People power and diplomacy
Recognizing that dynamic, the Global Sister Cities and Twinning Summit, a nonprofit citizen diplomacy conference, convened in Cairo for the first time last week as it brought leaders from international citizen diplomacy organizations to discuss the importance and the role of people-to-people diplomacy.
Private Citizens and non-governmental organizations are more influential than ever in shaping foreign relations and the Global Sister Cities twining examined the current and future role of sub-national dialogues in building sustainable nations.
According to Jim Doumas, the executive vice president and interim CEO of Sisters Cities International, the organization hoped that by the end of the three-day conference, participants will have formed clear images about how significant friendship between countries is.
“Our main mission is to promote peace and prosperity among peoples of the world, we are also here to endorse more twining especially on the continent of Africa” says Doumas.
Increasingly, citizens are taking the initiative to change their political, social, and economic environments rather than relying on government leaders to act.
Citizen diplomacy leaders representing more than 30 countries include: Government officials, CEOs and executive directors from global foundations. Corporations and universities also participated in this citizen’s diplomacy movement.
Doumas says the organization believes that friendship and co-operation between countries are influential in shaping future foreign relations - especially with Africa.
“I consider that sharing knowledge and priorities will help organizations [to] start partner(ing) together and promote welfare, stability and international relations,” he explains.
During the summit’s opening session on September 7, three new African twining organizations - Sister Cities Africa, Morocco; Eastern Africa Sister cities, Kenya; and Africa Global Sister Cities Foundation, Ghana - signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to boost south-to-south cooperation.
Wednesday’s session was also attended by Giza Governor Ali Abdel Rahman, Qaliubya Governor Adel Zayid, and Cairo Governor Abdel Kawy Khalifa.
Finally, Ambassador Mostafa El-Fikky gave a speech on the importance of citizen diplomacy in the world especially in the MENA region with the current changes taking place in Egypt.
On September 8, following a performance of Egyptian folklore and traditional music in Khan el Khalili, Sayyid Syeed, the national director of the Islamic society of North America Office for Interfaith and Community Alliances gave a speech about how faith-based organizations often play an important role in citizen diplomacy.
He pointed out that interfaith organizations can be integrated into international municipal partnerships to spread peace and mutual understanding all over the world.
Sister Cities International was founded in 1956 by US President Dwight D. Eisenhower