Public diplomacy serves as a force multiplier for nonstate actors seeking to affect change within global civil society. To better understand the role of nonstate actors in promoting human rights in the international sphere, it is vital to first examine the theoretical frameworks within which these actors operate.
The authors in the lead section of Pursuing Human Rights Through Public Diplomacy provide us with an understanding of the positioning of nonstate actors in the diplomatic landscape and in international humanitarian law. Professor Geoffrey Wiseman, a former program officer for the Ford Foundation and diplomat in the Australian Foreign Service, revisits his concept of polylateralism and the evolution of actors in the world of diplomacy. He creates avehicle for understanding how the respective contributors in this edition connect within the international system, reflecting on the specific challenges of tackling human rights issues from the state and nonstate level. Meanwhile, Dr. Dieter Fleck, former Director of International Agreements and Policy at the German Ministry of Defense, looks at the legal structures that define human rights and set boundaries for humanitarian aid, particularly during times of conflict. He examines the different interpretations of humanitarian legal principles by state and nonstate actors and their potential political consequences.
The rise of nonstate actors as agents of change marks an evolution of the international diplomatic and legal structures. Authors in this lead section tackle some of the most pressing structural questions that have appeared along with these new sets of actors. Combined with the case studies and examples offered in the rest of this edition we hope to create a deeper understanding of the role nonstate human rights actors play and the various ways in which they can use public diplomacy to carry their messages further.