Public Diplomacy and Global Communication 2014b

The Unique Nature of British Diplomacy

Britain has a rich, long tradition of diplomacy. British diplomacy has evolved over time from its heyday of the British Empire, to its consistent rebranding and repositioning of the UK’s priorities e in this post-colonial world. Britain has a very unique position in the world- as its part of the G8, G20, the P5 Security Council (SC), The United Nations (UN), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the European Union (EU) and the Commonwealth; as well as being a Nuclear State. By its membership of these organisations, it gives the UK an opportunity to influence the most important decisions affecting the world. By having that power, it allows the UK to be able to punch above its weight in this new world; and use different avenues to try and reach the outcome that her people would be satisfied with.

But the UK also wields significant soft power across the world. The best diplomat and most recognised figure is the Queen. What Her Majesty and the Royal family are able to do is open up new avenues and borders across the world, especially in Monarchical countries in the Middle East. The Royal family is recognised as the most famous head of state; and the UK are able to use Her Majesty’s family’s role to great effect across the world. Another important tool wielding power is the BBC World Service. It is world-renowned as an impartial broadcast network, where it reaches over 260 million people across the world each week. It has been very effective in its broadcasts across the globe, and reaches out to countries where foreign broadcasts are either banned or highly restricted. It is allowed into places where other broadcasts are not, because of its reputation. In recent years, this form of soft power diplomacy has been under threat, as the Foreign Office have stopped funding the World Service; and its long-term funding is in danger. Supporters such as Robin Brown see this as one of the major successes of UK Diplomacy as it is so respected and revered across the world.


Culture is another big part of Britain’s soft power diplomacy. This has been rebranded as John Major’s countryside and Cricket of the UK, to the late 90’s, when Cool Britannia ruled. This was based on Britpop in music, British bulldog, and those satire shows which the UK is unique for; to the more recent GREAT Campaign, which condensed with the Olympics. Also within the realm of culture, the UK is benefitting from another hidden rebrand- which is a revolution of the creative industry in the UK. There have been big music artists such as Adele, One Direction and Sam Smith; big blockbuster movies such as James Bond, and such TV shows as Pop Idol, and X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing, and shows such as Top Gear, and drama shows such as Downturn Abbey and Dr Who. There have also been other such comedy, artistic and cookery shows. What has occurred in the last decade is a big shift in how British soft power is presented, which has blended the old with the traditional such as the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics to this more modern Britain- which is seen as fun, quirky and exciting.

Opening ceremony

Of course, there are critics to this style of diplomacy. The UK is viewed internationally as a falling power, and is merely holding on to these positions through historical links, rather then actual meaningful power. Through austerity, there is a visible decline in their presence. The UK’s diplomatic ability has been weakened through the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; its reputation has taken a knock. Also within Europe, Britain has never taken a serious role in helping to develop the European Project.; and more recently, it has been flirting with leaving the Union. This has left the UK in a precarious position vis-a-vis its neighbours. Other critics would point out that nation branding actually does not work. People such as Simon Anholt would argue that the reputation of a country is very hard to change. He recently pointed out that the Olympics had no impact on Britain’s reputation in the world, despite heavy investment in using the GREAT Brand in the run-up to the Games.

Miltary Power weakened

To conclude, I feel Britain has successfully rebranded and repositioned itself in the world. It has taken time, but the UK understands that their strength is using soft power which is effective and credible. There are difficulties with the negotiation in Europe to come, and the future direction of the UK; however, at this present moment, the Unique Nature of British Diplomacy is working.


BBC World News (2014) BBC’s global news audiences increase to record 265m

Writer .S (2014) Rule Britannia! Britain still second strongest, ‘global power’ in the world, says study

Creative Industry (2014) WHY CHOOSE UK TV & FILM? 


Public DIplomacy Networks and Influence (2011) Was There a Cool Britannia Campaign?

Telegraph Staff (2012) Government’s worldwide advertising campaign to boost London 2012 Olympics tourism rolled out (The inside and outside of a New York subway train will be wrapped in the Union Jack flag as part of a campaign aimed at encouraging tourism to London in 2012.)

Anholt. S (2012) The Risks of Hosting a Successful Olympics


What impact has Sports have in the realms of Diplomacy

Sports and Politics have had an uncomfortable relationship, which dates all the way back from the first modern day Olympics back in 1896, to modern day Football, the FIFA World Cup. Sports has been used as a tool to use to break down barriers which normal diplomacy is unable to do. There have been famous occasions, such as the Ping Pong match between China and the US; as well as the Apartheid Sports ban in South Africa: where they were denied any Rugby and Cricket and even the Olympics. The Olympics has been much politicised by stressing the importance of the flag, and how nations, some which are at war, can come together and unite every 4 years under one flag.

