Think tanks demonstrably play a role in diplomacy. Not long ago, the idea of think tank diplomacy would have provoked scepticism, but the nature of diplomacy has changed from a state-centric club to a polylateral network characterised by a diversity of actors and communication methods. As organisations producing independent intellectual outputs to influence public policy, think tanks engage in at least four diplomatic functions: negotiation, communication, information-gathering and promoting friendly relations in international affairs. Case studies show that think tanks both directly perform diplomatic functions and act indirectly as facilitators of diplomacy: as metaphorical hired guns, charm offensive, witnesses and safe space; as a school for diplomats, personal trainers, chief knowledge officer and wise council. Think tanks need to overcome obstacles including resource constraints and relationships with policy-makers to reach their full potential in contributing to diplomacy.
AbelsonD. (2007) ‘Any Ideas? Think Tanks and Policy Analysis in Canada’ in DobuzinskisL.LaycockD. and HowlettM. (eds) Policy Analysis in Canada: The State of the ArtUniversity of Toronto PressToronto551–573.
AbelsonD. and LindquistE. (2000) ‘Think tanks in North America’ in McGannJ. and WeaverK. (eds.) Think Tanks and Civil Societies: Catalysts for Ideas and ActionTransaction PublishersNew Brunswick, NJ37–66
afp (2016) ‘Rohingya insurgency a “game-changer” for Myanmar: ICG’15December2016last accessed 18 February 2017https://au.news.yahoo.com/world/a/33572695/rohingya-insurgency-a-game-changer-for-myanmar/#page1.
AgrawalN. (2017) ‘They’ve been persecuted by the government for years. Now, some of Myanmar’s Rohingya are taking up arms’Los Angeles Times4January2017last accessed 18 February 2017http://www.latimes.com/world/asia/la-fg-rohingya-myanmar-armed-group-20170104-story.html.
Al Jazeera (2016a) ‘South China Sea: Weapons systems installed on islands’15December2016last accessed 18 February 2017http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/12/south-china-sea-weapons-systems-installed-islands-161214210323393.html.
Al Jazeera (2016b) ‘Evacuation of east Aleppo under way during ceasefire’16December2016last accessed 18 February 2017http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/12/east-aleppo-civilians-trapped-uncertain-ceasefire-161215034620364.html.
AmbrusM.ArtsK.HeyE. and RaulusH. (2014) ‘The Role of “Experts” in International and European Decision-Making Processes: Setting the Scene’ in M.AmbrusK.ArtsE.Hey and H.Raulus (eds) The Role of Experts in International and European Decision-Making ProcessesCambridge University PressCambridge1–16.
ArbourL. (2009) ‘Civil Society and Public Interest Diplomacy’Address by Louise Arbour President and CEO of the International Crisis Group to Georgetown University at the 28th Annual Trainor Award for Distinction in the Conduct of DiplomacyWashington, D.C.30September.
BlackE. (2016) ‘Could Myanmar’s Rakhine State become the next ISIS recruiting ground?’Southeast Asia Globe15December2016last accessed 18 February 2017http://sea-globe.com/rakhine-state-radicalisation/.
BlandB. (2016) ‘Beijing installs ‘defence’ systems on South China Sea islands’Financial Times15December2016last accessed 18 February 2017https://www.ft.com/content/3575cd8c-c27d-11e6-81c2-f57d90f6741a.
BrunnstromD. (2016) ‘China installs weapons systems on artificial islands: U.S. think tank’Reuters15December2016last accessed 18 February 2017http://www.reuters.com/article/us-southchinasea-china-arms-exclusive-idUSKBN1431OK.
BisleyN. and TaylorB. (2015) “China’s Engagement with Regional Security Multilateralism: The Case of the Shangri-La Dialogue,”Contemporary Southeast Asia: A Journal of International and Strategic Affairs37(1) 29–48.
Canadian Health Services Research Foundation (chsrf) (2003) ‘The Theory and Practice of Knowledge Brokering in Canada’s Health System’Canadian Health Services Research FoundationOttawa. Available online: www.chsrf.ca/brokering/pdf/Theory_and_Practice_e.pdf.
ChemarapallyY. (2016) ‘Another Self Goal: Modi Government and China’Peoples DemocracyXL(45) 6November. Available online: http://peoplesdemocracy.in/2016/0605_pd/another-self-goal-modi-government-and-china.
Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (2015) Think Tank Evaluation Report Chinese Evaluation Centre for Humanities and Social SciencesBeijing. Available online: http://lyd.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/CASS_Global-think-tank-evaluation-report-1.pdf.
Chinese Association for International Understanding (2014) ‘Constitution of the Chinese Association of International Understanding’Approved by the Plenary Session of the Eleventh Executive Council2April. Available online:www.cafiu.org.cn/english/Column.asp?ColumnId=22.
Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Affairs (2016) Clingendael Annual Report 2015The Hague1–68. Available online: www.clingendael.nl/sites/default/files/Clingendael%20Annual%20Report%202015.pdf.
Conley TylerM. (2015a) ‘The Role of Think Tanks in a Fragmenting Global System’The Interpreter14Januarylast accessed 13 April 2016www.lowyinterpreter.org/post/2015/01/14/The-role-of-think-tanks-in-a-fracturing-global-system.aspx.
Conley TylerM (2015b) ‘Think Tanks Need Integrity, Not Independence’The Drum1Octoberlast accessed 13 April 2016www.abc.net.au/news/2015-10-01/conley-tyler-think-tanks-need-integrity-not-independence/68167422.
Conley TylerM (2015c) ‘Scholars, Policymakers and International Affairs: Finding Common Cause’Australian Journal of International AffairsAustralian Outlook Reading Room12May2014last accessed 13 April 2016www.internationalaffairs.org.au/australian_outlook/scholars-policymakers-and-international-affairs-finding-common-cause/.
Conley TylerM.BlizzardE. and CraneB. (2014) ‘Is International Affairs Too ‘Hard’ for Women? Explaining the Missing Women in Australia’s International Affairs’Australian Journal of International Affairsvol. 28issue 2.
Conley TylerM. and RamasubramanianG. (2015) ‘Diplomacy Goes Personal: Public Diplomacy and Educational and Cultural Exchange’Proceedings of the 2013 Fulbright SymposiumAustralian American Fulbright CommissionCanberraISBN 978-970-646-92661-2. Available online: www.fulbright.com.au/images/files/publications/Proceedings_13.pdf.
CreemersR. (ed) (2015) CCP General Office and State Council General Office Opinions concerning Strengthening the Construction of New Types of Think Tanks with Chinese Characteristics China Copyright and MediaJanuary20last accessed 15 October 2016www.chinacopyrightandmedia.wordpress.com/2015/01/20/ccp-general-office-and-state-council-general-office-opinions-concerning-strengthening-the-construction-of-new-types-of-think-tanks-with-chinese-characteristics/.
DavisJ.H. and LiptonE. (2016) ‘Bob Dole Worked Behind the Scenes on Trump-Taiwan Call’The New York Times6December2016last accessed 18 February 2017https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/06/us/politics/bob-dole-taiwan-lobby-trump.html?_r=0.
DeskerB. (2010) ‘CSCAP: Shaping the Future of the Asian Regional Forum’ in D.Ball and K.Guan (eds) Assessing Track 2 Diplomacy in the Asia-Pacific RegionNanyang Technological UniversitySingapore227–239. Available online: http://www.cscap.org/uploads/docs/CSCAP%20Reader/Assessing_Track-2-Diplomacy_Asia-Pac-Region_CSCAP-Reader.pdf.
DobellG. (2016) ‘China Rumbles in the South China Sea’Australian Outlook9Junelast accessed 16 November 2016http://www.internationalaffairs.org.au/australian_outlook/china-rumbles-in-the-south-china-sea/.
DomonoskeC. and KatkovM. (2016) ‘Evacuation Of Aleppo Underway As Second Cease-Fire Takes Hold’NPR15December2016last accessed 18 February 2017http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/12/15/505659925/evacuation-of-aleppo-underway-as-ceasefire-takes-hold.
DreznerD. (2014) ‘Why I’m Not Freaking Out Too Much About the Foreign Funding of American Think Tanks’The Washington Post8Septemberlast accessed 15 January 2017https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/09/08/why-im-not-freaking-out-too-much-about-the-foreign-funding-of-american-think-tanks/?utm_term=.44b85092fc5a.
DreznerD. (2016) ‘What Do We Know About the Independence Of Think Tank Research That We Didn’t a Week Ago?’The Washington Post10Augustlast accessed 15 January 2017https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2016/08/10/what-do-we-know-about-the-independence-of-think-tank-research-that-we-didnt-a-week-ago/?utm_term=.ce054d6bf56f.
