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Consular and Public Diplomacies
Consular and Public Diplomacies
The following essay was one of the Public Diplomacy online course requirements offered by the DiploFoundation that I took in the Spring of 2013.
I only made some editing for clarity and grammatical accuracy.
Mexico has had a long tradition of cultural diplomacy, and more recently, tourism and investment promotion; however, it has not developed a comprehensive approach to Public Diplomacy (PD) in a sustained way.
Besides certain times in its history, such as in the late 1890s, during the 1930s, and the negotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement in early 1990s, the Government of Mexico has not tried to influence foreign publics as part of its foreign policy beyond conveying a positive image overseas.
There are three reasons why: a) its foreign policy is based on the principle of non-intervention in other countries' affairs, b) its foreign policy has mostly focused on Latin America, and c) its relationship with the United States. Nonetheless, in recent years, as a result of the security crisis and the lack of significant progress in the domestic arena, the Government of Mexico is trying to implement a PD strategy to improve its image abroad and continue to be an influential member of the international community.
This paper will briefly analyze Mexico's attempts to instrument certain aspects of Public Diplomacy, highlighting its strengths and weaknesses. In addition, there are some recommendations on how Mexico could finally instrument a comprehensive long-term PD.
Early efforts: investment promotion and cultural diplomacy.
After decades of civil unrest and financial difficulties, Mexico experienced economic development in the last quarter of the 19th Century. As part of its foreign policy, the Government actively participated in World Fairs to convey a positive image abroad to attract investment and immigrants from Europe and Asia. This period ended abruptly with the Mexican revolution in 1910, which hurt its economy and image abroad.
After the revolution, in the late 1920s and 1930s, as part of Mexico's political realignment, the Government established significant cultural institutions and sponsored great works of art, including murals and other art forms, to legitimize the country's new regime. It engage in a forceful cultural diplomacy effort in South America.
In the 1930s and 1940s, Mexico had a film bonanza, later followed by TV programs and music, spreading Mexican culture all over Latin America, thus gaining international standing in those countries.
In these two eras, Mexico had a concerted effort to gain international reputation and recognition to fulfill some of its foreign policy goals; however, these Public Diplomacy efforts were not sustained, except for an active but underfunded cultural diplomacy.
The Cold War: inward-looking development and lack of promotion abroad.
For most of the Cold War, Mexico had a reactive foreign policy, trying to avoid conflicts with the US and concentrating its diplomatic efforts in Latin America. However, in the 1960s and later, it became isolated as military dictatorships overtook democratic governments in the region, which were aligned with the US in the fight against communism. Nonetheless, Mexico continued to promote its cultural expressions abroad, encouraged educational exchanges, and engaged in international cooperation as a donor.
At the same time, the US media and entertainment industries became dominant in most of the world, which presented a distorted image of Mexico around the globe, even though the country was a success story in terms of economic development. In an analysis of Mexico's image abroad, Simon Anholt indicated that the country had deeper problems than the current violence crisis. He mentioned that the country's image overseas had primarily been defined negatively, except in Latin America, by the US media and entertainment industries.
Post-Cold War: changes and missed opportunities
With the end of the Cold War, Mexico's foreign policy experienced significant changes, being the most important one the negotiation of the Free Trade Agreement with the United States and Canada. It was one of the rare occasions when the Government of Mexico consciously tried to influence US public opinion. Through a series of activities, including major cultural exhibitions in the US, including hiring professional lobbyists, it engaged directly with US businesses, labor unions, and environmental groups, with the support of their Mexican counterparts, in a coordinated effort to successfully approve the agreement.
As in the past, there was no continuity of these activities afterward. Moreover, when the economic crisis affected Mexico in 1995 (and the US offered a rescue package), there was no effort to mitigate the country's bad publicity and loss of reputation amongst the US and international public opinion.
In 2000, when Mexico successfully had a democratic transition, the country regained international status; notwithstanding, the so-called "democratic bonus" was not cashed out because there were no major internal reforms. The country's brand stagnated versus the rapidly changing positions of nations such as China, India, Brazil, and South Africa.
In 2006 a new administration took over and stepped up the combat against drug traffickers in Mexico. As a result, there was a considerable increase in violence, which became one of the few topics that the international media reported about the country, negatively impacting its image abroad. According to the 2011 EastWest Global Index 200, Mexico occupied 192th place out of 200 nations, just above countries like Syria, Afghanistan, Iran, and Libya.
