Effective Public Diplomacy in the Context of Foreign Policy Conduct

Photo Credits: Asian Times

1. Introduction

Public diplomacy is not a new concept or phenomenon for the diplomatic circle of the developed world. However, it is relatively a new concept or phenomenon for most developing countries. The democratization of foreign policy, the emergence of non-state actors, the growing say of people in the state’s foreign affairs and the growing importance of public opinion have made public diplomacy a useful and effective tool of foreign policy.

The functional objective of public diplomacy is to understand, inform and influence foreign publics. At a time when geopolitics has been the ground of diplomacy of country like Nepal, it aims at influencing foreign governments by winning the hearts and minds of their people. Nation branding, advocacy and cultural exchange are the major methods employed by governments to attain foreign policy objectives through public diplomacy. Various techniques including propaganda through news and other media, exchange of visits, cultural exchanges, scholarships, etc. have been used to promote public diplomacy. Sometimes, public diplomacy is also used as a tool for some political objectives.

Public diplomacy is relatively a new area for Nepal. During the Panchayat era, public diplomacy did not get priority. After the restoration of multiparty democracy in 1990, the Government of Nepal started making efforts to promote its economic interests through economic diplomacy. Economic diplomacy contained an element of public diplomacy as it necessitated contacts with business organisations and individuals. It was only during the second decade of the 21st century that Nepal formally started using the term public diplomacy. Moreover, the Foreign Policy Document announced by the Government of Nepal (GoN) in October 2020 formally recognized public diplomacy as a foreign policy tool.

The University of Southern California (USC) Centre on Public Diplomacy has defined public diplomacy as “the public, interactive dimension of diplomacy which is not only global in nature, but also involves a multitude of actors and networks” (What’s PD?, n.d). As defined by the US Department of State, public diplomacy is “…government-sponsored programs intended to inform or influence public opinion in other countries” (US Department of State). The methodological objectives of public diplomacy are to understand, inform and influence the foreign public (Smith, 1998). It also aims at influencing foreign governments thorough their people. Thus, public diplomacy is a government programme and is targeted at foreign audiences. The real target could be the foreign public or foreign government through the people. In this way, public diplomacy is a “government-to-people” (or G-to-P) initiative.

2. Major Tools and Activities of Public Diplomacy

The major tools used in public diplomacy are information, education and culture. And, its targeted audiences are foreign publics including ordinary people, journalists, government officials, academics, think-tanks, non-governmental organization workers, business leaders, and the arts society. Public diplomacy in general involves the following activities:

  1. explain and advocate the government’s policies in foreign countries in a reliable and meaningful way;
  2. provide information about the country, its people, values, and institutions;
  3. build lasting relationships and mutual understanding through the exchange of people and ideas; and
  4. advise the home country’s decision-makers on foreign attitudes and their implications for its policies.

Public Diplomacy, in fact, carries a long history. It has been mentioned and practised by different leaders/governments at different times in different contexts. The term ‘public diplomacy’ is found to have been first used by the ‘Times’ of London on 15 January 1856 (Cull, 2009). Criticizing the posturing of US President Franklin Pierce during his UK visit, the Times writes: “The statesmen of America must recollect that, if they have to make, as they conceive, a certain impression upon us, they have also to set an example for their own people, and there are few examples so catching as those of public diplomacy” (quoted by Cull, p.19). The term was frequently used during the First World War. US President Woodrow Wilson, in his Four Principles speech to Congress on 11 February 1918, refers to German Chancellor Georg von Hertling’s response to his fourteen points, and says, “He accepts… the principle of public diplomacy” (Address of the President…, 11 Feb. 1918). Thus we find that the term ‘public diplomacy’ was used from as early as the 19th century. It may, however, be noted that during the earlier times, public diplomacy was mentioned in speeches and writings but was rarely practised.

“Public diplomacy…deals with the influence of public attitudes on the formation and execution of foreign policies. It encompasses dimensions of international relations beyond traditional diplomacy; the cultivation by governments of public opinion in other countries; the interaction of private groups and interests in one country with another; the reporting of foreign affairs and its impact on policy; communication between those whose job is communication, as diplomats and foreign correspondents; and the process of intercultural communications” (Cull, 2006).

