UNESCO Approaches to Public Diplomacy

Authored by: Marylène Gervais

Routledge Handbook of Public Diplomacy

Print publication date:  January  2020
Online publication date:  January  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138610866
eBook ISBN: 9780429465543
Adobe ISBN:


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For decades, UNESCO’s approach to public diplomacy has been unidirectional with a strong bureaucratic and inward-looking attitude. At the end of the 1990s, the increasingly competitive international environment made it necessary for the organization to start controlling its image. UNESCO launched a communication reform to develop a better strategic positioning for increasing the loyalty of its audience, and now attracts funds and donations from member states, the private sector, and civil society. The new model of communication favors a greater engagement from the public through the use of interactive tools and the diffusion of targeted messages in the media. However, persistent budgetary problems, political tensions, internal resistances, and the lack of a comprehensive strategy have limited the scope of its actions. UNESCO has to address these challenges so that it could develop a more efficient, bidirectional, and conversational approach to public diplomacy.

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