Recognizing that the country had an international image problem was an important step taken by President Calderon, even though it was long overdue. As a result, the Government created the "Marca País, Imagen de México" project to show Mexico in a more balanced way and contextualize the violence stories. However, there were some problems with the project. It was coordinated by the Ministry of Tourism; therefore, its focus was mainly on tourism promotion rather than an overall Public Diplomacy strategy. In addition, it seldom coordinated its activities with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA).
A new administration, a new opportunity
Thanks to the arrival of a new administration in December 2012, a slight reduction in violent acts in 2012, and the approval of significant reforms, the dynamic of Mexico's image abroad is changing; therefore, it is an excellent opportunity to be seized by the new Government.
Currently (2013), the Office of the Presidency, the MFA, the Ministries of Tourism and Trade, and ProMexico hold bi-monthly meetings as part of an effort to improve Mexico's brand overseas. However, this interagency process is not a formal Public Diplomacy board that includes other actors, such as state and local authorities, businesses, universities, think tanks, and non-governmental organizations. In addition, it seems that the efforts of coordinating activities abroad are not incorporated in their respective actions and policies, thus limiting its implementation.
Considering that it seems there is confusion between Tourism Promotion/Cultural Diplomacy and PD, and there is a real need to try to engage foreign publics in order to counterbalance the bad image that is conveyed abroad, here are a few recommendations to instrument a genuine Public Diplomacy:
a) Establish a formal Public Diplomacy Board, such as the one in France or the United Kingdom, that will be responsible for evaluating Mexico's current situation and propose a course of action with definite goals and activities to accomplish them. The Board should incorporate important non-state actors and local and state authorities. Inside the MFA, a Public Diplomacy office should be established to coordinate and instrument the decisions made by the Board.
b) It would be wise to create a Public Diplomacy Handbook, such as the Australian one, that not only explains what PD activities should be undertaken but provides advice in planning PD programs and showcases best practices. The publication of the handbook should be part of a training program for all government officials that deal with international activities.
c) Teaching Spanish is a great tool to promote the country's culture and values and a deeper understanding of its idiosyncrasy. The new Government has proposed the creation of "Institutos Mexico" as a way to promote the nation's culture and teach Spanish overseas. The establishment of Confucius centers by China worldwide in partnership with local universities could be used as a model.
d) Mexico's PD efforts should focus on specific countries that involve a comprehensive strategy that includes tourism and investment promotion, cultural exhibitions, people-to-people contacts, and educational exchanges. The effort should be made in the host country's language, so Mexico can "talk" directly to them, diminishing the use of English media and reaching a wider audience. The chosen countries should be regional leaders, such as the BRICS, Turkey, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, the UK, Spain, and Germany.
e) The Government should take full advantage of Information Technologies to engage with foreign publics directly. Mexico should study the US embassy's experience in Indonesia, which had a very successful online presence, through the engagement of Indonesian bloggers and linking real-life events (such as President Obama's visit), with its online activities.
d) Mexico's MFA should fully incorporate to its PD strategy the activities of the Liaison Office with Civil Society Organizations, the Institute of Mexicans Abroad, and the Mexican Agency for International Development Cooperation. These offices manage essential programs that have not been utilized to their full potential in the country's overall Public Diplomacy efforts.
e) The Government should establish a research program focused on Public Diplomacy to further promote knowledge about this issue, emphasizing Mexico's circumstances. The "Observatorio Marca España" project at the Spanish Elcano Institute is a good example that should be considered.
Even though Mexico had substantial experience in cultural diplomacy and, more recently, tourism and trade promotion, it has only engaged in Public Diplomacy in rare instances due to its foreign policy principles.
The attention to the country's violence and its negative image abroad has renewed an effort to instrument a comprehensive Public Diplomacy strategy. In order to be successful, the Government has to have a long-term view, needs to improve its domestic situation, and requires investing sufficient funds in this endeavor. A key component for success is coordinating PD activities, collaborating with Non-State Actors, and better utilizing social media and information technology.
Rodrigo Marquez Lartigue
March 26th, 2013.
 Luz Elena Banos Rivas, “Reflexiones sobre la diplomacia pública en México. Una mirada prospectiva” Revista Mexicana de Política Exterior, No. 85, November 2008-February 2009, Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores. p. 154
 Pamela K. Starr, “Mexican Public Diplomacy: Hobbled by History, Interdependence, and Asymmetric Power” Public Diplomacy Magazine, University of Southern California Issue 2, Summer 2009 pp. 49-53. Available at http://publicdiplomacymagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/summer_2009.pdf [accessed March 15, 2013]
 Roberta Lajous Vargas, Las relaciones exteriores de México (1821-2000), El Colegio de México, 2012, pp 128-129.
 Andrés Ordoñez, “Diplomacia y cultura: Contenidos básicos para un reflexión pertinente”, Este País, June 3rd, 2012. Available at http://estepais.com/site/?p=38890 [accessed on March 24th, 2013]
 This is the time that Mexico started to organized important exhibitions abroad, and created the office of cultural exchanges at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Rafael Tovar y de Teresa, p. 192.
 For example, it was the first developing nation to hold the Olympic Games in 1968, and two years later was the host of the World Cup.
 Simon Anholt “Mito y realidad: la imagen internacional de México”, Revista Mexicana de Política Exterior, No. 96, October 2012, Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores. p. 124
 Tovar y de Teresa, p. 188.
 Starr, p. 51.
 For a brief analysis of México’s media coverage in US newspapers see Guillermo Maynez Gil, “El Espejo roto: percepciones de México entre los extranjeros” Este País, No. 261, January 2013, pp. 8-12
 East West Communications, 2011 EastWest Global Index 200, Available at http://www.eastwestcoms.com/global.htm [accessed March 21st, 2013].
 To learn more about the project see Jaime Díaz and Mónica Pérez, “Marca México: una estrategia para reducir la brecha entre la percepción y la realidad”, Revista Mexicana de Política Exterior, No. 96, October 2012, Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores. pp. 169-186.
 Recently, there have been important reports about Mexico’s economic achievements in mayor news outlets such as the Financial Times, the New York Times and the Economist.
 Mexico´s Export and Investment Promotion Agency.
 Australia Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Public diplomacy and advocacy handbook, August 2011. Available at http://www.dfat.gov.au/publications/public-diplomacy-handbook/ [accessed 18 March 2013]
 Mexico currently has 10 cultural centers: 4 in the USA (Miami, New York, San Antonio and Washington), 4 in Latin America (Belize, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Guatemala) and 2 in Europe (Spain and France). Cesar Guerrero, “La cultura en la imagen de México” Este País, January 2013, p. 21.
 Zhe Ren, The Confucius Institutes and China´s Soft Power, Institute of Developing Economies, JETRO, March 2012. Available at http://ir.ide.go.jp/dspace/bitstream/2344/1119/1/ARRIDE_Discussion_No.330_ren.pdf [accessed March 19, 2013]
 Matthew Wallin, The Challenges of the Internet and Social Media in Public Diplomacy, American Security Project. February 2013. Pp. 9-10. Available at http://americansecurityproject.org/featured-items/2013/the-challenges-of-the-internet-and-social-media-in-public-diplomacy/ [accessed March 20, 2012].
 The Liaison Office with Civil Society Organizations was created on January 8, 2009. For more information about the office in English see http://participacionsocial.sre.gob.mx/docs/dgvosc/brochure_sre_dgvosc.pdf
 The Institute of Mexicans Abroad was created in 2003. For more information see http://www.ime.gob.mx/
 The Agency was created in 2011. For more information see http://amexcid.gob.mx/
 For more information visit http://www.realinstitutoelcano.org/wps/portal/!ut/p/c5/04_SB8K8xLLM9MSSzPy8xBz9CP0os3jjYB8fnxBnR19TE2e_kECjACdDAwjQ9_PIz03VL8h2VAQAidTU0Q!!/dl3/d3/L2dJQSEvUUt3QS9ZQnZ3LzZfM1RER1FLRzEwT1BVMTBJUjQ3TjJVUzBDVjI!/ [accessed March 23, 2013]
DISCLAIMER: All views expressed on this blog are that of the author and do not represent the opinions of any other authority, agency, organization, employer or company
For most people, there is always confusion about what a Consulate/Consul does and what are the differences with an Embassy/Ambassador. I believe there are several reasons why this mix-up:
However, consular affairs have increased in their relevance in the international arena, and Consular Diplomacy has risen accordingly.
As I mentioned in the post about the concept of Consular Diplomacy, a significant development was the creation of the Global Consular Forum (GCF), “an informal, grouping of countries, from all regions of the world fostering international dialogue and cooperation on the common challenges and opportunities that all countries face today in delivery of consular services.”[ii]
In this post, I will analyze the GCF and the reports of the three meetings that have taken place. But before, let´s talk a bit about the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963.
The convention was the first and only multilateral agreement on consular relations. It codified into law many practices that were already part of the customary law regulating consular affairs. Previously all the arrangements were bilateral with a few regional ones.
The GCF is a way for countries to discuss the changes in consular relations since the convention almost 60 years ago and topics not covered by it, such as dual nationality.
