The EUNIC Knowledge Sharing Workshop was co-organised with the British Council and the Cyprus Ministry for Education, Culture, Youth and Sports. It invited EUNIC Member organisations and relevant EU Delegations to further explore the role of arts and culture when working in fragile contexts. Over the course of the two-day meeting, special emphasis was given to common areas for collaboration, good practices, and challenges caused by security and diplomatic constraints when working in fragile contexts.
The workshop's participants were cultural relations and development cooperation practitioners from British Council, French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Goethe Institut and Ifa (Institut fur Auslandsbeziehungen), AECID (Spanish Agency for development cooperation) and the the EU institutions. The participants presented thirteen case studies dealing with international cultural relations and cooperation at different stages of conflict, ranging from violence prevention to peace building and post-conflict resolution in nine countries i.e Libya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan, Occupied Palestinian Territories, Turkey, Mali, and Colombia.
In general, all participating organisations and institutes pursue similar objectives, promoting social cohesion and sustainable development, however they might adapt slightly diverse approaches. Similarities and differences can be mapped out when it comes to the operational models involved, such as working remotely or on the ground. Different kinds of local partners and stakeholders were involved according to the different priorities and objectives of each project.
Case studies gathered during the workshop reveal a complex interplay between international, regional, and national levels. EUNIC members and EU delegations operate in fragile contexts to foster stability and security and there are a number of cultural actions to support that. Enhanced cooperation could provide a solid base for greater impact and action.
In the cases presented, partnerships on cultural relations in fragile contexts under the EUNIC banner can be limited due to some of the challenges working in the countries concerned, such as:
* Not all EUNIC Members are present in the countries
* The interaction of those present is also limited and often costly due to high security costs
* There is little information exchange on the Members' different national engagement strategies in fragile contexts; in cases where Members are working remotely not all members work from the same countries.
In line with the EU's strategic approach to international cultural relations, the activities and initiatives are based on local contexts and need to further address the role of culture in development cooperation. Cultural institutes can play the role of coordinator and mediator between different parties, bring expertise from all EU Member States, and find flexible and sustainable cooperation models when working in fragile contexts.
Given the complexity of the framework with its various strengths and weaknesses, participants to the EUNIC Knowledge Sharing Workshop on Working in Fragile Contexts have identified some key learnings and policy recommendations.
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UNESCO Chair on Cultural Diversity and Intercultural Dialogue