Finally, it was indicated in the communication that the EU perceives itself as an example of “soft power” founded on norms and values like human rights protection, democracy, civil societies and cooperation (p. 3). Culture is seen as one of the key elements contributed to this consensus building approach. Therefore, with the development of a European agenda for culture in a globalising world, the EU is seeking to further promote its cultural richness and diversity to the world, as well as encourage more intercultural dialogue and cooperation with other countries for shared values and common understanding.


Jehan, A. (2012), ‘Culture as a key factor within Western societies and a political tool for the European Union’, in Cultural Diplomacy Research,


KEA European Affairs (2006), ‘Study on the Economy of Culture inEurope’, conducted for the European Commission,


The European Commission, Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency Programmes, <>, viewed on 18 March 2012.

Public and cultural diplomacy as a form of soft power


According to Joseph Nye, the term “soft power” refers to the ability of a country to get “other countries to want what it wants or the power of attractive ideas to set the political agenda and determine the framework of debate that shapes others’ preferences” (1990). Hence, public and cultural diplomacy -“a government’s communication with foreign audiences in order to positively influence them” (Mark, 2009, p. 12)- can be seen as a form of soft power in shaping the public attitude and international stance in order to make them accordant with a state’s national interests and strategies.

The use of public and cultural diplomacy as ‘soft power’ strategy can be demonstrated through theU.S.cultural and ideological attraction influence worldwide. The main objective of U.S. soft power policy is to increase U.S. international influence and make other countries want what America wants through its cultural values, ideological attractions and institutions. According to research, American films “occupy about 50 per cent of world screen time” (Nye, 1990), which reflectsU.S.effort in promoting the country’s cultural, ideological and democratic values through its mass media andHollywoodproductions.Washingtonalso uses educational exchanges as the means to promote understanding about theU.S., as there were “nearly 600, 000 foreign students studying 2003-4, double the total from two decades earlier, to become familiar withU.S.political policies, free market economy, and democratic institutions “(Walt, 2005, p. 38). Similarly,China, a rising power in the world, also seeks to develop its public and cultural diplomacy as a form of soft power to achieve its strategic goals. For instance,Chinahas been very active in promoting its culture and language through an increasing number of Confucius Institutes worldwide. However, despite the Chinese effort to use public and cultural diplomacy to shape international publics in a more favourable view of China and its worldviews, there still remain certain limitations on Chinese ‘soft power’ due to the country’s lack of democracy and negative reputation for human rights abuses and growing military ambitions.

In conclusion, public and cultural diplomacy can be seen as potential soft power instruments for states in shaping the public attitudes and conducting international agendas to achieve their interests and objectives.



Mark, S. (2009), ‘A Greater Role for Cultural Diplomacy’, Clingendael Discussion Papers in Diplomacy, <>.

Nye, J. S. (1990), ‘Soft Power,’ in Foreign Policy, No. 80.

Walt, M. S. (2005), Taming American Power: The Global Response to U.S. Primacy,London: Norton.

The curious case of China



   Udoubtedly China’s public diplomacy is an interesting area to explore. The nation branding guru, Simon Anholt, could be proud of the methods that China used in gaining its present status without empty propaganda and marketing. Instead, it executed an “open door” policy thus attracting an immense amount of foreign investment, utilized globalization and developed a responsible foreign policy strategy. Also the greater involvement in the international organizations such as World Trade Organization  or United Nations peacekeeping were smart moves on its part. All those steps granted China the position on the international arena that previously would have never be expected.

   Some articles which I have come across in researching the topic suggest that China’s soft power diplomacy nowadays has at least four strands. The first one is supposed to be “quiet diplomacy” and is meant to convey the message that China as a major power is not a threat to neighbouring countries as it was commonly thought in the late 1970s when China was starting its modernisation process as led by Deng Xiaoping. He was also the one who first came up with the expression “modest comfort”- xiaokang, indicating that China aspires to create a society where everyone would be relatively well-off but national wealth and military superiority would not be priorities. Another popular term used by Chinese public diplomacy specialists appears to be the “peaceful rise“- heping jueqi, and is meant to indicate that China wants to become a major power by peaceful means and promotion of friendship with other states. Even nowadays China’s growing international power is often seen as a threat to other states, hence probably such blatant struggle to create a soft image. Another filament of China’s public outreach are the efforts to present itself as a responsible, honorable nation. This can be observed in China’s growing interest in the environmental and food-safety issues as expected of every major power. Moreover, there is also China’s cultural diplomacy, incorporated mostly in the creation of Confucius Institutes worldwide which is supposed to prove that as a major power China is not only strong in terms of economy and military but also has a significant cultural heritage and tradition. Also creation of internationally renowned exhibitions or opera performances such as for instance the “Firt Emperor” are supposed to show China’s cultural sophistication. However, the most extraordinary part of Chinese public diplomacy is probably the connection with the issue of the legitimacy of China’s socialist government and the Communist Party. It seems controversial in terms of on the one hand China’s trials to appear as modern, Westernised country, while on the other contradicting Western countries‘ assertions about the importance of democracy and human rights (an example can be its doctrine of noninterference in countries‘ internal affairs). Undoubtedly China has become very skilled when it comes to using various public diplomacy tools. In negotiations with Japan China does not hesitate to use a range of historical arguments regarding the Japanese invasion which puts Japan in an inconvenient defensive position of an aggressor and China in position of a martyr who is now back on track stronger than ever before.

   On the other hand, China’s public diplomacy may appear as a shining star but  as John Brown mentions in his article for the Huffington Post, in practice it is not so dazzling anymore. He gives an example of the website of the Chinese embassy in Washington which is very rarely accessible and it is almost impossible to find its phone number online. Even if the number is found, the line is always busy thus, the access to embassy is severely limited. Brown indicates that the Embassy employees only advertise what the headquarters want on paper, just to please their bosses rather than truly engage with the host country’s natives. Although he’s based his opinion on the performance of just one embassy, if the “fortress embassy” scenario is real also in other countries, it may be a major flaw in China’s strategy to be seen as a major power. 



Culture: A Cold War Weapon



Although the Cold War remained cold throughout the forty years of arms race, the ideological battle between the United States and the Soviet Union never ceased. Hence, the transmission of values, ideas and images became key elements in the struggle between the superpowers (Davis: 2003, 199).

Many suggestions have been made as to what caused the collapse of communism but the importance should not be underestimated that ‘’knowledge about American culture, whether acquired by participating in our exchange programs, attending cultural presentations, or simply listening to Voice of America, contributed to the death of communism(Finn: 2003, 15).  Hence, there are important lessons to learn from cultural diplomacy during the Cold War. Cultural diplomacy became an incorporated and essential part of US foreign policy as both the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the newly established United States Information Agency (USIA) were engaged in cultural activities abroad.

As a result of the agreement between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on Exchanges in the Cultural, Technical, and Educational Fields from 1958, exhibitions became a common method of disseminating the values of each camp as in the case of simultaneous exhibitions in New York and Moscow in 1959. In Sokolniki Park in Moscow, a six-week long display of American consumer goods and images induced great curiosity among the Russians and allegedly ‘offered a greater return than any single Cold War initiative since the Marshall Plan.’ (Davies: 2003, 210) Importantly, such images shed light on all the things which were unavailable in the Soviet Union and thereby worked to discredit the Soviet regime.