So, let´s start with the meeting where the GCF was created.
B. The first meeting and establishment of the Global Consular Forum.
The first meeting took place in Wilton Park, United Kingdom, in September 2013 with the participation of 22 countries, a representative of the European Commission, and selected academics from around the world.[iii]
The Forum´s report is a trove of information for people interested in Consular Diplomacy. It covers a wide variety of topics, from dual nationality issues to surrogacy challenges and assisting citizen with mental health issues to ever-growing expectations of personalized consular services and interest from politicians,
I strongly recommend reading the report because it is an excellent summary of consular services' current most critical challenges. The report has six sections which have additional subthemes:
At the meeting, the participants agreed to formalize its Steering Committee that has the responsibility “…to develop an action plan, expand the membership…and improve upon the Forum´s model following this first experience.”[v]
The meeting was very valuable due to the following reasons:
Some of the proposals included in the section “Ideas for the future” are essential, so it is worth highlighting them.
The “exchange of lessons-learned, best practices and policies on common issued faced by governments will help countries to maximise their resources, avoid ´reinventing the wheel´ when responding to the changing face of consular affairs and to facilitate collaboration.“[vii]
Many countries exchange information on consular affairs, but they usually do it bilaterally, with no outside participation. Therefore, the Forum is an excellent addition because, besides government officials, academics were invited. And the meeting reports underline the need to better engage with stakeholders to improve the provision of certain consular services.
Another proposal of the first meeting was that “countries could consider jointly engaging academics to translate policy dilemmas into research themes on issues such as global trends affecting the consular function, technological innovation; politically complex legal issues; expectation management; the limits of state-v-individual responsibility; how to leverage private sector influence in consular work; compiling n inventory of lessons learn from past crises, or assistance in drafting a consular agreement template.”[viii] It is a magnificent idea, which would help expand the limited scholarly work available today on Consular Diplomacy.
For example, an exciting development afterward was done by the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs by sponsoring a project around the idea of the “duty of care” from 2014 to 2018.[ix] Two of the outcomes of the research was the publication of a special issue of The Hague Journal of Diplomacy titled “Diplomacy and the Duty of Care” in March 2018 (Vol 13, Iss. 2) and the book The Duty of Care in International Relations: Protecting Citizens Beyond the Border in June 2019.
Another proposal presented by the GCF was the need to have a “more structured dialogue with external partners involved in consular affairs, such as the travel industry, legal officials, NGOs, technology companies and academia.”[x] I think this is quite necessary, as we saw it at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic; however, it is not being implemented strategically and comprehensively.
One idea that could be more difficult to achieve, proposed at the Forum, is to evaluate the possibility of the “co-location, co-protection and co-representation of countries in both crises and also more routine consular representation.”[xi] These ideas present many challenges for MFAs.
C) 2nd meeting of the Global Consular Forum (Mexico 2015)
The second meeting of the GCF was organized in Cuernavaca, Mexico, in May 2015. As the previous one, a report was published afterward titled “Report: Global Consular Forum 2015.”
This time, representatives of 25 countries and the European Union attended the event. However, the report does not mention any scholar's participation in the meeting, So they might not have attended, at least officially, as the previous one.
In preparation for the meeting, some Working Groups, with the assistance of the Steering Committee and the Secretariat, developed discussion papers on the six key themes of the conference:
Additionally, improving consular services was an additional key theme discussed during the session.
In the section “International legal and policy framework”, the report describes a research paper's results about 57 bi and plurilateral consular agreements. It highlights “common needs and identified areas whereby the VCCR could be supplemented, including the prospect of developing agreed guidelines to facilitate the sharing of good practice.”[xiii]
This research demonstrated the commitment of the forum members to promote further studies about consular affairs and diplomacy. The concrete proposal could also streamline the exchange of information regarding consular issues, which could boost the government´s responses.
I enjoyed reading some of the lessons-learned of the consular crisis management in the aftermath of the big earthquake that devasted Nepal in April 2015. It reflected the complexity of the situation and the fast-thinking and creative ways consular officials responded.
Again, the issues of dual citizenship and consular assistance to persons with mental illness were highlighted in the report, which means are some of the situations that are still on top of the list for consular officials across the world.
The inclusion of “migrant workers” as one of the key themes reflects the priority of this issue for Mexico and other members of the Forum. In the article “Providing consular services to low-skilled migrant workers: Partnerships that care,” Maaike Okano-Heijmans and Caspar Price identify the GCF as a “facilitators of [the] efforts …to address the plight of [low-skilled] migrant workers, aiming to protect their rights…”[xiv]
The report contains the agreements reached during the second summit of the Global Consular Forum, including:
The second meeting was deemed a success and included some topics previously discussed while also adding new themes relevant to consular affairs. It was agreed to hold the third meeting in 18-months, so preparations began for that.
D) 3rd meeting of the Global Consular Forum (South Korea 2016)
Seoul, South Korea, was the host city of the third meeting of the GCF in October 2016. Thirty-two countries and the European External Action Service attended. Again, in this gathering, there is no mention of the participation of other than government officials.
While reading the “Seoul Consensus Statement on Consular Cooperation,” the first thing I realized was that it has a very different format, compared to the summaries of the previous two meetings, which were published under the Wilton Park seal.
The consensus has the traditional format of a statement of an agreement of a multilateral meeting, not a summary of the discussions. This implies that a certain amount of negotiations took place before and/or during the proceedings to agree on the consensus statement's terms.
A positive innovation was to mention the Forum's interest to cooperate with small and developing states, so they can also benefit from the mechanisms' efforts.[xvi]
As in previous reports, it highlights the key themes discussed:
Out of the five topics, only one was new, “Improving support for further forum meetings, " reflecting the maturation of the mechanism and the need to find additional resources to make it sustainable.
Mental illnesses of people abroad continued to be a concern because it was included in the document,[xviii] as was in the two previous reports. Besides, the proposition to engage with stakeholders, including other government agencies, was also included. [xix]
Regarding crises management, the consensus statement includes a reference to terrorist attacks,[xx] most likely as a result of the different attacks that occurred since the last GCF meeting, such as those in Paris (Nov 2015), Brussels (March 2016); Nice and Munich (July 2016).
It is noticeable that in the “Consensus Statement”, the forum member thanked the government of Canada for undertaking the responsibility of the mechanism´s Secretariat.[xxi]
The report's different format, the inclusion of a statement about the efforts´ sustainability, and the language used demonstrate the GCF's evolution from an idea that grew out of the Wilton Park meeting in 2013 to a more formal (and some would say stiffer) arrangement. Notwithstanding, the lack of the organization of the fourth meeting in four years could mean a stalemate in its progress.
E) Why the GCF is important?
The Forum is the perfect example of one of the forms of Consular Diplomacy presented by Maaike Okano-Heijmans in the paper “Change in Consular Assistance and the Emergence of Consular Diplomacy”. The GCF participation indicates that “governments attach increasing importance to and are becoming more involved in consular affairs at the practical as well as policy levels.”[xxii] The GCF provides both practical information and demonstrates the increasing relevance of consular services in the overall foreign policy.
The idea of a diverse group of countries gathering to discuss consular services' transformation is a milestone. Identifying common challenges and searching for better tools and enhanced collaboration demonstrates the growing relevance of Consular Diplomacy at foreign affairs´ ministries.
While some regional collaboration schemes include exchanging information and consular services practices, such as the Regional Conference on Migration, the GCF is the only multilateral mechanism and should be reactivated. Particularly now, when enhanced consular cooperation is required to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic.
I highly recommend reading the reports that are available on the GCF webpage http://globalconsularforum.com/
[i] According to Geoff R. Berridge, a prolific author about diplomacy and Senior Fellow of the DiploFoundation, the amalgamation of the Diplomatic and Consular branches occurred after a push by consular officers. Germany started in 1918, followed by Norway (1922), the U.S, (1924), Spain (1928) and the U.K. (1943). For some countries, like Mexico, this process took place in the latter part of the 20th Century. Berridge, G.R., Diplomacy: Theory and Practice, Fifth Ed, Palgrave Macmillan, 2015, pp. 135-136.
[ii] Wilton Park, “Global Consular Forum 2015 (WP1381)”.
[iii] Global Consular Forum, “Mission and Overview”, Global Consular Forum webpage.
[iv] Murray, Louise, Conference report: Contemporary consular practice trends and challenges, Wilton Park, October 2013.
[v] Murray, Louise, Conference report: Contemporary consular practice trends and challenges, Wilton Park, October 2013, p. 1.
[vi] The Steering Committee is formed by: Australia, Canada, Mexico, Netherlands, South Africa, Republic of Korea, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and United Kingdom. Global Consular Forum, “Mission and Overview”.
[vii] Murray, Louise, p. 7.
[viii] Murray, Louise, p. 7.
[ix] For more information about the project, visit “Duty of Care: Protection of Citizens Abroad (DoC:PRO)”, Norwegian Institute of International Affairs.
[x] Murray, Louise, p. 7.