EvansG. (2004) ‘Conflict Prevention and Resolution: The Role of the International Crisis Group’Address by Gareth Evans President of International Crisis Group and Foreign Minister of Australia 1988–1996 to New Zealand Institute of International Affairs31AugustWellingtonlast access 12 February 2017http://www.gevans.org/speeches.html.
EvansG. (2012) ‘The International Crisis Group: The Role of a Global NGO in Preventing and Resolving Deadly Conflict’presentation as part of the SSPS Centre for Public Policy Challenging Crises Series17MayThe University of Melbourne.
EvansG. (2016) ‘The Role of International NGOs: The International Crisis Group as a Case Study’Presentation to the Whitlam Institute/Western Sydney University Law School Conference, The Architecture of Transnational Governance: The Role of Non-State Actors23 October 2015Western Sydney UniversitySydney.
French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development (2017) ‘Protecting Interests’France Diplomatielast accessed 18 February 2017: http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/en/the-ministry-of-foreign-affairs/external-activities/article/protecting-interests.
Fundação Getulio Vargas (2010) Biofuel Production in the Republic of Senegal: Stage 1 Feasibility Study. Summary of the Final Report of Stage 1November2010last accessed 20 February 2017http://fgvprojetos.fgv.br/publicacao/producao-de-biocombustiveis-na-republica-do-senegal.
GoldbergS. (2012) Leak Exposes How Heartland Institute Works to Undermine Climate Science’The Guardian15Februarylast viewed 1 February 2017https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/feb/15/leak-exposes-heartland-institute-climate.
Gould-DaviesN. (2010) ‘The Two Worlds of International Relations: Scholars, Practitioners, and Diplomacy’Paper prepared for the 51st Annual Convention of the International Studies AssociationNew Orleans17–20 February. Available online at: http://citation.allacademic.com//meta/p_mla_apa_research_citation/4/1/3/8/3/pages413835/p413835-1.php).
GrayR. (2013) ‘How Carne Ross Created a New Kind of Diplomacy’Buzzfeed News10Julylast accessed 10 February 2017https://www.buzzfeed.com/rosiegray/how-carne-ross-created-a-new-kind-of-diplomacy?utm_term=.ix68AGZyDa#.jr8XJRq5yV.
HackwillR. (2016) ‘Rohingya fighters in Myanmar linked to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan reports ICG’Euronews15December2016last accessed 18 February 2017http://www.euronews.com/2016/12/14/rohingya-fighters-in-myanmar-linked-to-saudi-arabia-and-pakistan-reports-icg.
HuntK. (2016) ‘China installs weapons on contested South China Sea islands, report says’CNN15December2016last accessed 18 February 2017http://edition.cnn.com/2016/12/14/asia/south-china-sea-artificial-islands-spratlys-weapon-systems/.
International Crisis Group (2016a) Myanmar: A New Muslim Insurgency in Rakhine StateReport 28315Decemberlast accessed 18 February 2017https://www.crisisgroup.org/asia/south-east-asia/myanmar/283-myanmar-new-muslim-insurgency-rakhine-state.
International Institute for Strategic Studies (2008) The Shangri-La Dialogue 2008 ReportThe 7th IISS Asia Security Summit 30 May–1 June 2008 SingaporeInternational Institute for Strategic StudiesLondon
JacobsM. (2016) ‘High pressure for low emissions: How civil society created the Paris climate agreement’IPPR Juncture14March2016last accessed 18 February 2017http://www.ippr.org/juncture/high-pressure-for-low-emissions-how-civil-society-created-the-paris-climate-agreement.
JayaramD. (2012) “Breaking Out of the Greenhouse: Indian Leadership in Times of Environmental Change” in FratantuonoM.J.SarconeD.M. and ColwellJ.Jr. (eds.) The U.S.-India Relationship: Cross-Sector Collaboration to Promote Sustainable DevelopmentStrategic Studies Institute and U.S. Army War College Press.
JohnstonT. and NeelakantanA. (2016) ‘The World’s Newest Muslim Insurgency is Being Waged in Burma’TIME Magazine15Decemberlast accessed 2 February 2017http://time.com/4601203/burma-myanmar-muslim-insurgency-rohingya/.
KimS. (2013) ‘Diplomatic Academy Looks to the Future, Celebrates Its Past’Korea JoongAng Daily23Octoberlast access 17 October 2016www.koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/news/article/article.aspx?aid=2979238.
