For more than two decades, the World Affairs Councils of America has been invited to bring small delegations of council leaders to learn about a host country.
What is a leadership mission?
A leadership mission is an overseas fact-finding visit to a city, country, or international organization by a national leadership delegation of the World Affairs Council movement.
What is the purpose?
The main purposes are to get to know the people, the issues, and the problems of the city, the country or the organization first-hand and to establish a much greater connection between the country and a well-informed and influential part of the American public. These trips are for meeting and discussion purposes, not for sightseeing. Better knowledge of the host county and its issues means better programs back home at the local council level. These include country-specific information channeled through more speaker invitations, radio and television programs, council publications, curriculum materials, teachers workshops, business roundtables, conferences, and travel programs. The movement strongly believes in people-to-people diplomacy and is one of the preeminent organizations of its kind in the United States.
Delegations are made up of approximately 10 national leaders of the council system, i.e. presidents of councils, national board members, local chairpersons, program directors, and local board members. Trips usually last between 7-10 days.
The host government or organization covers the expenses inside the county. The hosts sometimes pay the international airfare to the country as well. Hosts have been foreign affairs ministries, national information services, local foundations, or local non-profit organizations.
What do the delegations do?
Delegations hold a wide variety of discussions and make numerous site visits. Typically, discussions include a session at the foreign ministry and also often with defense, education, economics, privatization, and other field experts. Delegations commonly meet with the media, business associations, think tanks, foundations, and universities as well. Sessions are largely short briefings followed by extensive question-and-answer periods. Site visits often include industrial facilities, military installations, development projects, and rural settings. Delegations are usually hosted once by the American Embassy and sometimes pay a courtesy call on the national president.
How do the hosts benefit?
What the delegation learns is communicated to the members throughout the United States through a trip report, local programming, and council conferences and workshops. Local programming on the host country has increased though 90 world affairs councils as a result of each tour. Perspectives gained on tours appear in publications, on radio and television, at conferences, in national foreign policy discussion publications, and in educational materials which we prepare for classrooms. These visits also lead to the development of long-term working relationships between counterpart organizations in the host country and the World Affairs Councils. The working relationships produce joint projects, conferences, professional exchanges, speakers' visits to the United States, intern exchanges, publications, or the like. The tours sometimes lead to increased business interest from some of the 2,000 corporations that financially support the world affairs council movement around the country. National delegation visits often then lead to follow-up by local councils. Many local councils have educational travel programs for their members. Leadership missions often start a series of trips from around the council world. For local trips, the travelers normally are paying their own way.
2016 Leadership Mission to Israel
The World Affairs Councils of America and the America-Israel Friendship League will host a WACA Leadership Mission to Israel from June 2 to 10, 2016. The Leadership Mission will be comprised of an AIFL escort, WACA President Bill Clifford, and up to 11 delegates from the Council network.
This Leadership Mission to Israel will focus on a variety of contemporary issues, including Middle East regional affairs, Israeli politics and diplomacy, counter-terrorism, immigration and refugees, innovation and entrepreneurship (alternative energy, IT, health care), and religious diversity. Agenda details
2015 Leadership Mission to Taiwan
The World Affairs Councils of America and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office hosted a Leadership Mission to Taiwan, from April 26 to May 2, 2016. The 10-person Leadership Mission delegation included WACA President Bill Clifford, and eight delegates from the Council network.
Taiwan Mission Report
2014 Leadership Mission to the People's Republic of China
The World Affairs Councils of America, in partnership with The Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC), hosted a Leadership Mission to the People's Republic of China in October 2014. The ten member delegation of World Affairs Councils representatives visited Beijing, Shanghai, and Wuhan during the mission.
The WACA Delegation to China visited the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies and discussed U.S.-China relations with SIIS President Chen Dongxiao, Dr. Zhang Zhexin, Assistant Director of the Institute for Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macao Studies, Dr. Xue Chen, research fellow at the Institute for Strategic Studies, and Ms. Ji Yixin, research fellow at the Institute for Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macao Studies. The delegates also met with U.S. Ambassador to China Max Baucus in Beijing.
Over the last twenty years, the WACA has taken leadership delegations to: