The Relevance of the Sister City program to Soft Diplomacy


Sister City is a collaboration carried out by two parties, be it a city, district, province or country, where generally these two parties have similarities in demographics, geography, history and other issues related to development. In Indonesia, the sister city guidelines are regulated in the Ministry of Home Affairs Regulation No. 25 of 2020 which has been changed twice in 2008 and 2012. There are various benefits to be gained from the existence of a sister city, including the creation of economic growth and development in area; creating cultural promotions in order to introduce culture; share knowledge regarding existing governance policies in the region; improving management of regional potential; and so forth.


In line with sister cities, soft diplomacy is a method or approach taken by a country to achieve its national interests through a social and cultural approach by utilizing the power of soft power within it. The existence of soft diplomacy is considered a solution to the many tensions in the international world. This is because soft diplomacy uses a soft approach with the principle of implementing no violence.


These two collaborative approach methods have similarities and are interconnected. There are several points of similarity, including:

  1. Create positive relationships with each other. Sister cities and soft diplomacy have similarities in the people-to-people relationships carried out between society, communities and government. This relationship creates an attitude of mutual understanding and respect, which plays an important role in the sustainability of the relationship between the two parties.
  2. Cultural exchanges carried out. Soft diplomacy is always synonymous with culture in every diplomacy carried out. Culture is considered an important object in this diplomacy because of its easy access and the way it can be done. In line with soft diplomacy, sister city cooperation often uses this object as part of soft diplomacy carried out by a country or city. An example is the sister city carried out by Bandung and Seoul. The collaboration between these two cities involves culture with Bandung’s participation in the Seoul Friendship Fair and the opening of the Bandung Wall in Seoul.
  3. Collaboration to solve existing problems. Issues that have emerged in contemporary times have become challenges for the government in finding solutions. The programs carried out by sister cities are often in line with soft diplomacy, where the programs carried out are often related to social development issues such as education, health and the environment. Collaboration to solve this problem is often carried out using both methods to solve solutions based on the similarities in problems that arise between the two parties.


Article by: Faiz Hibatulloh #APEKSInternship