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"I have long believed, as have many before me, that peaceful relations between nations requires understanding and mutual respect between individuals." President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Founder of People to People International
“It is not only the right, but the responsibility of every American to be a citizen diplomat, of the highest quality, for our communities and our country.” Harriet Mayor Fulbright, President, J. William and Harriet Fulbright Center
Citizen diplomacy, also known as “track two” diplomacy, is the idea that unofficial contacts between ordinary people can eventually pave the way for official or “track one” diplomacy. The contacts between people can build mutual understanding, trust, and cooperation, which proves to be highly beneficial when official negotiations and government interactions occur. As citizen diplomats, the individual citizen has the power and right to influence the image of their native country abroad.
Citizen diplomacy in the United States needs to be fostered because most people around the world differentiate the American people with the policies and actions of the U.S. government. People to people relationships should be encouraged so that positive outlooks on the United States can be sustained in the long run. Citizen diplomats act as unofficial ambassadors of the United States in their everyday travels abroad, through their participation in international exchange programs, and as hosts for international guests at home.
The following organizations are working to promote citizen diplomacy/international exchanges:
- Alliance for International Educational and Cultural Exchange The Alliance is a coalition of non-governmental organizations working to promote policies that support the growth of international exchange links between Americans and people of other nations. They believe that developing cross-cultural relationships are necessary to the advancement of peace, freedom, mutual understanding, cooperation and economic prosperity.
- Coalition for American Leadership Abroad COLEAD is an organization that works to increase awareness and understanding of international affairs among the public, especially youth in America. Among many of their other objectives, they work to increase involvement in international affairs among NGO’s, academics, local governments and citizens through dialogue and outreach.
- Coalition for Citizen Diplomacy The Coalition began as a movement to convene a National Summit on Citizen Diplomacy in 2004. Now, CCD works to increase and strengthen the citizen diplomacy movement through increasing the number of Americans who are engaged internationally, make people aware of the importance of citizen diplomacy, and secure resources necessary for the promotion of international exchange and education initiatives.
- Fulbright Center The Fulbright Center, in honor of late Senator J. William Fulbright, upholds Fulbright’s vision of non-violent conflict resolution through ensuring effective engagement in international programs. They work in collaboration with colleges and universities in organizing academic partnerships and improving their international education programs. The Center believes that the development of trust lies in international alliances among higher education programs and in exposing youth to other cultures.
- National Council for International Visitors NCIV is the national association for their network of organizations and individuals involved in citizen diplomacy. They work to establish professional programs, cultural activities and hospitality to foreign leaders, scholars and specialists who visit the United States. This non-profit group brings together citizen diplomats to bridge cultures and build mutually beneficial relationships through international exchanges.
- People to People International People to People is a program founded in 1956 by Dwight D. Eisenhower to enhance international understanding and friendship through cultural exchanges. Offering travel and ambassador programs for both adults and students, People to People encourages relationships between people of different countries and cultures.
- Sister Cities International Launched by Dwight D. Eisenhower at a White House Summit in 1956. The organization is the only organization in the U.S. that certifies U.S. sister cities. Its network that creates and strengthens partnerships between U.S. and international communities. We strive to build global cooperation at the municipal level, promote cultural understanding and stimulate economic development. The organizations recognized nearly 700 U.S. in it membership, partnered with over 2,000 communities abroad in 135 countries.
- U.S. Center for Citizen Diplomacy The Center for Citizen Diplomacy works to affirm the value of citizen involvement in international relations. They believe that the citizen diplomat is important in defining America to the rest of the world. For that reason, the Center works to foster leadership skills through education and training programs, increase support for the field of citizen diplomacy, and increase citizen diplomacy programs in other countries.
- U.S. Global Leadership Campaign The Global Leadership Campaign was established in 1995 in response to imminent threats in Congress about cuts to the U.S. International Affairs budget. The have helped to strengthen American commitment to global engagement and increase funding for diplomatic, economic, and humanitarian programs. Since 1995, the International Affairs budget has increased by 40%.
- (August 2007) Citizen Diplomacy - A Very Democratic Idea
- (August 2006) Us vs. them: the basics of Citizen Diplomacy
- (July 2006) Coalition for Citizen Diplomacy National Report on Citizen Diplomacy