Here are three numbers worth considering: 62,000,000, 50,000,000,000, and 1.
Sixty-two million is the number of first- and second-generation diaspora communities in America. That's just for the first two generations -- almost all Americans have immigrant roots even further back.
Fifty billion is the amount (in U.S. dollars) of recorded remittances sent from the United States by diaspora communities in 2009.
And one stands for the fact that America ranks first as host of the largest number of international migrants in the world.
These are all powerful facts and assets in achieving America's foreign affairs goals, such as advancing the economic empowerment of women and deepening people-to-people relationships through 21st century statecraft. Diaspora communities can help us communicate with and relate to communities around the world in more thoughtful and robust ways. And although diaspora engagement with home countries is sizeable, the developmental and diplomatic potential for this group remains largely untapped.
The Secretary of State recognizes the potential of diaspora communities. On March 16, 2010, she stated at the National Gala of the American Ireland Fund that "we want to begin to support them to do what the Irish American Community has done: to reach back, to make contributions, and to assist on the road to peace. So I'm delighted to announce that the State Department will help spread the model of the American Ireland Fund through a conference we will hold later this year to share best practices and smart ideas for engaging global diaspora communities."
We'll be doing just that on May 17, 18, and 19. The Secretary of State's Office of Global Partnerships is hosting the first ever Global Diaspora Forum in collaboration with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Migration Policy Institute (MPI).
Diaspora communities have unique expertise, insight, and personal commitment to diplomacy and development in their countries of origin. We believe that there is great potential for partnerships between the U.S. Government and diaspora communities when it comes to international diplomacy and development efforts, which we'll explore during the Forum.
The Secretary of State will begin by recognizing the significant contribution of diaspora communities to America's relationships with their countries of origin or ancestry. But beyond celebrating these contributions, we are focused first and foremost on action. Diaspora communities often have the local knowledge and contacts; U.S. Government agencies have the technical expertise, global presence, and convening power. Based on these complementarities, we will be developing new diaspora-centric partnership models and undertaking new programs to encourage intra-diaspora collaboration and learning. And we are reaching out beyond the walls of the State Department through a series of events around Washington hosted by organizations, such as Appleseed, CSIS, the Hudson Institute, and the U.S. Institute of Peace, as well as a Silicon Valley inspired networking event called "Partnering with the U.S. Government and Beyond" at USAID. By the end of the forum, we will have charted a new course for engaging diaspora in our foreign policy.
Would you like to get involved? We are tweeting at @DiasporaAtState, and you can send us a comment or a question on Twitter by using #diaspora. You're also invited to join our live online chat tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. EDT or watch Secretary Clinton's remarks webcast on www.state.gov and DipNote.