[xi] Murray, Louise, p. 7.
[xii] González, Celeste; Martínez, Andrea, and Purcell, Julia; “Report: Global Consular Forum 2015”, Wilton Park, July 2015, p. 1.
[xiii] González, Celeste; Martínez, Andrea, and Purcell, Julia; “Report: Global Consular Forum 2015”, Wilton Park, July 2015, pp. 3-4.
[xiv] Okano-Heijmans, Maaike and Price, Caspar, “Providing consular services to low-skilled migrant workers: Partnerships that care”, Global Affairs, Vol. 5, Iss. 4-5, March 2020, p. 428.
[xv] González, Celeste; Martínez, Andrea, and Purcell, Julia; “Report: Global Consular Forum 2015”, Wilton Park, July 2015, pp. 6-7.
[xvi] Global Consular Forum, “Seoul Consensus Statement on Consular Cooperation”, October 27, 2016, pp. 2 and 4.
[xvii] “Seoul Consensus Statement on Consular Cooperation”, pp. 1-4.
[xviii] “Seoul Consensus Statement on Consular Cooperation”, p. 4.
[xix] “Seoul Consensus Statement on Consular Cooperation”, pp. 2-3.
[xx] “Seoul Consensus Statement on Consular Cooperation”, p. 3.
[xxi] “Seoul Consensus Statement on Consular Cooperation”, p. 4.
[xxii] Okano-Heijmans, Maaike, “Change in Consular Assistance and the Emergence of Consular Diplomacy”, Netherlands Institute of International Relations ´Clingendael´, February 2010, p. 23.
DISCLAIMER: All views expressed on this blog are that of the author and do not represent the opinions of any other authority, agency, organization, employer or company.
The main objective of Public Diplomacy is to influence foreign citizens to achieve a country´s foreign policy goal. Therefore, an essential element to be considered is the nation´s image and reputation. People are more likely to accept other country´s actions if they have a good reputation, or at least it does not have a negative image.
The concepts Soft Power and Nation Branding have been discussed and debated in the last decades, creating an enormous amount of bibliography. From the rejection of the term from his creator[i] to the millions of dollars invested in many countries´ efforts to improve their image and reputation, both expressions are still being debated, and there is no consensus on their definitions and accomplishments.
I believe that debates are great for the development of a field of study, but one has to be careful about what you read. As both ideas come from many different academic areas, from strategic communications and marketing to psychology and sociology and from international affairs to nationalism, there are multiple, often opposing, perspectives on these subjects.
Interestingly enough, several world ranking systems have been created for both topics, such as the old Anholt-GfK Roper Nation Brand Index, Country Brand Index by Future Brand; Country Brand Ranking by Bloom Consulting; Elcano Global Presence Index by Real Instituto Elcano; Nations Brand Report and Global Soft Power Index by Brand Finance; Soft Power30 by Portland Communications; and Soft Power Survey by Monocle magazine.
I think these issues are particularly complicated as both delve into the core of the idea of the nation, the identity of its people, and the generation and use of power in the international arena.
In the area of Soft Power and Nation Branding, the ministry of foreign affairs has a small role, as other government and non-government actors come in to play, from Tourism, Investment and Trade Promotion boards, all the way to the office of the executive branch. And all have their agendas and speak “different” languages.
Another issue is that both deal with perceptions that is difficult as could be, particularly when talking about countries and millions of citizens.
A particular development in the topic is that Nation Branding, Soft Power, and Public Diplomacy are concepts that even if they are different, they are intertwined and feed into each other, augmenting the confusion.
For example, in The New Public Diplomacy: Soft Power in International Relations, different authors discuss the three terms in various ways, as it can be seen in the titles of some of the book's chapters:
-Making a National Brand by Wally Olins,
-The EU as Soft Power: the Force of Persuasion by Anna Michalksi
-Rethinking the “New” Public Diplomacy by Brian Hocking
-Power, Public Diplomacy and the Pax Americana by Peter van Ham.
Another example is the analysis made by Gyorgy Szonzi in Public Diplomacy and National Branding: Conceptual Similarities and Differences of five different ways on how Public Diplomacy and Nation Branding interrelate, depending on how both terms are conceptualized.
In table 1 there is a schematic view of the three concepts. It could be useful for a more precise idea of the differences between these terms, even if all are talking about the same
After this long warning, now let´s talk about these two concepts.
Regarding Nation Branding, I recommend these three readings: a) the Council on Foreign Relations´ backgrounder Nation Branding Explained; b) “Place Branding: The State of Art” by Peter van Ham and Melissa Aronczyk´s Branding the Nation: The Global Business of National Identity, which I enjoyed immensely.
