Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 02/2009

Reinventing NATO´s Public Diplomacy

Stefanie BABST

November 2008

NATO Defense College


This paper examines some of the public diplomacy challenges that national governments and international organizations like NATO are increasingly facing. While new media technologies have become a powerful enabler in the globalised information environment, international security issues no longer remain ‘close-hold’ subjects reserved to foreign and security policymakers. Analyzing some of the current public trends in transatlantic themes in Europe and the United States, the author takes a closer look at NATO’s evolving communication policies and activities. Evidently, public diplomacy has its limits. No matter how skilfully designed, it cannot replace political messages and contents. A serious political crisis or the loss of human lives cannot (and must not) be turned into a positive news story. However, if public diplomacy aims at establishing a trustful and interactive relationship between the seekers of information and the respective organization or government, public diplomacy requires political will, strategy and resources to be effective and credible.