DIASPORA AS A NEW TOOL IN DIPLOMACY

For a long time, diplomacy has been changing and evolving. Diplomacy has become more visible, and new diplomacy and diplomatic tools have emerged. The number of actors has grown. The emergence of new technologies, such as social media has also changed how diplomacy is conducted. Diaspora, on the other hand, is a much less discussed diplomatic tool. A country’s Diaspora can also be used to conduct diplomacy. “Both ‘diaspora’ and ‘diplomacy’ are concepts that have grown in popularity in recent years, indicating a shift away from viewing Diaspora as a descriptive category and diplomacy as the practice of state officials, respectively.

Diaspora diplomacy is a relatively new term that has gained currency at a time when cultivating external relations is a multifaceted process with many participants. Diaspora diplomacy is influencing and negotiating between nations by utilizing a country’s Diaspora to advance the home country’s interests.

Importance of Diaspora Diplomacy.

It promotes cross-border trade by acting as a middleman, providing market information and consumer preferences in both the host and origin countries. Diasporas have contributed to the development of their home countries by sending remittances and managing businesses in the latter. The Diaspora contributes to poverty alleviation at the household level through remittances sent to relatives. Diasporas promote their homeland’s image and culture. As a result, they serve as a tool for displaying a country’s soft power. Soft power is the ability to influence others to achieve desired results through attraction rather than coercion or the use of force.

Limitations

Most of the Diaspora migrates to other countries in search of better opportunities. A country’s diasporic community may be too small to make a difference. Diaspora diplomacy stems from the fact that Diasporas may be unwilling to engage with their home country and its government due to their critical view of their home country and its government. As a result, Diasporas may express their dissatisfaction loudly, negatively impacting the country’s image.

Diaspora Diplomacy Approaches in Foreign Policy

Diasporas frequently agree with their country of origin’s policies on foreign policy issues confronting the homeland and mobilize to support such policies. The collaboration between Jewish Americans and the Israeli government regarding Israel’s security is an example of diaspora-country cooperation. Foreign policy disagreements between homelands and diasporas have previously occurred between the government of Ireland and Irish Americans regarding Northern Ireland or between the government of Armenia and Armenian Americans regarding Turkey’s recognition of the Armenian genocide as a condition for normalized relations between Turkey and Armenia.

Governments should take a facilitative rather than an implementing role. Knowledge sharing and network access are two of the most significant benefits a country can obtain through Diaspora Diplomacy. New diplomacy initiatives alone will not result in successful diaspora diplomacy if foreign ministries do not adopt a new diplomacy mindset. Governments should prioritize communication, cooperation, and fostering an open, flexible, and transparent culture.

Diaspora Diplomacy in Cultural Exchange

The Diaspora’s role in cultural exchange, international affairs, and economic development is now well established. What is new is the growing proliferation of national strategies for actively leveraging them for public diplomacy. Diaspora communities have long relied on networks to maintain cultural and economic ties, but networks are also essential to the Diaspora’s role in public diplomacy. The concept of diaspora networks as an extension of a country’s hard (economic) and soft (cultural) power is now widely accepted. For centuries, diasporas have served as an extension of national prestige (or decline). Much thought has gone into the economic productivity of migrants and the role of remittances in maintaining cultural ties and assisting development.

Ireland

When it comes to diaspora diplomacy and diaspora strategy, Ireland is a forerunner. Ireland has launched several unique and innovative initiatives. However, as stated in the DFA’s official Diaspora Policy communication, there is still much to learn from the Diaspora and other countries. As a result, they are willing to learn from others and share their knowledge and experiences. They acknowledge that the DFA and the Irish Abroad Unit (the DFA’s specialized unit for diaspora matters, hereafter IAU) do not have a monopoly on this knowledge but that it is shared by Irish universities, NGOs, and private individuals. As a result, they believe that all these players must communicate and collaborate to broaden their knowledge on the subject. Finally, the DFA states that they will “support efforts to use Ireland as a hub for research into the potential and reach of diasporas, as well as the practical application of such research.”

Greece

There has been almost no research on Greek diaspora diplomacy. Research on the Greek Diaspora is available, but not from an IR perspective. The only study on diaspora diplomacy found in the Ministry’s library dates to 1996 and focuses on the success of the Greek Diaspora in lobbying the American government. The fleeing of Greeks after the fall of Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul) to the Ottomans is one of the most notable historical moments for using the term Greek diaspora. Currently, the General Secretariat for Greeks Abroad seeks to support the Diaspora’s interests and expectations while strengthening ties between the Diaspora and the homeland. GSGA’s goals include assisting the Diaspora in preserving national and cultural identity, as well as history, culture, and religion; promoting Greek culture through time; strengthening Greek networks abroad that can bridge friendship and cooperation between Greece and the other diaspora host countries; supporting Greek national interests abroad; providing for Greek schools, youth welcoming programs at home, and the use of new technologies; and funding and sustaining the operation of GSGA.

Conclusion

Ph.D. scholars can understand the social consequences of the Diaspora’s split existence by situating Diaspora in global social fields that connect their places of origin and destination. Investigating the complex web of diplomatic, economic, social, political, and emotional transnational diaspora relations and ties can ultimately advance the study and policy making in diaspora diplomacy.

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Writer by Eric Muhia, International Studies, and Diplomacy Graduate Student and Young Diplomat

17 June 2022, Kenya 

Category: Diplomacy 

Reference: EM17052022D

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