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Successful Use Of Public Diplomacy By Canada: Lessons From Other Nations – OpEd

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International Relations in the 21st century are characterized by a high degree of global interconnections or as one may call it globalization. This has further been driven by various factors such as economic interdependence, technological advancements in information and communications, increased movement of people, transnational crime and security threats and the growing concern over the global environment. These changes in International system calls for more open, cooperative and technology-based approach to the way state affairs are conducted.

Diplomacy however is one of the instrument of foreign policy through which state interact with others, but with the passage of time the concept of new or public diplomacy has emerged which has transformed the concept of traditional diplomacy.

The current scenario calls for openness rather than secrecy, it no longer only should deal with nation-state but also with civil societies and public abroad. Public diplomacy means to communicate with foreign audience to promote country’s national interests abroad. The concept of Public diplomacy however is also transforming with the passage of time which includes broad variety of actors such as non- governmental entities, private companies etc. Ministry of Foreign Affairs had to be active in conducting public diplomacy in a better way.

Talking about Canada and its effective Public Diplomacy which can be viewed by other states as an example to conduct relations with foreign audience to help promote its image and reputation as a calm and friendly nation, its culture, and its basic principles like democracy, freedom, and the rule of law with the country’s practical desire to protect its interests, image, and safety.

Canada however has been engaged in Public Diplomacy by communicating with audience through the two-way dialogue process to promote nation’s international goals or interests. Similarly, it has also used several experts and made partnership with them for effective communication purposes. These experts assist in delivering public diplomacy in their specialized areas, including information technology, academic research, finance and others. It has used various approaches of Public Diplomacy like listening, advocacy, Cultural Diplomacy, Exchange Programs and International Broadcasting to see what audience abroad is saying about Canada and how Canada can have an impact on their hearts and minds which could ultimately serve the nation’s goals.

Culture is one of the main approach of Public diplomacy on which Canada is focusing upon it has The Cultural Industries Sectoral Advisory Group on International Trade (SAGIT)which is part of the federal government’s advisory system on international trade. It provides a means for officials from the Global Affairs Canada and the Department of Canadian Heritage to consult with representatives of Canada’s cultural industries.

Canada has developed a vibrant cultural sector, with numerous cultural institutions, a diverse publishing industry, a talented music industry, a dynamic cultural new media industry and critically acclaimed film and television industries. Canadian books, magazines, songs, films, new media, radio and television programs reflect who we are as a people. Cultural industries shape our society, develop our understanding of one another and give us a sense of pride in who we are as a nation. Canada’s cultural industries fulfil an essential and vital role in Canadian society. In their effort to reach audiences, its cultural industries have always risen to the challenge of competition from foreign cultural producers. Their ability to create an enduring place in our lives is dependent on the creativity and talent of Canada’s artists, creators and producers. It also depends, in part, on government policies and programs that aim to promote Canadian culture. Therefore, they are making Plans and Policies so ass for better promotion of culture abroad. PM Justin Trudeau however is also very much concerned about Cultural promotions.

The Canadian government uses a combination of financial incentives, Canadian content requirements, tax measures, rules on foreign investments and intellectual property tools to promote Canadian culture.

For influencing audience abroad things need to be promoted in a better way and for that Internet is major tool. The management of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFAs) web page is too important. A good webpage is not only informative but invites visitors to comment and engage in dialogue. Canadians have done especially well in structuring such exchanges.

Exchange programs are also one of the approaches followed by Canada it is usually a two-way process it offers student exchange programs, educators programs, and Group exchange programs. The government of Canada a lot of budget for these exchange programs where students as well as teachers travel abroad to make them aware of other cultures, languages and to teach foreign public about their culture etc. However, it could also be seen that vast quantities of foreign students that come to Canadian universities every year.

It could be seen that it also has it public diplomacy officer under the supervision of the Foreign Policy and Diplomacy Service Program (FPDS) Manager, the Public Diplomacy Officer advises on, develops, plans and manages the Consulate’s advocacy and public affairs activities i.e. Plans and coordinates visits from Canada, arranges meetings with key local interlocutors and provides interpretation when necessary; creates and manages events (such as seminars and workshops) to engage civil society groups; engages media through interviews, roundtables, or events; conducts regular media monitoring, and publishes relevant information through social media; manages the Post Initiative Fund;  maintains academic relations in the region, and supports Canadian Studies Centers; organizes or coordinates cultural programs to support the Consulate’s advocacy priorities.

Hence it could be seen that with the passage of time Canada is developing more plans and creating policies for the better promotion of its image as peace-loving state which is working for sustainable world and International prosperity. So, by looking at this it could be analyzed that the tool of Public Diplomacy is effectively being used by Canada and other nations of the world needs to learn from Canada. However, it could see that challenges are also on the way of Canada for running effective public diplomacy but it is working efficiently to counter them as well.

*Rameen Khan, Student of Defence and Diplomatic Studies


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