Thursday 17 Oct 2019 | 16:41 | SYDNEY
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Diplomacy

Australia is one of the most highly globalised nations on the planet and therefore extremely dependent on an effective and active diplomacy.  In a region undergoing rapid and transformational change, where shifting power balances are creating uncertainty about the existing regional order, Australia’s security and prosperity rely heavily on its international networks and relationships with both near neighbours and geographically-distant allies.

The Lowy Institute has conducted ground-breaking comparative research on Australia’s diplomacy and that of like-minded nations. It focuses on public diplomacy and Australia’s soft-power capabilities, leading-edge research on ediplomacy, consular affairs, international broadcasting, leadership, and resourcing of Australia’s international policy infrastructure and its overseas network. The Institute’s work has been instrumental in shaping a parliamentary enquiry into Australia’s diplomatic network,  providing independent, non-partisan policy options to steer Australia’s diplomatic future.

In 2016, the Lowy Institute released the Global Diplomacy Index, an interactive web tool which maps and ranks the diplomatic networks of all G20 and OECD nations. The interactive allows readers to visualise some of the most significant diplomatic networks in the world, see where nations are represented – by city, country, and type of diplomatic mission – and rank countries according to the size of their diplomatic network

Dispatches from the front (row)

Only last week The Interpreter featured an article about the pitfalls of importing a major international sporting event into a country that didn’t have enough domestic interest or emotional investment to support it. That may have been the case in Qatar, but having just returned from two weeks and

Diplomatic immunity: Time to change the rules

The current diplomatic spat between the United Kingdom and the United States, following a fatal road accident involving the wife of a US “diplomat”, draws attention, yet again, to diplomatic immunity and its potential abuse. The facts, as reported by the UK media and based on witness accounts

An educated idealist is still a believer

Book review: The Education of an Idealist: A Memoir, by Samantha Power (Harper Collins 2019) Samantha Power, an Irish immigrant whose tenacity and intellect earned her a place at Yale and Harvard and led her to become a war correspondent in the Balkans, rose to prominence when her 2002 book, A

On China, principles vs pragmatism

The escalating protests in Hong Kong, the detention of Chinese-Australian writer Yang Hengjun on trumped-up charges, and the appalling treatment of ethnic Uighurs have resulted in renewed calls and pressure on Australia to act on human rights issues with China. While this is noble, human rights

Leaders’ communiqués: Do we need them anymore?

This year’s summit season in global diplomacy is in full swing. The G20 and G7 leaders’ meetings are done and dusted, as is the Pacific Islands Forum. Preparations for the East Asia Summit and APEC are entering top gear. The business of global governance has, however, become decidedly edgy, with

Who wants to be a peacemaker?

The candidates for two non-permanent seats on the United Nations Security Council for 2021–22 are now in, with three countries heading to the final stage to gather support and votes for their respective bids: Canada, Ireland, and Norway, representing the “Western European and Others” group,

Macron tries to put the spark back into the G7

Never one to shy from lofty goals, French President Emmanuel Macron used the G7 summit in the French seaside town of Biarritz to make tenuous first steps in rejuvenating the West as the world’s most powerful political alliance. The summit ended yesterday amid improbable displays of goodwill and

A middle-power moment

“Small states like Singapore can do little to influence the big powers, but we are not entirely without agency.” When Lee Hsien Loong delivered his keynote at the Shangri-La Dialogue back in June, his pragmatism over great-power competition surprised many (some more pleasantly than others). But

The embattled envoy and the need for frank assessment

Kim Darroch endured a torrid week, quitting his post as Britain’s ambassador to Washington following a devastating leak of his confidential dispatches about the Court of Trump. He would take little comfort from knowing he’s hardly the first diplomat to be left red-faced by a security breach.

A sea ride with Australia’s Indo-Pacific Endeavour

When the Australian Defence Force first dispatched its flotilla known as the “Indo-Pacific Endeavour”, the then Defence minister Christopher Pyne touted the regional drills as Australia’s “premier international engagement activity” designed to “enhance partnerships”. But what lies

From fill-in to full-time Foreign Minister

On Sunday Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that Marise Payne will be Minister for Foreign Affairs in his post-election cabinet. Selected to take over the portfolio last year after Julie Bishop’s resignation (and reportedly at her recommendation), Marise Payne had just eight months in the