Another important aspect of this effort was the involvement of non-state actors. The Russian-speaking Americans in charge of many of these exhibitions provided a crucial opportunity to portray American values in a credible manner. As James Critchlow points out, often these were college students who became cultural ambassadors due to the enormous interest from attending Russians asking questions unrelated to the exhibition itself but about political and social issues in the US (Critchlow: 2004, 79). More generally, non-state actors, whether state-sponsored or not, have played vital roles in the positive portrayal of American culture as evident in the concept of Jazz diplomacy. Music tends to transcend borders and political differences and instead communicates a common interest between otherwise conflicting parties. The US government’s initiative, originally proposed by Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, to send the jazz trumpeter, Dizzy Gillespie on world tours became strikingly popular and when the radio station, Voice of America (VOA) inaugurated the program ‘Music, U.S.A’ primarily airing Jazz, the audience increased dramatically. In an interview, Louis Armstrong concluded that jazz bridged the gap between capitalism and communism (Bratton: 1998, 16).

With the war on terror, the US has found itself in a somewhat similar ideological position which emphasises the problems of discontinuing the USIA after the Cold War. Cultural diplomacy still plays an essential role in maintaining and improving long-term relationships but it cannot be applied on an ad hoc basis, something the US will have to acknowledge in today’s security environment.

However, there are still important differences in the application of various cultural strategies since a CIA-sponsored cultural diplomacy initiative would be highly inappropriate today in terms of credibility. Nevertheless, the main point is that cultural diplomacy has played and should play an essential role in foreign policy to bridge cultural gaps and political differences.


Bratton, E., ‘Jazz Diplomacy and the Cold War’, New Crisis, Vol. 105, No. 1, 1998, p. 16 (15-19)

Critchlow, J., ‘Public Diplomacy during the Cold War: The Record and Its Implications’, Journal of Cold War Studies, Vol. 6, No. 1, Winter 2004, pp. 75–89.

Davies, N.G., ‘The Logic of Soviet Diplomacy’, Diplomatic History, Vol. 27, No. 2, 2003, pp. 193-214.

Finn, H.K., ‘The Case for Cultural Diplomacy: Engaging Foreign Audiences’, Foreign Affairs, Vol. 82, No. 6, 2003, pp. 15-20.

Public diplomacy and nation branding


The concept of ‘nation branding’ has a British root, as the term was first time coined by British policy advisor Simon Anholt in 1996 as ‘the combinations of the country-of-origin studies, which incorporate political, cultural, sociological and historical approaches to national identity’. In comparison, Wally Olins states that countries have always branded and re-branded themselves and it is just a new term for image management (2002, p. 241). Similarly, nation branding can be seen as “branding and marketing communications techniques to promote a nation’s images” (Fan, 2006, p. 6). However, it is important to distinguish between the concept of ‘nation branding’ (people identities and culture) and ‘country branding’ which aims at specific locations, such as destination branding with primary focus on tourism (Widler, 2007, p. 144). Generally, it can be argued that image promotion is the ultimate goal of nation branding, and effective branding would require a long-term consistent strategy.

Nation branding refers to nation’s image as the way a nation’s people want the world to understand what is most central about their nation. Nation’s image is defined by foreign publics and their perceptions are often influenced by stereotyping, media coverage or their personal experience of the nation state. For instance, branding methods were used by some transitional countries, such as Eastern European post-communist governments as the means to distance the country from the old economic or political system in response for membership in international organisations. The relationship between national identity, nation branding and nation’s image can be summarised as below:


Source: Branding the Nation: Towards a Better Understanding, Ying Fan (2009)

On the other hand, there are certain conceptual similarities and differences between nation branding and public diplomacy. For instance, both refer to communication and attraction as the means to achieve strategic goals, and therefore they are both instruments of soft power. It is argued that nation branding aims at both domestic and foreign publics as equally important targets. As Anholt argues that the primary role of domestic citizens is to ‘live the brand’ and perform as brand ambassadors, and nation branding thereby can be seen as a common sense of objective and national pride (2002, p. 234). In terms of foreign audiences, while public diplomacy tends to target a particular group of cultural or political elites, nation branding targets mass audiences, which gives it a broader influence towards the public in a target nation and more ‘public’ than public diplomacy (Szondi, 2008, p. 12).


Furthermore, according to Szondi there are five different possible views on the relationship between public diplomacy, whether these concepts are unrelated, the same concepts, public diplomacy is part of nation branding and vice versa, or they are distinct but overlapping concepts (Szondi, 2008, pp. 14-29). For instance, Anholt considered public diplomacy as part of nation branding reflecting in his Brand Hexagon, in which the core national brand strategy or ‘competitive identity’ is based on the management of all elements like public diplomacy, tourism, investment, and export promotion (2007, p. 3).

Nonetheless, the most possibly accepted view is that public diplomacy and nation branding are distinct concepts but they do share some common characteristics. As Jan Melissen claims that they are ‘sisters under the skin’ with both striving for image promotion, building national identity, culture and values as the key common objectives (2005). Based on this approach, it can be argued that both public diplomacy and nation branding focus on relationship building, either with regard to a strategic self presentation of a nation or two-way network communications among countries in international relations (Szondi, 2008, p. 28).

In conclusion, nation branding and public diplomacy are both dynamic processes, which reflect the ability of a country to build and manage its attractiveness to achieve its strategic goals. Nevertheless, effective branding would require a coherent long-term strategy by states with adequate financial and human resources in order to create a better image and reputation of themselves in the world.

Various views on nation branding:

Simon Anholt:

– Nation branding Master class:

– Place Branding and Public Diplomacy Journal (edited by Anholt):

Wally Olins:

– ‘How to Brand’

Video: ‘The Nation and the Brand and the Nation as a Brand’, 

‘Nation Branding in A Globalized World’- A Video Lecture by Uffe Andreasen (former Danish Ambassador and Permanent Delegate to UNESCO), 2010, available online at


Anholt, S. (2002), ‘Foreword’, in Journal of Brand Management 9 (4-5), pp. 229-2239.

Anholt, S. (2007), Competitive Identity: The New Brand Management for Nations, Cities and Regions,Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Fan, Y. (2006), ‘Nation Branding: What is being Branded?’, in Journal of Vacation Marketing, Vol. 12, Issue 1, pp. 5-14.

Fan, Y. (2009), Branding the Nation: Towards a Better Understanding,


Melissen, J. (2005), The New Public Diplomacy: Soft Power in International Relations,Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Olins, W. (2002), ‘Branding the Nation’, in Journal of Brand Management 9, pp. 241-248.

Szondi, G. (2008), ‘Public Diplomacy and Nation Branding: Conceptual Similarities and Differences’, in Clingendael Discussion Paper in Diplomacy, No. 112,


Widler, J. (2007), ‘Nation Branding: With Pride against Prejudice’, in Journal of Place Branding and Public Diplomacy 3, pp. 144-150.


George Clooney Arrested


A Legitimate Actor in Diplomacy


With nearly 2.5 billion internet users ( ) and 6 billion mobile phone subscriptions worldwide (, the democratization of communications technology has effectively removed any sort of monopoly on the dissemination of messages concerning the national interest of governments. Consequently, this has had a great impact on the way that the tools of public and cultural diplomacy are being used and assessed, as the key to effectively engaging with foreign publics may well lie outside the reach of our traditional and institutionalised actors.