The Olympic flag is carried during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium July 27, 2012.     REUTERS/David Gray (BRITAIN  - Tags: OLYMPICS SPORT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)

The Olympic flag is carried during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium July 27, 2012. REUTERS/David Gray (BRITAIN – Tags: OLYMPICS SPORT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)

One of the most famous rivalries between India and Pakistan at Cricket is consistently used as a starting point of diplomatic talks. Ever since the Mumbai bombings in 2008, relationships between these two nations have been frosty. A lot of blame and anger has surfaced in both nations, with diplomatic ties being non-existent. It wasn’t until the Cricket World Cup in 2011, where India and Pakistan were to meet in the semi-final, when concerted efforts were made to regain meaningful diplomatic ties. Only then did Prime Minister Singh invited the Pakistani leader Zardari for talks in India. What this did was open the door for more dialogue between these nations.

Cricket diplomacy

This also led to a historic moment last year, when the new Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi got elected, and invited for the first time the Pakistan leader Nawaz Sharif to his inauguration. It doesn’t mean that all the problems have been sorted; however, what cricket did was open up a channel of negotiation and the possibility of establishing diplomatic ties, which would have been harder to reach, if such a sporting event had not taken place.

This is further evident in the famous so-called “ping pong diplomacy” match between the US and China. What was fascinating about this was, we were in a different era when the Cold War was at its peak. The US were fighting in Vietnam; and China was a very closed, secretive, and isolated communist state. A match between the US and China in Beijing took place on the back of the world championship in Japan 1971. The connotations of this invitation went well beyond the context of sport. It was seen as an invitation for the West, and partially America, to enter China and break this isolationist policy, developed over many decades. It opened up a channel between the US and China. The slogan of the match was called “Friendship First, Competition Second”.

This was really significant, as prior to this, China did not send anyone outside their nation to compete or travel across the world. Thus, with their participation, many people were enabled to glimpse China for the first time. What also played a significant part in this was the friendship and respect between American and the Chinese Table Tennis players. It gave the opportunity for both nations to start diplomatic talks, which began in February 1972 when President Nixon travelled to Beijing for a week-long visit.

China US relations

However, Sports Diplomacy does have some major limitations. The FIFA World Cup has spawned many issues and scandals both on and off the field. Many governments view hosting major sporting events as a way to improve nation-branding. But Critics such as Simon Anholt do not believe that sporting events actually affect the national brand, and in certain circumstances, it makes it worse. He would argue that the example of South Africa hosting the FIFA World Cup actually did more harm to the country, as images of a nation of poverty and crime were beamed across the world.

This message overshadowed the more positive one of South Africa being this vibrant new world economic power, which is looking to propel itself and use the World Cup as a springboard. FIFA has also been embroiled in an alleged big corruption case, with the awarding of the World Cup to Qatar. There have been over 1000 migrants dying, as a result of the construction work in Qatar, and the impact has been seen in a negative light. With the corruption scandal deepening and the FIFA president stepping down, the so called “beautiful game” has actually had the opposite effect to effective diplomacy- with deepening divides between each continent and the host countries in 2018 and 2222.

In conclusion, it is evident that Sports Diplomacy certainly has a place in trying to help reach a starting point for negotiations. It certainly does not provide all the answers to solving problems; and, as mentioned overleaf, can be a hindrance at times. However, it can be used as a good starting point for negotiations to begin. It can break down the opening barriers and give a reason for countries to start talking; and, I believe, it is becoming a more important tool for diplomacy. It has the scope to be used more often.


Iftikhar. M (2014) The role of cricket in the India-Pakistan conflict

Hashim. A (2014) Timeline: India-Pakistan relations (A timeline of the rocky relationship between the two nuclear-armed South Asian neighbours.)

Pidd. H (2012) Pakistan and India resume cricket diplomacy with bilateral match series (Series of five Pakistan-India matches, the first since Mumbai attacks in 2008, could help thaw relations between countries)

 DeVoss. D (2002) Ping-Pong Diplomacy (Blending statecraft and sport, table tennis matches between American and Chinese athletes set the stage for Nixon’s breakthrough with the People’s Republic)

Griffin. N (2014) Table for Two (Countries) (‘Ping-Pong Diplomacy,)

BBC Article (2014) Narendra Modi inauguration: Pakistan PM Sharif invited

Macramalla. E (2015) Why Sepp Blatter Stepped Down As FIFA President

Johnston. Y (2010) Simon Anholt’s view on Brand South Africa is, well, wrong

The Real Impact of the CNN effect

People laughed and sneared at the same time when CNN became the first network to do 24/7 news. Little that people knew or expected that this change could have so much impact on the world stage and in 1990 the golf war revolutionized everything in the media. When the Gulf War was at its peak CNN were the only network which were able to give live updates on the situation on the ground which was broadcast across America. Even the President George H Bush was getting most of his information through the CNN coverage. The impact was incredible as it gave ordinary Americans a chance to get a feel of what looked like live and just like the Vietnam War shifted public opinion, which in turn this forced Americans policy makers to react to the live situation. This is known as the CNN effect.

Though the CNN effect goes much future than this. There are two major impacts of the CNN effect a first media revolution occurred and a political revolution. Looking at the media first what we saw throughout the 90s was this growth of 24 hour news across the Western world from the Fox to BBC to France 24. The appetite for news and reporting real life events became the norm. Iconic events such as the 9/11 attacks or the 7/7 attacks in London where the pictures were enough to tell the story. What it does domestically the images play on the public’s mind and forces governments to act in a way that it might not have if there wasn’t 24/7 news channel. It helps shape public opinion. What it has also done is forces governments to react to situations quicker which in some ways could be seen as a bad thing especially if the situation requires a more longer term solution.

But also politically these news channels were very important as it could be used as a tool of soft power. There has been a big increase of these channels becoming global such as CNN international, BBC World News. It allowed to spin situations and give a Western Point of view. Many would argue this is an effective tool of propaganda. What this does is reach a global audience and try and influence indirectly the opinions of millions across the world. We have seen rapid growth in this area as governments use fund the networks to portray there nation. A BBC World Service Report quoted once saying “an ambassador of Britain’s values and an agent of soft power in the world” (

To Counter this we have seen a rise of Eastern 24/7 international news channels over the last decade. We have seen Russia Today (RT), al-Jazeera, (Middle Eastern Qatar Royal Family funded) China Central Television (CCTV), New Delhi Television Limited (NDTV) a real explosion of new networks growing to counterbalance the Western World. Politically very important as it’s a way to showcase the best of their country and the ability to keep the political equilibrium. Also it allows to reach a vast international audience and it’s seen as an great symbol of power. As we run in austere times there is a interesting change is coming as a lot of the Western Powers look to cut funding for there national broadcasts but a lot of the developing world are investing more money and trying to fill the gap. So we have seen big expansions in RT having a British channel, Al-Jazeera and CCTV having a English speaking channel while the BBC and France 24 and other Western channels are cutting back. Some see this as the political spectrum swinging towards Eastern Nations.

The real impact of the CNN effect was one of visual impact. It shaped public opinion it allowed for national debate and allowed news to be up to date and current. But it also had this hidden impact which it served a important purpose of power and symbol. On the international stage people watched and politically it was used as soft power across the world. It allowed to have that American point of view on each situation. This was very encouraging for governments and across the Western world this expansion happened. It was seen as a symbol of power and in the last decade the growth of the Eastern Markets with the shift of power moving more towards the East.

Does “Old” Diplomacy Work in the new world?

Twitter, Facebook, Whatsapp, Skype these are the new “normal” ways to communicate to one another these days. The way communication and news is spread is changing faster than any of us can image. The power of this new media has had ripple effects across the world from China having to censor a lot of information to the Arab Spring where technology was used to start the uprising to using technology to help win elections like they have in the US and India. With the world landscape changing and turning should the way diplomacy also change and reform to reflect the times. Does there need to be a face to face discussions or can it be down through Skype?

The World Network

The Old Style DIplomacy is very much state centric. It is worked through its foreign office or development offices. There work varies but a lot of there major work is on the so called track one diplomacy in where communications and interactions are done between governments mostly. Many would argue that this is a very important tool to do face to face. You can work out a lot of the emotions and feel that a skype call would be unable to do, it provides that critical face to face time where a relationship can be worked on which in many situations is critical for a deal to be struck. Throughout time this has been seen to be the best method of negotiation and we can point to examples such as the end of the Soviet Union and the relationship between Gorbachev and Reagan or the Good Friday Peace Agreement or more recently the nuclear deal between the P5 plus Germany and Iran. In each situation the need for track one diplomacy was critical to broker many of these agreements.