3. New Public Diplomacy

The book ‘Beyond the New Public Diplomacy, authored by Jan Melissen and published in October 2011 by the Netherlands Institute of International Relations, has demarcated a line between ‘traditional’ public diplomacy and ‘new’ public diplomacy. Very interestingly, the book argues that both types of public diplomacy are found in practice. Traditional public diplomacy is more like broadcasting their own message to others; and actors are engaged in covert actions, lobbying for policy makers, political advertising and so on. Distinguished from traditional public diplomacy, the ‘New’ public diplomacy is a two-way dialogue rather than a one- way monologue. It involves listening to others, aims at building short-term and long-term relations, and engages both state and/or non-state actors.

In a similar tone, Mark Leonard and his team (Leonard et al., 2002) have also emphasized two-way interaction rather than one-way messaging so that it could build a long-term relationship with targeted groups. For such a trustworthy relationship building, governments should rely on civil societies, political parties, diaspora and so on, but should not be a one-sided and direct persuader. The aims of traditional public diplomacy are ‘branding’ and ‘advocacy’. The first aims at the branding of the nation: presenting a good image of the country, and promoting trade, tourism, investment, etc., for achieving the country’s economic and commercial interests; whereas advocacy is meant for publicizing a country’s values among the target groups. On the other hand, the aim of the ‘new public diplomacy’ is to democratise the diplomatic process: to understand others’ cultures, attitudes and behaviours, and to build relationships. In short, new public diplomacy is the ‘democratization of diplomacy’, and is sometimes termed ‘network diplomacy’ where diplomats establish and maintain contacts, interaction and cooperation with a number of professionals and people from various walks of life. Thus, relationships among countries are assumed beyond bilateral and multilateral levels

4. Nepali Context

Nepal’s experience with public diplomacy is not very long. Before the restoration of democracy in 1990, Nepal upheld a government-centric approach in its foreign policy and focused its attention mostly on relations with foreign governments. Its efforts towards establishing and cultivating relations with foreign publics were mostly limited to the people of Nepali origin. Nepal made efforts for establishing good contacts and relations with Nepali people (and the people of Nepali origin) abroad. These efforts were primarily guided towards maintaining contacts and promoting cultural relations with them. Although Nepal conducted some programmes (promotional activities, especially for the promotion of tourism, trade and investment, and cultural relations), they did not constitute the primary objectives of Nepali diplomacy. Besides, few activities were held with a view to promoting the country’s image.

Public diplomacy has two broad functions: Branding and Advocacy. Branding is the publicity of a state’s image, products, assets or heritages so as to inform the people about them and establish their recognition to get monetary and/or other benefits including soft power. The second function, or ‘advocacy’, is, to quote Terry L. Deibel, “explaining and defending a government’s policies to foreign audiences and, at the same time, factoring the likely reactions of foreign publics back into policy decisions of the government (Deibel, 2007, p. 237). One more function of public diplomacy has also been identified, especially by US academia: to provide people of foreign countries with information that is otherwise not available to them. In the words of Terry L. Deibel,

“(i)n the radically different context of controlled information environments, by contrast, Western public diplomacy has taken on a third function: to open channels of communication to peoples whose governments actively try to prevent access to any independent sources of information. Here neither advocacy of one’s own foreign policy nor communication of information about one’s own country and its people seems most effective. Instead, US government media like Radio Liberty and Radio Free Europe attempted to be surrogates for a free press that the Soviet Union and its satellites in Eastern Europe lacked,

broadcasting the truth about local events: TV and Radio Marti and Radio Free Asia try to fulfil the same functions today in Cuba and Asian countries like China and North Korea. (Deibel, p. 239)

This function aims at contacting people in mostly unfriendly countries (or some targeted communities in such countries), spreading propaganda there, especially against the government, and encouraging the people to raise their voices against the ruling authorities. Different means, such as books and pamphlets, radio and/or television programmes and trained people are used for these purposes. Some targeted programmes of Voice of America, Radio Free Asia, and other such programmes are examples of the third function of public diplomacy. Other countries, too, have been using this tactic. One glaring example is the exchange of propaganda between Radio Nepal and Nepal Television on one hand, and the Nepali Service of the All India Radio on the other during India’s economic embargo on Nepal in 1988-89. Thus, we see that this function of public diplomacy has been used mostly for political purposes.

