Soft Power and Its Influence on Global Issues
The ‘Colombo Defence Seminar’, which was initiated as an annual forum in the year 2011 by the Sri Lanka Army, has grown into an internationally accepted round-table for interaction on matters pertaining to national, regional and international security. Since its inception, the Seminar has grown immensely in all aspects of organization, conceptualisation and execution, which reflects the commitment, intellectual capacity and professionalism of the Sri Lanka Army. The inaugural seminar, organized by the Sri Lanka Army, started off with over 160 delegates from 60 nations. The sheer professionalism of the Army and its prowess in merging civil-military cooperation was reflected in organizing an international event of this magnitude bringing a gathering of over 100 delegates from over 70 nations in 2015.
This year’s conference, ‘Colombo Defence Seminar - 2016’ on the theme ‘Soft Power and Its Influence on Global Issues’ will be conducted as a 02- day seminar on 01 and 02 September 2016 to provide a platform to identify and discuss means of achieving foreign policy goals without using coercion in global affairs. The world order, as it is understood today, is characterized by the continually evolving nature of military strength, economic power, social, cultural, political values and foreign policy of Nation States. In this context, the traditional approach of projecting ‘Hard Power’ is gradually being replaced by the use of ‘Soft Power’ in enhancing State’s security. This change acknowledges the need for peaceful co-existence, strengthening of diplomatic ties, and sharing knowledge and expertise. Moreover, it has led to a change in world affairs whilst addressing its geopolitical concerns. Soft power, which is wielded by major powers in the world, has the capacity to reduce the need for arms and the number of physical conflicts in the contemporary world. Hence, it is imperative that the concepts of power and influence be discussed in relation to global issues at a common platform.
The Colombo Defence Seminar would serve as an audience for providing intellectual connectivity amongst those who seek strategic, sub-regional, regional, and global partnerships by convening prominent national and international scholars, think-tanks, and diplomats around this particular theme. The Defence Seminar 2016 is also designed to encourage participants to take part actively in discussions so as to stimulate critical thinking.
The seminar would be designed with sequenced sessions comprising of presentations, panel discussions, and participant-oriented group discussions to optimize the discourse and to enhance knowledge on the entire gamut of Soft Power and its Influence on Global Issues. It would specifically focus on public, cultural and economic diplomacy as tools of creating soft power, the roles and activities of the emerging powers and the use of military soft power through public diplomacy in disaster management issues and peacekeeping operations.
Set against the backdrop of the splendour of the Indian Ocean, the seminar will be hosted at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The impeccable organizational skills of the Army blended with the tropical hospitality of Galadari Hotel guarantees a comfortable stay and an intellectual environment appropriate to the seminar.
The Sri Lanka Army, founder and custodian of the ‘Colombo Defence Seminar’ is pleased to officially affirm the conduct of ‘Colombo Defence Seminar 2016’ and extends an invitation to academics, practitioners, and decision makers on the subject, to share their valuable knowledge and experience at this forum.
The successful outcome of the seminar hinges on the achievement of the following aims and objectives:
1. To create a forum for local and international scholars to discuss ‘Soft Power and Its Influence on Global Issues’, focusing on elements of soft power such as the sources of soft power, the development and application of the concept in creating a wider discourse in international affairs.
2. To promote intellectual connectivity amongst those who seek strategic, sub-regional, regional, and global partnerships through generated discussions by prominent and renowned national and international scholars, think-tanks, and diplomats.
3. To provide an opportunity for exchange of views, experiences, and knowledge acquired by experienced nations on various aspects of the topic.
4. To develop awareness of learning strategies on how to improve the soft elements of power in resolving critical issues at a time when ‘hard power’ seems an increasingly less effective means of statecraft.
5. To offer challenging academic content that promotes engaged learning and critical thinking on means of developing and sustaining the peace-building processes world over through UN peacekeeping and peace building missions.
6. To initiate analytical dialogue on the vital need for stretching the influence of a country through projecting its soft power specially in the age of the return of geopolitics, and create a distinct mode of legitimacy and acceptance that may not be possible otherwise.