citizen diplomacy

Beginning this week, the U.S. Department of State, in partnership with Global Ties U.S., will sponsor Diplomacy Begins Here Regional Summits, bringing together leaders in business, government, and the nonprofit world to further citizen diplomacy and forge new connections in local communities. The summits will take place across the United States, engaging Americans from diverse backgrounds on the innovations and impacts that stem from international relationships.

Attorney Tom Jennings said he was just looking to brush up on his Russian when he got involved in Citizen Diplomacy’s cultural exchange program in 1998. The Jennings have opened their home to more than three dozen visitors “and deal with many others,” said Tom.“The stories could go on forever, but the central theme is it’s an opportunity available to people in our area. Citizen Diplomacy is peacemaking at the retail level, one handshake at a time,” he said.

Since the beginning of the year, Japan’s official relations with the Korean Peninsula have gone from bad to worse.With South Korea, the past continues to plague the bilateral relationship.[...] Only last month did Tokyo return the Japanese ambassador to Seoul after he was withdrawn in January to protest a comfort women statue in Busan. [...] Yet one option to repair relations with South Korea, and perhaps even make some headway with North Korea, seems obvious if you are in Kansai: Use Japan’s Korean community as an unofficial diplomatic channel of communication.

In advance of Mother’s Day later this week, it is a good time to reflect and recognize not only the contribution mothers make in our own lives and those of others around the world but their collective power globally. We should also call out and celebrate their unique strengths, skillsets, and experience sets. Skills and strengths that are not often championed or called out, but which could be powerful soft power assets in our broader public diplomacy strategies.

Cari Guittard on why the U.S. should engage the soft power strengths of mothers around the world. 

“A ‘citizen diplomat mindset’ means being intentional when interacting with individuals from a different country by believing that one of your roles is to positively represent the United States,” explained Jennifer Clinton, president of citizen diplomacy non-profit Global Ties. “Our reality today is that citizens around the world are having much greater influence on local, national, and international relations.”

Our hyper-connected world has put more power in the hands of individuals and other non-state actors – from NGOs like Greenpeace to transnational terror groups like the so-called Islamic State. Over the past decade, foreign ministries have responded by becoming increasingly sophisticated in their communication strategies. Diplomats need to communicate directly with foreign publics to explain foreign policies, and to mobilize governments and civil society to support their aims.

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