Friday, January 22, 2010

Effective Public Diplomacy - A Parisian Panel Discussion

As I mentioned in class, here's a positive example of public diplomacy in a prominent setting -- at a bilingual CNN-sponsored panel discussion on U.S.-French relations one year after President Obama's inauguration. Among the featured speakers are U.S. Ambassador to France Charles Rivkin (who hosted the event at his official residence in Paris), former French FM Hubert Vedrine and French secretary of state for European Affairs Pierre Lellouche.

On the question of humanitarian relief to Haiti in the wake of last week's devastating earthquake, Rivkin stated that the U.S. and France were "working hand-in-hand," while Lellouche emphasized that it was "absurd to introduce the idea of competition between the U.S. and Europe" into the common international challenge of helping Haiti. This appears to be an effective riposte to comments earlier in the week by the French minister for international cooperation, who had called for a U.N. inquiry into the U.S. role in Haiti and asked rhetorically whether Washington's efforts were aimed at "helping Haiti or occupying it?" (According to press reports, several French aid flights were initially prevented from landing at Port-au-Prince's overstretched airport.)

There will be more public affairs challenges for governments and NGOs alike in the Haitian relief effort...

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