Although the argument asserting that states remain the predominant actors in the international system may still be valid, the diffusion of power in terms of successfully projecting the message with a content of credibility is also become increasingly evident (Wang, 2006: 35). Accordingly, today many political issues may be more appropriately addressed at the local or global level.

The overriding purpose of public diplomacy is to promote a positive image and reputation of the nation-state to influence foreign publics and governments by building lasting relationships in a way which furthers the national interest of the that state. However, particularly for the United States, public diplomacy efforts have occurred in an often ad hoc manner whenever it has been deemed necessary thereby reflecting only American interests. But as Zatepilina points out, successful communication goes beyond the listening two-way kind and endeavour to recognise the interests of the target foreign public, what she calls strategic communication. In this respect, non-state actors play a crucial role because, unlike governments and diplomats, they do not necessarily arrive with the purpose of imposing a certain agenda as many NGOs are starting to understand.  Rather, they enjoy the ability to establish the personal relations which ought to be the foundation on which true public diplomacy is built (Zatepilina, 2009: 157). A recurring theme in the debates about public and cultural diplomacy is that of credibility and little doubt remains that detachment from the agendas of governments ad a great amount of that.

Some have regarded government-sponsored NGOs an unfortunate extension of US policies resulting in suspicion. On the other hand, as Zatepilina emphasises, when there is disagreement between the government and an NGO as was the case with the implementation of an anti-terrorist legislation in Kenya requested by the US embassy, the US ought to embrace this disagreement as a representative to the democratic values it is in fact aiming to promote (ibid: 161). Zatepilina suggests that the US government should incorporate examples of successful into its messages, but this is where I partly disagree. I believe that the credibility of non-state actors derive exactly from the fact that their diplomatic potential and achievements have not yet been institutionalised. Once non-state actors are perceived as diplomats both by their own and other governments and publics, the latitude they currently enjoy might disappear. To a large extent, the use of NGOs to promote a good reputation is ideal but I am also inclined to suggest that countries like the US are better off educating its own public on how to nurture good relations in terms of appropriate behaviour and enthusiastic engagement abroad such as the ‘World Citizens’ Guides’ proposed by BDA but simultaneously be careful not to use strong labels (Pigman, 2008: 98).   

Another interesting aspect of citizen diplomacy is represented in the ‘outsourcing of diplomatic representation’ or ‘private diplomacy’ (ibid: 94). This can involve both firms with expertise on public relations which, detached from political incentives, can propose a well-balanced ‘business plan’ encompassing the right analysis and strategies which may indeed value the interest of foreign publics significantly more than a similar plan developed by for instance the US State Department would have.

Celebrity diplomacy is another strand of the diplomatic practice that has gained prominence in the debate about what constitutes a legitimate actor within the field. A growing number of celebrities such as Bono, Angelina Jolie and George Clooney have successfully raised awareness of issues such as AIDS, refugees and human rights and have often produced impressive results in placing these on the policy agendas of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Barack Obama ( Celebrities are, like other non-state actors, detached from the ‘national interest curse’ which tends to remove the credibility of traditional diplomats.

However, celebrity style diplomacy has been subject to criticism on grounds of selectivity and a lack of appreciation of the diversity of the issues they elevate as voices in the global south tend to disappear in the marketplace of attention-demanding statements. For instance, the call for increased aid is in itself controversial since the effectiveness of aid is by no means an undisputed matter.

Despite the criticism, celebrity diplomacy ought not to be dismissed. Rather, it is a learning process where faulty approaches must be remedied. Angelina Jolie is one example of a celebrity who comprehends the importance of integrity in her decision to hire an advisor on international affairs enabling her to adopt a more comprehensive view of the projects on which she embarks. She has been less vocal than many other celebrities and has instead let her actions speak (ibid).

A recurring theme in the debate about public diplomacy has been that of credibility. Evidently, non-state actors have occurred as a viable alternative in the diplomatic field where they appear more legitimate due to the fact that they have not yet been institutionalised and hence are exempt from the ‘national interest curse’. In my view, it is important that the distance between governments and non-state actors is maintained although more appreciation of the significance of the latter by the former is essential.  Therefore, the role that each actor plays must be more specifically defined so that all kinds of diplomats understand their place in the increasingly blurry field of public diplomacy.


Pigman, G. And Deos, A., ‘Consuls for Hire: Private Actors, Public Diplomacy’, Place Branding and Public Diplomacy, Vol. 4, no. 1, 2008

Wang, J., ‘Localising Public Diplomacy: The Role of Sub-National Actors in Nation Branding’, Place Branding and Public Diplomacy, Vol. 2, No. 1, 2006

Zatepilina, O., ‘Non-State Ambassadors: NGOs’ Contribution to America’s Public Diplomacy’, Place Branding and Public Diplomacy, Vol. 5, No. 2, 2009

International Telecommunication Union,

New Media Trend Watch,

The Independent, ‘From A-lister to Aid worker: Does celebrity diplomacy really work?’, 17 January 2009,



Public Diplomacy and Nation Branding in post-communist states: Poland


I have decided to post about profile of public diplomacy in the post-communist countries as I consider it quite interesting to observe how all those states, with publics and governments still strongly influenced by previous political regimes, started only recently developing their public diplomacy strategies. I would like to focus mostly on Poland which for me remains the most curious case of brand building in central Europe with the increased ambitions of catching up with Western Europe but still not taking full advantage of its potential and sticking to idle ideas.

Poland has recently been enjoying months of very good press abroad and it may seem (especially to Polish citizens) that all the inconvenient stereotypes are gradually being forgotten. However, there is still no clear vision of the state created, no unanimous picture to “sell” to foreign publics. Instead, Polish foreign affairs ministry (MSZ) with the public diplomacy department is focusing on separate aspects and products which it considers to be an important part of promotion thus, prevention the creation of such picture. There is also the aspect of politics affecting the nation branding, a common issue in all states of the central-eastern bloc as till 1989 they were unable to engage in any type of public diplomacy. In 2007, when Poland had the coalition nationalist-conservative-socio-democratic government, strongly isolating the state from modern ideas of international cooperation and diplomacy, its reputation was extremely bad. For instance German “Der Spiegel” used to frequently publish articles with titles such as “Unlikable neighbours- how Polish piss off Europe“. One can easily think of how foreign publics could perceive Poland after coming across such publications and as a result Poland was degraded to the position of political pariah and became the object of its neighbours obvious Schadenfreude.

Together with a shift in politics came a slight improvement in reputation. In the European Parliament elections Polish liberal party (Platforma Obywatelska) had the best results among all the European parties. Also the Polish Prime Minister started being called by the journalists across Europe one of the strongest European Prime Ministers and Poland started getting back to the European main stream of politics. However, nowadays the same Prime Minister, quite liked and appreciated abroad, is on the other hand so transparent and unremarkable that none of his lines could be repeated by the foreign media not to mention publics. The same reputation is transferred to Poland- nice state with friendly people but what else is there…?

