The International Symposium on Cultural Diplomacy 2010:
“Culture, Globalization, and International Relations over the next Two Decades” – Berlin, May 23rd 30th, 2010
The International Symposium 2010 will be split into three complementary parts. The program will begin by looking in greater detail at culture and identity and how these terms are used and understood today. During this part of the program participants will have the opportunity to experience Berlins famous “Carnival of Cultures”.
The second part of the program will build on these components by considering the role that culture plays in contemporary international relations and the process of globalization. During these three days the concepts of cultural diplomacy and soft power will also be explored in more detail.
The final part of the program will apply these discussions to one of the key issues that will determine global politics over the coming years: Afghanistan and stability in Central Asia.
The Symposium will be split into the following three parts:
“Defining and Understanding Culture in an International Context” : 23rd – 25th May)
A Three Piece Puzzle – “The Relationship between Culture, International Relations and Globalization” : 26th – 27th May
“Understanding Afghanistan and Central Asia: Supporting Democracy and Stability – The Path Ahead” : 28th – 30th May
This final part is being held in cooperation with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the German Marshal Fund (GMFUS), UNESCO, the European Commission, the US State Department and in partnership with leading international organizations.
Further details about the event can be found at the icd website:
Interesting snippet caught on Newsnight last night (28/04/09) about energy and climate change issues in the US. Ethical man Justin Rowlatt covered Powershift 09 as part of his series. But the crucial communications aspect of Powershift seems to be that a green activist movement, normally shunned by mainstream governments, is being seen as a method of encouraging and persuading American voters of Obama’s climate change agenda, using activists (seen being trained in how to resist arrest) as ambassadors for a government policy.
Now this proximity of traditional enemies is not new – Shell and BP have taken considerable steps to be seen as green through apparent (and only occasional) connectivity with activist groups like Greenpeace, although emnity is deep and remains for obvious reasons. And there are many political groups who will support political pitches, including that of the incumbent government. But the use of strident activists to promote a government policy against a generally accepted stance i.e. the fossil fuel economy, seems to be a new leap. This is not Astroturf but using genuine activism for policy endorsement.
The circumstances may be unique to the cap and trade issue in the US, but this approach does beg several questions – are there other circumstances where political policy can be matched with vocal activists against a form of accepted, conventional wisdom? And further, are there circumstances in developing and post-conflict countries which can be used in a similar way?
This is not necessarily countenancing covert support to student groups under totalitarian regimes, but where foreign agencies are already engaged (be they UN, NATO etc) do we make full use of grass roots activism (as limited as it may be) to achieve policy goals, or do we still tend to go down the route of mainsteam key leader engagement because it’s easier, more straightforward (relatively!) and more in line with our conventional
Western way of doing things? Are developing embryonic government institutions, struggling with democracy, encouraged to look towards the power of activist groups or are they merely maintaining their traditional opposition towards them? Are they, and therefore we, missing a trick?
After all, most governments have always had difficult relationships with autonomous grass roots organisations, unless, of course, they’re onside already. As ever with trying to improve the performance of public diplomacy and foreign policy communications in a rapidly changing information environment, the above requires some serious unconventional and politically risky thinking.
But that thinking, at the very least, should be done.
Conflict Prevention in the Multimedia Age
3-5 June, Bonn/Germany
Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum
The conference secretariat is busily finalising content and organisational matters – as you can see in the attached programme overview we have about 45 panels and workshops lined up so far. In terms of content the number of events has nearly tripled compared to last year. A topical overview is online available here
Javier Solana, High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, Secretary-General of the Council of the European Union will open the conference (tbc), Ramtane Lamamra, Commissioner for Peace and Security of the African Union has also agreed to join. Moreover we have lined up a number of German politicians and we are still waiting for a decision of the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. We also have asked the Jordanian queen and some other international political VIPs who have not yet confirmed.
In terms of content experts and speakers it looks better and better nearly on a daily basis. Just two colleagues who have agreed to join recently are Howard Rheingold, the Internet visionary and Brian Storm, multimedia guru from New York . Ahmed Salim, CEO A24 Media has also agreed to come. We have started publishing all those names on our website.
An attractive evening programme will give you a chance to enjoy the scenery of the Rhine river and the hospitability typical for this German region.
Partners include (in no special order): German Armed Forces, Stanford University, Reuters, University of Saarbrücken, University of Melbourne, Eyes and Ears of Europe, Intermedia, FoeBud, Chaos Computer Club, Radio Nederland, Media21, Konrad Adenauer Foundation, Committee for the Protection of Journalists, InWEnt, Commonwealth Broadcasting Organisation, FiFF, Interdisc. Fora RWTH, GPACC, SIGNIS, Friedrich Ebert Foundation , DART Centre, n-ost, Thomson Reuters, Oxford University, OECD, UNHCR, Nokia Siemens Networks, IPI, Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union, EBU, Zurich University of Applied Sciences
The conference is generously supported by the German Foreign Office, the Foundation for International Dialogue of the savings bank in Bonn , the State Government of North-Rhine Westphalia, the City of Bonn and DHL
Contact / Conference Secretariat:
DW – MEDIA SERVICES GmbH
53113 Bonn , Germany
P +49.228.429-2142 (Press inquiries: +49.228.429-2148)
You know what it’s like – some bad stuff happens somewhere, the ‘international community/coalition of the willing’ occasionally decide, for whatever reason, to do a little bit of liberal intervention, ‘nation building’ gets on the agenda, and the establishment of a free media is pushed hard. However, it is often forgotten, or at best an afterthought, to involve communications as a direct contributor to the creation or development of democratic government institutions and systems in host nations. Although the establishment of a free media is well served by many respected NGOs, such as IWPR and Reporters Sans Frontieres, developing or new government institutions and political bodies are often ill-prepared to engage with this free media and the public at large.
Basically, the demand side of civil and democratic society, i.e. a free media, gets much more attention than the supply side, ie the governments and political parties. The fantastic work of NGO does often indeed produce a free media but the government (and private) institutions who are required to engage with this media have no idea how to engage with them. For example, I’m thinking of the notion of a BBC-style Question Time being conducted in DRC or Sudan – it just ain’t going to happen that often (although something similar has been conducted in Sierra Leone).
Let’s face it, many regimes have often had their very own special way of dealing with the media – coercion, blackmail, disapperances, even the banning of any free media whatsover. So when these regimes change, by force or otherwise, the newly developing government (and private) institutions, often have little cultural legacy, regarding communicating to a free media and the public at large, to draw upon.
‘Nation building’ aims at host nation governments taking on their democratic responsibilities – rule of law, fiscal and monetary regulation, ethical governance, human rights, security etc. Part of these responsibilities is engagement with its citizens (pretty much a cornerstone of democracy), often via a free media. Indeed, in relatively stable liberal democracies, considerable investment is made in PR and media training and research, to enable institutions to fulfil this responsibility. Yet, while NGOs, IGOs and the international community may fall over each other to provide assistance in developing governance, legal institutions, security, economics and media freedom, newly developing institutions are often left to fend for themselves in a rapidly evolving information environment.
It is vital that in international democracy assistance that the needs of both the supply and demand sides of democratic life are invested in. A free media needs a political system able to engage constructively with it. When thinking of civil society and the media, those involved in foreign policy intervention, development initiatives and post-conflict reconstruction, need to consider the communication needs, expertise, resources and training, of the very institutions they purport to be helping develop.