08.06.2017 - ODG

Joining forces for cultural diplomacy

© UNESCO

On 7 June, the Director-General participated in a panel discussion on “What is Cultural Diplomacy?” with New York Philharmonic Music Director Alan Gilbert, cellist and United Nations Messenger of Peace, Yo-Yo Ma, Lincoln Center President Debora L. Spar, and Iraqi cellist Karim Wasfi. The discussion took place within a public symposium moderated by journalist Fareed Zakaria and hosted by the New York Philharmonic.

The discussion centered around the importance of promoting cultural diplomacy in an increasingly unstable world. The language of the arts was highlighted as an important means for promoting intercultural understanding and respect for cultural diversity. Karim Wasfi highlighted the transformative power that music can bring to people's lives, including for those living in areas affected by violence.

"Music transcends the barriers of different cultures and is critically important in times of instability, helping people rise from violence and fear," he noted.

Yo-Yo Ma highlighted his work through his Silkroad organization to promote crosscultural performances and cooperation to bring education, the arts and business together to transform the world. "We need more cultural reference points to better understand one another," he noted.

Pointing to UNESCO’s Culture Conventions and the Organization’s promotion of cultural diversity in all of its Member States, the Director-General stressed that “by promoting and protecting cultural diversity, cultural heritage and cultural expressions, we are promoting knowledge of and respect for other cultures, we are building bridges between communities, fostering peace, and contributing to sustainable development." 




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