CULTURE AND WORLD ORDER
President of I.P.O. delivers keynote address at International Conference on Cultural Diplomacy
Dr. Hans Köchler, center, Moderator; third from right: Emil Costantinescu, former President of Romania
Berlin/Vienna, 14 December 2015
In a keynote speech at the Annual Conference on Cultural Diplomacy in Berlin, Dr. Hans Köchler, President of the Vienna-based International Progress Organization, stated that, in the era of globalization, only a multipolar world order is compatible with peaceful co-existende among a multitude of cultures and civilizations. Sovereign equality of states should be complemented by sovereign equality of cultures and civilizations if “culture wars” – that always in history have carried the risk of “perpetual” conflict – are to be avoided. He further explained that the principle of equality cannot be defined, and practiced, without mutuality (mutual respect) and that there can be no tolerance vis-à-vis those who reject it. This is the dilemma, he said, the world is faced with when cultural paradigms exclude each other in the name of universality.
Concluding his reflections on culture and world order, Dr. Köchler said that good statesmanship on a global scale will try to avoid actions that trigger an aggressive assertion of identity – as difficult and delicate a task as this may be in today’s multicultural world. World order – and peace as its goal and ideal characteristic – is ultimately also a function of culture, implying mutual respect among different expressions of identity. Negation of this truth may bring a state of global disorder – with no end in sight.
As moderator of two panel discussions on culture and peace, Dr. Köchler further emphasized the need for critical self-reflection of modern consumer society where entertainment largely flourishes on a glorification of violence. He also called for consistency of policies, domestically as well as internationally, saying that one cannot claim to be committed to dialogue between cultures and civilizations and at the same time wage war in distant corners of the world, or interfere in domestic armed conflicts. Among the two-dozen panelists in the two sessions were the Vice-President of the Italian Senate, Senator Linda Lanzillotta; former heads of state or government and former ministers from Afghanistan, Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Guinea-Bissau, Iceland, Finland, Latvia, Malta, Morocco, Romania, and Turkey, including President Emil Constantinescu of Romania; members of the International Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights; and the Ombudspersons from Portugal and South Africa.
In a further panel discussion on “Terrorism and the Culture of Democracy,” the President of the I.P.O. emphasized the importance of a proactive – as compared to a mere reactive – approach. Dealing with the causes of terrorist violence, not merely with the symptoms, will require an honest commitment to democracy and human rights, he said. If the world would be democratic – domestically and in terms of inter-state relations – there will be no cause for terrorist violence.
On the sidelines of the conference, Dr. Köchler met with the President of the Advisory Council of the Berlin-based Institute for Cultural Diplomacy (ICD), José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, former Prime Minister of Spain and co-founder (with President Erdogan of Turkey) of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations.