Thursday, March 31, 2016

A note to Public Diplomacy Press and Blog Review e-mail subscribers

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Dear Subscribers,

For those of you who perhaps have not noticed it, the full edition of the Public Diplomacy Press and Blog Review (PDPBR) for a given day can be obtained by clicking on Public Diplomacy Press and Blog Review at the bottom of the email you receive. The email itself (sent ca. 5:00 pm EST) contains only three items (full-text) for a given day; more full-text items are accessible by clicking on the above link at the bottom of the email.

FYI, Google lists items not thematically, but by when they are posted on the PDPBR Google blog.

Best, John (Brown)

P.S. For subscribers using g-mail: Usually (but not always) the PDPBR appears in gmail's "promotions" section rather than in its "primary" email section. So, please do check the gmail "promotion" if you have the time/desire/patience to keep up to date with PDPBR items.

Amnesty International criticism returns Qatar to square one

James M. Dorsey,

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A new report from Amnesty International slams Qatar for not living up to promises to improve workers’ rights and adds to a growing international criticism of Qatar’s inability to properly implement adopted policies.

World Cup host Qatar and FIFA are in public diplomacy terms back to square one with a just published Amnesty International report that takes the Gulf state to task for failing to implement lofty promises to significantly improve workers’ working and living conditions and the world soccer body for not ensuring that Qatar lives up to international standards.
The report, The Ugly Side of the Beautiful Game, provides a damning assessment of the state of affairs five years after FIFA awarded the 2022 World Cup to Qatar. Amnesty interviewed more than 200 labourers working on the refurbishment of the Khalifa International Stadium, one of eight planned facilities for the World Cup, and the Aspire Zone sports complex, a pillar of Qatar’s sports infrastructure, who all complained about various violations of their human rights.
The report was published days after the International Labour Organization (ILO) put Qatar on notice that it no longer can delay acting on promises made in the wake of its successful bid to host the 2022 World Cup.
In a rare move, the ILO threatened to establish a Commission of Inquiry if Qatar fails to act in the coming year. Such commissions are among the ILO’s most powerful tools to ensure compliance with international treaties. The UN body has only established 13 such commissions in its century-long history. The last such commission was created in 2010 to force Zimbabwe to live up to its obligations. ...
Qatar’s inability to manage that dilemma turns its high-profile sporting efforts into a self-defeating enterprise. Despite billions of dollars of investment in its soft power strategy, of which sports is an important pillar, and five years of seeking to convince the world that it is on the right track, Qatar retains more of an image of an energy-rich slave state than of a small country that is successfully carving out its place as a good citizen of the international community.


Philip Seib, Professor, University of Southern California; Qatar's Well-Funded Public Diplomacy, Huffington Post (2011)

Money is a wonderful thing. Qatar has plenty of it and is putting it to use in its expanded public diplomacy. With wealth rather than weaponry, Qatar is becoming a new kind of superpower. ...
Qatar’s ascendancy, like that of nearby Abu Dhabi, represents a change in the contemporary world order. Small but enormously wealthy states are using their resources to become centers of culture and education as well as finance, and they seem intent on proving that in this new century spending money to enhance intellectual capital is a viable means of wielding global influence.
That is the message implicit in Qatar’s rise. The rest of the world is taking note, and that is another sign that Qatar’s public diplomacy is proving successful.

Egyptian Embassy launches 2016 public diplomacy campaign

Egyptian Embassy image from

The Egyptian Embassy in Washington launched the 2016 public diplomacy campaign to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the inception of parliamentary life in Egypt.

The launching coincides with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry’s participation in the fourth Nuclear Security Summit, due to open in Washington on Thursday.

The Foreign Ministry, in a statement, said that the campaign aimed at spreading awareness of the parliamentary life in Egypt that began as early as 1866 and its significance on Egypt’s public and political life.

The commemorative campaign was initially unveiled during the foreign minister Shoukry’s visit to the US in February. It will be a year-long celebratory theme for the Egyptian embassy in Washington.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at a meeting of the Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Fund Board of Trustees
March 29, 2016
Mr Drachevsky, colleagues, friends,
We are happy to welcome you to the regular meeting of the Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Fund Board of Trustees. As usual, we will discuss the Fund’s performance last year and its priority goals for the near future.
Under current conditions, I don’t think I need to remind you about our interest in the broadest possible involvement of citizen diplomacy, civil society organisations, experts and the academic community in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This interaction helps produce full and objective information about the situation in Russia and its foreign policy.
We note with satisfaction that one of the key spheres of the Gorchakov Fund’s activity is the provision of financial assistance to civic initiatives in international relations. If memory serves, the Fund receives about 200 applications from Russian and foreign NGOs. This is evidence of its growing prestige, including as a grant provider.
The Fund also conducts special events, such as research and education programmes, including the Diplomatic Seminar of Young Experts, the CSTO Academy, the Caspian Dialogue, the Balkans Dialogue, the Baltic Dialogue, the Caucasus Dialogue, the School on Central Asia and the Dialogue in the Name of the Future, as well as various themed conferences and seminars.
The Club of Friends of the Alexander Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Fund, established in 2013, has made a name for itself.
The Fund’s experts prepare useful information and analytical materials. We hope that the Gorchakov Fund will continue to expand the list of national and foreign NGOs with which it cooperates, thereby promoting interaction between experts on this level.
Today, we will discuss the list of the Fund’s priority areas of activity for 2017. Like many others present, I have read it. I think that during our discussion today we will note that the Fund’s programmes are focused on promoting the efficient management of Russia’s foreign policy in the media and on strengthening cooperation with media outlets. I consider this a very important and correct direction.
We see that the Fund plans to give priority attention to relations with the CIS states, primarily within the framework of the CSTO, the EAEU, BRICS and the SCO, in light of the importance of the organisations in shaping a new polycentric world architecture. Undoubtedly, we would like the Fund’s programmes and projects to also cover other areas of our multidirectional foreign policy. In this respect, we welcome any efforts to maintain and even grow interest in the issues associated with the Asia Pacific region and the development of equal relations with the EU countries and the United States based on mutual respect.
Terrorism, without exception, is probably one of the major problems facing all countries. We definitely support research projects aimed at finding solutions to conflicts, primarily in the Middle East and North Africa.
I believe that issues related to combating the falsification of history, including the history of World War II, the glorification of Nazism and the propaganda of extremist ideas and values will not lose their relevance. I think they deserve to be given the closest possible attention under current conditions.
Before concluding my remarks, I’d like to express my sincere gratitude for cooperation to many members of the Board of Trustees present here (and not), who have been providing assistance to the Gorchakov Fund. In particular, we are grateful to Sergey Chemezov, Suleiman Kerimov, Fattakh Shodiyev, Mikhail Prokhorov, Alexei Mordashov, Nikolai Tokarev and Ruben Vardanyan for their financial support of those programmes that the Fund implements as part of its mandate.
I hope we will carry on this public-private partnership in the coming period.

Distribber: Connecting Filmmakers, Outlets, and Audiences

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Mar 26, 2016
Distribber is an online platform that connects independent filmmakers to distribution platforms such as Netflix, iTunes, and Amazon. This is a useful tool for film diplomacy, especially considering Netflix's recent expansion into more than 190 countries worldwide, and with other services following suit. One such example is Nothing in Los Angeles, a film that Amazon and iTunes picked up through Distribber and that has been screened at over 20 film festivals worldwide. 

Digital diplomacy conference opens in Tel Aviv

Herb Keinon,

Image from article, with caption: Is Israel winning the social media war?

It is bringing together some 50 diplomats and scholars from 25 countries to look at how states are using digital platforms as a diplomatic tool.

Tweeting diplomatic messages and using Facebook as a communications tool during crisis situations are among the topics being discussed in Tel Aviv at a two-day first-of-its-kind conference on digital diplomacy.

The conference, which opened Wednesday, is jointly hosted by the Foreign Ministry and the Partner Institute for Internet Studies at Tel Aviv University.

It is bringing together some 50 diplomats and scholars from 25 countries to look at how states are using digital platforms as a diplomatic tool.

The conference is dealing with a number of issues that are arising as a result of the use of social media by foreign ministries around the world, including the need to train diplomats in social media engagement, ways to evaluate the impact, and the intersect between digital diplomacy, public diplomacy and nation branding.

Noam Katz, head of the ministry’s public diplomacy division, is scheduled to deliver a talk Thursday on how Israel engages with the Arab world through social media.

According to the ministry, governments are increasingly using social media as a diplomatic tool, with some 400 heads of states and governments active on Twitter.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Alon Lavi said that the ministry sees digital diplomacy as an important diplomatic tool, “certainly in light of the challenges we face.” He said that Israel is able through social media to expose many people to its messages whom Jerusalem would otherwise be unable to reach.

Event Recap: U.S. Ambassador to the UK Matthew Barzun Discusses Networks & Engagement in Public Diplomacy

Take Five

Barzun image (not from entry) from

In an insightful and entertaining session [at George Washington University] on March 24th, U.S. Ambassador to the UK Matthew Barzun discussed the importance of engagement and networks in public diplomacy. Ambassador Barzun described how since almost all phones sold nowadays are mobile phones, the term itself has become an oxymoron. Barzun believed that the term public diplomacy was following the same trend line as the importance of public engagement increases.   
To illustrate his point, Barzun asked the audience to describe which 130-year old company produced the first digital encyclopedia. The answer was Encarta, which was backed by the world’s most powerful and rich software company Microsoft. Yet this multi-billion dollar company was driven out of business by a ‘kid from Alabama,’ Jimmy Wales, who developed a bottom up model called Wikipedia, ‘the largest knowledge transfer engine in history.’
Barzun then asked the audience to imagine four squares along the following lines:
According to Ambassador Barzun, the magic was not going digital but going network and digital.  But one could have very effective combinations of analogue and network such as conference calls. The key Barzun emphasized is to engage. Inside an organization one can be surprised what one can accomplish if rather than task people, one asks people for help. In public events the key is to listen, seeking not so much to be understood as to understand. “Outreach” or “reaching out” is not nearly as effective as engagement, which involves understanding and listening.  
“If you listen, people will hear you differently,” he said. “If you repeat the pattern, good stuff happens.”
Answering a question about socio-media analytics, Ambassador Barzun noted that “things can be very precise without being accurate.”  Judge the effectiveness of what is happening in the digital world by comparing the same to the analogue or real world. Computer or digital tools can be misused or overused. Twitter can allow an overuse of a broadcasting approach or power point can be overused to bombard audiences with information: “If power corrupts, Power Points corrupt absolutely.”
Ambassador Barzun stated that public diplomacy can build a reservoir of good will. You can fill the reservoir ‘a cup at a time’ or sometimes with a ‘hose’ and refill it when it gets punctured and fill it again. A positive example was President Obama’s dancing the tango in Argentina, which he said demonstrated humility and an interest in the local culture.  
Ambassador Barzun closed by describing the image of the hierarchy, which could be described as triangles, with, for example, a Minister of Foreign Affairs at the top of the pyramid, and the circle of influences such as journalists to the wider public, which could be imagined as a cloud encircling the other two. We are living more and more or our lives online but engagement remains paramount. If one approaches challenges in a hierarchy mindset, one will fail just like Encarta.  

[See also.]

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

New CPD Perspectives: Canadian PD & Expo 67

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Mar 29, 2016
The latest issue of CPD Perspectives in Public Diplomacy comes from Kailey Hansson. Titled "Canadian Public Diplomacy and Nation-Building: Expo 67 and the World Festival of Arts and Entertainment," Hansson's paper analyzes the festival which was held in "a singular moment in Canadian history that symbolized the country’s search for international recognition and national unity."
Read the full issue here.

U.S. Department of State: Shared publicly

Shared publicly ...
Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Rick Stengel poses for a photo with the 2016 #StateMeetUp participants prior to the start of the 10th anniversary of the International Women of Courage Award Ceremony at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C.

Americanism on Screen

Carl Eric Scott,, March 30, 2016 10:16 AM [original article contains links]

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Martha Bayles on America's Cultural Diplomacy 

I missed Martha Bayles’s essay “How the World Perceivers the New American Dream” when it first came out last fall. It is a useful sketch of the main themes discussed and researched in her 2014 book Through a Screen Darkly: Popular Culture, Public Diplomacy, and America’s Image Abroad.

Read more at:

Having just written an essay reflecting on classic Hollywood’s self-assigned mission in the 1935-ish to 1963-ish window to try serve American cultural health, and by extension, to give the world that was consuming its films a positive and less-sensationalistic sense of what our culture was about, the tid-bit I find most interesting is the Bollywood-not-Hollywood attitude of Nigerians towards today’s films:
This summer I was in Nigeria, meeting with Hausa-speaking journalists, when over lunch the subject of movies came up. One young man, recently returned from covering the ravages of the Islamist militant group Boko Haram in the country’s northeast, said that he and his wife disliked Hollywood movies because they were “too immoral.” Most Nigerians, Christians as well as Muslims, prefer Bollywood films, he told me, because they are about topics tradition-minded people can relate to, such as generational conflict over arranged marriage.
Yes, it does us little good, whether we want to fight against the current global trend of Democracy in Retreat, or whether we want to more seriously try to fight the spreading attraction of Islamist politics, when our current television and film producers are turning out the ultra-cynical, the porny, and as Bayles most astutely notices in her must-read analyses of the astounding popularity of Friends and Sex in the City abroad, the obsessed-with-extended-adolescence. The perceptions of what democratic culture finally amounts to conveyed by these shows, and similar media products, aide the efforts of those who preach Islamism, the anti-democratic “China-model” for development, etc.

 I provide more extended reflections on Bayles’s book in my epic essay “Globally-Conscious Americanism that Ain’t Globalist.” That essay is your Ellisonian, Tocquevillian, McWilliams-ian, Manentian, and Jeff Sessions-praising antidote to the dumb slogans/proposals in favor of “globalist education,” on one hand, while keeping you from the temptation to run to Trumpian inward-Americanism on the other.

To make up another label on the spot, I suppose you could say Bayles and I are for rooted interculturalism, and that part of that means there’s no getting around all Americans’ civic and cultural responsibility for what Americanism comes to mean, not just for ourselves, but for the world.

A Blueprint for China's Neighborhood Diplomacy

By Xue Li and Zheng Yuwen, The Diplomat; full text by subscription only

Image from part of article available to the non-subscribing reading public

Excerpt [from Google search]:
... China, besides inter-government relation, must develop ties with various parties in those countries, and pay attention to public diplomacy as well.

U.S. Lawmaker Congratulates BBG On Russian-Language TV Program; via TL

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – A U.S. lawmaker has congratulated two BBG networks for jointly creating and developing a Russian-language TV program that is now carried by 25 media outlets in nine countries mostly in the Russian periphery, including Ukraine.

In comments on the floor of the House of Representatives last week, Congresswoman Yvette Clarke of New York congratulated the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty for their “dramatic” work with the show Current Time, which is watched by nearly two million people online in Russia.

“Current Time draws upon a uniquely informed network of reporters and commentators to provide timely and credible news,” Clarke said.

“I urge my colleagues to join me in congratulating and supporting the Current Time team and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and the Voice of America,” she added. “Their work makes a critical contribution to supporting the freedom of the press for Russian speakers in critical regions around the world.”

Current Time, a daily 30-minute mix of live news coverage, interviews and original features related to pressing issues around the world, is reported and presented with local interests and context in mind. The show provides in-depth and up-close coverage of major news and events that are not reported or are misreported by the Kremlin-affiliated media, and it aims to correct the disinformation that is driving conflict in the region.

Current Time has grown since going on the air in October 2014. It is broadcast in Moldova, Georgia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Latvia and Israel and has expanded to a Central Asia version on stations in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan.


Laurie Moy

BBG Public Affairs


Announcing Rising Soft Powers: Turkey E-Book

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CPD is pleased to announce that “Rising Soft Powers: Turkey,” the third title in our e-book series, is now available. This publication features exclusive content original to CPD, including essays, blogs, author interviews and case studies by leading public diplomacy scholars and practitioners.
As part of our “Rising Soft Power in Emerging Markets” initiative, this e-book seeks to provide a deeper understanding of Turkish public diplomacy trends and soft power practices. Highlights from this curated collection of resources include Ellen Hujigh’s comprehensive historical overview of Turkey’s re-emergence as a soft power leader; insight on Turkey’s media culture by scholars Aysenur Dal, Erik C. Nisbet and Ali Çarkoğlu, a look at how faith-based NGOs are shaping Turkey’s public diplomacy image from CPD research scholar Senem Cevik, and more.
 “Rising Soft Powers: Turkey” is available for free download on CPD’s website. Please click here to download the e-book for iPad and Nook (.epub) and Kindle (.mobi).

Dani Dayan to be NY Consul General in a City Filled with Many Israeli "Dannys"

Jonathan Benedek,

Image from article, with caption: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, March 28 appointed former Yesha Council Chairman Dani Dayan as the next Israeli consul general in New York.

Oded Revivi, senior member of the Yesha Council [see] and mayor of the Judean city of Efrat, ... expressed his faith in Dayan’s ability to be an authentic representative of Israel.
“Dayan is a true Israeli statesman who represents all of Israel,” said Revivi. “People from across the political spectrum admire him for his unwavering moral compass and strong character. Dani will make a fine consul general in New York and will continue to represent our nation at the highest level.”
Dayan told TPS that he sees himself as being in a unique position to assume such a task in the United States.
“I believe that I can manage respectful dialogue with all shades of American society,” Dayan told TPS. “I speak the Spanish language ,which will allow me to have direct contact with Hispanics…And just as important, and perhaps most importantly, [I can connect] with all layers of Jewish society in New York and North America.”
Dayan also mentioned that his primary mission as New York consul general will be to help Israel in the public diplomacy arena.
“My main task will be advocacy-oriented,” Dayan told TPS. “I will volunteer in the already existing effort of legislative initiatives against BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel), even at the federal level.”
In a gradually growing trend, a number of states across the U.S. have passed legislation penalizing businesses that work with the BDS movement. Dayan believes that he can bring the trend to New York.
“It is certain that legislation against BDS in the State of New York will be a strategic achievement, and I believe we will achieve it,” Dayan added. “We will not give up at all on presenting the position of the State of Israel and of the Israeli government.”

Belarusian city of Brest has 13 namesakes across Europe

Brest image from, with caption: Brest Oblast is the western gate of Belarus. It borders Ukraine in the south and Poland in the west.

A photo exhibition From Brest to Brest, Like From Heart to Heart opened at the Saved Artistic Artifacts Museum in the Belarusian city of Brest on 29 March, BelTA has learned.

The exposition features around forty works by journalist and photographer Irina Shepelevich. It is a kind of creative report about two driving tours across the European cities, towns and villages bearing the name of Brest. The tours took place in 2014 and 2015. The travelers covered the total distance of over 12,000 kilometers. They visited 13 Brests in eight countries, including Poland, Germany, France, the Czech Republic, Macedonia, Serbia, Albania, and Bulgaria and came back home with a load of new contacts and cultural cooperation proposals.

Brest City Hall, diplomatic missions, and partners of the project supported the initiative to establish twinning relations between the namesake cities and towns. An idea was voiced to set up All Brests Association. The initiative found support from the European namesake cities and towns. It is expected to be implemented by the 1000th anniversary of the Belarusian Brest.

Meanwhile, the materials collected during the tours became a basis for scientific research. Its findings were presented by Alla Rossinskaya, research fellow at the Saved Artistic Artifacts Museum, at the opening of the exhibition. She told the guests of the event that the French city of Brest founded in 856 was the oldest settlement among the namesake cities and towns. It is followed by the Belarusian Brest founded in 1019.

“We were very curious to learn about the origin of the placename in each case. In all the Slavic countries historically inhabited by the West, East and South Slavs ‘Brest' means ‘birchbark' or ‘elm'. The Germans associate the name with a swamp tussock, the French Bretons with a hill, the Albanians with a belt or generation,” Alla Rossinskaya explained.

The namesake cities and towns have much in common. All of them cherish the memory of their defendants. All Brests were affected by the First and Second World Wars. “The Great Patriotic War began at the walls of the Brest Fortress, and the Czech Brest witnessed the last large-scale battle of that war on 8 May 1945. There is another surprising coincidence. The French city of Brest was liberated from the Nazi invaders on 27 July, and its Belarusian namesake was liberated a day later, on 28 July,” Alla Rossinskaya added.

The public diplomacy project will be continued. Preparations for its third stage and already underway. The travelers will visit another six Brests, including those in Montenegro, Croatia, and Canada.

The Eban Abba exchange, part 3: What could current-day Israel learn from Eban's diplomacy?

Shmuel Rosner, Jewish Journal

Eban image from article

Dr. Asaf Siniver is Associate Professor (Reader) in International Security at the University of Birmingham, UK. He specialises in the politics, diplomacy and history of the Arab-Israeli conflict, with particular emphasis on the role of external actors in the conflict and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.  ...
This exchange focuses on Dr. [Siniver’s latest book, Abba Eban: A Biography (Duckworth Overlook, 2016). Parts 1 and 2 can be found here and here. ...
Dear Shmuel,
There is very little in modern Israel that resembles the country which Eban defended so indefatigably some six decades ago. Eban’s Israel was always virtuous yet spirited; besieged yet heroic; a perpetual victim and rarely an aggressor. As the Washington Post once noted, Abba Eban’s supreme achievement was that he always judged “the grievances and rights of Israel against the ennobling perspectives of history and conscience. He is a people’s advocate – but his theme is universal justice. Such a universalist and humanist approach is perhaps less noticeable in today’s Israeli diplomacy than it was during Eban’s heyday. Shimon Peres’s famous maxim that good policy doesn’t need Hasbara (public diplomacy), and bad policy can’t be helped by the best Hasbara in the world, is certainly unsupported by Eban’s experience. During his ambassadorial years in the 1950s Eban was called repeatedly to defend his government’s actions before the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council, from Israel’s decision to divert the water of the Jordan River and the disastrous military retribution against the Arab village of Qibya in 1953 to the collusion with the French and British governments to strike against Egypt in 1956. A decade later US president Lyndon Johnson told his advisors that Foreign Minister Eban’s performance at the UN following the 1967 Six Day War “was worth several divisions to Israel.” Of course, Eban’s words alone could swing the votes at the UN General Assembly (of that Eban famously said that “If Algeria introduced a resolution declaring that the earth was flat and that Israel had flattened it, it would pass by a vote of 164 to 13 with 26 abstentions”), but his spirited and eloquent performances helped to create a more positive image of Israel abroad.
One of Eban’s most important contributions – and one which is often under-appreciated - is his contribution to the development of the special relationship between Israel and the United States. ...

Panel analyzes U.S.-Mexico relationship

Collaboration · From left, León Krauze, Arturo Sarukhan and moderator Tom Hollihan discuss the implications of the presidential election on the United States’ relationship with Mexico Tuesday. - Ziru Ling | Daily Trojan

The Center for Public Diplomacy at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism hosted a panel Tuesday to discuss the possibilities for transformation in the relationship between the United States and Mexico based on the result of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
The panelists included Arturo Sarukhan, the former Mexican Ambassador to the U.S. and a CPD distinguished fellow; León Krauze, a journalist, author and news anchor; and Pamela Starr, director of the U.S.-Mexico Network at USC and an associate professor of public diplomacy and international relations. The panel was moderated by Tom Hollihan, a professor of communication management at USC Annenberg, and centered on the bilateral ties between the two countries and the partisan rhetoric used by Democratic and Republican presidential candidates.
The panelists talked about how Mexico perceives the U.S. at this juncture, as well as the impacts of the campaign on the bilateral agenda. They also emphasized the public diplomacy footprint that will impact future relations between the U.S. and Mexico. ... 
The student attendees found that it was important to have panelists with ties to Mexico because of their differing perspectives.
“It was good to have [opinions] from people who are from Mexico or are who are studying in Mexico,” said Michael Karakashian, a graduate student in public diplomacy. “There is a difference in perception, the people who were born and raised there and are following their academic pursuits here in the states, it was very valuable to know what they think about the current presidential candidates.”
“The conference went very well,” said Sergio de la Calle, a graduate student in public diplomacy from Mexico. “It is very important to bring people from Mexico who are experts on international relations, to talk about the complex historical relation between the USA and Mexico. I think the biggest problem between both countries is that they don’t understand each other; they don’t know about each other, and that’s a politician’s profit out of this misunderstanding.”

New Report: World Leaders on Facebook

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Mar 29, 2016
Global strategic communications firm Burson-Marsteller, known for their annual Twiplomacy report, have expanded their 2016 study to encompass other social media platforms in digital diplomacy. In a follow-up to their February report,World Leaders on Instagram, Burson-Marsteller have recently released World Leaders on Facebook. U.S. President Barack Obama tops the list of most-liked leaders on Facebook, despite not featuring in either the top ten most active or most engaged leaders on the platform, while regionally, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Turkish President Recep Erdoğan were most popular in Asia and Europe, respectively. Beyond individual rankings, the report also focuses on peer connections, the most-liked pages by world leaders, and the most-visited institutions.
The full study is available here.

Quotable: Curtis Kimbrell on “bureaucratic fixes” in the information war

Tuesday, March 29th 2016

“The Islamic State is winning the information war. * * *  ‘To date, the American effort to get into the game has been half-hearted and limited to bureaucratic fixes.’”  Army Captain Curtis Kimbrell, an instructor in the Defense and Strategic Studies program at West Point, reviewed the establishment of the Global Engagement Center in an essay, “How to Win the War of Words,” on the website of theModern War Institute on February 24, 2016.  He added that “Goals that may not be able to be achieved unless the Center is elevated to a presence on the National Security Council.”  Here are some of Captain Kimbrell’s key points:

  • The United States is not making major changes to its strategic communication efforts but the bureaucratic fixes seem endless.

  • In January of this year, the US Department of State created the Center for Global Engagement giving them the responsibilities of coordinating, integrating, and synchronizing messaging to foreign audiences that undermines the disinformation espoused by violent extremist groups.

  • While the bureaucracy continues to plow ahead, others have started to take action. Since December of 2015, Anonymous has targeted and disabled many Islamic State social media efforts. Bae Systems and MTN Government are examples of industry taking action to analyze and interpret Islamic State social media efforts in order to produce actionable intelligence.

  • It is efforts like these that will lead to the end of the successful social media campaigns employed by the Islamic State. Even efforts made last week by Secretary of State John Kerry when he met with Hollywood executives to discuss the idea of creating propaganda to counter the Islamic State messages may be effective.

  • We can only hope that the bureaucratic efforts end and the Global Engagement Center will deliver on its stated implementation plan by:

  • Seeking out and engaging the best talent, within the technology sector, government and beyond

►Engaging across our government to coordinate, integrate and synchronize counter-terrorism communications directed toward foreign audiences;
►Identifying and enabling international partners with credibility and expertise
            ►Establishing and implementing a campaign-focused culture;
►Scaling up data science and analytics and using both throughout the design, implementation and evaluation phases of these campaigns;
►Providing seed funding and other support to NGOs and media startups focused on countering violent extremist messaging;
►Identifying gaps in U.S. Government messaging and counter- messaging capabilities directed toward foreign audiences, and recommending steps to resolve them; and
►Sharing information and best practices with U.S. Government agencies focused on the challenge of homegrown violent extremism.
►Amplifying the successes of the Counter-ISIL Coalition in defeating ISIL on both the military and information battlefield.

