Discussion paper

Domestic public diplomacy - discussion paper: international experience

International relations Australia

It is hoped that the information presented in this paper will be used as a resource to observe and analyse the ways in which other ministries are communicating with their domestic publics about foreign affairs and policy.

Diplomacy is no longer solely the business of nation-state governments. It now incorporates civil society, corporate leaders, academics, celebrities and other influential entities. Along with this change, public diplomacy has become a major focus of countries to project a more desirable image overseas. However, most efforts are still concentrated on reaching out to foreign audiences through broadcasting networks, cultural exhibitions and exchange programs.

By contrast, public diplomacy within domestic audiences has been largely neglected in many countries. In a 2007 report, the Senate Standing Committee for Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade found that there is a limited awareness of Australia’s public diplomacy among citizens. The Committee recommended that a public communication strategy and other programs be designed and implemented – not only to inform the public about Australia’s public diplomacy, but also to facilitate the participation of non-state actors in Australia’s public diplomacy objectives.

Considering the importance of the subject, AIIA designated research on examples of domestic public diplomacy as one of the projects included in the work plan for its 2011-2012 grant from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s International Relations Grants Program. This paper is a compilation of the publicly available information of the efforts of various ministries of foreign affairs to establish relationships with their domestic publics. These efforts are based on three models: one-way communication, dialogue and partnership. This paper also looks at ministries’ efforts in education with younger members of the domestic public. The four models provide potential examples for consideration by DFAT in its own domestic public diplomacy practice.

Authored by Melissa Conley Tyler, Abbas Abbasov, Nina Gibson and Fiona Teo.

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