“Diplomacy is the art of restraining power”, Henry Kissinger.
This iconic line was mentioned by Vanessa Boi, President of Global Action Italy, at the beginning of the International Youth Forum on Public Diplomacy Issues. Held on the 27th of March, as many as 80 people from a variety of backgrounds and origins participated in the virtual forum. This range of participants succeeded in making the Indonesia Youth Foundation and the forum itself rich in new ideas that depart from scientific studies and empirical experiences.
Coupled with the contribution of 2 other speakers who were also very competent (Anak Agung Mia Intentilia, Head of ASEAN and International Studies Centre, and Radityo Dharmaputra, Former President of PPI Estonia) who have made this forum feel so exceptional and were able to draw a common thread from the whole discussion that was trying to be carried out: How to use power in public diplomacy issues as wisely as possible while striving for peaceful situation amid the chaotic conditions of the world that are being hit hard by Covid-19. The discussion of material from the three speakers —which is following the focus of their research and study— will be elaborated on in the following paragraphs.
Vanessa Boi, the forum’s keynote speaker, covered the theme of “The major and minor impact of Covid-19 on developed and developing countries.” Within her discussion, she tried to make comparisons related to the conception of diplomacy both conditions before the pandemic hit and after. She stated that there were massive changes in how public institutions work and communicate. Furthermore, She also emphasized the importance of cooperation between institutions and jointly set priorities for what should be addressed immediately to achieve a common perspective in dealing with problems and able to reduce sectoral egos. At the end of the exposure, She offers an idea entitled “hybrid diplomacy” which implies a new form of public diplomacy that is adaptive, cooperative, not rigid, and can be integrated among one another.
The second speaker, Anak Agung Mia Intentilia, covers another topic of discussion, pointing out the urgency of digital public diplomacy. Her presentation focuses on the efforts to manifest digital public diplomacy which later can take the form of one-way or two-way interaction and collaboration. She explained that one-way interaction such as (news, official statements, speeches, and press release) can help disseminate information to the public which then will be able to gain support from the wider community. On the other hand, two-way interaction such as (Q&A on social media, quiz, and online focus group discussion) can be a space for exchanging ideas and thoughts so that diplomacy can get a massive public engagement. Her last point, event collaboration, can increase public involvement on the public diplomacy issues as long as it’s packed with interesting agenda while still paying attention to health protocols during a Covid-19 pandemic—Bali Democracy Forum for example.
Last but not least, the third speaker, Radityo Dharmaputra, covered the topic of power relations in public diplomacy. He also closes the forum so remarkably through 3 steps that he likes to call “the interlink concept of diplomacy” which captures soft power (resources that we have), nation branding (how they want to be seen or perceived), and public diplomacy itself (how to achieve that image or brand). The interlink concept leads him to believe that a country’s internal publics are another country’s external publics and open information can inspire trust and confidence between countries, internally and externally. Radityo used an analogy of “You should lend your garden house to your neighbor if his house was on fire and thereby (at the same time) trying to keep the fire from spreading to your house” to further break down the idea into a simpler image.
Even though a quote from Henry Kissinger, an accomplished diplomat, had appeared at the beginning of the event, the speakers and participants did not seem to hesitate to hold back their respective discussion arguments. And it’s an entertaining yet insightful forum. Indonesia Youth Foundation as the organizer of the “International Youth Forum on Public Diplomacy Issues” would like to thank all parties involved and support the successful implementation of this event. We hope that you can participate in other IYF events in the future. Cheerio~