Director-General on culture in conflict at the University of Maryland

Washington, DC, 11 February 2016 –Director-General Irina Bokova spoke on the challenges of culture in conflict and violent extremism at the University of Maryland.

“Extremists do not choose between culture and people – they attack both – and we need to defend both,” she said.

“Hard power is not enough. We need the soft power of education, social inclusion and freedom of expression to counter extremism.”

On the side of education, she placed the stress on the importance of history. “Knowing history is the start of the counter-narrative to the message coming from these extremists,” she said. 

Ms. Bokova reminded the audience that the recent terrorist attacks across the world are attacks against our shared values. 

She focused attention on a variety of UNESCO programs, including efforts to combat terrorist financing by targeting the looting of archaeological sites and the illicit trafficking in cultural objects.

Nearly 80 students and faculty attended the lecture.

 In 1989, Irina Bokova had been a fellow at the School of Public Policy. In his welcoming remarks, Bob Orr, Dean of the School of Public Policy, commended the Director-General for her leadership during these difficult times. Professor Mac Destler, who started the fellows program in 1987, thanked Ms. Bokova for sharing her experiences with students looking toward a future career in public policy.