Poland’s international perception is presented by Anholt-GfK Nation Brands Index created by Simon Anholt and calculating the reputation of each of the 50 states by taking into consideration 6 aspects such as: opinion about its citizens, opinion about export products, politics, tourism valuability, culture and ability to attract talent and capital. The index places Poland on average around the 30th place. Why so low? Several mistakes in public diplomacy may be identified. Firstly, what is often promoted does not need promotion, like for example famous Polish artist like Wilhelm Sasnal or only preserves the stereotypes about Polish archaism like promoting sausages or folk art or promotes what actually destroys Poland’s reputation, like vodka. There is also lack of unity of vision, the messages sent to foreign publics are often creative and interesting but do not bond together for the creation of a whole picture. Another significant mistake in building Poland’s relations with foreign publics is the emphasis put on the martyrdom of Poland on the spectrum of ages. Poland tends to cultivate the painful experiences of the past (such as concentration camps tragedy, II World War repercussions etc.) to gain foreign sympathy instead of promoting its positive values to gain interest. There is quite a passive promotion of the country instead of an active brand building. In 2003 Wally Olins was asked by the government to search for the “brand Poland” and he came up with the idea of “creative tension” as emphasising the essence of modern Poland. Nevertheless, Olins’s report was never put into any use throughout the cadences of three subsequent governments which were unwilling or unable to draw conclusions from it and start working. As a result many potentially useful in brand building events were never exploited. Polish veto in the EU-Russia economic negotiations which resolved the problem of Polish meat embargo and corrected EU’s politics towards Russia could have been a useful branding tool. Same with the massive emigration of Poles to UK which changed the perception of the nation in the eyes of the British. Certainly, there were also some successful campaigns such as for example covering the building of Polish embassy in Berlin with balloons and wishes of happy new year “from the neighbors” which gained Poland very good press, but unfortunately those were mostly accidental instead of being a part of precisely planned strategy.

Poland belongs to the group of states for which it is the most difficult to build a decent brand: medium sized, unwealthy and relatively new on the world market. Geographical isolation towards the West is the problem that all of the central Europe bloc’s countries have to face however, Poland is a rare case of a state which condition is much better in reality than the international opinion holds. Thus, not only does it mean that Poland has to improve its reputation as soon as possible but also that there is still some room for its reinvention as a brand. Time will show how Poland as well as other public diplomacy newbies from Central Europe will manage their images but truth be told some credit should be given to them as the competition on the international arena remains strong.

How to Spot Citizen Diplomacy.

Citizen diplomacy is the concept that an individual has the right, possibly even responsibility, to help shape their country’s foreign relations, and promote their nation. These individuals can be anyone from a student, teacher, tourist and so on. There is no limitation to who can be a citizen diplomat.

David Hoffman first devised the phrase “citizen diplomacy”, in 1981. Since this time, it has become used more often and become a more notable notion. It has become one of the centre points of nation branding, as it is purely non governmental. This allows people to passionately talk and listen about countries or events around the world.

While exploring citizen diplomacy, it can be said that it surrounds us. The smallest details of day-to-day life can be considered as citizen diplomacy. For most of the time, citizen diplomats do not even know that they are being citizen diplomats. It’s has such a broad variety of definitions that as good as anything you do can fall under its umbrella.

It is clear that talking about your country (whether the one you live in, or the one you are originally from) is one of the greatest forms of citizen diplomacy.  We can even go as far to say that your accent is a form of citizen diplomacy. When going over seas, whether to travel/study/work, your accent is one of the first things that differentiate you from the local public. Once your accent is heard, people automatically converse with you about where you are from, this generally escalates into a conversation about the country itself. At this time, without realising, you have become a citizen diplomat promoting your nation.

Citizen diplomacy is one of the easiest and simplest forms of nation branding. It is free and word of mouth can be said to be one of the most trusted forms as there is generally no hidden agenda.

With the current drama surrounding Iran and Israel, a campaign has been set up by the Iranians and Israelis worldwide to show that, despite what the governments and political world wants, they want peace. It is an online campaign, mainly across Facebook and Twitter, in order to show the respect they have for each other and that neither nationals want war. This is a prime example of citizen diplomacy as the public has spoken out and is trying to gain recognition to their cause, because ultimately it is the public who are going to greatly suffer.

With the increase in globalization, people are more likely to have encounters face to face. This way people can listen and engage better and share common interests and values. In this society, citizen diplomacy and globalization are interlocked. Governments support interactions between citizens with similar interests i.e. artists, scholars etc.… They also encourage non-governmental organisations and businesses to pursue the foreign public.

The National Council for International Visitors’ motto states that “citizen diplomacy is the concept that the individual has the right, even the responsibility to help shape U.S. foreign relations, one handshake at a time.”

Credible Branding in an era of Globalization


On the international marketplace of information, companies as well as countries are increasingly competing in the projection of their carefully constructed image to attract customers from around the world to invest, visit and appreciate; it is an effort to achieve positive recognition (Wanjuri 2006: 85).

Since Simon Anholt coined the term a decade ago, nation branding has gained much prominence internationally, although consensus on its definitional content and ways of successfully conducting it is still relatively absent. It raises important questions as to whether an image can in fact be created separately from foreign policy as a tool of damage-control and reversing opinions, or if positive or negative associations with a nation is a direct result of state behaviour in the international arena ( The United States is a classic example of how unilateralism and the narrow pursuit of its national interests without consideration of others can have a severely damaging effect on public perceptions of that country that appear largely irreversible. However, it could simultaneously be argued that exactly because the US decreased its spending on public diplomacy and nation branding during good times, bad times will multiply negative opinions because they have not been nurtured. Nevertheless, a defective product is never an easy sell and neither are those in need for constant repair. The US has long advocated ‘democracy’ as its primary ‘export’, but Iraq constitutes a case where the product was fundamentally defective (Van Ham, 2008: 243).

An alternative nation branding method that exists beyond governments’ control is that of negative nation branding by deliberately discrediting the products of other nations in terms of their foreign policy as a tool of promoting one’s own brand as a more credible alternative(Van Ham 2008: 246). China has wisely grasped that actions speak louder than words and has hence used this to draw attention to faulty US foreign policies to disseminate the idea that China which has had a relatively peaceful rise both rhetorically and empirically, offers a better alternative. In particular, China has attacked the US’ promotion of human rights, something to which China itself has lost credibility internationally, but by adding negative connotations to this promotion, China can hope that its own inabilities will be disguised by American hypocrisy.

Much less deliberate damage to a nation’s image exists with non-state actors. The English stand-up comedian, Sacha Baron Cohen probably had no intention of getting involved in the negative nation branding of Kazakhstan when he made the film ‘Borat’, and more so because the joke was in fact about Americans. Kazakhstan is a small nation about which people had little or no knowledge prior to the release of the film. Succinctly, Borat projects Kazakhs in a strikingly negative, albeit untruthful, manner. The repercussions were blatantly displayed in quite an absurd way when, mistakenly, the spoof national anthem from Borat was played when Maria Dmitrienko from Kazakhstan’s shooting team received a gold medal in Kuwait earlier this year (  Regardless of the apologies given afterwards, Kazakhstan was once again reminded of its nation’s branding being beyond its own control. Here it is important to notice that smaller nations are much more susceptible to the influence of one single event whereas larger nations can overcome this relatively easily.