And let´s not forget the copious writings of two British Nation Branding eminences: Simon Anholt[ii] and the late Wally Olins.[iii] For a comprehensive bibliography on the subject, including texts in German, I suggest you visit Oliver Zöllner´s Reading List.[iv]
Nation Branding derives from the corporate world, specifically from marketing and consumer behavior disciplines. A Nation Branding effort involves not only the participation of the ministry of foreign affairs but is a whole-country approach. It has a similar premise of Soft Power: the force or strength of attraction and also includes culture and foreign and domestic policy as sources of the nation´s brand, therefore its reputation and influence abroad.
And for Soft Power, Joseph Nye explains in the article “Think Again: Soft Power”, what it is and not is Soft Power, giving very concrete examples. He complains that many analysts have confusion about power resources vs. behavior and states that “whether power resources produce a favorable outcome depends on the context.”[v] So, it is not all black (Hard Power) or white (Soft Power), but many shades of gray, depending mostly on behavior and context.
Nye describes that a country´s soft power derives from “three resources: its culture (in places where it is attractive to others), its political values (when it lives up to them at home and abroad), and its foreign policies (when they are seen as legitimate and having moral authority).”[vi] Therefore, it seems to me that Soft Power is more than just public diplomacy or nation branding.
As we have seen, Soft Power and Nation Branding are challenging concepts to grasp. Both are intertwined, and they are always cited in Public Diplomacy studies. I hope this was useful.
Now that I have revised the basic concepts discussed in this blog, in the next three postings, I will focus on a topic that is not well-known outside Mexico: its Consular Diplomacy.
I will review most chapters of the book La Diplomacia Consular Mexicana en los tiempos de Trump, (Mexican Consular Diplomacy in Trump´s Era) coordinated by Rafael Fernández de Castro, a well-known Mexican foreign policy analyst and currently the director of the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies of the University of California, San Diego.
[i] Simon Anholt is credited to have created the term Nation Branding in 1996. Notwithstanding, later on Anholt rejected the term instead using Competitive Identity. For more information see Anholt, Simon, Competitive Identity: The New Brand Management for Nations, Cities and Regions, New York, 2007.
[ii] See for example Anholt, Simon, Competitive Identity: The New Brand Management for Nations, Cities and Regions, New York, 2007; and Places: Identity, Images and Reputation, New York, 2010.
[iii] See Olins, Wally, “Branding the Nation – the Historical Context” in Journal of Brand Management, Vol. 9, No. 4-5, p 241-248; “Making a National Brand” in Jan Melissen (ed), The New Public Diplomacy: Soft Power in International Relations, New York, 2005; and Wally Olins and Jeremy Hildreth, “National Branding: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow” in Nigel Morgan, Annette Pritchard and Roger Pride (eds.), Destination Brands: Managing Place Reputation, 3er edition, Oxford, 55-66.
[iv] Although I noticed that there is not a single article specifically about Mexico.
[v] Nye, Joseph, “Think again: Soft Power” in Foreign Policy, February 23, 2006
[vi] Nye, Joseph, “Think again: Soft Power
DISCLAIMER: All views expressed on this blog are that of the author and do not represent the opinions of any other authority, agency, organization, employer or company.
Another element of the new diplomacy is Cultural Diplomacy; however, just because it is part of the novel tools of diplomacy does not mean it is not old. Actually, it is one of the most traditional forms of Public Diplomacy.
The best know example is the development of cultural institutions for the promotion of the language and culture of European powers. Thus France's Alliance Française was established in 1883, the Società Dante Alighieri of Italy in 1889, United Kingdom's British Council in 1934, Goethe Institute of Germany n 1951, and Spain's Cervantes Institute just in 1991.
Nowadays, the most extensive example is the Confucius Institute of China, which has grown so fast that, in some instances has generated a backlash.[i] Interestingly enough, the United States never established an overseas cultural institution but did not mean that it did not engage in Cultural Diplomacy, such as the famous Fulbright scholarship program or the European Erasmus initiative.
The Institute of Cultural Diplomacy states that:
"Cultural Diplomacy may best be described as a course of actions, which are based on and utilize the exchange of ideas, values, traditions and other aspects of cultural or identity, whether to strengthen relationships, enhance socio-cultural cooperation, promote national interests and beyond..."[ii]
The idea of promoting exchanges of ideas, people, and cultural knowledge to foster better understanding and relations for the benefit of foreign policy objectives lies behind the concept of Soft Power. However, Cultural Diplomacy has been implemented long before it was coined in 1990 by Joseph Nye, an Emeritus Distinguished Service Professor at Harvard University.
