Leveraging Culture and Diplomacy in the Age of Information

By The Hon. Tara D. Sonenshine (Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, US State Department)


When we bridge cultures, we don’t just enshrine what people treasure, we build richer, more diverse, and mutually trusting partnerships for the future. And that makes Cultural Diplomacy an essential tool for the 21st Century.

As the African playwright, Wole Soyinka, once said, ‘What politics demonizes, culture humanizes.’ With one song, Cultural Diplomacy helped us sidestep politics, and contextualize our values and policies in a very human way.
The question isn’t whether we should participate in Public Diplomacy - of which Cultural Diplomacy is a major part - but how we can harness Cultural Diplomacy as a force for good.

Cultural Diplomacy can be a force multiplier that enhances relationships, builds understanding, advances prosperity, and strengthens our own national security. It starts with recognizing that culture is more than its paintings, relics, churches, or cuisine. It is about the human aspirations they represent.

While real people add impact to our Cultural Diplomacy, our support for the restoration and protection of cultural sites and artifacts everywhere sends an equally powerful message: that we are committed to national heritage.

- The ICD Annual Conference on Cultural Diplomacy in the USA; Washington D.C., January 9th, 2013