For many countries on the African continent it has been a struggle to distinguish themselves in terms of nation branding as they are often regarded as ‘a homogenous mass’ (Wanjuri 2006: 84) rather than individual countries. Negative associations are fuelled by unfortunate portrayals in the media of AIDS, conflict and corruption as general problems across the continent rather than being correctly located geographically. Such negative perceptions impede income-generating opportunities such as tourism and foreign direct investment (FDI) upon which many African countries are dependent to escape poverty. With globalization, however, all countries must face the competition and emphasise its own unique history, culture, and qualities.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) had been one way of addressing these issues as it attempts to determine customer needs and brand the nation accordingly. It is a combined effort to identify trends in for instance tourism and consumer needs in other countries where one’s own nation may have distinct things to offer. Wanjuri draws attention to the African diaspora from which African countries could reap some benefits if it was adequately recognised. In this way, nation branding resembles marketing as the same strategies can be applied in both (Wanjuri 2008: 91).

However, yet again it is important to emphasise that nation branding will be rather ineffective if it is based on untruthful facts. Wanjuri highlights the importance of transparency and how African governments have to go public in addressing the challenges they face. As he points out, successful nation branding can be defined as ‘one that is globally known and which when remembered stimulates a constant set of reactions’ (Wanjuri 2008: 89). It will automatically produce positive images that increase the prospects of growing tourism and economic investment and improve its position in international politics.

Branding one’s nation successfully is certainly not an easy task as competition has increased significantly under the forces of globalization and information bombardment. Countries must act quickly to fill the vacuum of information when needed. As has become evident particularly with Kazakhstan, nation branding is often beyond government control. It remains a sensitive affair as a carefully cultivated image can quickly be destroyed by a single event, something which is particularly true for smaller nations about which foreign audiences are often ignorant. However, credibility remains the key word because faulty products are not an easy sell and hence, products must be consistent with the brand if nation branding suicide is to be avoided.



Anholt, S., ‘Nation “Branding”: Propaganda or Statecraft?’,

The Guardian, ‘Borat’s version of Kazakh anthem played at Kuwait medal ceremony’, 23 March 2012,

van Ham, P., ‘Place Branding Within a Security Paradigm – Concepts and Cases’, Place Branding and Public Diplomacy, Vol. 4, No. 3, 2008

Wanjuri, E., ‘Branding African Countries: A Prospect for the Future’, Place Branding and Public Diplomacy, Vol. 2, No. 1, 2006

Public Diplomacy and the Social Media.

Over the recent years, the rise of social media has been phenomenal. Social media consists of web based and mobile technologies that are used to turn communication into interactive discussion.

Andreas Kaplan and Michael Haenlein define social media as

A group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content.”[i]

 Social media is for social interaction set beyond social communications. It is enabled by universally accessible communication techniques, which has fundamentally changed the way people interact with each other locally and worldwide.

Social media takes place on many different levels. Kaplan and Haelein created a classification scheme for different types of social media.[ii]

–       Collaborative projects: wikipedia

–       Blogs (web and social and micro): twitter

–       Content communities: youtube

–       Social networking sites: facebook

–       Virtual game worlds: world of warcraft

–       Virtual social worlds: second life


We can see that the vast use of social media (of whichever form) has made a big impact in our lives. With the new mobile technologies, using social networking sites and accessing blogs and the internet has become an extremely easy process.

Aside from the fun, gossip and passing time notion of such media, it is used for publicity and politics. Celebrities use it to advertise themselves, as to companies so as to try and get a larger fan base and recognition.

Facebook, being the most famous example, began in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg from his Harvard University dorm room. He wished to create a site where people to connect and interact within the university. Little did he know this small idea would expand globally and gather over 800million[iii] users. In 2011 Facebook launched a new portal for marketers and agencies to help them develop and promote their brand on Facebook. This began by invited a few elected advertising leaders and branched out to be involved in campaigns for programs such as American Idol and Top Gear.


Over the recent years, we have witnessed just how influential social media can be. In 2009 the Iranian Presidential campaign protests were shown worldwide due to the publics use of social media. Again with the Arab Spring, we saw the true realities of what the citizens were suffering.

It is fair to say that the news coverage informs us and gives us an up to date report on the issues in foreign states, however since the use of social media, we can see the sides that the media does not want to show. Whether this is for bias or safety reasons, the social media gives the public a true real life encounter of the harsh realities that are occurring across the world. It also allows the public to get 24/7 updates on the situation abroad as a pose to only at the set television/radio news times.

In the sense of public and/or cultural diplomacy, social media can be seen to play a major role. Social media gives the opportunity to display and promote public/cultural diplomacy at such a vast level.

The video posted below gives more of an in depth insight to just how public diplomacy works in an era social media…


[i] Kaplan, Andreas M.; Michael Haenlein (2010). “Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media”. Business Horizons 53. p59–68

[iii] Adam Ostrow (September 22, 2011). “Facebook Now Has 800 Million Users”. Mashable.

ARCHITECTURE DIPLOMACY- undervalued dimension of branding?


“Nation brand”- a term developed by Simon Anholt in 1996 describes the efforts of many states to build and manage or re-create their reputation in the struggle for prosperity and recognition on the international arena. The strategy in meeting this target often involves the symbolic value of products used to emphasise any distinctive characteristics of the nation that are particularly desirable to be seen by the foreign public.

One type of such “product”, definitely less recognizable by the public than for example Italian pizza or Swiss Gruyere cheese, with which states can actually “show off” is the architecture of their embassies. The difference is neither pizza nor cheese can send an actual message to the public but can only produce positive associations with the country of their origin. Building projects reach far beyond that.

Taking for instance the Finnish embassy in Washington- a state-of-the-art, glass, granite and copper box shaped building is sending Americans and visiting tourists a clear message of how Finland should be perceived: modern, high-tech, with quality workmanship and excellent design (Loeffler, 1998). With one quick glance the building manages to send a message more blatant than millions of leaflets, pamphlets, tv campaigns or posters and even formal exchange programs. It actually made the citizens of Washington requesting invitations to visit the eye-catching building, thus proving success of this type of branding.

Interesting thing about architecture diplomacy is that it responds to the changes in international relations and global political situation. Considering the American foreign building program, the last time architects were able to focus on design ahead of the other factors such as safety was in 1964 when the US embassy in Dublin was built.

However, America’s embassy building strategy has always been opposite to most other countries. The leading assumption has been that American embassies must “fit in” rather than present a statement about their nation. Therefore, the characteristic aspects of “foreignness” of the host country were always incorporated in the US buildings abroad. According to Jane Loeffler it was believed by some diplomats and officials, that buildings reflecting the surroundings would help avoiding the accusation that they were merely “exports” and would guarantee hosts’ approval of the foreigners‘ presence.

That approach seems to be quite the opposite to creating a certain “nation brand” as it may be seen with the above mentioned Finland. However, on the other hand it may be argued that it is a certain image creation: an image of a nation respectful of other states‘ traditions and aesthetics.And this seems to be the view of Loeffler who compares the American embassy building program to the Fulbright educational exchange aimed at promoting international understanding and symbolising America’s goodwill like a contemporary Marshall Plan.

