15. Cultural diplomacy and diversity

28 Feb

Cultural diplomacy and diversity

1. Currently a significant part of the difficulties that exist in the global dialogue is due to ignorance (real in magnitude) of certain cultural factors existing in various States. Such ignorance often leads to various levels of inconvenience in the context of relations between States.

2. In this context, professional diplomacy, in the on-going quest for reconciliation between civilizations facing the possible threat of violence, works for mitigating the barriers and cultural antagonisms and effectively applies various strategies to facilitate the necessary harmony between civilizations.

3. The diplomatic approach should contribute to respecting the dignity of States and to understand and appreciate the natural reaction of people in establishing links with nations of other cultures. In doing so, diplomacy will have to rise above the arbitrary simplifications, stereotypes and artificial national prejudices, taking into account procedures, beliefs, traditions, and even the pride of the people.

4. While tolerance is necessary for the freedom of human beings, it is also a significant factor for communication between countries (governments and peoples). Diplomacy has to have a keen awareness of any changes in cultural concepts by examining and utilising new data in developing global strategies. The level of this aspect is so great that it eventually requires governments to now even participate in diplomatic negotiations with individuals or groups or entities whose representative character is in process of emergence and are not subjects of international law.

5. The preamble of the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity explains that culture is at the heart of contemporary debates about identity, social cohesion and the development of a knowledge-based n economy. It adds that respect for cultural diversity, tolerance, dialogue and cooperation in a climate of trust and mutual understanding is the best guarantors of peace and security. It also defines culture as the set of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features of society or a social group and encompass in addition to art and literature, lifestyles, ways of living together, value systems, traditions and beliefs.

6. It further states that cultural diversity is a source of development, understood not simply in terms of economic growth, but also as a means of access to intellectual, emotional, moral and spiritual existence.

7. In the framework of diplomatic relations, diplomats have to conveniently expand their knowledge of the culture of the country they represent, and also learn very quickly of the cultural characteristics of countries which are seeking closer. Understanding and appreciating the culture of various countries usually breeds greater confidence in promoting trade, economic cooperation and integration projects with those nations.

8. In the development of “public diplomacy,” “cultural diplomacy” is a privileged resource for external relations that since it assists in projecting conveniently the image, prestige and trust required of nations in the international arena. For instance, Brazilian foreign policy uses its cultural diplomacy to achieve goals in the wider diplomatic field through the linkage of culture and foreign policy through the projection of the country’s cultural diversity.

9. The prestige generated by the projection of the cultural heritage of the respective nations has become a core component of “soft power” which is essential for building an international image consistently and naturally conducive to their national interests.

© by Odeen Ishmael

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