Celebrities changing how international diplomacy is done

New book by CIGI Distinguished Fellow explores role of new actors in international affairs

November 6, 2007

Waterloo, Canada - The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) and Paradigm Publishers/UBC Press announced today the release of Celebrity Diplomacy, the first in-depth study examining this new phenomenon in international relations as a serious global trend with important implications.

In his latest book, CIGI Distinguished Fellow and Associate Director Dr. Andrew F. Cooper explores the shift from traditional diplomacy by professionally trained civil servants to a new form of advocacy by famous entertainers and entrepreneurs - such as Bono and Bill Gates - with no formal background in global affairs.

Cooper suggests that these new actors have a significant and increasingly important role in the world of diplomacy. "Bono and Bob Geldof have made African debt relief a staple feature of the G8's agenda, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation operates on a much larger budget than the World Health Organization," notes Cooper, "and Mia Farrow has influenced China's policy towards intervention in Sudan." Citing these examples, the author concludes that this new type of activity is changing the way diplomacy is conducted.

In her foreword to the book, CIGI Distinguished Fellow and former UN Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fr├ęchette comments, "Neither the demands nor the actions of celebrities are going to save the world, but their engagement and often their generosity can help convince many in the younger generations that solutions to problems come in unpredictable but robust guises. Their activities also serve as a valuable signaling device that the status quo in terms of global health/poverty/debt agenda remains contested by some who could easily enjoy rich, private, and even frivolous lives."

Celebrity Diplomacy is published in both the United States and Canada. The Canadian launch will take place on November 27 at the Munk Centre for International Studies at the University of Toronto.

Andrew F. Cooper is a distinguished fellow and associate director of CIGI as well as a professor of political science at the University of Waterloo. In 2000 he was a Canada-U.S. Fulbright Scholar at the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University, Washington, D.C. He is a member of the International Advisory Board of the GARNET Network of Excellence and holds a D.Phil. from Oxford University. Celebrity Diplomacy is his eighteenth book.

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