  • These are lofty implementation goals. Goals that may not be able to be achieved unless the Center is elevated to a presence on the National Security Council. This presence is required for one simple reason; information is an instrument of national power. Honing this instrument will eventually lead to success and we will see the Islamic State’s social media campaign finally begin to falter.

Prevent the Destruction of Scarborough Shoal

By Sean R. Liedman, The Diplomat [full text only by subscription]

image from article

Extract [from Google Search]
A strategy to prevent reclamation activities on Scarborough Shoal should begin with public diplomacy pronouncements that the United States will not ... 

#MWF2016: A Stroll With Dehab Ghebreab, Public Affairs Officer, US Consulate Lagos

Ebenezar Wikina, Digital Diplomat, Digital Journalist, Digital Evangelist,

“Goal 4 and 5 are very important to me and they are connected. I believe if there’s good and equal education in a country, and if there are fair laws that protect women and girls and give them equal opportunity to excel, I think the overall political and economic situation of a country will change” ~Dehab Ghebreab
I was not so lucky this year with my 2016 Mandela Washington Fellowship application, and I know a couple of young Africans who are feeling quite disappointed because they didn’t make it too. Not too worry, today’s stroll has good news for you.

The US Government’s diplomatic mission in Nigeria—and Africa in general—provides a lot of developmental opportunities via exchange programs for young people who are passionate about impacting positive change in their communities. Dehab Ghebreab, Public Affairs Officer, US Consulate Lagos, told me about the Mandela Washington Fellowship and other exchange programs by the US Government in Nigeria and Africa and how young people can take advantage of these opportunities.
Dehab and I also discussed #Africa4Her, International Women’s Day 2016, her journalism and political science background, and how she’s personally contributing to the SDGs in her corner of the world. You can download our conversation on #StrollPodcast, or read a summarized transcript below.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship (MWF)
Dehab: I’ll like to start by just giving you a background. When President Obama visited Ghana in 2009, the one thing that he highlighted was that young African leaders should be empowered to develop their leadership skills and be included in the political and economic discourse. So in 2011 the Young African Leaders Program was announced by President Obama, and in 2013 when he visited Johannesburg he announced the Mandela Washington Fellowship Program. Since then we’ve had participants in 2014, 2015, and now for 2016 the nominees are currently being screened in Washington DC.
In Nigeria the fellowship has been a large part of the entire program for the Sub Saharan Africa. In the first year we received about, 14, 000 plus applications, the second year about 7,000, and this past year over 10,000 applications. Also the program has doubled from 50 participants to 100 in Nigeria and from 500 to 1,000 for Sub Saharan Africa. MWF has been phenomenal in terms of what it is doing to help young people develop leadership skills.
Another YALI component that is helping African youth is the YALI Network. Young Africans can take online courses on leadership and global issues and get recognition for completing the course. The courses offer professional and leadership development free of charge to thousands African youth.
(Front Row: Public Affairs Officer, United States Consulate General, Lagos, Dehab Ghebreab, (right); Public Diplomacy Officer, Rhonda Watson, (left); with Mandela Washington Fellows selected from the 17 states in the Consular District of Southern Nigeria, during a Pre-Departure Orientation program in Lagos on Tuesday. Photo: U.S. Consulate General, 2015)
Testimony Time: This is how MWF changed their Lives...
Dehab: In terms of testimonials, I can share with you three highlights from the 2014 Mandela Washington Fellowship alumni. Temitayo Etomi participated in the 2014 program. She used to work for the Lagos State Government as a general manager, and then she moved on to work in the marketing field, and she singlehandedly decided to create something called, “The Young Business Leaders of Nigeria.” Her goal is to bring 20-22 young outstanding entrepreneurs from across Nigeria to Lagos for an eight-week training program on leadership and business acumen. It’s similar to the program that she participated in as a MWF in 2014. She raised funds to pay for all the costs of the program and will do it every year. This is inspiring as this is a young woman who is replicating a program for young entrepreneurs in order to increase employment opportunities for young people in Nigeria.
Another young woman I want to mention is Ndifreke Andrew-Essien, MWF alumna. She is physically challenged but that hasn’t stopped her from achieving her dreams. She went on to get a Bachelor’s of Science and a Master’s degree in Human Physiology. Now she has created Freky Andrew-Essien Care Foundation, an NGO that plans and implements programs that provide basic support services in education, health, and development in vulnerable communities. Most importantly, when she travelled to Ghana, she had problems getting into a small aircraft to travel from Accra to Kumase due to lack of a ramp. As the case is in many places in Africa, nobody paid attention to providing access to people with disability. Her experience in Ghana prompted a legislation that calls for adequate access for people with disability.
