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Cultural Diplomacy and Human Rights

“The Potential for the Arts to Promote Human Rights in Europe”

 A Lecture by Amb. Karl Erik-Normann (Secretary General, European Cultural Parliament) at the International Symposium on Cultural Diplomacy and Human Rights (June 3, 2012)

Ambassador Normann describes historians as “cultural actors” who have been instrumental in the way they have presented “what has happened to humanity before now, and also in helping us to see what is coming after now.” He rejects the traditional perception that human rights were created by God. In his view, human rights are the result of a “continuous reflection” over the last few centuries. The French Enlightenment in the 18th Century was the real “breakthrough”, as people started reflecting and thinking more about the basic rights and duties of human beings.

An interesting aspect raised in the lecture is the relationship between the Arts and Politics. Although many artists and authors have used Art for political and social purposes, at times causing huge controversies through their artwork, Amb. Normann believes that “Art for the sake of Art is still possible in a free society”. He defines freedom as the liberty to do as we please, without being restricted or controlled by anyone. Artists therefore can paint whatever they like and composers can compose whatever they feel. Such rights may come with a price, but at the end of the day, the real essence lies in the word “freedom”. 

Center for Cultural Diplomacy Studies Publication
Institute for Cultural Diplomacy


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