Cultural Diplomacy: Building Trust and Building Bridges

By Cecile Molinier (Director, UNDP Office in Geneva)


If I understood correctly, Cultural Diplomacy is about building trust and building bridges, and this is precisely what we are good at doing. We have very strong convening power, and why do we have that … because as UNDP [representatives]- having been in countries from the very beginning and having worked not only with the successive governments, but also with the population, with the civil society, with a whole variety of institutions, and with the private sector- we have developed a capital of trust. And we also have the ability, in particular in countries in crisis, to bring people who normally don’t speak to each other around the same table.

We have done a lot of work on how to promote dialogue in a context of crisis, hopefully in a context of preventing the crisis from erupting, but if the crisis and instability is already very strong, how do we use dialogue and our convening power to encourage people to reflect together on what could be solutions to come out of a crisis? Within this context, it is extremely important to analyze and work with power dynamics whether it is between men and women, between the richest and the poorest segments of the population, or between people of different origins. To conclude, we are very much part of a partnership to address issues related to indigenous people, which is very relevant to Cultural Diplomacy, inequality, and inclusiveness.

As you know in Kenya, but also in many other countries, a major source of conflict is differences in ethnic, racial, or social origins, and this to me is at the heart of Cultural Diplomacy.

- The International Symposium on Cultural Diplomacy in Geneva 2012; Geneva, Switzerland; June 13th, 2012