Nepal’s diplomatic history shows that earlier Nepal gave lesser priority to either of the above, i.e, branding, advocacy and broadcasting. In the earlier decades (i.e. before 1950), Nepal had few things to brand itself through in the international community. Moreover, Nepal’s foreign relations and engagements were largely limited to India and China. It had few exchanges and interactions with the rest of the world, let alone with foreign publics. In 1950, during the struggle against the ruling Rana regime, Nepal stepped into indirect efforts towards public diplomacy. A radio station, initially called Nepal Democracy Radio, started broadcasting from Biratnagar in Eastern Nepal on 13 December 1950 (“Radio Nepal”, 2021). The broadcasting targeted English-speaking and Indian communities with news broadcastings in English by Vijaya Laxmi Koirala (sister of late B. P. Koirala) and in Hindi by poet Phanishwar Renu. Later, after the advent of democracy in 1951, the radio station was moved to Singha Durbar in Kathmandu from where it started regular broadcasting on 2 April 1951 (“Radio Nepal”, 2021). After King Mahendra ascended to the throne in 1955, Nepal made added efforts to enhance its image in the international community. It started the English daily newspaper, The Rising Nepal, on 16 December 1965 (The Rising Nepal, 2021 January 25). Nepal Television was established much later, in January 1985 (Nepal Television, 2022). To this day, The Rising Nepal is published daily, and Radio Nepal and Nepal Television broadcast/telecast news bulletins in English. King Mahendra tried other options as well, such as the expansion of diplomatic relations, a more active diplomatic role in

international forums, including in the United Nations, and its efforts to demonstrate to the world that it was a peace-loving country actively contributing to international peace and security.

After King Birendra proposed Nepal as a Zone of Peace during his Coronation on 25 February 1975, garnering international support for this proposal became the hallmark and major objective of Nepali foreign policy and diplomacy. The Constitution was amended accordingly, and Nepal tried to establish and brand itself as a Zone of Peace. The Constitution of Nepal, 1962, which was in vogue until 1990, mentions that the objective of the country’s foreign policy will be to get Nepal declared a Zone of Peace. Article 19 (6) of the Constitution states, “The objective of the foreign policy of the Panchayat system will be to make efforts towards making Nepal a Zone of Peace while adhering to the basic principles of the United Nations and Nonalignment” (Article 19 (6) of the Constitution of Nepal, 1962). But for various reasons, the Zone of Peace proposal died out unceremoniously after the restoration of democracy in 1990.

Advocacy, too, did not get priority in Nepal’s earlier diplomacy. It did not have much to advocate in the international community, rather little for the foreign publics. Whatever relations and cooperation Nepal had, it was with foreign governments. This meant that public diplomacy did not get much priority.

It was only after the restoration of democracy that public diplomacy carried indirect meaning in Nepal’s foreign policy. Public diplomacy in Nepal was basically a result of a democratic regime. “In Nepal’s context, the conduct of Public Diplomacy has been an evolved practice and mainly post 1990, it has emerged under the democratizing process resulting in a new dimension which is practised under the concept of New Public Diplomacy” (K.C. & Pandey, 2018, p. 93). However, Article 25 (5) of the Constitution promulgated in November 1990, i.e., after the restoration of democracy, states that the foreign policy of the state will be guided towards enhancing the country’s image in the international community while maintaining the country’s sovereignty, integrity and independence (Constitution of the Kingdom of Nepal, 1990).

Though the subsequent Nepali governments did not make any conscious and purposeful efforts for public diplomacy, some policies and activities helped promote Nepal’s image and soft power in the international community. Nepal’s participation in UN Peacekeeping operations, which started as early as 1958, its active role in the United Nations and Non-alignment movement and its dynamic role in the group of

Least Developed Countries, to name a few instances, provided Nepal ample opportunities to enhance its international image. Nepal was known as an active but peace-loving country with its own identity. Historical, natural and cultural factors also greatly contributed to making Nepal known, and popular, in the outside world. Its identity as the birthplace of Sita and Lord Buddha, the location of the world’s highest peak (Mount Everest) in Nepal and the country’s panoramic natural beauty attracted and fascinated people around the world. All these realities greatly contributed towards promoting Nepal’s soft power.

