Citizen diplomacy (people's diplomacy) is the political concept of average citizens engaging as representatives of a country or cause either inadvertently or by design. Citizen diplomacy may take place when official channels are not reliable or desirable; for instance, if two countries do not formally recognize each other's governments, citizen diplomacy may be an ideal tool of statecraft. Citizen diplomacy does not have to be direct negotiations between two parties, but can take the form of: scientific exchanges, cultural exchanges, and international athletic events.
Citizen diplomacy can complement official diplomacy or subvert it. Some nations ban track-two efforts like this when they run counter to official foreign policy.
Citizen Diplomacy is the concept that the individual has the right, even the responsibility, to help shape U.S. foreign relations, “one handshake at a time.” Citizen diplomats can be students, teachers, athletes, artists, business people, humanitarians, adventurers or tourists. They are motivated by a responsibility to engage with the rest of the world in a meaningful, mutually beneficial dialogue.
One of the pioneers of citizen diplomacy, physicist Robert W. Fuller, traveled frequently to the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s in the effort to alleviate the Cold War. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Dr. Fuller continued this work in political hot spots around the world and developed the idea of reducing rankism to promote peace. The phrase "citizen diplomacy" was first coined by David Hoffman in an article about Dr. Fuller's work which appeared in Co-Evolution Quarterly in 1981. Anti-nuclear groups like Clamshell Alliance and ECOLOGIA have sought to thwart US policy through "grassroots" initiatives with Soviet and (later) former Soviet groups.
The independent feature documentary Iran: Hot Tea, Cool Conversations champions the ideals of citizen diplomacy throughout the film. The filmmaker traveled to Iran as an American college student in hopes of uncovering the real, modern-day Iranian culture and people. His hope is to promote citizen diplomacy and the ideas of a global community.
- Center for Citizen Initiatives
- Globcal International
- Public Diplomacy
- Facebook diplomacy
- National Council for International Visitors
- Sister Cities International
- People to People International
- Track II diplomacy
- World Affairs Councils of America
- Attias, Shay. (2013). Israel’s new peer to peer diplomacy. The Hague Journal of Diplomacy, 7(4), 473-482.
- Gelder, Melinda. Meeting the Enemy, Becoming a Friend. Bauu Institute: Dec 2006. ISBN 0972134956
- Gopin, Marc. To Make the Earth Whole: The Art of Citizen Diplomacy in an Age of Religious Militancy. Rowman & Littlefield: June 2009. ISBN 0742558630
- Mattern, Douglass. Looking for Square Two: Moving from War and Organized Violence to Global Community. Millennial Mind Pub: June 2006. ISBN 1589823575
- Patterson, David S. The Search for Negotiated Peace: Women's Activism and Citizen Diplomacy in World War I. Routledge: Dec 2007. ISBN 0415961416
- Phillips, David L. Unsilencing the Past: Track two Diplomacy And Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation. Berghahn Books: Feb 2005. ISBN 1845450078
- Mueller, Sherry. A Half Century of Citizen Diplomacy: A Unique Public-Private Sector Partnership. The Ambassadors Review: Fall 2009.
- Business for Diplomatic Action
- U.S. Center for Citizen Diplomacy
- World Citizens guide