KohT.NorT.SuyantoD. and FallonW. (2006) ‘Advance Maritime Security Cooperation’The 5th Anniversary IISS Asia Security Summit 2–4 June 2006 SingaporeInternational Institute for Strategic StudiesLondon58–64. Available online: https://www.iiss.org/-/media//silos/shangrila/2006/the-shangri-la-dialogue-2006/05-chapter-5/05-chapter-5.pdf.
LiptonE. and WilliamsB. (2016) ‘How Think Tanks Amplify Corporate America’s Influence’The New York Times7Augustlast accessed 15 January 2017https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/08/us/politics/think-tanks-research-and-corporate-lobbying.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region®ion=top-news&WT.nav=top-news.
LiptonE.ConfessoreN. and WilliamsB. (2016) ‘Think Tank Scholar or Corporate Consultant? It Depends on the Day’The New York Times8Augustlast accessed 15 January 2017https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/09/us/politics/think-tank-scholars-corporate-consultants.html.
Lourdes VirayP. (2016) ‘Satellite photos show China weapons in South China Sea’The Philippines Star15December2016last accessed 18 February 2017http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2016/12/15/1653717/satellite-photos-show-china-weapons-south-china-sea.
McGannJ. (2016) 2015 Global Go To Think Tank Index ReportThink Tanks and Civil Societies ProgramUniversity of PennsylvaniaPaper 10. Available at: www.repository.upenn.edu/think_tanks/10/?utm_source=repository.upenn.edu%2Fthink_tanks%2F10&utm_medium=PDF&utm_campaign=PDFCoverPages.
McGannJ. (2017) 2016 Global Go To Think Tank Index ReportThink Tanks and Civil Societies ProgramUniversity of Pennsylvania26January2017last accessed 20 February 2017http://repository.upenn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1011&context=think_tanks.
ManfrediJ.L. (2014) ‘Los cuatro idiomas del think tank’Real Instituto Elcano24September2014http://www.blog.rielcano.org/los-cuatro-idiomasdel-think-tank/ cited in Manfredi-Sanchez J. Sanchez-Giménez J. and Pizarro-Miranda J. (2015) ‘Structural Analysis to Measure the Influence of Think Tank Networks in the Digital Age’ The Hague Journal of Diplomacy 10(4) 363–395.
MendizabalE. (2011) ‘Think Tanks: Research Findings and Some Common Challenges’On Think Tanks2Junelast accessed 30 January 2017https://onthinktanks.org/articles/think-tanks-research-findings-and-some-common-challenges/.
MendizabalE. (2014) ‘What is a Think Tank? Defining the Boundaries of the Label’On Think Tanks22Octoberlast accessed 30 January 2017https://onthinktanks.org/articles/what-is-a-think-tank-defining-the-boundaries-of-the-label/.
MonibotG. (2013) ‘Heard a Think Tank on the BBC? You Haven’t Hear the Whole Story’The Guardian30Novemberlast viewed 1 February 2017https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/29/thinktank-bbc-smoking-big-tobacco.
MontvilleJ. (1991) ‘Transnationalism and the Role of Track-Two Diplomacy’ in W.Thompson and K.Jensen (eds.) Approaches to Peace: An Intellectual MapUnited States Institute of PeaceWashington DC255–269.
Morocco World News (2012) “Rabat hosts the First Meeting on Non-Governmental Diplomacy”21July. Available online: https://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2012/07/48915/rabat-hosts-the-first-meeting-on-non-governmental-diplomacy/.
MurdochL. (2016) ‘Myanmar Army accused of ethnic cleansing as Rohingya conflict escalates’The Sydney Morning Herald20December2016last accessed 18 February 2017http://www.smh.com.au/world/myanmar-army-accused-of-ethnic-cleansing-as-rohingya-conflict-escalates-20161219-gte1b9.html.
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) of the United Nations (2017) Report of OHCHR mission to Bangladesh: Interviews with Rohingyas fleeing from Myanmar since 9 October 2016Flash Report3February2017last access 18 February 2017http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Countries/MM/FlashReport3Feb2017.pdf.
PageJ. (2016) ‘China Installs Weapons in South China Sea, Satellites Show’The Wall Street Journal15December2016last accessed 18 February 2017https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-installs-weapons-in-south-china-sea-satellites-show-1481771066.
PhaswanaF. (2016) ‘2016 Address by SAIIA National Chairman, Mr Fred T Phaswana’South African Institute of International Affairs Cape Town18Februarylast accessed 19 February 2017http://www.saiia.org.za/news/2016-address-by-saiia-national-chairman-mr-fred-t-phaswana.
