The Importance of Cultural Diplomacy

By the Vice Chairman of the ICD Advisory Board Erna Hennicot Schoepges (Former Minister of Culture of Luxembourg)


Whether the emerging European Dream can offer an alternative vision more able to accommodate the tumultuous changes occurring in the world today, from the globalisation of the economy and rising unemployment to the spread of religious terrorism, remains to be seen…
“These are tumultuous times. Much of the world is going dark, leaving many human beings without clear directions. The European Dream is a beacon of light in a troubled world. It beckons us to a new age of inclusivity, diversity, quality of life, deep play, sustainability, universal human rights, the rights of nature, and peace on Earth. We Americans used to say that the American Dream is worth dying for. The new European Dream is worth living for”.

These statements by Jeremy Rifkin, in 2004 in his book the European Dream, should strengthen our leaders resolve to cross barriers and to build bridges. We must try, with intercultural dialogue, to promote arts and music, non verbal expression, feelings, emotions and to live with our hearts not only with our brains.

The first decade of the 21st century has brought many changes to the world. In the first months of 2011, people’s fight for freedom exploded in many regions. Networks helped these, hopefully peaceful, revolutions to happen. Oppression is no longer tolerated; a new area started with the spread of worldwide information and communication technologies. Therefore a new form of governance has to come. With respect of the cultures and beliefs of each human being, democracy has to prove its real value.

Cultural Diplomacy can help to promote a new thinking, based on knowledge of each other, to gather people from different cultures and generations, professional backgrounds and civilizations, to meet, not only in the virtual world of the “Net”, but as real people with their individual thoughts and values.
Cultural Diplomacy should help us to be ahead of the changes, to anticipate upcoming conflicts, in order to better prepare the right solutions. This should however not remain the dream of some privileged participants, but help to initiate future leaders in a changing world.

Culture and its diversity are tools for a new way of political action, promoting contacts between generations, nations and continents.

The language of arts and music may succeed, where words and figures failed.
Culture can make the difference, by telling us which proposals should be set into force to reconcile people with themselves, to build peace when the economy failed; the finances broke down, when political structures are to be questioned.

The goal intercultural diplomacy is to make people aware of the power of music, to connect musicians and executives, artists and managers, to think about how the change can happen.

Culture should make the difference; it should establish the link from one person to the other. All together we should aim at making the diverse distribution of wealth, of the well being of people, the overarching goal, achievement and eventual success of our society.