Global Ties Names Katherine Brown as President, CEO

Katherine Brown

Katherine Brown (Global Ties U.S.)

(10 March 2018) Global Ties U.S., an advocacy organization for international people-to-people exchanges, named Katherine Brown as its president and CEO, effective 9 April. She joins Global Ties U.S. after serving as public policy manager at Facebook, Inc., where she was also in residence as a Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow.

From 2013-2016, Brown served as Executive Director of the United States Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, a body authorized by Congress to oversee and promote U.S. government activities that intend to understand, inform, and influence foreign publics.

Previously, she held numerous roles in government, including assistant to the White House national security adviser; communications adviser for the U.S. Embassy in Kabul; and professional staff member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs at the U.S. House of Representatives.

Brown also served on the boards of the Center on Public Diplomacy at the University of Southern California and the Global Ties Foundation. She is a non-resident senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and an adjunct assistant professor at Georgetown University. She received her Ph.D. and M.A. in communications from Columbia University and B.A. from the George Washington University.

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Spain’s Public Diplomacy Featured at March 2018 Monday Forum

Olympic Ring Park

Olympic Ring Park in Barcelona, Spain (A. Kotok)

(24 February 2018) Public diplomacy as practiced by Spain is the focus of the First Monday Forum in March 2018, set for 12 noon on 5 March 2018 at the Elliott School on the George Washington University campus. Leading the discussion is Cristina Fraile, deputy chief of mission at the Embassy of Spain in Washington, D.C.

Ms. Fraile began her tour as DCM in Washington in August 2015, after serving as director of the Human Rights Office in Spain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, beginning in July 2011. She previously served as deputy head of mission in Spain’s embassies in Vienna and New Delhi, following her tour in the foreign ministry’s international legal affairs office. Ms. Fraile has a law degree from Universidad Complutense de Madrid.

Monday forums are a joint project of the USC Center on Public Diplomacy, USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy, Public Diplomacy Council, and PDAA – an association of public diplomacy professionals. The event takes place on Monday, 5 March at a different location from many of the previous programs: Lindner Family Commons room of the Elliott School at George Washington University, 1957 E Street, Room 602, in Washington, D.C., beginning at 12 noon. Sandwiches and refreshments will be served.

The event is free, but advance registrations by e-mail are required:

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Debate Over Values and Interests in Foreign Policy Highlights Santa Fe Forum

Word cloud

(Santa Fe World Affairs Forum)

(24 February 2018) Today a debate over fundamental values rages within the U.S. and abroad between the pursuit of American interests and the image of American values that transcend day-to-day policies. That debate is the theme of this year’s Santa Fe World Affairs Forum, April 9-10 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. And if you’re a member of PDAA, you qualify for a discounted registration rate.

American foreign policy since World War II has relied upon soft power – the ability to influence others based on key human values. Since World War II, the US goal has been to project its image as a nation that is not only strong, but also “good,” drawing on the idea of American exceptionalism to persuade others that the country is the “shining city on the hill” and a democratic “beacon of freedom” in a troubled world.

Yet U.S. foreign policy has also been guided by national self-interest. This pursuit has at times conflicted with our aspirations and led to less than admirable policies implemented through counter-productive means that diminished America’s standing in the world.

The Forum this year features a list of speakers with first-hand experience dealing with these issues:

  • Daniel Baer, Ambassador (rtd), Diplomat in Residence, Josef Korbel School of International Affairs, Denver University. US Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (2013-17)
  • Michael Battle, US Ambassador (rtd) to the African Union, academic, university provost, military chaplain and most recently Executive Vice President/Provost at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Ralph Begleiter, founding Director of the Center for Political Communication, University of Delaware and former world affairs correspondent at CNN
  • Beatrice Camp, Senior Foreign Service Officer (rtd), former US Consul General Shanghai, and PDAA member
  • Laura S.H. Holgate, Ambassador (rtd), Senior Nonresident Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
  • Dr. Elizabeth Manak, South Asia and nonproliferation specialist, 30 year plus CIA officer and Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East and South Asia in the National Intelligence Council
  • Dr. James L West, Professor of History and Humanities. Middlebury College 1995-2011

This year’s Forum takes place at Santa Fe Community College in Santa Fe, New Mexico on Monday and Tuesday, April 9-10, 2018. The deadline for reservations is Wednesday, April 4. Members of PDAA can register at the discounted partner rates posted on the Santa Fe World Affairs Forum (SFWAF) web site.

More details about the program, speakers, location, and registration can be found on the SFWAF web site.

