Public Diplomacy and Global Communication 2014b

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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

The Impact of Celebrity Diplomacy

Over the past few years, we have seen the rise of celebrity diplomacy. It’s having a major shift in how world affairs is conducted, and features these celebrities being the face of the campaign. For example the UNHCR (UN High Commissioner for Refugees) had used Gerri Halliwell as a goodWill ambassador
angelina-jolie-united-nations-security-council-meeting-01or Emma Watson working for UN Women on educating young girls across the world and fighting for Gender equality. This may be transforming into a a tool of soft power within the establishment; as we live in an interconnected, vibrant world- using celebrities raises awareness, bring media attention towards a certain important matter, and puts this in the public eye. An example of this was the speech by Emma Watson launching the HeForShe Campaign. Her speech was commented on as a powerful and influential one.  If this had been done by another ordinary member of the United Nations (UN), this would not have had as much attention and publicity. It is also likely to put pressure on governments to help and support the campaign.

It is also evident that in the recent Ebola outbreak, where Band Aid 30 come together to sing and raise money for African nations to fight off Ebola. The whole celebrity community united in that cause. The impact is quite strong, as it gives the issue a shining light, and makes people aware of what the issues are, as well as reaching out to audiences who would probably not be able to access it without the celebrity endorsement. However, the criticism of this is that, it’s all well and good to shine a light on the issue, but it doesn’t guarantee that something will actually happen. If we look at the #BringBackOurGirls push, this was endorsed by many hundreds of celebrities to try and create action to that effect; however, there was a lot of media coverage, a huge campaign to bring them home, and they are still missing. Also the media coverage has died down, and they are no closer to finding the girls.


Theorist such as Douglas Kellner argue that using “media spectacle” such as celebrities and high profile people can be used to simplify complex matters. While there words are unlikely to change an outcome on its own it does help with the democratic engagement on such situations and in turn can put pressure on the relevant people. Andrew Cooper believes that they make a good contribution to international debate in which he points out the Goodwill Ambassadors role since 1950 has been seen as a success. A lot of the time people not understanding the issue allows problems to just pass but with this type of diplomacy this has the change to shift views and make more people understand the issue and take more notice.

We can also argue that the impact on actually finding a solution is minimal, but the names of the celebrities involved exerts pressure on the Government. The modern modus operandi is image- driven diplomacy, and it amounts to the same result. If they are seen to do nothing, it would be viewed in a negative light. This method builds a solidarity type of spirit and movement. The problem in one country is not just the problem for the citizens there, but it’s an issue everywhere. The feeling of one man’s pain is everyone’s pain. This is best illustrated in the Ferguson shooting. There have seen a number of celebrities tweeting their solidarity with the people in Ferguson, when the grand jury decided not to prosecute the police officer; There were a number of tweets by celebrities and gestures from the likes of NFL players 

What we can conclude from all of this is, that celebrity diplomacy will not be able to solve the issues, but they will be able to shine a light and give it that moral authority associated with their name and fame. It allows issues to be better understood, and more people are aware of them.


Watson. E (2014) “Emma Watson HeForShe Speech at the United Nations | UN Women 2014″

Zurcher. A (2014) “NFL players stir controversy with Ferguson tribute”

l. Richey & Ponte. S (2011) “Are celebrities good for development aid?”

Kellner. D (2012) “Media Spectacle and Insurrection 2011 (From the Arab Wrising to the Occupy Everywhere) Bloomsbury Publishing Plc London UK

UN “A Special Envoy for Refugee Issues”

Selby. J (2014) “Emma Watson named as UN Women Goodwill” Ambassador”

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