PhillipsT. (2016a) ‘Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning in a South African Think Tank’On Think Tanks6Octoberlast accessed 19 February 2017https://onthinktanks.org/articles/monitoring-evaluation-and-learning-in-a-south-african-think-tank/.
PhillipsT. (2016b) ‘Images show ‘significant’ Chinese weapons systems in South China Sea’The Guardian15December2016last accessed 18 February 2017https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/dec/15/images-show-significant-chinese-weapons-systems-in-south-china-sea.
RinkeA. (2015) ‘Merkel suggests China resolve South China Sea row in courts’Reuters29October2015last accessed 18 February 2017http://www.reuters.com/article/southchinasea-china-germany-idUSL8N12T2WQ20151029.
SchreerB. (2015) ‘China’s ‘great wall of sand’: calling a spade a spade’ASPI Strategist29April2015last accessed 18 February 2017https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/chinas-great-wall-of-sand-in-the-south-china-sea/.
SongL.2014‘China’s Public Diplomacy Toward Visegrad Countries: Beyond Economic Influence?’ in A.Szunomár (ed) Chinese Investments and Engagement in Visegrad Countries: Myth or Reality?Institute of World EconomicsBudapest108–126. Available at: www.real.mtak.hu/18734/1/Chinese_investments_and_financial_engagement_in_Visegrad_countries_u_150652.439154.pdf#page=109.
South African Institute of International Affairs (2013) South African Institute of International Affairs Strategic Plan 2013–17last accessed 20 February 2017https://www.saiia.org.za/general-publications/515-saiia-strategic-plan-2013-2017/file.
StoneD. (2000) ‘Private authority, scholarly legitimacy and political credibility: think tanks and informal diplomacy’ in HiggottR.UnderhillG. and BielerA. (eds.) Non-state Actors and Authority in the Global SystemRoutledgeLondon.
StoneD. (2005) ‘Think Tanks and Policy Advice in Countries in Transition’paper prepared for the Asian Development Bank Institute Symposium, “How to Strengthen Policy-Oriented Research and Training In Vietnam”31 AugustHanoi1–21.
The New York Times (2016) ‘Dole’s Role in Trump-Taiwan Relationship’The New York Times6December2016last accessed 18 February 2017https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/12/06/us/politics/document-bob-dole-lobbying-documents.html.
Ukrainian Think Tank Liaison Office in Brussels (2016) “Bruegel Discussion: Why Think Tanks Matter to Policy Makers and the Public?”. Available online: https://ukraine-office.eu/en/bruegel-discussion-why-think-tanks-matter-to-policy-makers-and-the-public/.
World Breaking News (2016) ‘Why is Aleppo being evacuated, how many children have been rescued, where is the Syrian city and why has it been bombed?’World Breaking News16December2016last accessed 18 February 2017https://m.wbnews.info/2016/12/why-is-aleppo-being-evacuated-how-many-children-have-been-rescued-where-is-the-syrian-city-and-why-has-it-been-bombed/.
WrightO. (2016) ‘EU referendum: Think-tanks conducting ‘independent’ research to support Brexit have close links to Vote Leave’Independent24February2016last accessed 18 February 2017http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/eu-referendum-think-tanks-carrying-out-independent-research-to-support-brexit-have-close-links-to-a6866011.html.
WroeD. (2016) ‘Julie Bishop accuses China of fuelling ‘tension and mistrust’ by weaponising artificial islands’The Sydney Morning Herald15December2016last accessed 18 February 2017http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/julie-bishop-accuses-china-of-fuelling-tension-and-mistrust-by-weaponising-artificial-islands-20161215-gtbruo.html.
Xinhua (2016) ‘China says deployment of defensive facilities on South China Sea islands legitimate’Xinhua15December2016last accessed 18 February 2017http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2016-12/15/c_135908576.htm.
ZhaoA.A.“Past Diplomacy in East Asia: From Tributary Relations to Cold War Rivalry” in KerrP. and WisemanG. (eds) Diplomacy in a Globalizing World: Theories and PracticeOxford University PressNew York31–47.
ZhengL. (2016) ‘What is the Shangri-La Dialogue and Why Is It So Important?South China Morning Post3Junelast accessed 17 October 2016http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/1963157/what-shangri-la-dialogue-and-why-it-so-important.