Arab Spring

But in this new world we are seeing new trends occurring. The obvious example is the Arab Spring where millions of people across the Middle East and parts of Africa rose up to overthrow there governments. During this period the changing nature of events were occurring at a rapid rate the protesters were organised through social media such as facebook and twitter and also much of the news coming from both sides coming through social media. There was no time for negotiations and face to face meetings to occur. Also we can argue that these secret meetings that happen between governments are becoming harder to remain confidential. We have see,n over the past fews years many high profile hacking cases, the leeks of many confidential files by Edward Snowden and Julian Assange. This could be argued that the old style of diplomacy is under threat and some say outdated as there is no such thing as private meetings and the new style of open diplomacy should be embraced.

diplomacy pic

That being said the nature of many of these negotiations are no longer simplified to states vs states.We are seeing a big rise in the track two diplomacy. This is where non state actors play a much bigger role. This could range from having Non-governmental organisations  involved to pressure groups to other individuals. A good example of this is the climate negotiations where there are states involved, pressure groups, businesses and other important people brought together to try and reach an agreement. This type of type two diplomacy is becoming a more influential and more important as we are in this globalised world where the state, in most situations, are not the only actor.

Many argue that old diplomacy is needed just as much today as it did in the past. If we look more closely at the Arab Spring again we can argue there has been changes to many of the governments but we can also argue that the region in the Middle East in more unstable then it ever has been. Governments are unstable in many of these nations, in Egypt a full 360 degree process happened where Egypt have another military dictator and the rise of IS (ISIS) have been able to grow and become a threat in many of the unstable countries in the Middle East.

In Conclusion, I believe that old diplomacy does have a place in the new world. A lot of changes are occurring and situations are becoming more complex however, the state is still the most important body. It has all the tools, expertise and knowledge to deal with many of these situations. But, this isnt to count out the new styles of diplomacy. There are definite merits and in fast changing situations can be very useful to use. Also can be used a lot in the type two diplomacy and if the right balance is able to be achieved then the new world can incorporate new technologies to help diplomacy flourish.


Taki. M & Coretti. L (2013) Westminster papers in communication and Culture (Volume 9)

Omidyar. P (2014)  Social Media: Enemy of the State or Power to the People?

Géraud. A  Diplomacy, Old and New

Nan. S (2003)  What is Track-one Diplomacy 

Homans. C (2011)  Track II Diplomacy: A Short History (How the left-field idea of diplomacy without diplomats became an essential tool of statecraft.)

Mandhana. N (2015) How India’s Narendra Modi Became a Social Media #Superstar

Is the involvement of the celebrity’s diplomacy in solving conflicts real or just for show?

There has been a recent trend of celebrities being involved in politics from making comments that trend worldwide to actually standing for a political position. However, is there popularity being used to resolve conflict or is that just how it seems to us as a result of what the media is showing us. Some worldwide celebrities such as Bradd Pitt and Angelina Jolie appear to be using their fame and the money form the celebrity status to set up funds and donate to charity. This would suggest therefore that the celebrity involvement is creating peace and aiding improvement in the conditions in conflicting states. However, is this money being donated by them at being received at a price for politics? Is Brad Pitt paying for political influence? He is for example known as an opponent of California’s proposition 8 which was a organisation against same sex marriage. This would make it seem that Celebrities cannot really just donate without actually being involved in the politics. Celebrities have also made controversial decisions which could be seen as slightly risky. For example famous Actor Arnold Schwarzenenger[1] now the governor of California signed legislation to end the states investment in Sudan to pressure the nation into stopping the genocidal violence in its Darfur Region in 2006. This move in itself shows that celebrity/politicians make decisions which might not necessarily be seen as correct by everyone.

Oprah Winfrey is also known for her support of Barack Obama in his campaign in 2008 and continuous to provide this support. This however makes you question is it fair that celebrities are involved in politics which some would argue they have little knowledge about. They are simply using their fame and personality to influence politics.

[2]Here is an image showing Talkshow Host Oprah Winfrey standing behind Barack Obama and giving him support in the election. Her role is questionable.


This example with Oprah shows that celebrities are often involved in politics by supporting a certain politician or a political party. They usually have more respect from the audience than the politicians they support. This is unfair on those politicians who are unable to get celebrity support since even though they may have suitable ways to resolve conflicts, the fact that they do not have celebrity support puts them in a weak position. [3]

This leads you to the question of is it right that this glamour is being added to the elections. Is this taking away the essence of seriousness that politics and the issues that are supposed to be dealt with in politics.

It would therefore seem that the involvement in celebrities in politics is aiding conflict rather than actually preventing it. However, there is no way to really prevent the involvement of celebrities in politics given their high status and the popularity and possibly power they exercise over people. We look up to these people for one reason or another therefore in recognition of this they will continue to be involved.

[1] When celebrities get involved (The Washington Post) available at

[2] Image at last visited 20/03/2015.


What was the Impact of the Social Media FB & Twitter on Arab Spring?

What was the impact of the social media FB & Twitter on Arab Spring?