5. Public Diplomacy Taking Shape in Nepal

With the beginning of the new millennium, public diplomacy started taking space gradually in Nepali diplomacy. The political developments in the country that were marked by open and liberal orientation, and gradual democratisation of foreign policy took a positive shift towards public diplomacy. After the Government’s emphasis on economic diplomacy, Nepali missions abroad started approaching foreign citizens and business organisations to materialise the objectives of economic diplomacy. Though these were primarily promotional activities aimed at promoting Nepal’s tourism, trade and investments, they indirectly contributed to promoting Nepali public diplomacy as well. The Government of Nepal started allocating a certain amount of budget for economic diplomacy, which is now categorized under different headings including the promotion of trade and investment, tourism, foreign employment, etc. Under economic diplomacy, Nepali missions run various activities, such as trade/tourism fares, cultural/food festivals and other promotional programmes. They work with business organisations, trade/tourism entrepreneurs and investment boards in the host countries. Nepali missions also get help and support from home-based organisations such as the Nepal Tourism Board, the Federation of Nepali Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and other business organisations. Nepali diaspora in the respective countries, Nepali students, members of non-resident Nepali associations, and local people of Nepali origin have proved useful and effective in organizing these promotional programmes. These activities can be categorised as ‘branding’ programmes.

From around 2014/15, Nepal’s Foreign Ministry started using public diplomacy with added focus, and initiated programmes for its implementation. From the same time (2014/15), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also started issuing terms of reference (also called ‘job description’) to newly appointed ambassadors. The ToR included one section on Public Diplomacy. The newly appointed ambassadors were required to carry out functions related to public diplomacy. The returning ambassadors are also asked to submit a comprehensive report at the end of their term (known as a terminal report). In the terminal report, the ambassadors have to report back to the Ministry, inter alia, on what they did in the area of public diplomacy. Though it is yet to take a concrete shape, public diplomacy has now been officially recognized as one of the tools of Nepali foreign policy.

The public diplomacy-related points included in the ambassadors’ terms of reference were rather vague. They included image building of the country through contacts with academic institutions, media houses, business organisations, friends and well- wishers of Nepal, etc., and utilizing public gatherings and other appropriate occasions for this purpose.

The Nepali missions worked towards this end, utilizing available opportunities for this purpose. Their activities can be categorised into two parts: promotional activities and image-building efforts. The promotional activities were primarily related to economic diplomacy and included activities such as campaigns, seminars, distribution of printed materials, and participation in related programmes. The image-building activities tried to inform and impress the audience through the publicity of the achievements Nepal has made over the years. Such achievements included the peaceful and negotiated resolution of the decade-long Maoist conflict, the promulgation of the new Constitution through the Constituent Assembly, Nepal’s course of events directed towards democracy and liberal order, a successful election for all the three tiers of the government, etc. The forums used for these activities included National Day celebrations, organisation/participation in meetings and seminars, promotional programmes, and other appropriate occasions. These activities were some of the conscious efforts and concrete steps in the area of public diplomacy. Public diplomacy got formal and added recognition after the Government of Nepal announced its Foreign Policy in October 2020.

6. Opportunities for Nepal

There are a number of opportunities available for Nepal to conduct effective public diplomacy. It is true Nepal, being a poor and least developed country, lacks the monetary resources to influence others. But, it has plenty of other factors that can be skillfully used to promote itself through public diplomacy. Such factors include Nepal’s soft power, Nepal’s natural beauty, cultural heritage, Lumbini and Mount Everest, active participation in international forums, etc. They are briefly discussed below.