The US is a particularly peculiar example when considering architecture diplomacy, worth a deeper examination. In the post II World War period, the US was the leading proponent of modern movement, with growing power and widening role which it tried to reflect in the embassy building program despite concern about negative impressions that may arise from ostentatious, innovative projects. Similar path was chosen with art, however here a discrepancy in policy can be discovered, as modern art in the US was highly criticised and described as ugly communist-style propaganda by the Congress (Loeffler, 1998), with finally its promotion being banned. On the other hand, modern architecture projects in for example Rio de Janeiro, Havana or Antwerp were supported by the Congress and even if described by congressional critics as “frivolous” were never in any way linked to communism. The possible reason lied in its success as a nation branding tool. In one of its articles in 1953, the Architectural Forum recognised US’s export architecture as a diplomatic tool, appreciating it and presenting US as a state exercising political world leadership and cultural leadership with the latter being driven especially by the US‘s architecture. Thanks to many such appraisals the American architectural modernism to a significant extent became identified with democracy after World War II. The US’s Office of Foreign Buildings Operations displayed to the rest of the world a colorful picture of a young, progressive and modern-minded America with embassies becoming symbols of US and its desire to be seen as energetic and future-oriented. This was undoubtedly what US wanted to achieve thus, confirming the success of architecture as a branding tool.

As more recent sources show, even these days more and more other states are trying to emphasise their openness  through their embassy buildings. James Pamment in his journal article about Swedish public diplomacy highlights the role of the new House of Sweden embassy in Washington in demonstrating “Brand Sweden“. This concept is designed to show Sweden’s response to communication challenges of the 21st century. Does it do its job together with many other new embassy buildings all over the world? It is definitely hard to measure it on its own as nation branding definitely operates on many more levels. However, there cannot be too many ways of trying to improve the nation’s image as “public opinion is the only remaining superpower“ (Anholt).

Transparency- the key to public diplomacy’s success?


According to David Weinberger cited by Shawn Powers in his article regarding public diplomacy and legitimacy on the University of Southern California’s public diplomacy blog, “transparency is the new objectivity” in this area of international relations.

This may be an indirect result of the popularisation of alternative media, especially the internet-based ones and the growing loss of credibility facing the traditional media, very often affected by factors such as corruption or governmental influence thus, inevitably being biased. In the age of Internet, the only way public can believe media is by seeing through the presented information to the sources and values that influenced the author’s position, by transparency. One could risk a statement that transparency provides this kind of reliability that objetivity once used to provide. This on the other hand, opens some new door for public diplomacy. As foreign publics are no longer very keen on trusting and believing diplomats or organizations representing governmental agendas, not rarely opposite to agendas of common citizens, transparency becomes the standard for establishing knowledge about states.

Public diplomacy is to a significant extent concerned with image and reputation and mutual relations between organisations and individuas which require trust. Such trust can only be maintained with transparency. A simple example can be given: a child tells the parents about getting a bad mark at school or the parents find out about the bad mark after receiving a call from the teacher. In the former scenario the transparency is a key issue as the way of finding out about certain things helps to maintain the trust, thus the good image of the one making mistakes. Generally publics respond positively to trasparency and tend to expect it.

Moreover, one of the dimensions of public diplomacy regards economics, so trade, tourism etc. For those to be promoted some kind of reciprocity with other states must exist. Consequently, the only way to create this is through relationships with foreign publics and those will only consider other states legitimate on the basis of transparency.

Also, what is important in this context for states in their exercise of public diplomacy is to put out the same information to foreign and dometic publics with the use of the same sources. In the times of proliferation of information, basically no secrets of states are safe and the only way for governments to avoid embarrasment on international arena (for e.g. Wikileaks) is transparency in their international relations and public diplomacy.

The new public diplomacy in a ‘networked’ world

Pondering the idea of a ‘networked’ world by the U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague mentioned in Caroline Jaine’s lecture, this blog would explore more about the role of the new public diplomacy in such ‘networked’ environment.

First of all, there are different definitions on the concept of public diplomacy. It can be regarded as “an instrument used by states, and some sub-state and non-state actors to build and manage relationships, and influence thoughts and mobilize actions to advance their interests and values” (Gregory, 2011, p. 353). While in comparison Welsh and Fearn refer to it as about diplomatic engagement with people, and Joseph Nye mentions about the importance and use of public diplomacy as ‘soft power’- “the ability of a country to get other countries to want what it wants” (Nye, 1990), or Berridge claims that it is just another expression for propaganda (Berridge, 2010, 182). Nevertheless, the basic difference between public diplomacy and propaganda is that propaganda is normally uninterested in dialogue or any meaningful form of relationship-building (Melissen, 2011, p. 8). Generally, public diplomacy can be seen as an instrument by states as well as non-state actors to influence and achieve their strategic goals.

Nonetheless, with regard to the changing environment of international relations in the 21st century under the context of globalisation and global interdependence, a ‘new’ public diplomacy has evolved from the traditional state-directed, emphasis on one-way communication to involve more dialogue, engagement, information exchange and inclusive role of non-state actors. Therefore, in such a ‘networked’ world as in William Hague’s viewpoint relations between states are no longer monopolised by Foreign Secretaries or Prime Ministers, since “there is now a mass of connections between individuals, civil society, businesses, pressure groups and organisations which influence the relations between nations and are being rapidly accelerated by the internet” (FCO, 2010). There is also an argument that in an increasing transnational environment, a greater role for the new public diplomacy in different dimensions is demanded by many state and non-state actors (Melissen, 2011, p. 19). Given an example of theU.S. public diplomacy strategy after the 9/11, alongside the ‘war on terror’U.S. foreign perceptions and public diplomacy have become in considerations of national and global security. Numbers of public engagement projects have been launched by the U.S., such as the establishments of new channels like Radio Sawa (which replaced the Voice of America Arabic in 2002) or Radio Farda (targeting the Iranian citizens), which aim to change the negative image of the U.S. and engage more Islamic audiences (Nye, 2004, p. 123).

In comparison, public diplomacy in multiple transnational networks like the European Union refers to not only the national interest but also common interests, which focuses on a variety of social, political and economic concerns, such as immigration and integration, ethical issues, civil-society organisations, and cross-border environment and institutional collaboration (Melissen, 2011, p. 10). For instance, there are numbers of EU public diplomacy engagement projects, including the EU Visitors Program, Annual Press Visit for Graduate Journalism Student, or the EU Delegation Internship Programme (European Union External Action Service). This dynamic form of public diplomacy aims to promote an EU identity and common values to the world.

Finally, the development of new technologies of communications has advanced the conduct and influence of public diplomacy. The internet, electronic mail, telecommunication and public media have contributed enormously to the involvement of the new public diplomacy in contemporary international relations.

Interesting public diplomacy models:

—The EU: ‘Engaging the World: The EU’s Public Diplomacy’, and ‘Developing EU Public Diplomacy Strategy’-

— U.S. Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Karen Hughes discuss the challenges for U.S.diplomacy and the Bush administration’s strategies (2006), Transformational Public Diplomacy video,

— Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s public diplomacy section: the Great Campaign for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, BBC World Service, and the British Council,


Berridge, G. R. (2010), Diplomacy: Theory and Practice, 4th edition,Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Greogry, B. (2011), ‘American Public Diplomacy: Enduring Characteristics, Elusive Transformation’, in The Hague Journal of Diplomacy, Vol. 6, No. 3-4, pp. 351-372.

Hague, W. (2010), ‘Britain’s Foreign Policy in a Networked World’, in Foreign & Commonwealth Office, <;, viewed 28 February 2012.

