The COVID-19 outbreak has brought enormous pressure to bear on the practice of diplomacy around the globe. Australia is no exception. The closure of international and internal borders, locking down of cities and pressure from citizens to return home has impacted on the nation’s diplomatic priorities and practice. Domestic interest in and support for diplomacy is myopic, as demonstrated in the recent budget outcomes. And yet, the broader strategic dynamics of the region demand more ambitious and active diplomacy. This webinar looks into the dilemma facing contemporary Australian diplomacy – caught between the ambition of a “regional power with global interests” as set out in the 2017 foreign policy white paper and the ambivalence of domestic politics, and offers some thoughts on how Australian diplomacy might adapt in coming years as it reconciles these enduring tensions.
About the Speaker
Caitlin Byrne is Director, Griffith Asia Institute. She is also a Faculty Fellow of the University of Southern California’s Centre for Public Diplomacy (CPD). Caitlin’s research is focused on Australian diplomacy with a special interest in Australia’s engagement in the Asia-Pacific region. Most recent research projects explore the role of leadership, soft power and public diplomacy-including people-to-people connections developed through international education, culture and sport-in developing Australia’s regional influence, relationships and reputation. Caitlin brings expertise in executive education and currently delivers training on Soft Power & Public Diplomacy, and International Policy & Tradecraft through Australia’s Diplomatic Academy in Canberra. She consults on occasion to government in the areas of strategic foreign policy and diplomatic practice. Prior to joining academia, Caitlin had established a professional career spanning strategic management, legal, foreign and social policy roles in government, business and community sectors.