Soft Power and Public Diplomacy

Soft power, to quote Joseph S. Nye Jr., is “…the ability to affect others to obtain the outcomes one wants through attraction and persuasion rather than coercion or payment” (Nye, 2019). Every country has certain things that attract foreigners, especially foreign publics. Nepal is rather rich in soft power. There are a number of things that foreigners like in and about Nepal. Nepal, and Nepali diplomats, in particular, should learn to use them skillfully, to the benefit of the country. For the convenience of understanding, the soft power instruments can be discussed under the following headings:

Nepal’s History: Nepal has a proud history. The fact that Nepal always remained independent is a matter of great pride for all Nepalis. Besides, Nepal’s history, especially the history of external relations, is exciting and colourful. Nepal fought wars with British India and Tibet, China. Nepal made territorial gains. And, some have called Nepal an “Empire” in historical times (Regmi, 1999). Though history is history, and cannot be undone or realised at the present, the historical facts of Nepal can be a source of excitement for foreigners. It was the bravery of Nepali (Gorkha) soldiers, that made them renowned far and wide and opened the door for the recruitment of Gorkha soldiers in the Indian and British armies. Different people may have different interpretations and understandings of these facts, but it is true that the brave Nepali soldiers have not only defended the independent survival of Nepal but also have added to the prestige of their motherland in many countries of the world.

Nepal’s Democratisation Process: Democracy is in the political mainstream in the present-day world. Every country, irrespective of its political dispensation, claims to be a democracy and proudly announces that the government’s plans and programmes are meant for the benefit of the people and are directed towards democracy. Nepal has made praiseworthy gains towards the democratization of its polity. The struggle for democracy began long ago, during the time of the Rana regime, if not before. Though unsuccessful in the beginning, the great martyrs sacrificed their lives for freedom, democracy and openness. Finally, Nepal attained democracy in 1951, which continued for a decade. Snatched by King Mahendra in 1960, democracy was restored in the country again in 1990, which is continuing to this day, with many ups and downs. While looking at Nepal’s history, it becomes clear that the Nepali people had to fight for democracy from time to time. And, the struggle became people’s struggle against the Monarchy. In other words, the struggle

for democracy has, after the end of the Rana regime, become a struggle between the King versus the people. Because of such an understanding among the people, the republican set-up in Nepal has become a synonym for democracy, though, in reality, it is not true. Marked by the sacrifices of the Nepali people, the democratisation process is a matter of pride for the whole country. It can be another instrument of the country’s soft power.

Negotiated Settlement of an armed Conflict: The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) waged an armed struggle from 1996, with a number of demands. The movement, which the Maoists call the “People’s War”, continued for ten years, and caused internal conflict and loss of lives and property. It is estimated that over seventeen thousand persons were killed from both sides during the conflict. The violent movement was resolved through negotiations in 2006. In this way, the peaceful resolution of the armed conflict was a great relief and an achievement for the country. It can be an example of conflict resolution for the whole world. Such a negotiated resolution of an armed struggle is a matter of pride for the country, and a good source of soft power, if publicised skillfully.

Political Gains in the recent Decades:

Nepal has made tremendous gains in the areas of political and social development. After the negotiated settlement of the armed conflict and the establishment of a republican set-up, Nepal prepared and promulgated the new and democratic Constitution in 2015, which was prepared by the Constituent Assembly of representatives elected by the people. Subsequently, elections were held for all three tiers of the government. These are the gains that can impress the foreign publics, and can be used as a product for public diplomacy.

Religion and Cultures:

Gautam Buddha: Gautam Buddha (Lord Buddha) is a figure who is extremely popular and revered all over the world. He is also known as the Light of Asia and is highly revered among the Buddhist populations. Buddha was born in Lumbini in Nepal in 623 BC. Lord Buddha’s name and Buddhism have made Nepal a popular country in many Buddhist societies. The peoples from South-East Asian nations such as Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam, among others, aspire to visit Lumbini at least once in their lifetime. They are also interested in Nepal and the Nepali people and want to contribute to the development of Lumbini and/or Nepal. This goodwill can be used to promote Nepal’s soft power.