Melissen, J. (2011), ‘Beyond the New Public Diplomacy’, in Clingendael Paper No. 3, <>.

Nye, J. S. (1990), ‘Soft Power’, in Foreign Policy, No. 80.

Nye, J. S. (2004), Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics, New York, Public Affairs.

Unlimited horizons of Public and Cultural Diplomacy

Increasing globalization creates new horizons for diplomacy and makes pressure and new opportunities to use Public and Cultural Diplomacy.

Governments and foreign policy makers realized that to achieve national interest goals and to pursue strategic economic interests it is necessary to communicate with foreign public on higher level, using international institutions, NGOs, personalities, celebrities, etc.

According to Foreign and Commonwealth Office sources, “The spread of democracy and the power of the internet are giving non-government groups and the individual new opportunities to contribute to decisions affecting them. And the need for global solutions to the great issues of our time, such as climate change, terrorism and social inequality, means that international institutions are more important than ever.” (FCO, 2012).

Globalization and a networked world where people use daily advanced information and communication technologies are necessary new solutions. It reveals new horizons for implementing public and cultural diplomacy.

This environment creates a pressure to transform the strategy and tactics of foreign policy making. Global media bring permanently information from all parts of the world both to the public and policy makers. It creates new possibilities for governments to communicate and promote their policies to the people and shape their opinion.

National governments realized that they have to interact not only with other governments but also with numerous NGOs, global firms, civil society organizations, but also groups who sympathize with violent methods or extremist organizations. (Constantinou and Der Derian, 2010, 152).

Leaders of states understand the necessity to visit and to talk directly to public. For example, David Cameron and Nicholas Sarkozy visited people inLibyato promote their struggle for democracy against unwanted dictator Kadafi.

The importance of public diplomacy is seen also on visit of Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State of theUS, inPakistanwhere she met with Community leaders to build a better relationship with the Muslim world.

Nye argues: ”In her confirmation hearings, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, “Americacannot solve the most pressing problems on our own, and the world cannot solve them withoutAmerica. We must use what has been called ‘smart power’.” (Nye, 2009, 160)

Moreover, there are not new horizons of public and cultural diplomacy in abroad but there are also necessity and importance to use domestic public diplomacy. For example, terrorist attacks in Londonon 7th July 2005 had risen the necessity to communicate with Muslim communities inLondon to prevent next attacks.

FCO’s domestic public diplomacy oriented to creation dialogue with British Muslim communities is important for countering the ideologies of violent extremists to create ‘tolerant civil society’. The dialogue with multicultural societies is important to make diaspora communities allies to make life safer at home and to implement necessary government policies abroad. ( Curtis and Jaine, 2012,2-4).

Increasing globalization create new horizons of public and cultural diplomacy. It affects foreign policy making and increase the number of actors involved in foreign affairs.



Constantinou,C.S. and Der Derian,J. (2010), Sustainable Diplomacies, Palgrave Macmillan,Basingstoke

Nye, Jr,J.S. (2009), “Get Smart”, Foreign Affairs, 88, 4, 160

Curtis,S. and Jaine,C. (2012), Public Diplomacy at Home in the UK: Engaging Diasporas amd Preventing Terrorism,


FCO (2012),> [15.3.2012]

www.> [16.3.2012]

A New Public Diplomacy Agenda


In an era of globalization, public diplomacy appears to be a far more complex and multi-dimensional issue than in the past. The international communications marketplace constitutes one example of this, a ‘paradox of plenty’ ( as Joseph Nye puts where the attention of a given audience is not so easily caught- or kept. Therefore, no government can any longer take credibility for granted, but rather it must work across a broader spectrum of actors to appropriately disseminate its message at both the international, national and local level. Furthermore, a genuine attempt to enhance one’s credibility would include a much more self-examining approach creating better coherence between words and deeds. This leads to Nicholas Cull’s idea that unlike propaganda, ‘public diplomacy is a two-way street’ (Cull 2010: p. 12) which, preferably, would lead to a change in foreign policy according to the environment in which it is at work. Public diplomacy is a reciprocal relationship between the messenger and the audience.

We-NATO is NATO’s new public diplomacy initiative which emphasises that it is ‘not a one-way communication talk-shop, but a forum where YOU contribute and share ideas with NATO officials, academics, social media activists and bloggers and where just about anyone else can come together and interact on issues of critical relevance to transatlantic and global security.’ ( This presents an opportunity for foreign publics to engage with a more credible NATO due to the diversity of voices involved in the project. It eloquently encapsulates the concept of public diplomacy as it is aimed at civil society, both ‘at home’ and ‘abroad’ and the interaction between them, an online people-to-people diplomacy. Moreover, when NATO ‘slips’, the forum can act to fill the vacuum and hence stands a better chance of competing with other sources of information.

A common mistake seems to be that governments have too often used public diplomacy as a tool of damage-control rather than a long-term strategy. Unfortunately, such an approach only serves to undermine credibility. Despite having used the 2008 Olympics as an opportunity to promote its own image and soft power, China is more often associated with a disregard for human rights in the past. Similarly, the United States can pour an endless amount of money into the conduct of public diplomacy but with the internet as a tireless watchdog, the disclosure of the torturing of Iraqi prisoners by American soldiers in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq reveals inconsistency between words and deeds (

It has also become increasingly difficult to divorce public diplomacy from challenges such as development, good governance and conflict-prevention (Copeland, 2008, p. 284). These are institutions in which norms are more easily incorporated and can thus be considered a long-term measure which will help foster positive images of the external actor.  This is particularly true because it goes beyond the impression of damage-control and quick-fix solutions.

However, one of the greatest challenges represented in the new public diplomacy is the enormous, and genuine, commitment it requires to establish credibility in this era of information bombardment. It means engaging with credible voices in the target population such as NGOs and civil society because as Nicholas Cull points out, the most credible voice is often not your own (Cull 2010: p. 14). Evidently, the new public diplomacy is a time-consuming and comprehensive task but with the challenges represented by globalization and public diplomacy 2.0 there is great evidence that such efforts will pay off in the long-term.


Cull, N. J., ‘Public Diplomacy: Seven Lessons for its Future from its Past’, Place Branding and Public Diplomacy, Vol. 6, No. 1, 2010


Nye, J., ‘The New Public Diplomacy’,

The Guardian, ‘After Abu Ghraib’, 20 September 2004,

Cultural Diplomacy and Film.

There is no set definition for the terms ‘public/cultural diplomacy’ but everyone has their own interpretation of it. Generally it is the communication with the foreign public in attempt to inform and influence them of their own values and culture.


Public diplomacy ranges beyond the traditional and formal communications of a government to foreign public. It is usually used to in campaigns to capitalize or counteract messages spread by their country’s cultural industries.

Cultural diplomacy includes the use of television, film, music, religion and more. They all play an important role in the how the country is perceived by the ‘outside world’.

Former Dean of the Kennedy School at Harvard University, Joseph Nye, believes that the culture of a country compromises a core component of its relative soft power in the international political arena. (


The use of film in cultural diplomacy is used to expand the understanding of values and culture that belong to a country. For example most, if not all, Hollywood films showcase the happy life and the American Dream.

In addition to this the U.S. Department of State and the Center for Arts and Culture have established programs to increase the use of art in America’s foreign policy and diplomacy initiatives.

