Date: September 13
‘Peace and Cultural Diversity’ Panel Discussion & Musical Performance
Bank Austria Salon im Alten Rathaus, Wipplingerstraße 8, 1010 Wien
On September 13th, ICDO gathered prominent speakers from different backgrounds to jointly discuss the interdependence of peace and cultural diversity and the role of cooperation between different institutions and organizations. The panel discussion on “Peace and Cultural Diversity ” took place in the beautiful Bank Austria Salon im Alten Rathaus.
ICDO President Josipa Palac held the opening speech and warmly welcomed all panellists and guests:
Peacebuilding and cultural diversity are vital parts of ICDO’s mission, vision and projects that we have established on four continents.
The audience enjoyed musical performances by Slovenian harpist Tina Žerdin, Azerbaijani Kamancha player Rui Aziz and Azerbaijani pianist Tamilla Sadigbayli.
Moderator Philipp Grüll took the lead and introduced the panellists, Univ.-Prof. Dr. Johannes Pollak, Rector and Univ.-Professor of Political Science at the International Relations Department at Webster Vienna Private University and Chairman of the Executive Board of the Institute of European Politics in Berlin; Dr. Sonjah Stanley Niiah, Deputy Dean and Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Caribbean Studies at the UWI Mona, ICDO Advisor to the Executive Committee, Jamaican scholar, cultural activist, writer, and international speaker; Dr. Lara Scarpitta, OSCE Senior Adviser on Gender Issues in the Office of the Secretary General; as well as Dr. Ernst-Peter Brezovszky, Head of the UNESCO-Unit at the Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs in Vienna, Austria.
The discussion opened up a dialogue addressing the multidimensionality of peace and conflict, and the role of cultural diversity. Coming from an educational background and from his experience working at a university with over 70 different nationalities, Univ.-Prof. Dr. Johannes Pallak offered inspiring insights into the curiosity of students and youth:
Students are extremely curious to learn about different cultures. They try representing their countries and traditions. The problems begin once you introduce politics.
Dr. Ernst-Peter Brezovszky talked about finding new ways to raise awareness:
We must not always preach but convert. We must find ways to reach out and convert the ones that are not convinced yet that cultural diversity is important.
Dr. Lara Scarpitta also added the importance of different institutions, organizations, and groups of society in peacebuilding, highlighting especially the role of women:
The gender impact of conflict is very high, but it is important to recognize that women are not just victims – they play a key role. Women led organizations are most commonly at the front of humanitarian aid. It is important and essential to recognize and support these women.
From different perspectives and with extensive experience in their respective field, the panellists sent a strong message to the audience about cultural diversity.
Dr. Sonjah Stanely Niaah added:
One of the things we lack as a human race is understanding […] It is about the ability to place yourself in the life of another.
An important exchange between prominent personalities from diverse backgrounds, including academia, civil society, government, and international organizations, offering astonishing insights into cultural diversity and peace. It highlighted the importance of cooperation, understanding one another, space for everyone to express themselves freely, and the power of art and education to bridge differences. The speakers also highlighted and discussed the importance of involving women, youth and elderly in the creation of a more diverse and peaceful future, as well as what has to be done to achieve lasting peace with a joint culture of tolerance, equality and inclusion, not just in conflict, but also in post-conflict situations.
As Dr. Lara Scarpitta highlighted:
The end of war is not the beginning of peace.
In his closing remarks, Moderator Philipp Grüll appeals to everyone to have more curiosity to get to know other cultures, empathy and respect for differences, and ultimately understanding for one another. In this way, everyone can help #SafeguardingDiversity and contribute to ICDO’s mission!
The night was closed with an interesting Q&A session, that provided an opportunity for guest to join the dialogue.