By Kamal Konda

The Arab spring was a revolutionary number of protests, some violent some peaceful which took place across various Arab countries. There was protests in Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Morocco, and Oman, Kuwait, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Sudan.The cause of the revolution is said to be the dissatisfaction of citizens with the local governments of the country. Some of the protests were seen to have positive impact, for example resulting in change of government whilst others not so successful, with violent responses by government authorities being received. There has been many claims that this upheaval in the Middle East known as the Arab Spring was highly impacted by the social media such as Facebook and Twitter. [1] The events that took part which are now known as the Arab Spring has created a debate about what the role of social media was during these events.

Here is an image of the type of events that took place during the Arab Spring. As you can see there was masses of people involved. The picture of the little boy praying shows that there was a feeling of hope that comes across from the people involved in these revolutionary protests. [2]


The question arises whether social media sparked the Arab Springs. Some people believe that social media allowed the younger generations to discuss new ideas and gave them that platform where something can be planned in order to put their ideas across.  It is accepted that many activists used social media as a platform to gain support for the events that took place. Facebook, in particular provided information to those that were involved in the Arab Springs which the governments of the countries where the revolutions were taking place could not have control over. The majority of the countries where these protests did take place are known for the high level of control they exercise over their countries and the citizens of it and therefore social media was an aspect that was much out of the control of those running countries. It therefore allowed for events such as protests and demonstrations to be planned without much interference of authorities. [3]

Social Media definitely helped the message of the protests spread much quicker, therefore allowing more people to be involved in the protests and the message that was being delivered. Young people are known for their increased use of social media, therefore it arguably gave them an upper hand against governments who use Facebook much less. This is arguable easy to see given that the governments in countries such as Facebook did a lot to try and block access to social Media such as Facebook. This led on to protests with slogans on why Facebook should not be banned.

The above would suggest that social media had a significant impact on the Arab Springs. However, others have argued that the events during the Arab Spring was fuelled and spread as a result of the dissent of the people and whether there was social media available or not would not have had such a big impact on how those events unfolded and the widespread nature of them.

However, if we look at government action in most countries it would suggest media did have a big impact and was actually seen as a threat by most governments. For example in Libya, the Libyan government tried to influence the people by playing patriotic songs on the radio. This would suggest that the government was aware of how the public was being influenced.[4]

There is also the idea that social media was actually also used by the governments whom those protests were aimed against. Without admitting it, it was used tactically be officials to keep themselves in the picture of what was going on.

Overall social media definitely had a massive impact on the Arab Spring, from the initial knowledge that those involved in the change protests got from social media, to being used as a tool for planning as well as something that kept all those involved up to date with the events that were taking place.

[1] last accessed 20/03/2015

[2] Image at last visited 21/03/2015.

[3] Lever,R. Arab Spring: Did social media really spark revolutions? (2013) Washington.

[4] last visited 21/03/2015.

The Canadian PDP


In order to promote the unity, the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs had initiated in a year 1998 an ambitious public diplomacy programme which aimed overall to illustrate the international domain to popularizing the domestic unity. The DPD has been basically formed to construct the national identity and attaches citizens to Canada, reveals a unified Canada, abroad, in return it expected to boost the national public debate about the unity. The programme is really an innovative approach. Originally, the duration time of the programme was two years, any potential extension or a permanent funding depended on the outcome results of the evaluation process. The following question will be gradually discussed in this blog context; to what extent did the programme successfully fulfilled its initial goals. It was necessary to look at some accompanied features and expose the ultimate findings, that have been connoted in a descriptive evaluation report which was released by the Canadian Foreign Affairs FAC ..

I had the first contact with the Canadian public diplomacy strategy when I was researching and working on an essay about the new public diplomacy, where I had the opportunity to come across this book: Branding Canada by Evan H. Potter published in 2009. It shows how Canada projects its soft power through public diplomacy. it was fascinating the notion of designing  a programme of public diplomacy using foreign citizen, but in facts essential target is the promotion of Canadian’s unity. As it is known, there is a clash of culture between the French and English districts with serious attempts from the French nation to secede. While I was reading the PDP evaluation report and perceived its purpose, I started to think about the Canadian PDP aims to maintain the unity, despite the cultural differences. While my mother land Sudan had missed a golden opportunity to conserve the unity, when the warring parties signed in 2005 a comprehensive peace agreement, where politicians and peace negotiators from the Government of Sudan GoS and the rebel movement SPLA/M agreed upon many issues such as power sharing, an interim period of six years which should culminate with a internationally monitored referendum for southern region only, and secession. During the interim period a joined government so called “Government of National Union” should work towards making the unity attractive for the Southerners and persuading them to vote for united Sudan. The project of unity failed, because the Government of the National Union was not working efficiently and sufficiently to make the unity attractive. Far more culture and religious differences encouraged the option of secession. Consequently, Southern Sudan breaks away from the mother land Sudan in July 2007. Back to the Canadian PDP assessment: the evaluation led by the foreign affairs ensured that the programme has not changed, although new sub-objectives have been added in, and it started to prevail in improving, social cohesion and increasing the belonging sentiment which in return helps to promote the objective of unity. The PDP provided a funding for the Canadian’s missions to overseas encouraging diplomats to reflect efficiently Canadian’s culture and values which would promote the country image. The PDP has established a framework for the missions in a different geographical area and the funding provided must at least be used in one of these issues, values, culture and interests, promotion of democracy and good governance, promotion of La Francophonia and creating of dialogue in international policy issues.