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Human Rights Promotion as a U.S. Policy Priority

Robert Berschinski

Robert Berschinski at PDAA lunch program, 12 February 2018 (A. Kotok)

(14 February 2018) Editor’s note. The following essay is drawn from remarks prepared by Robert Berschinski at the PDAA lunch program on Monday, 12 February 2018. Berschinski is Senior Vice President of Human Rights First, where he oversees the organization’s work advancing a U.S. foreign policy rooted in a strong commitment to human rights, universal values, and American ideals. More details about his background and the program itself are found on the program’s web page.

Thank you Ambassador Efird and Ambassador Morris, and all the members of PDAA for having me here with you today.

Frank is a very tough act to follow, but I’ll give it a shot.

Greta, your prompt for the session included the question “Should promoting human rights and democracy be an important part of U.S. foreign policy?”

My response is that, based on American history, our self-conception as a nation, and frankly our interests within the international system, there is simply no way that this issue cannot be included as an important component of our foreign policy.

I would add that my experience as a diplomat demonstrated quite clearly that standing up for individual rights and the rule of law—and being seen as doing so—pays the United States significant dividends as a matter of U.S. national interest.

To a certain extent it sounds trite, but I think there’s no doubt that America benefits from being seen as representing a set of ideals as much as a territory, and that we do well for ourselves when we’re seen to be acting in ways that go beyond our immediate, narrowly-defined self-interest.

It’s not news that human rights and liberal democracy are under strain right now.  According to Freedom House, we’re in our 12th consecutive year of a global rollback of liberal democracy, including guarantees of free and fair elections, the rights of minorities, freedom of the press, and the rule of law. And that includes here at home.

Populism and ethno-nationalism seem on the march. Far-right populists gained votes and parliamentary seats in France, the Netherlands, Germany, and Austria last year.

Promising democratic success stories from Hungary to Turkey to Venezuela to the Philippines have turned or are turning in a very different direction.  And of course with the possible exception of Tunisia, the early hopes of reformers in the Arab Spring have been crushed.

Russia, meanwhile, continues to violate international norms from invading its neighbors to meddling in foreign elections, and is empowered to do so in no small part because of the systematic, often brutal elimination of political opposition, and dominance that the Kremlin holds over the Russian media landscape.

And China is quickly translating its economic power into a means to export the control it exerts over its population at home into a new set of rules abroad that are explicitly hostile to individual freedom.

Perhaps most disturbingly, there’s a definite sense that consolidated democracies clearly aren’t delivering. According to various polls, this is leading many young people in consolidated liberal democracies, including here in the United States, to question whether democracy is the optimal form of governance.

Given all this, the question remains, should the United States continue to promote human rights?

My response is an unequivocal yes.

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The Search for Order in a World of Disorder

Frank Vogl

Frank Vogl at PDAA lunch program, 12 February 2018. (A. Kotok)

(14 February 2018) Editor’s note. The following essay is drawn from remarks prepared by Frank Vogl at the PDAA lunch program on Monday, 12 February 2018. Vogl is co-founder of of two leading international non-governmental organizations fighting corruption, Transparency International and The Partnership for Transparency Fund. More details about his background and the program itself are found on the program’s web page.

The worst global humanitarian crises since World War II and the shortcomings of Western foreign policy.

The world is now confronted with the most serious humanitarian crises since World War Two. The risk that conditions could become still worse is acute. Western governments need to understand their culpability and recognize that not enough was done to prevent these crises. Public policy needs – once more – to forcefully promote long-term national building, with a sharp focus on protecting human rights, anti-corruption, and establishing the rule of law. The laws, conventions, and Group of 20 pledges that address these issues need to be enforced. If international security is to be improved, then international anti-corruption actions dare no longer remain as a secondary priority for Western governments.


Ambassador Morris, Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for this invitation to speak on human rights, democracy, corruption and foreign policy.

I had a wonderful cousin, Zuzana Ruzickova, who lived to the age of 90 in Prague. Zuzana was one of the leading harpsichordists of the second half of the twentieth century and the only person to have recorded the complete keyboard works of Johann Sebastian Bach. When once asked why young people all over the world came to her concerts and listened to Bach, she said: “Bach provides them with a sense of order, in a world of disorder.”

Zuzana knew about disorder. She spent her teenage years in Terezin, Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps. She returned to Czechoslovakia and she refused to join the Communist Party and was harassed over four decades as a result.1

From the ashes of World War Two, and the strident spread of Communism, the United States sought to create order in a world of disorder. It pledged to promote freedom and democracy and human rights as the means to provide hope and opportunity to all peoples. The U.S. led brilliantly, from the forging of the United Nations, to the implementation of the Marshall Plan. Many of you in this room today have been on the front lines in the ongoing endeavor to make this a peaceful and prosperous world.

The American effort to promote human rights and democracy has been a constant inspiration for others.

The European Union has made this is a central pillar in reviewing potential new members, including Turkey and those from the Balkans. I agree with a British friend who wrote to me about today’s theme, and I quote: “I am immensely grateful for the role that the U.S. has played and largely continues to in championing basic human freedoms and a rules-based international order. The world should not take that for granted.”

The track record, even in recent years, has many highlights: from President Obama’s anti-corruption demands when confronting President Kenyatta in Kenya and President Karzai in Afghanistan; to Vice President Biden’s blunt anti-corruption speech to the parliament in Kiev, Ukraine; to the landmark Global Magnitzky Act; to the bold support for civil society and humanitarian causes that were so frequently a feature of the speeches of Hillary Clinton and John Kerry when they headed the Department of State. More broadly, over the last 25 years, Western foreign policy leadership has provided consistent and important financial support to many humanitarian, pro-democracy and anti-corruption civil society organizations, which in turn have made substantial contributions, and continue to do so.

As former senior foreign policy officials, you know how difficult the challenge is to promote vital values in a world so starkly driven by short-term realpolitik. You have all watched the unfolding of President Trump’s approaches and those of Secretary of State Tillerson and how these reject the humanitarian pillars that are critical to what I believe must be a civilized 21st century foreign policy.

Today’s Humanitarian Crises

However, we cannot blame the Trump Administration for the humanitarian crises that now abound:

  • According to CARE, that: “An unprecedented 81 million people are in need of emergency assistance food assistance,” and that the United Nations has declared the world hunger emergency the gravest since World War Two.”
  • According to the World Food Program: “Some 20 million face catastrophe in Sudan, South Sudan, Nigeria and Yemen…in South Sudan alone one million children are estimated to be acutely malnourished.”
  • According to UNHCR: “We are now witnessing the highest levels of human displacement on record. An unprecedented 65.6 million people around the world have been forced from home. Among them are nearly 22.5 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18. There are also 10 million stateless people who have been denied a nationality and access to basic rights such as education, healthcare, employment and freedom of movement.”
  • According to Human Rights First, quoting data from the International Labor Organization and Walk Free Foundation that: “An estimated 24.9 million victims are trapped in modern-day slavery. Of these, 16 million (64%) were exploited for labor, 4.8 million (19%) were sexually exploited, and 4.1 million (17%) were exploited in state-imposed forced labor.”

And, there is little evidence that the financial proceeds of global grand corruption today are any less than they were a decade ago. The International Monetary Fund has suggested that corruption diminishes global GDP by between 1.5% and 2.0% each year. Corruption is the abuse of public office for private gain. In this context, we are now seeing an increasing relationship between kleptocratic national regimes and international organized crime – often related to narcotics, illicit arms sales, the sales of counterfeit fertilizers and medicines, the ivory trade and human trafficking.

What we have learned is that in countries with high levels of violence, extensive human rights abuse, and authoritarian curbs on freedom – in all those countries the fact is that grand corruption – involving largescale theft of public resources by senior politicians and public officials – is always present. Often, it is the greed of those in power that is the prime cause of the humanitarian misery.

If you compare data on corruption, for example, from Transparency International, on violence form the Global Peace Index, and on human rights from Freedom House, you find the same countries consistently appearing at the foot of the lists. Some of these countries are failed states. Others are propped up, like Afghanistan and Iraq, by enormous foreign assistance inflows. Others are brutal dictatorships whose leaders amass vast fortunes from the sale of oil, gas and minerals in their countries.

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Iran Protests Examined at February First Monday Forum

Protests in Tehran

Protests in Tehran, 30 December 2017 (Wikimedia Commons)

(29 January 2018) The recent protests in Iran and their implications for U.S. public diplomacy will be explored by a panel at the next First Monday Forum, on 5 February 2018. This and future First Monday discussions are now held at a new location: in the Lindner Family Commons room of the Elliott School at George Washington University, 1957 E Street, Room 602, in Washington, D.C.

The Iranian protests against government corruption began in the city of Mashhad on 28 December 2017, and quickly spread to more than a dozen cities throughout the country, including Tehran. Various on-the-scene reports told of thousands of arrests and at least 21 deaths of protestors, as well as some security forces. Voice of America and RFE/RL reported a sharp spike in audience volume during that period.

Panel members discussing these events and the role of public diplomacy are VOA director Amanda Bennett, VOA director of Digital Strategy Matthew Baise, and State Department/NEA senior advisor Greg Sullivan.

Monday forums are a joint project of the USC Center on Public Diplomacy, USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy, Public Diplomacy Council, and PDAA – an association of public diplomacy professionals. The event takes place on Monday, 5 February at a new location: Lindner Family Commons room of the Elliott School at George Washington University, 1957 E Street, Room 602, in Washington, D.C., beginning at 12 noon. Sandwiches and refreshments will be served.

The event is free, but advance registrations by e-mail are required:

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