The next post, I will take about Soft Power, Nation Branding, Influence, and Reputation, so let's continue with today's theme.
The creation of a Ph.D. in Cultural Diplomacy demonstrates the significant development of this field of study. I don't know of any other specialized diplomacy area that offers this. Besides, the amount of articles about this topic in the digital library (PD Hub) of the Center of Public Diplomacy is enormous, as well as many issues of its CPD Perspectives research papers.
Under the umbrella of Cultural Diplomacy, many hyphenated diplomacies have developed, particularly in the last couple of decades; from Gastrodiplomacy (link al post) to Sports, Science, Think Tank, and even Music (Jazz, K-pop, and J-pop) Diplomacy. However, the bread and butter of Cultural Diplomacy are the following two activities:
Regarding exchanges, the basic concept is that a person or a country is less likely to go to war if you know them or at least are more likely to being influence than not. Therefore, interactions foster collaboration and diminish the possibility of conflict. Its scope is extensive and goes from language teaching and skills training to multi-country research projects, like the CERN and from regular tourism and international business and trade contacts to entertainment such as movies, music or the performing arts. However, the biggest critique is that the results of these types of connections take a long time, and in most cases, it is challenging to measure its successes or lack of them.
As for broadcasting, nowadays has gone into a bit of a slump, but during the Cold War, it was on its prime. The United States had not one but two agencies devoted to it in the middle of the 1990s: the U.S. Information Agency[v] and Broadcasting Board of Governors.[vi] And the BBC has been an icon of a multimedia powerhouse for many years.
Other countries have state-run or sponsored radio and television stations, such as is RT of Russia, TeleSUR of Venezuela, and Al Jazeera of Qatar. Almost all of them now have YouTube channels, and Facebook and Instagram accounts for the same purpose, which is part of these countries' digital diplomacy (link al post the digital diplomacy=.
A relevant aspect of Cultural Diplomacy is that, even though governments are still the prime promoters of these types of engagements with people of other nations, there is a very active role of the non-state actors, including regular citizens.[vii] This is particularly important as non-state actors are typically seen as neutral or less-politically influenced by the governments and their ultimate Cultural Diplomacy goals. [viii]
In the field of Cultural Diplomacy, Mexico has been successfully achieving some of its foreign policy goals with the assistance of its cultural heritage and influence. From the Revolution's aftermaths in the 1930s, with the Muralism artistic movement and the golden age of Mexican cinema to soap operas and NAFTA authorization in the US Congress.[ix]
In a later post, I will write about this, as there is little information in English regarding Mexico´s Cultural Diplomacy.
[i] For a updated list see “Latest Reports on Confucius Institutes Controversies”
[ii] “What is Cultural Diplomacy” in Institute of Cultural Diplomacy webpage.
[iii] For a brief analysis of psychological effect of exchanges see Scott-Smith, Giles “Exchange Programs and Public Diplomacy” in Routledge Handbook of Public Diplomacy, Nancy Snow and Philip M. Taylor (eds.), 1st edition, 2009 pp. 50-56.
[iv] See Cull, Nicholas, Public Diplomacy: Lessons from the Past, CPD Perspectives Series, 2009, particularly section 2.5 in page 21.
[v] It was disbanded in 1999 For a brief about the agency see Chodkoswki, William M., “Fact Sheet: The United States Information Agency “in American Security Project webpage, November 2012.
[vi] In 2017 the name was changed to US Agency for Global Media.
[vii] See “Citizen Diplomacy” Winter 2012 issue of the Public Diplomacy Magazine.
[viii] Mueller, Sherry, “The Nexus of U.S. Public Diplomacy and Citizen Diplomacy” in Routledge Handbook of Public Diplomacy, Nancy Snow and Philip M. Taylor (eds.), 1st edition, 2009 p. 103
[ix] See for example Starr, Pamela K. “Mexican Public Diplomacy: Hobbled by History, Interdependence and Asymetric Power” in “Middle Power” Summer 2009 issue of the Public Diplomacy Magazine and “Cooperación y diplomacia consular: experiencias y travesías. Entrevista al embajador Jorge Alberto Lozoya” in Revista Mexicana de Política Exterior, Vol 85, February 2009 p. 253-267.
DISCLAIMER: All views expressed on this blog are that of the author and do not represent the opinions of any other authority, agency, organization, employer or company.
Rodrigo Márquez Lartigue
Diplomat interested in the development of Consular and Public Diplomacies.