Diasporas are non-state actors that interact with state actors, primarily their host state – the state they currently live in – and their homeland – their country of origin. As mobilised groups with a strong sense of identity, diasporas can play a role both in domestic and in international politics. As far as domestic politics is concerned, they may influence both the domestic politics of their homelands and the domestic politics of their host states regarding issues that are of interest to them. In the realm of international relations, they have the power to influence both national foreign policy decisions and the decisions of international organisations.

Diasporas are increasingly seen as influential actors on both domestic and international fronts. Diasporas are being sought out and engaged as potential diplomatic actors to fulfil diplomacy’s core functions of communication, representation and negotiation.

Diasporas may also seek to influence domestic and foreign policy agendas in their countries of origin , or lobby other state actors and international organizations.

Diasporas are de facto cultural ambassadors of their homeland in their host country and of their host country in their homeland. They can have a powerful international voice both as special interest groups in national foreign policy making and as transnational civil society networks. Moreover, their transnational interests and activities are centrally placed in our globalised and complex world.

Diasporas can assist public diplomacy effort, serving as goodwill ambassadors and helping to project an accurate and contemporary image overseas. Properly mobilised, the members of a diaspora can be powerful instruments of soft power.

Diaspora engagement has become an important element of foreign policy, to be leveraged for economic, political and strategic objectives. 

Diasporas can help create a positive image of a country and augment the work being done by Embassies in this area. Diaspora are like informal ‘ambassadors’ for a country and an image of a country is projected through them. Without doubt  diasporas play a key role in supplementing a government’s efforts to project its soft power, including through cultural diplomacy. Diasporas are a key resource in supporting official efforts in achieving a country’s foreign policy objectives of favourable outcomes through the deployment of soft power tools.

Diasporas are often in agreement with the policies of their country of origin regarding foreign policy issues facing the homeland and they mobilise in support of such policies. Diasporas can influence the foreign policies of the host state only when the diaspora policy goals are in accordance with – or do not threaten – the host state’s national interests.

Countries with largest diasporas (Citizens living outside their home country)

  1. India: 15.6 million
  2. Mexico: 12.3 million
  3. Russia: 10.6 million
  4. China: 9.5 million
  5. Bangladesh: 7.2 million
  6. Pakistan: 5.9 million
  7. Ukraine: 5.8 million
  8. Philippines: 5.3 million
  9. Syria: 5.0 million
  10. United Kingdom: 4.9 million
  11. Afghanistan: 4.8 million
  12. Poland: 4.7 million
  13. Germany: 4.2 million
  14. Indonesia: 4.2 million
  15. Kazakhstan: 4.1 million
  16. State of Palestine: 3.8 million
  17. Romania: 3.6 million
  18. Egypt: 3.4 million
  19. Turkey: 3.4 million
  20. Italy: 3.0 million

Migrant Remittance Inflows (US$ Billion) 2018 Estimate

  1. India: 78.6 billion (2.9% of GDP)
  2. China: 67.4 billion (0.5% of GDP)
  3. Mexico: 35.7 billion (3.0% of GDP)
  4. Phiilippines: 33.8 billion (10.2% of GDP)
  5. Egypt: 28.9 billion (11.6% of GDP)
  6. Nigeria: 24.3 billion (6.1% of GDP)
  7. Pakistan: 21.0 billion (6.8% of GDP)
  8. Vietnam: 15.9 billion (6.6% of GDP)
  9. Bangladesh: 15.5 billion (5.4% of GDP)
  10. Ukraine: 14.4 billion (11.4% of GDP

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