On Thursday, January 30, Scarlett Johansson resigned as global ambassador for international development organization Oxfam. The resignation came after a controversial ad of Johansson surfaced on the internet. The advertisement featured Johansson endorsing the Israeli product, SodaStream. The ad fomented controversy on the internet do to the Israeli company’s manufacturing plant’s location in an illegal Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank.
After an eight year partnership the humanitarian group and Johansson decided to end their relationship. Oxfam released a statement on Friday stating, “…Ms. Johansson’s role promoting the company SodaStream is incompatible with her role as an Oxfam Global Ambassador”. While many have spoken out to praise Oxfam and their actions, others have criticized Johansson and her decision to continue her work with SodaStream.
Johansson’s recent actions tend to be a trend in diplomacy. More and more celebrities are stepping away from the silver screen and on the the international stage. It is becoming increasingly common to see celebrities engaging in “extracurricular activities” that intervene in international relations. Celebrities engage in this behavior without any formal training or knowledge of the impact their actions may have on the current state of international negotiations. Practitioners of diplomacy should begin to prepare now to safeguard diplomacy against the possible impact “celebrity diplomats” may have on foreign relations.