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The Power of Art

Editorial by GCSP Director Ambassador Christian Dussey

Release Date:

March 2017

The currently running International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights (FIFDH) illustrates art’s power to foster peace and security through creativity and innovation.

For centuries, humans have been facing violence and conflict using storytelling and creativity. Today, the development of digital technology and alternative media offers new tools and methods for creative self-expression; these empower ordinary citizens and other non-state actors to mobilize action with unprecedented speed and access. With the increasing complexity of the scope and nature of violent conflicts, there must be leading-edge alternatives to tackle, prevent and transform such conflicts. We must be able to think creatively in finding innovative multilateral approaches for positive transformational change and sustainable peace to occur. Thus, it is important to magnify the power of media and the arts as alternative creative tools, that help facilitate new perspectives, transform mind-sets, and social behaviours, as well as break down barriers, foster dialogue, and cultivate empathy.

Media and the arts help those affected by violence as means of self-expression, leading to healing and reconciliation. There is evidence that art-based interventions can be effective in reducing adverse physiological and psychological outcomes. Creative tools such as film, photography, theatre, and news or social media, can help open our minds to different realities and perspectives; they bring awareness and understanding, and the power of information. When applied strategically, media and the arts can contribute to creating a space for people affected by violence and conflict to express themselves; this, in turn, leads to healing and reconciliation, as well as productive dialogue. 

I believe that to create a culture of peace, we must first imagine, communicate, and cultivate it. Media and the arts are universal communication channels that can help us learn and live in peace, for ourselves and for generations to come. Concretely, the FIFDH provides an ideal platform to foster these creative processes, allowing experts and practitioners to exchange and advance the use of such innovative approaches.

Creative artistic processes, amplified by the media (in all forms) are able to engage diverse participants, cross boundaries, and build community. The interplay of media, arts and technology can provide a potentially powerful medium through which peacebuilding practitioners can make their work more meaningful, transformative, and sustainable.

The GCSP is committed to creating a unique space for the interplay of media and the arts to promote a culture of peace. In 2016, we initiated this commitment with the development of a new online course, which we will launch in the spring of 2017. This course, entitled Media and Arts for Peace (MAP), is led by a Syrian media and arts producer, Honey Al Sayed, and is created in partnership with the United States Institute of Peace (USIP). Furthermore, the Chief Conductor and Director of the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra, Karim Wasfi, performed at the GCSP in 2016 and highlighted how “to overcome the ugliness of killings by beauty, music, art and creativity.” The GCSP is already known for fostering strategic and critical thinking in its participants. Now, through arts and media, this experience can be enhanced.

The FIFDH is a way to connect peace, human rights, security, and arts in an environment, where we can reflect on new, more creative and innovative ways of dealing with the issues the world is facing.

Artwork provided by: Tammam Azzam