Finally, I’d like to mention a young man, Adebayo Alonge, MWF alumnus. He is in the health sector and counsels HIV patients and distributes pharmaceuticals. He is the founder of Lusoy Investments Limited, an organization that tests practical approaches to low cost generic drug distribution to help the needy. During the Ebola virus breakout here in Lagos, he collaborated with the Lagos Business School to hold a week-long training for medical personnel using his contacts at YALE University. I could go on and on with the amazing success stories of the MWF alumni.
The Carrington Youth Fellowship Initiative
Other Exchange Programs by the US Government in Nigeria
Dehab: Here in my office, the Public Affairs Section of the US Consulate, and also in Abuja, we have a number of exchange programs, and some of the traditional exchange programs are;
The Fulbright Scholarship focuses mainly on academics. It’s for university faculties in Nigeria who are interested in either going to America to teach or do research or American faculties who come to Nigeria to spend one or two semesters teaching or doing research. The Fulbright Program is the flagship program of the US Government and it’s been going on since 1946.
The Humphrey Fellowship Program is for mid-level professionals. Professionals with five to ten years’ experience can apply for the program. Selected individuals join others at a university setting for ten months of academic courses and are able to do internships before they return to their countries.
We have a lot of smaller programs but one of the large programs is what we call the International Visitor Leadership Program. Here in Nigeria we send about 40 mid-level professionals. Selected individuals spend three weeks with other participants in thematic programs such as good governance, managing NGOs, investigative journalism, U.S. Foreign Policy and other topics. Participants visit three to four locations in the US and it’s supposed to give them a good exposure.
Let me mention one more program that is really home-grown here at the Consulate. It’s called the Carrington Youth Fellowship Initiative (CYFI). This program actually started about four years ago by young American diplomats who wanted to engage Nigerian youth. Selected Nigerians develop a community project with the assistance of the American officers. They implement their programs over one year while acquiring professional development. CYFI was also extended to Rivers State a year ago. The participants implement impactful community projects. We’ve had four cohorts graduating in the past four years.
#Africa4Her: What is the African Woman’s Biggest Challenge?
Dehab: There are definitely serious challenges in all areas; whether it is in politics or the economy or civil society, or even in the work place. Women are underrepresented in policy making. Our push from the US Government has been women’s leadership and meaningful participation in Government, in the economy, and civil society. Women’s full participation would accelerate economic development, improve health and education, and advance democracy, not only in Nigeria but all across the world. So, for us, as a nation, this is an important area that we promote in many different ways.
This year in particular the Consulate has been able to issue small grants ranging from $4,000 to $9,000 to 11 organizations. This is focused on women’s development in various areas like the STEM subjects, journalism, and much more. We’re really proud of what we’ve done in the past year.
About Dehab Ghebreab
Dehab: I was born and raised in Eritrea, but most of my adult life for the last 45 years has been in the United States. I did my first degree in journalism, and my second degree in political science. And I worked for Al Jazeera newspaper, published then in Saudi Arabia, for about six years. I also worked for Mass Transit for two years before I joined the US Information Agency and then the State Department. In the State Department, I’ve a dream job. I’ve worked hard and have been given opportunities to rise-up. Without any doubt, the US Government provides development opportunities for employees and promotion opportunities are based on performance/merit. I’m proud to be a member of the Department of State’s Senior Foreign Service. I served for four months as Acting Consul General following the departure of CG Jeff Hawkins. We now have a new consulate general, John Bray, who arrived in November. So my title is Public Affairs Officer.
Dehab in a group photograph with the participants of the “Code4Impact”

#MySDGs: What is your favorite SDG(s) and what will you do to contribute to its Achievement by 2030?
Dehab: My background, as I shared earlier, is in journalism and political science, but my heart and soul has been to inspire people to do well in education—not only girls but boys as well. Fortunately because that’s where my heart and soul is, I made the switch. I pivoted a little bit but it’s still connected to what I do. So, in the last 27 years, I’ve had opportunities to work with young people from all across the world. Before joining the Foreign Service, I was facilitating exchanges programs for American teachers who swapped positions with teachers from other countries. So, my favorite goals are #4 education, and #5 gender equality. Quality of education and gender equality are paramount to me and they linked. If the quality of education is good in a country and if society encourages equal opportunities for boys and girls, the country has a better chance to strengthen its democracy and prosper. My work gives me an opportunity to do as much as I can in education and gender parity.
Food for the Soul: “Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth theLord, she shall be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30, KJV)
(Images Credit: Dehab Ghebreab, US Consulate Lagos)