Panel Discussion | Winning Hearts and Minds: The Role of Culture in International Relations


Organized by ESSEC Asia-Pacific and the EU Center in Singapore, the panel discussion on "Winning Hearts and Minds" - the Role of Culture in International Relations will be held on Monday, 22 February 2016, from 3.00pm to 5.00pm, at ESSEC Asia-Pacific.


While the importance of culture in international relations was recognised during the ideological competition of the Cold War, the “end of history” hubris during the immediate post-Cold war period led to a certain disregard in the importance of cultural understanding and appreciation in the conduct of international relations. The 9/11 terrorist attacks and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism has led to renew focus and discussion on issues of values, culture and identity. Questions on how to win the “hearts and minds” in the conduct of foreign policy, and the importance of cultural diplomacy has regained a certain urgency. How can cultural richness and diversity be harnessed by nations and regional entities such as the European Union (EU) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to promote and strengthen intra-regional and international cooperation? And how important is cultural diplomacy in international relations? These are some of the questions that will be discussed in the panel.

About the Moderator

Tommy KOH is Ambassador-At-Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Chairman of the Governing Board of the Centre for International Law and Rector of Tembusu College at the National University of Singapore. He is the Co-Chairman of the China-Singapore Forum, the India-Singapore Strategic Dialogue and the Japan-Singapore Symposium. He was Singapore’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York for 13 years, and Ambassador to the US for 6 years. Before his diplomatic career, he was the Dean of the Faculty of Law of NUS. For his achievements in academia, diplomacy and negotiations, he was conferred the Honorary degree of Doctor of Law by Yale University in 1984. He also received the Elizabeth Haub Prize for Environmental Law in 1996 and was made a Champion of the Earth by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in 2006. In 2014, Prof Koh received the Great Negotiator Award 2014 from Harvard University.

About the Panelists

Michael REITERER is currently Principal Advisor at the Asia and Pacific Department, European External Action Service (EEAS), Brussels. He previously served as EU-Ambassador to Switzerland and the Principality of Liechtenstein (2007-2011), Minister/Deputy Head of the EU-Delegation to Japan (2002-2006) and ASEM Counsellor (1998-2002). Before joining the EU in 1998 he was Minister-Counsellor at the Austrian Permanent Representation to the EU/Brussels, Counsellor at the Permanent Representation of Austria to the GATT, Co-chair of the Joint Experts Group at the OECD on trade and environment, WTO-panellist, Deputy Director General for European Integration and Trade Policy at the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber as well as Austrian Deputy Trade Commissioner to West Africa and Japan. Having studied law at the University of Innsbruck he was appointed adjunct professor for international politics in 2005.

Cedomir NESTOROVIC is Professor of International Marketing and Geopolitics at ESSEC Business School, he is also the Director of the ESSEC & Mannheim Executive MBA Asia-Pacific. He has taught at ESSEC Business School for more than 15 years and is also the Academic Co-Director of the MBA program at the Arabian Gulf University, Manama, Bahrain. Professor Nestorovic’s research interests include the Geopolitics of Central and Oriental European countries; International Marketing and Commerce, and Islamic Business and Management. He was awarded the title of “Professor of the Week” by The Financial Times in 2012.

Event Details

Date and Time: Monday, 22 February 2016, 3:00pm - 5:00pm

Venue: ESSEC Asia-Pacific, 5 Nepal Park, Singapore 139408

To register for the Panel Discussion, kindly contact us at .

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