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Public Diplomacy

by on May 16, 2013

“Public diplomacy … deals with the influence of public attitudes on the formation and execution of foreign policies. It encompasses dimensions of international relations beyond traditional diplomacy; the cultivation by governments of public opinion in other countries; and the processes of inter-cultural communications.”[1]

In modern times public diplomacy represents the idea of an increased access to information by the people. Whether through television or internet, politicians are required to be more attentive and responsive when it comes to giving speeches, interviews and expressing opinions. The reason for this is the wider spread of globalisation as well as the improvement in technology and communication. In the case of a wrong statement or an unpopular opinion, the public becomes informed and aware in a very short period of time due to the less controlled flow of information.  

The term public diplomacy therefore leads also to the importance of a country’s ownership of a good reputation in front of not only their own citizens but to the once of foreign countries also. One country losing its reputation means that it could be viewed negatively worldwide. Consequently this can cause the loss of its influence as well as ability to use ‘soft power’ whenever necessary.  In order to improve its image, propaganda is one way of giving the opportunity for people to hear what they need to rather than what it is in reality.

Gradually separating from traditional diplomacy, public diplomacy deals more and more with non-governmental organisations and individuals rather than governments only. Politicians take the initiative to outreach the public directly rather than through their governments. A recent example for this is Barack Obama’s first presidential visit to Israel which aims to reset his relation with the country’s distrustful public as he “seeks to reassure them he is committed to their security and has their interests at heart” [2] This is one way in which public diplomacy involves the nation through the building of diplomatic relations between people and government officials.

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