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Iver B. Neumann


Part of diplomatic work is public, so a diplomat must be presentable — that is, clean, smart or decent enough to be seen in public. This article starts by recognising the recent spate of work on aesthetics and representation in social sciences and diplomacy studies, and questions why it occurred so late when representation has always been constitutive of diplomacy, perhaps because of Enlightenment distrust of visuals and reaction against Nazi aestheticising of politics. Part two sets out what it takes to stage a successful visual performance and points to three factors: the agent’s own preparations; audience assessment; and mediatisation to a broader public. Part three analyses two successful performances of accreditation, highlighting how they succeeded because they were deemed particularly presentable by being remarkably smart and decent, respectively. In conclusion, I argue that smartness trumps decency. This offers female diplomats more options than males, but also incurs greater risks.

Paul Sharp, Jan Melissen, Constance Duncombe and Marcus Holmes

Damien Arnaud


The post-truth phenomenon harms political dialogue between nations. Our collective approach to news and to ‘truth in the news’ has been blown off course by a combination of factors, described by twelve statesmen and diplomats in interviews, which this practitioner attempts to explain here by drawing on his perspective as a communicator at NATO. Post-truth has made political dialogue unattractive and unpleasant for many leaders. It has given wider credence to the notion that the truth is unimportant and that the search for truth is unnecessary and pretentious. This has proven costly to stable international relations, because truth speaks of what is just, accepted and therefore stable. Dialogue is devalued today on account of its association with the search for truth. To have any chance of restoring a functioning European security system, dialogue must be restored. This can be achieved by considering anew George Orwell’s famed concept of ‘common decency’.

Bahia Tahzib-Lie and Jan Reinder Rosing


On 31 December 2018, the Kingdom of the Netherlands — the Netherlands, Aruba, Curaçao and St Maarten — concluded its one-year membership of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), prompting many to reflect on its meaningful contribution to international peace and security during this time. The UNSC has exclusive and far-reaching powers with regard to maintaining international peace and security. For this reason, non-permanent seats on the UNSC are highly coveted. They confer prestige, influence and respectability on the seat-holders. Given the popularity of these seats, the Kingdom’s ability to influence decision-making within the UNSC became possible only after an intensive election campaign. In this practitioners’ perspective, we provide our insights and observations on the Kingdom of the Netherlands’ campaign strategy for the UNSC elections in 2016.

Christian Lequesne, Gabriel Castillo, Minda Holm, Walid Jumblatt Abdullah, Halvard Leira, Kamna Tiwary and Reuben Wong


Diversity and its management have become an issue in all organisations. Ministries of foreign affairs (MFAs) do not escape the issue. In the 2000s, states decided to consider more ethnic diversity in the recruitment of their diplomats. In some countries, this new goal requires affirmative action programs. This article is based on three case studies. The first case study analyses two Western countries — France and Norway — where MFAs have to reflect the diversity of immigration in their societies. The second case study analyses the case of Brazil, a country where the legacy of slavery still causes discrimination in the recruitment of diplomats. The third case study analyses ethnic diversity in the MFAs of India and Singapore, which recognise multiculturalism or multiracialism. The study draws five comparative conclusions to generalise on why MFAs in the world cannot escape the challenge of ethnic diversity in their recruitment policy.

Damien Spry


This article uses digital research methods to explore the use of Facebook by ministries of foreign affairs (MFAs) in several Asian locations. It contextualises this analysis by considering four factors that contribute to the growing complexity confronting public diplomacy: environmental factors (digitalised, networked media); institutional factors (diplomatic norms and traditions, and MFAs’ policies and practices); algorithmic factors (the programming that organises social media content); audience factors (social media users). The analysis shows most Facebook content posted by MFAs is driven by institutional factors. Yet this content is not the most appealing to digital publics, who are more likely to engage with content they find relevant and useful, or emotionally resonant. The article concludes that Facebook, and digital media generally, can provide multiple small opportunities for outreach, if due consideration is given to audiences’ needs and motivations. These audience factors may be the most important, but least considered, by MFAs.

Ilan Manor and Rhys Crilley


The proliferation of social media has had a profound impact on the practice of diplomacy; diplomats can bypass the press and communicate their messages directly to online audiences. Subsequently, ministries of foreign affairs (MFAS) are now mediatised; they produce media content, circulate content through social media and adopt media logics in their daily operations. Through a case study of the Israeli MFA during the 2014 Gaza War, this article explores the mediatisation of MFAS. It does so by analysing how the Israeli MFA crafted frames through which online audiences could understand the war and demonstrates that these frames evolved as the conflict unfolded. It then draws attention to the important way in which MFAS are now media actors through a statistical analysis, which demonstrates that the use of images in tweets increased engagement with the Israeli MFA’s frames. Finally, the article illustrates how these frames were used to legitimize Israel’s actions, and delegitimise those of Hamas.

Yanling Yang


This article explores the role of non-state actors from the film industry in promoting China’s soft power. Much research on non-state actors has emphasised the Anglophone world, while little research has been undertaken in the context of non-democratic regimes such as China. Therefore, following scholarly reviews on soft power and the role of its key actors, this article analyses China’s approach to soft power, based on semi-structured interviews conducted with film experts to explore the role of non-state actors in generating soft power. The study reveals that although China has consistently privileged state-owned actors over non-state actors, non-state actors have actually played an increasingly important role in disseminating soft power. The article argues that the more powerfully the Chinese authorities emphasise China’s state actors, the less likely it is that China will win hearts and minds — because of China’s domestic political ideology and censorship mechanism in the field.

Renée Fry-McKibbin and Than Thuong Nguyen


This article empirically examines the effectiveness of commercial diplomacy in contributing to Australia’s merchandise exports and inbound foreign investment with 181 countries over the period 2010-2015. The combined effect of diplomatic entities increases Australian exports by 12.9 per cent and increases inbound foreign investment by 16.1 per cent compared to countries without representation. Commercial diplomacy is effective when there are impediments to exporting, such as markets being outside the region and having low economic freedom. Commercial diplomacy substantially boosts inbound investment from countries outside and within the region, from emerging and developed markets, and from countries with high levels of economic freedom.