Sita: Sita, the daughter of King Janak of Mithila (that includes present-day Janakpur), is revered and worshipped as Sita Mata (Mother Sita) by people in Nepal

and India. She is said to have married Prince Ram, who was the son of King Dasharath of Ayodhya and is considered an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The Ram- Janaki Temple in Nepal’s Janakpur is a popular pilgrimage site for the people of Nepal and India. Sita is highly revered by the people of Nepal and those in Bihar and the UP States of India.

Bhrikuti and Araniko: Bhrikuti is known as the daughter of Amshuvarma, a Nepali King of the Lichchhabi dynasty.3 She was married to Songtsen Gampo, who became the King of Tibet in the 7th century AD. Bhrikuti was instrumental in spreading Buddhism in Tibet and subsequently to China. She is worshipped in Tibet/China as ‘Harit Tara’. She is considered a factor in the promotion of bonds between Nepal and Tibet, China. Similarly, Araniko, the Nepali architect, built many stupas in different parts of China, including the White Pagoda in Beijing, in the 13th century AD. He not only spread the pagoda style of stupa construction but also has remained a contributor to the strengthening of Nepal-China relations. Such figures can help attract Chinese people towards Nepal.

Natural Beauty:

Nepal possesses stunning natural beauty. The three geographical regions (the Terai, Hills and the Himalayas) contain wonderful gifts of nature. The biodiversity, the flora and fauna, the sky-touching Himalayas, including the world’s highest peak (Mount Everest: 8848.86 metres in height), all these within a very short distance from South to North are incomparable. Each geographical region of Nepal houses its own unique peculiarities that offer majestic and magical attractions to foreigners. They offer short to months-long trekking routes, adventurous tourism opportunities such as mountaineering and bungee jumping, peaceful activities like bird-watching, and many more. Foreigners are found fascinated by the natural beauty of Nepal. It is one of Nepal’s strongest assets in terms of soft power.

Cultural Heritage:

Nepal is very rich in terms of cultural heritage. Nepal’s long civilisational history, the unique lifestyles of the people, traditional ways of life in the modern days, and a great many festivals and celebrations all make Nepal a cultural treasury. The three cities in Kathmandu valley (Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur) are also known as cities of temples. The cultural heterogeneity has made Nepal a colourful land. The presence of so many UNESCO-recognised cultural heritage sites makes Nepal very attractive to foreigners.

Prejudice and Smiling Faces of Nepali People:

Nepali people may not realise it, but many foreigners have expressed their appreciation of the prejudice-free feelings of the Nepali people. Many countries in the world and their people have prejudiced feelings towards foreigners. Such prejudices may be religious, cultural, colonial, civilizational, political or otherwise. Such people have ill will and remorse for outsiders, and can sometimes be harmful as well. But, Nepali people are completely free of any such prejudices. They welcome people from everywhere, of any religion or culture or colour. Another peculiar identity of the Nepali people, which many foreigners have been found expressing from time to time, is the smiling faces of innocent people. Irrespective of their economic and family backgrounds, the people welcome foreigners with smiling faces. Foreigners like them very much, and wonder how this might be possible. People with such innocent faces and prejudice-free opinions make foreigners feel happy, confident and at ease. This can be a great asset for the country and can be a useful tool for public diplomacy.

Nepal’s Participation in International Forums:

One of Nepal’s strengths is its active participation in and engagement with various international forums. Nepal has been making a great contribution to international peace and security through its active participation in UN Peacekeeping Operations. Nepal ranks among the top five troops contributing countries. The brave Nepali soldiers have, inter alia, been promoting Nepal’s image in India, the UK, Brunei, Singapore (Police force), etc. Moreover, Nepal has been elected to various UN bodies and has performed praiseworthy functions. The international community has recognized and appreciated Nepal’s contributions.

The foregoing is an example of how rich Nepal is in terms of soft power. What we need now is to clearly spell out how Nepal’s public diplomacy can be developed and implemented as an effective tool to meet its foreign policy objectives.

7. Final Recommendations and Thoughts

As public diplomacy is relatively a new area for the country, Nepal can work towards making it more effective. Nepal can also learn from the experiences and good practices of other countries. The following recommendations have been made for the consideration of the Government of Nepal.