PDP used the funding provided by foreign affairs and the national stakeholder to target in abroad specific media and civil institutions those who criticise the Canadian’s politics. Working in partnership and leverage of resources in abroad is an essential part of the programme. Canadian films have also played role to promote the image of the country in the posts a report to the evaluation of PDP shows the films have fulfilled the aim of reflecting the cultural and values broadly in some countries. The evaluation of the programme has also talked about evidence that there was a great achievement of positive influencing in domestic policy such as education, immigration and federalism.

The PDP is getting to fulfil its initial objectives through using the international arena in branding the image of Canada worldwide which will have good impact on promoting the Canadian’s unity.


  1. Book

Title     :        Branding Canada:

Author:         Evan Potter

Publisher:     McGill Queens University Press

Publication: 2009 Montreal

  1. Web site of:

Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada

Evaluation of Public Diplomacy Programme of the Foreign Affairs Canada July 2005


Sports Diplomacy – Is it for Everybody?

There has been many talks about how major sports events can improve a countries image abroad. Many countries use such an approach, but the talks about it have become more profound with the 2012 Olympics in London and the FIFA World Cups in South Africa in 2010 and in Brazil in 2014. It has been said that the image of the UK is already really good and organizing such an event well would not have such an influence on the country’s image. But Brazil and South African are totally different story.

Brazil and South Africa are not as developed as UK is, for example, and they are still often seen as developing countries with significantly low living standards. Because of that international image, both Brazil and South Africa expected to improve their image through FIFA World Cups. One could say that the attempts by both of the countries have failed miserably. There are many reasons for that.

For example, the video clips used by different media outlets between the football games or half-times were filmed in both countries. Such an action is not extraordinary itself, but the fact that both of the countries hoped to improve their image through these video clips is. That is because many of these clips showed the everyday-life in the countries or regions where the games were held in order to show the life of regular people. Yet what the world saw from these video clips, and the reactions to these were not what the Brazilian more than the South African governments and organizers expected. The world saw the life of regular people in these two countries – people is slums, underdevelopment, poverty, et cetera. Did such images help to improve these countries image? Probably not. What the rest of the world realized was that the high development that was believed to be happening in South Africa and Brazil were not as high and far-reaching. One could argue that if these countries wanted to improve their image on an international level through major sports events, and through the media coverage that the organizers made available, they should have chosen a different perspective. For example, the video clips that were shown across the globe might have been about the nature of the countries, and not about the slums. At least a significant images of nature might have increased tourism, as was expected the World Cup would do.

Another aspect the organizing countries seemed not to realize was that no matter how good the event was, the money spent and decisions made would overshadow that achievement. Both of the countries spent huge amounts of money to be able to organize the World Cup. South Africa spent approximately 3bn[i] pounds and Brazil spent more than 11bn dollars[ii]. The money issue was more significant in Brazil, because the organizers built new football stadiums, some in regions that are highly uninhabited. Many stadiums are now disused[iii] or used for something else that football[iv]. Such developments have made people question is it right of the governments and organizers to use significant amounts of money for an event that’s outcome for the country’s image is highly unpredictable.

All in all, one could argue that the importance countries place on sports diplomacy and major sport events might not be for everybody. It might improve country’s image, but it might also do severe damage. That might be the case especially if the organizing country is considered to be developing, does not have a strong international image, or wants to improve it through one event.

[i] Meate, R., 2010, “South Africa recoups just a tenth of the £3bn cost of staging World Cup 2010”, The Telegraph, (accessed 14.05.2015)

[ii] Rapoza, K., 2014, “Bringing FIFA To Brazil Equals To Roughly 61% Of Education Budget”, Forbes (accessed 14.05.2015)

[iii] Manfred, T., 2015, “Brazil’s $3 billion World Cup stadiums are becoming white elephants a year later”, Business Insider, (accessed 13.05.2015)

[iv] Stromberg, J., 2015, “Brazil’s $900 million World Cup stadium is now being used as a parking lot”, Vox, (accessed 13.05.2015)

