Friday 14 Dec 2018 | 15:54 | 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

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

A slap in the face for diverse diplomacy

The US appointed its first openly gay ambassador in 1999. President Bill Clinton gave James Hormel a recess appointment as US Ambassador to Luxembourg after two years of a blocked Senate campaign. Since then, an additional six openly gay male ambassadors have been appointed by the US, including

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 broadcasting: not so simple as ABC

Australia’s international voice, once strong, influential and broadcast across much of the Asia-Pacific, has become little more than a croak into the ether. Substantial cuts to funding, waning government commitment, changing national priorities, and digital disruption have resulted in Australia

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

2017 Global Diplomacy Index: Asia’s ties to the world

The Lowy Institute has released an updated and expanded 2017 Global Diplomacy Index, which now maps and ranks 60 of the world’s most significant diplomatic networks. For the uninitiated, the Global Diplomacy Index is an interactive map that plots around 7000 individual embassies, consulates 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

Using economic diplomacy to reduce financial risks in Asia

If Australia’s economic future lies in Asia, then managing the risk of financial crises in the region should be a top concern. Especially as any crisis could also have significant geopolitical consequences. In an analysis for the Lowy Institute, Barry Sterland looks at what Australia can do

Digital diplomacy’s downsides

It was only a few years ago that e-diplomacy was being heralded as an unalloyed force for good. This 21st Century form of statecraft would bring transparency and openness to the closeted world of international affairs. Governments that colonised the internet would come to enjoy a strategic edge,

NBN dysfunction threatens our international reputation

I met with a senior member of the foreign diplomatic corps in Canberra earlier this week for a wide-ranging discussion about the challenges for modern diplomacy and the way in which advanced economies such as Australia are going about addressing them. The old chestnut – the drive for innovation

Boris Johnson: Three cheers for the Anglosphere

Boris Johnson clearly has a soft spot for Australia. No white bread politician, his whole manner is a breath of fresh air. Not only was he smart enough to renounce his dual citizenship, he has turned dishevelment into an art form. He was at it again last night, delivering the 2017 Lowy Lecture

Can economic and security analysts find a lingua franca?

This post is part of a debate on Australia’s foreign policy White paper 2017. Click here for other debate posts. When Foreign Minister Julie Bishop put economic diplomacy at the centre of Australian international relations in 2014, I suggested this might just be a canny way for a globe-trotting

How world leaders rank on Facebook

This week global PR firm Burson-Marstellar launched its 2017 World Leaders on Facebook report. The study contains some findings that are anticipated and some that are surprising. First, there are no shocks at the top of the list. Narendra Modi leads: his personal page is number one (40 million

Seeking clarity in Australian foreign policy

In August, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop announced that the Turnbull Government would produce a new foreign policy white paper. The Minister described it as a 'philosophical framework to guide Australia's engagement, regardless of international events'. The world is changing so fast it is

Does Australia need a Digital Ambassador?

Denmark’s recently announced plans to appoint a Digital Ambassador appear to be a world first: an ambassadorial representative from a nation state dedicated to an industy sector. In this case, the Ambassador will liaise with the world’s digital and tech giants - including Apple, Google and

Digital diplomacy @DFAT

A week ago Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade launched its first digital media strategy and accompanying blog. It's about time. Digital diplomacy is expanding, the pace of change is picking up, and DFAT - which spent two years developing this strategy - is late to the party. The

Middle East diplomacy: Assad will have to be included

While the intensity of violence in Syria may wind back in 2017, the transactional qualities and dilemmas of Middle East politics and diplomacy will be even more evident. The Syrian government’s ruthless application of siege warfare against the rebel forces in East Aleppo is expected to see the

Why Chinese economic diplomacy is working in Southeast Asia

By Angela Han, an intern with the Lowy Institute's East Asia Program. When President Rodrigo Duterte stood in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing this October and announced that 'Duterte of the Philippines is veering towards China', he received thunderous applause. After going on a tirade

Rebuilding trust in governments

Last week, I was on a panel at a conference for the Public Service on 'Thinking Big', run by the Institute of Public Administration. With other panellists, including Frances Adamson (secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade), we talked about the challenges facing the public sector,&

The secret life of Wyatt Roy

The former Member for Longman's surprise visit to Iraq is drawing plenty of criticism. The ALP's Penny Wong was perhaps the most savage, advising him that Iraq was not a 'place for people to act out their boyhood fantasies', while the foreign minister was also willing to criticise her former

Witnessing an opaque Pacific power shift

Today the Lowy Institute’s Melanesia program launches a major update to the Institute’s flagship research mapping project on Chinese Aid in the Pacific.*  The map now contains a decade of Chinese government aid activities in the Pacific Islands region, making it a valuable resource for

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