Why do certain federated states play a role on the international stage? A variety of university activities are being held this spring to answer this question. Québec, which has been active internationally for 40 years and has a network of government offices in 20 countries around the world, is often singled out as a model. In an interview broadcast by VRT, when asked about the new Flanders House in New York City, Belgian Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy pointed to the example of Québec’s network of government offices abroad, which exists alongside Canada’s network of embassies.
On May 5, Antwerp’s Haute École Lessius invited the public to focus on Flanders’ international image. Québec’s “public diplomacy” — i.e., the means deployed by a government, in compliance with its medium- or long-term objectives, in order to promote better knowledge of the state and bolster its influence — was presented as a model. Ellen Huijgh, a researcher with the Clingendael Institute of International Relations, described Québec’s situation.
On May 9, Christos Sirros, Québec’s Delegate General in Brussels, was invited to describe Québec’s international strategy to a group of students enrolled in the master’s program in political science at Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB). Why does Québec have offices abroad? How does it proceed? How is it perceived by the states where it is present? These issues were at the heart of the discussion.
Finally, on May 28, three ULB components — the Centre de Droit Public, the Pôle Bernheim d’Études sur la Paix et la Citoyenneté and the Unité de Recherche et Enseignement en Politique Internationale — are holding a seminar on para-diplomacy as a tool for identity-building. Stéphane Paquin, a professor at Université de Sherbrooke, has been invited to describe the situation in Québec. The title of his talk, “Québec: the most active federated state on the international stage,” has already piqued people’s curiosity.
More information about Québec’s international role