The risks of disaster diplomacy and why China gets it right

On 25 April, the earthquake hit Nepal and while the international community is still in shock about the scope of the catastrophe, some serious disaster diplomacy is going on in the background. Considered as a ‘nontraditional’ tool of diplomacy,

“Disaster diplomacy is concerned with the extent to which disaster-related activities – prevention, mitigation, response and recovery – induce cooperation between enemy parties, internationally or nationally.” (Kelman & Gaillard, 2007)

Nepal Earthquake

Image: Gross, 2015

China immediately sent a 62-member disaster response unit accompanied by 6 search-and-rescue dogs along with 20.5 tons of aid to Nepal (Seemangal, 2015). This way, the country is aiming at strengthening diplomatic ties with Nepal which so far were largely based on economic relations. In 2014, China emerged as Nepal’s biggest investor, while it used its financial strength to exert influence at all political levels in Nepal (ibid.). By employing disaster diplomacy, China is playing out the soft skill card and is thereby portraying itself as the supporter of the oppressed; when in March, the Chinese Foreign Minister held a press conference to announce China’s diplomatic goals for 2015, he was stressing China’s responsibility in promoting “the legitimate rights and interests of development countries” (Tiezzi, 2015), in their position before the UN and in terms of economic development. Nevertheless, despite the effect of soft power diplomacy on intra-state relations, scholars such as Kelman argue that disaster-related activities can catalyse and influence already-existing diplomatic endeavours, but do not tend to yield new diplomatic initiatives (et al., 2009, p.305). Even more, there is always a risk that disaster diplomacy might seriously harm diplomatic relations.

The United States provides two examples where disaster diplomacy failed and even exacerbated diplomatic relations. In case of Iran, the American government tried to send a high-profile emissary with aid supplies to Bam, following the 2003 earthquake disaster; a move that led Iran to refuse, explicitly decoupling the disaster aid from longer-term diplomatic resolution of the two sides’ differences (Kelman, 2011). Similarly, Cuba refused U.S. assistance during a 1998 drought as economic sanctions had already hit the country so hard that Fidel Castro was not willing to accept humanitarian aid from the adversary (ibid.). Consequently, the United States initially did not respond to Cuba’s, Venezuela’s, and Iran’s aid offers following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 (ibid.). As, in the event of a disaster, the host country decides which foreign contributions it will accept (Hirono, 2011), there is always a risk that it might expose the other party’s diplomatic efforts and even lead to greater political tensions.

US_AID DIPLOMACYImage: Kelman, 2009, p.310

China, however, famously delivers aid with no strings attached, holding on to its ‘Principle of Independence’ (Government Website, 2007) which goes back to its own long and traumatic experience with foreign interventions. China, to the resentment of America, is in its diplomatic efforts promoting the image of the ‘good’ country as opposed to the US, thereby employing a mix of soft power and economic relations. While the government insists that disaster diplomacy is not a term in Chinese philosophy (Want China Times, 2015), it refuses to oppose its political and ideological values on those countries in need. The fact that most NGOs, among them the Chinese Red Cross are financially fully dependent on the government plays only a minor role for the people on the ground. Eventually, with a political strategy that is more inward- than outward centered, China’s public diplomacy is outweighed by domestic public opinion. The fact that China and the Philippines have been in diplomatic deadlock over the territorial disputes in the South China Sea, is considered a key factor that held Beijing back from offering more help to Manila in 2013, mainly in consideration of domestic public opinion (Kwok, 2013). While China might not automatically win hearts and minds, its winning strategy is a long long-term approach, based on keeping a low profile in combination with powerful tools such as disaster diplomacy.


Government Website (2007) ‘Adhere to the Principle of Independence’, ‘About China’ [online] Available at: [accessed 04/05/2015]

Gross, K. (2015) ‘International Community rallies to contribute Nepal relief aid’, The DePaulia [online] Available at: [accesed 05/05/2015]

Hirono, M. (2011) ‘The Limits of Disaster Diplomacy’, The Diplomat [online] Available at: [accessed 04/05/2015]

Kelman, I. and Gaillard, J. (2007) ‘Disaster diplomacy in Aceh’, Humanitarian Exchange Magazine, Issue 37 [online] Available at: [accessed 04/05/2015]

Kelman, I., Gaillard, J. and Orillos, F. (2009) ‘US-Philippines Military Relations After the Mt Pinatubo Eruption in 1991: A Disaster Diplomacy Perspective’, European Journal of East Asian Studies, Volume 8 Issue 2, via Hague Journal of Diplomacy [online] Available via: [accessed 04/05/2015]

Kelman, I. (2011) ‘Aid as outreach: Disaster Relief and Public Diplomacy’, World Politics Review [online] Available at: [accessed 04/05/2015]