  1. The Government of Nepal, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in particular, have to streamline public diplomacy in the overall foreign policy. It has to undertake studies to identify the areas where public diplomacy can be a useful tool. Public diplomacy needs to be made an integrated tool of the country’s foreign policy.
  1. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs should provide training to Nepali diplomats. As public diplomacy itself is a new area, Nepali diplomats need thorough training incorporating both theoretical and practical aspects. Only well- trained and skilful diplomats can implement public diplomacy in an effective and appropriate manner.
  2. The Government needs to devise methods and means to understand the opinions of the foreign publics about Nepal. This is a very important aspect. The government has to take measures to enhance the image of the country among the foreign publics. And, it needs to take effective measures to properly handle any adverse situation and work towards developing positive public opinion.
  3. The Government should prepare and distribute attractive and factual country- specific publicity materials that can be used by Nepali diplomats in the pursuit of public diplomacy. For the production and distribution of publicity materials, the Government has to work with organisations like Nepal Tourism Board, FNCCI and others.
  4. The Government of Nepal should make sufficient budget allocations for Nepali missions abroad for the effective conduct of public diplomacy. Public diplomacy should not be considered a part of economic diplomacy. They should go hand in hand together, and separately as well
  5. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and other government organisations as necessary, should provide clear guidelines and full backing to the Nepali missions abroad. In the absence of clear-cut guidelines and full backing from the home government, the missions abroad cannot run effective programmes to promote public diplomacy.
  6. The Government of Nepal needs to make its own efforts and also work with other like-minded countries in a similar situation to get better access to advanced communications technology available in the developed world and make arrangements for their effective and appropriate use. This also includes cyber security.
  7. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs should be responsive to the reports from the ambassadors abroad and needs to take up effective measures to implement the recommendations and address the concerns.
  8. The Government of Nepal should make periodic publicity of major government policies, programmes and achievements through Nepali missions abroad. And then, the missions should be asked to follow them  up, with clear

instructions to get the support and backing of foreign governments for the policies and programmes.

  • Both the government at home and the Nepali missions abroad should be responsive to any kind of queries from the foreign publics. Lack of timely response (even not answering telephone calls or not replying to emails, for example) can give the wrong message to the people, and create negative publicity about the country and the Government. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary to handle public communications effectively. It serves to satisfy the caller and thus helps promote public diplomacy by promoting a good image of the country.
  • The Government of Nepal should look into the possibility of providing more scholarships to foreign students to study in Nepal. The Government can spare its own resources or pool resources from other agencies in the country or abroad.
  • The Government should move in a systematic and thoughtful manner towards the exchange of people with as many countries as possible. The exchanges may cover a wide range of professionals including students, teachers, artists, scholars, journalists, businessmen, entrepreneurs, etc.
  • The Government needs to develop special packages and programmes for maintaining and promoting the Nepali language and culture in places where there is a good presence of people of Nepali origin (India, Myanmar, Thailand, etc.). In this regard, Nepali missions accredited to such countries have to work in close cooperation with the host government.
  • The government machinery should remain alert and watchful about the possible mis/dis-information about Nepal and/or matters against Nepal’s interest, and counter them with facts whenever they occur.
  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs needs to organize annual/or bi-annual conference of its Heads of Mission abroad. During these conferences, the possibility and strategies for conducting public diplomacy effectively should be discussed. The Ministry should also give clear-cut guidelines on public diplomacy to its mission chiefs. On the other hand, mission chiefs can give valuable inputs to the government on the conduct of public diplomacy.
  • The Government of Nepal should consider using selected Nepali diaspora, including Nepali students and members of non-resident Nepali associations abroad, for the promotion of public diplomacy, especially enhancing the country’s image in foreign countries. The Government may provide publicity materials, pieces of information and occasional guidance for this purpose. Cultivating an epistemic community abroad and keeping it connected with Nepal would also be helpful.
  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs should carry out effective monitoring and assessment of the activities run by the missions abroad. Monitoring should include not only the programmes but also a periodic assessment of the impacts of the programmes conducted by the missions. The style and strategies of public diplomacy may need to be changed after assessment and monitoring.

Credits goes to Government of Nepal’s Research Team

Thank you.