The Center for Arts and Culture, based in Washington D.C., established a Cultural Diplomacy Initiative to revive the role of arts and culture in America’s foreign policy. The Center has engaged in research and education programs to introduce an effective cultural diplomacy program and to increase funding for the State Department’s cultural exchange programs.

Research from the Center showed that the following would be beneficial to US cultural diplomacy:

  • Improving Federal and U.S. Department of State policies
  • Control federal funding
  • Strengthening existing programs
  • Launching new cultural exchange programs


There are many events each year, which stage awards for films. Aside from the evident red carpet events such as the Oscars/Grammy’s, international film festivals are more on the culture scene. Films sent in to film festivals are usually based on political or cultural storylines as a pose to the typical Hollywood romance/thriller/comedy. This gives a chance to foreign films to become more widely known and spread the intention of the film. It allows the public to see a different side of the native country, a side which more than often shows the true realities rather than what the media want us to see.


A prime example of this is ‘A Separation’ (Iran – Asghar Farhadi -2011- With Iran being in the spotlight due to its nuclear programs and sanctions, this film showed the world the inside life of Iranians and the real troubles they face in day to day life (away from the political world). The Separation won Best Foreign Film at the Oscars this year.


The necessity of Public and Cultural Diplomacy


Nowadays, in era of advanced technologies in global world is increasing necessity to extend a Traditional diplomacy.

Pigman argues: “One of the most significant effects of the transformation in information technologies that has taken place in the decades since the Second World War has been an increase in the need for public diplomacy.” (Pigman, 2010, 121).

Governments realized that to achieve goals of foreign policy is necessary to use NGOs who play increasingly important role in the world politics.


In accordance to Riordan, “Within the post-modern world, the breakdown of the division between domestic and foreign policy, the increasing importance of the media (both electronic and interactive), the increasing involvement of the people in global NGOs and the complex network of new governmental and non-governmental players in international affairs mean that publics matter more than before.” (Riordan, 2004, 123).


Public and Cultural Diplomacy allows shape public opinion in targeted country; for example, by organising conferences, promotion in press, etc, and to make domestic country more attractive.


Governments realized that using of soft power becoming more important.

In accordance to Nye, “Soft power works by convincing others to follow, or getting them to agree to, norms and institutions that produce the desired behaviour.” (Nye cited in Riordan, 2004, 120)


Globalization makes Public Diplomacy more important at the present time because quasi- borderless world offer the people from a lot of countries to travel, study or seek for a job abroad. Therefore it is becoming for countries to become more important for the people from abroad.


In accordance to Pigman, “Joseph Nye has described foreign policy behaviour of governments that is intended to ‘win hearts and minds’ as ‘soft power’. Jan Melissen describes soft power as ‘the post-modern variant of power over opinion’. (Pigman, 2010, 122).

Public Diplomacy is influencing public opinion in abroad, at home or in both of them.

To provide Public Diplomacy is necessary to engage NGOs, media to organize events, campaigns and to align with other governments and organizations.



Pigman, G.A. (2010), Contemporary Diplomacy: Representation and Communication in a Globalized World,  Polity Press, Cambridge

Riordan, S. (2003). Tthe New Diplomacy. Polity Press, Cambridge

The role and power of cultural diplomacy in international relations

Cultural diplomacy plays a crucial role in building relations among states in contemporary international relations, as it might serve as an effective instrument in supporting national foreign policy objectives or a constructive channel at times of political difficulty. According to the American scholar Milton Cummings, it can be defined as “the exchange of ideas, information, art and other aspects of culture among nations and their peoples in order to foster mutual understanding” (2003, p. 1). In practice, cultural diplomacy is often seen as a subset of public diplomacy or the operation of a state’s culture in support of its foreign policy goals, to combat stereotyping, develop mutual understanding, and advance national reputation and relationships across the board (Mark, 2009, pp.9-15).

It is argued that culture keeps doors open in difficult times, as there are numbers of cases where cultural diplomacy provides a safe and constructive forum for relationship-building or easing relations when they are strained. For instance, in 2005 London’s Royal Academy of Arts collaborated with the Palace Museum in Beijing to open an exhibition on China: The Three Emperors, 1662-1795, which not only attracted many attention of the British public on Chinese culture but also provided an appropriate setting for the visit of the Chinese president Hu Jintao to open the exhibition alongside the Queen (Royal Academy of Arts, 2005). On the other hand, at times of tension, when formal diplomatic negotiations are incapable, culture can ‘keep doors open’ until the relations improve. For example, when the UK-Iran bilateral relations were strained due to the election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2005, British cultural institutions were able to continue operating in Iran, the British Council appeared to be more trustful on the part of Iran rather than the BBC, and thereby keeping open doors between the two countries. As one former British diplomat in Iranput it “our cultural institutions certainly have more access to the wheels of power than the UK’s ambassador does at the moment” (Bound, Briggs, Holden and Jones, 2007, p. 55).

Recognising the importance of cultural diplomacy, many countries aim to advance and extend their cultural institutions abroad as part of their diplomatic strategies.India, for example, is setting up its Council for Cultural Relations in Washington and Paris alongside the 18 existing offices as a strategic project of the country’s growing power on the global stage. Similarly, France has around 436 overseas cultural institutes, of which 283 are the Alliances Francaises focusing on promoting French language and culture to the world, with most of the cultural diplomacy activities funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (France Diplomatie, 2005).

In summary, cultural diplomacy is an important aspect of foreign policy, which contributes effectively to the dynamic integration and relationship-building among states and their cultures.

Interesting models of cultural diplomacy:


-AllianceFrançaise – Each year, 450,000 people, of all ages, attend Alliances Françaises to learn French and more than 6 million people participate in their cultural activities,

– French diplomats and artists give their points of view on the benefit of culture and cultural diplomacy, ‘ What is cultural diplomacy?’,

— TheUK:

– ‘Cultural Leadership International’ project by British Council, a selection of young Cultural leaders from the Middle East, Europe, Canada, the USA and North African Countries,

—- ‘Soft Power vs. Hard Power: Opposing poles?’A Video Lecture by Dr. Gerlinde Niehus, Head of NATO Public Diplomacy Division, available online at <>, viewed 24 February 2012.


Bound, K., Briggs, R., Holden, J. and Jones, S. (2007), ‘Cultural Diplomacy’, in Demos, <>.

Cummings, M. (2003), Cultural Diplomacy and the United States Government: a Survey,Washington D. C.: Centre for Arts and Culture.

Finn, H. (2003), ‘The Case for Cultural Diplomacy’, in Foreign Affairs, Vol. 82, No. 6.

Mark, S. (2009), ‘A Greater Role for Cultural Diplomacy’, in Clingendael Discussion Papers in Diplomacy, <>.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs (France Diplomatie) (2005), ‘French International Cooperation’, <>, viewed 26 February 2012.

RoyalAcademyof Arts (2005), ‘China: The Three Emperors, 1662-1795’, <>, viewed 24 February 2012.

Hello and welcome

Welcome to Public and Cultural Diplomacy, a group blog by students on the eponymous module at London Metropolitan University. Please leave them some comments on their work. They will be pleased to hear from you and to know that their work is being read beyond the campus.

Thank you.

Steven Curtis (