Kwok, K. (2013) ‘Disaster Diplomacy at play in Haiyan aid response by China, United States’, South China Morning Post [online] Available at: [accessed 04/05/2015]

Seemangal, R. (2015) ‘Disaster Diplomacy: After Nepal Earthquake, China and India Race to Give Aid’, The Observer [online] Available at: [accessed 04/05/2015]

Tiezzi, S. (2015) ‘What to expect from Chinese Diplomacy in 2015’, The Diplomat [online] Available at: [accessed 04/05/2015]

Want China Times (2015), ‘Global Times denies China engages in disaster diplomacy’ [online] Available at: [accessed 04/05/2015]


My struggle with #slacktivism

Have you already made your contribution to politics today? There is no better time to tell your politicians that human rights matter to you, as when they are fighting to represent you in Parliament, don’t you think so? A simple mouse click on Amnesty International’s website is all you need to do. No? Well then maybe you care more about health issues? Have you taken your selfie with the MacMillan Cancer Support logo and given your voice to their campaign to push for greater recognition of cancer support in Britain? Like many other organisations, in the run-up to the elections, MacMillan wants to show decision makers that there is overwhelming public interest in cancer support and that this issue in particular must be taken more seriously (Keely, 2015). Important one, isn’t it? For my part, I believe in equality and I strongly care about immigration. I therefore contribute to the heated debate about refugees and migrants in Britain, where immigration is fifth on the agenda of the issues that were mentioned most on social media in relation to the general election (Addley, 2015). I should write a personalised email to my future MP and tell him or her that the UK needs a fair immigration system (Migrant’s Rights Network, 2015). I could also sign the latest petition launched to protest against the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean region which attracted nearly 75,000 signatures within an hour of going on the website (Brhane, 2015). At the same time, lucky to be German, I have the opportunity to influence my government’s politics by joining the electronic citizen dialogue. What does ‘life quality’ mean to me, is the central question and I am happy to answer that I like to believe in equality and fair opportunities for everyone in our multicultural society (Government Source, 2015).

We are urged to participate, anytime and everywhere, in what we consider as important. We are taught that our voices matter yet what do we choose? Is not everything important; gender equality and human rights and a fair treatment of refugees and ethnic minority community groups in our society? While we get caught up thinking about what matters most, I would like to trust in politicians that use their common sense and human intellect. Why do we need to sign a petition first, to express our protest against economic relations with a state like Saudi Arabia, where women get arrested for their attempt to drive and where human rights violations take place on a daily basis? In reality, what looks like direct democracy is disillusioning. Disillusioning for those who might not be familiar with social media and ridiculous for those who actively and peacefully go to the streets and protest and show their faces; those who stand up for others, as this is the case in Brixton where gentrification is hugely damaging society. Whereas an online petition might be a second consideration for expressing discontent; standing alongside those concerned and showing our support in solidarity with others is one of our biggest strengths. This is what makes us human. I refuse to be one of those digital activists, invisible, who press a LIKE button and rebel in online forums, read Russell Brand and speak about revolution; those people who rely on the media to tell them about the negative impact of immigration when everything they share with their Turkish neighbours is the same passion for Doner Kebab.

“The positive claims for the value of the Internet offered by our contemporaries are mostly hype. Whatever the long-range value of the Net turns out to be, it won’t be the quality of information it offers, the democratic distance learning it makes possible, the presence of the Net user to all of reality, and the possibility of a new life full of meaning.”

Mr Dreyfus, philosopher at the University of California at Berkeley argues that while the web is certainly a very powerful medium, it is hobbled by the lack of physical presence of the people you interact with (Dembart, 2002). For my part, I prefer the political debate and direct interaction, talking to people and learning from them and feeling inspired and inspiring others. I want to live in a society where I can confidently turn my back on the screen and where my voice is being heard.


Addley, E. (2015) ‘Who is winning the election battle on social media?’ The Guardian, [online] Available at: [accessed 28/04/2015]

Amnesty (2015) ‘Election 2015: Stand for Human Rights’ [online] Available at: [accessed 28/04/2015]

Brhane, T. (2015) ‘Stop the deaths at sea now!’ [online] Available at: [accessed 28/04/15]

Bundesregierung (2015) ‘Bundesregierung diskutiert ueber Lebensqualitaet’ [online] [accessed 28/04/15]

Dembart (2002) ‘The end user / A voice for the consumer: Computer Literacy’, The New York Times [online] Available at: [accessed 28/04/15]

Keely, L. (2015) ‘With social media charities can win the digital general election’, The Guardian [online] Available at: [accessed 28/04/2015]

Migrant’s Rights Network (2015) ‘Our Vote 2015 is calling for a fair approach to migration’ [online] Available at: [accessed 28/04/2015]

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