Event: U.S. Summit for Global Citizen Diplomacy

image The U.S. Center for Citizen Diplomacy (USCCD), in partnership with the U.S. State Department and with the support of more than 1000 U.S. Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) conducting citizen diplomacy activities, will convene a historic U.S. Summit for Global Citizen Diplomacy on November 16-19, 2010 in Washington, DC. The goal of the Summit and ten year Initiative for Global Citizen Diplomacy is to double the number of American volunteers of all ages involved in international activities at home or abroad, from an estimated 60 million today to 120 million by 2020.

A detailed agenda is available online.

Continue reading “Event: U.S. Summit for Global Citizen Diplomacy

Sister Cities: the quintessential and yet underappreciated public diplomacy program

On September 11, 1956, three years after creating the United States Information Agency, President Dwight D. Eisenhower launched the People-to-People program within USIA by saying:

I have long believed, as have many before me, that peaceful relations between nations requires understanding and mutual respect between individuals.

Indeed, in May 1947, in testimony to Congress in support of pending legislation on the promotion of comity among nations and information programs, Eisenhower stressed that

real security, in contrast, to the relative security of armaments, could develop only from understanding and mutual comprehension.

Sister Cities International and People-to-People are products of Eisenhower’s citizen diplomacy initiative launched over fifty years ago. The mission of Sister Cities is to foster direct engagement between US cities and communities abroad with the purpose of creating cultural understanding and awareness through direct person-to-person contact by inspiring private citizens to travel abroad and to host citizens from outside America. It was, and remains, a quintessential public diplomacy program. 

Today, despite its impact, Sister Cities is underappreciated. Today, the over 650 US communities that partner with more than 2,000 sister cities in 135 countries do more than just student, culture, and art exchanges. The members of Sister Cities operate extensively in the areas of humanitarian assistance, economic and sustainable development, education, and technical assistance. This includes helping locally elected officials in Iraq develop city budgets to providing assistance to Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) in Afghanistan and Iraq to post-disaster assistance. In other words, the Sister Cities network does the work of the State Department and USAID, but at the municipal level. 

Continue reading “Sister Cities: the quintessential and yet underappreciated public diplomacy program