After the Australian election: the China test

Governments in Australia are judged, in part, by their handling of the relationship with China. And while foreign policy has barely featured in Australia’s election campaign, the Chinese government is watching our election with interest and intent. An early release of this year’s Lowy

Political leadership versus diplomacy

Following the Trump-Kim summits and a gush of commentary on “presidential diplomacy”, “face-to-face diplomacy”, “summit diplomacy”, and even “Trumpian diplomacy”, we’ve somehow come to accept politicians as diplomats. It may be time to recall the difference – before it

Facebook’s first 15 years and lessons for diplomacy

Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook post, marking 15 years since he hatched the social network in his Harvard dorm, claims Facebook has the potential to be “profoundly positive” for years. Certainly, Facebook has changed diplomacy by changing the way people connect and communicate. But, despite

Giving Australia a sporting chance

If cultural dynamism and persuasion can trump military might, as the adherents of soft power would have it, the South Pacific is the place to see this played out. Pacific island nations face choices like never before as China, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, the US, the UK, and France seek to exert

Responses to Australia’s Israel capital decision

Some, perhaps surprising, support from Bahrain to Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s decision for Australia to formally recognise West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel while leaving Australia’s embassy at its existing location in Tel Aviv. According to a tweet translated by Al Jazeera, Bahrain’

Australian energy diplomacy

Successive federal governments have declared Australia to be an “energy superpower”. The 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper is the most recent example, highlighting the size of Australia’s exports of coal and liquefied natural gas. Yet Australian foreign policy has often overlooked energy

See the difference: CGTN’s Australian gambit

Last month, billboards popped up around Australian capital cities, urging commuters and shoppers to “see the difference” as a panda and a kangaroo writhe in a harmonious embrace, while marsupials that look to have been penned by Guardian cartoonist First Dog On The Moon look on. Most commuters

Vale the Ambassador?

Every few months, the Australian media raises the embarrassing absence of an American ambassador in Canberra. As of last month, Australia was one of 34 vacant ambassadorial posts across the globe. Commentators with expertise on each of these vacant posts question the commitment of the United States

Not just a pretty place: Australia’s soft power

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's (DFAT) soft power review comes at a time when information is rising as an instrument of foreign policy. DFAT faces new challenges and therefore needs a renewed vision and mission for its soft power. The review is sorely required. In orthodox

Diplomacy in the post-broadcasting era

The Department of Communications is now reviewing submissions on the issue of Australian Broadcasting Services in the Asia-Pacific region. This is timely. As always, communicating Australia’s views and voices to the Asia-Pacific region is important. And, more than ever before, finding effective

International rescue: the Thai cave response

As prime minister, Tony Abbott once called disaster response “an antidote to pessimism”. No less than eight countries – including China, the US, South Korea, and New Zealand – had gathered in the desperate search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 across the vast reaches of the

The sports make-over

Before a ball had even been kicked at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, star Egyptian striker Mohamed Salah was courted for a photo-op with Head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov. Big international sports tournaments have been a familiar platform for countries to attempt to normalise global

World Cup: diplomacy on the pitch

You thought the PyongChang Winter Olympics was this year’s premier sporting event with diplomatic characteristics? Think again. The real deal began on Thursday night in Moscow, when Russia trounced Saudi Arabia 5-0 in the first match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The stories, both sporting and

Timor Sea dispute: progress and prospects as a deal emerges

Throughout the course of 2017, Australia and Timor-Leste have negotiated in international conciliation proceedings to resolve their protracted disagreements over hydrocarbon resources and maritime boundaries in the Timor Sea. So far, we know the two countries have reached an agreement on maritime

Australia could offer Robert Mugabe a safe haven in exile

Twice I interviewed Zimbabwe’s Morgan Tsvangirai, the man who has struggled to bring to a close the long and brutal rule of Robert Mugabe. The first time, in 2007, the bruises has only just faded from Tsvangirai’s face after a savage beating by Mugabe thugs. By the second time, five years later

Is there a model Human Rights Council member?

Australia was not the only country to waltz onto the UN Human Rights Council last week with only cursory scrutiny of its human rights record. In fact, most of the Council’s current and incoming members have failed in some way to live up to the 'highest standards in the promotion and protection

Diplomats and journalists: Adversaries or allies?

This month I joined the judging panel for the annual Lowy Institute Media Awards. No spoilers – the award ceremony takes place this Saturday, 23 September, and our lips are sealed right up until the winner is announced. But I can say that the quality of the nominees was fantastic, and I

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