Celebrity Diplomacy and the G8: Bono and Bob as Legitimate International Actors

Working Paper #29

September 14, 2007

The last decade has seen an increased accumulation of media snapshots of celebrity activism on the international stage, to a point where world leaders scramble to get access to figures like Bono and Bob Geldof. This paper argues that the global capabilities of celebrity diplomats should not be undervalued or dismissed. Where traditional sites of statecraft, such as the Group of Eight (G8), face a myriad of challenges of legitimacy and efficiency, a new type of transnational advocate has surfaced - one in which movie stars, musicians and CEOs have eased into quite dramatically. Their ability to gain extended face time with prominent national leaders, while their message is heard at both the mass and elite levels, means that they are engaging in the kind of widespread communication that underpins successful diplomacy. This paper demonstrates that above all others, Bono and Bob Geldof have become significant, ascendant diplomatic actors in a global system that is open to their inclusion in ways that very few would have anticipated.

About the Author