I'm Off to Iran; Light Posting Until Wednesday

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in at 7/23/2010 02:45:00 PM
Dear readers, I mentioned earlier that I was invited to present at a conference on multiculturalism run in conjunction with UNESCO Iran. And so I'll be leaving shortly and should be back sometime during the middle of next week. Being an inherent believer in peace, love, and understanding, I am off to learn more about how cross-cultural communication can function better in our stressed-out world.

At the same time, I'll be presenting on how the "ASEAN Way" which is the diplomatic process used by Southeast Asian countries might serve as a template for fruitful cross-cultural collaboration--especially in the economic sphere. Here is the abstract of my talk if you're interested.

The ‘ASEAN Way’ as a Paradigm for Intercultural Dialogue

Since its formation in 1967, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations has grown in stature to become the preeminent regional organization in East Asia. At the beginning, its focus was on fostering peace in a region with a tumultuous past. Its success in this respect has been reflected by the lack of major conflicts among founding members Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. Brunei (1984), Vietnam (1995), Laos and Myanmar (1997), and Cambodia (1999) have, since joining ASEAN, also contributed to securing peace in the region. This situation has set the stage for ASEAN to work towards the establishment of a single market by 2015.

What makes ASEAN unique among other regional integration projects is the cultural and political diversity of its membership. Those of Europe (European Union) and North America (Nafta) have predominantly Christian democracies; South America (Mercosur) Roman Catholic democracies of Latin lineage; the Caribbean (Caribbean Community) postcolonial Christian democracies; and the Middle East (Gulf Cooperation Council) Islamic monarchies. By contrast, ASEAN has a plurality of religions—Buddhism, Catholicism, and Islam; and political systems—fledgling democracies, Communist republics, a monarchy, and a military junta.

Despite the challenges of accommodating cultural and political diversity, however, ASEAN has made notable strides in setting foundations for durable economic, socio-economic and security mechanisms in Southeast Asia. Over the years, ASEAN has developed a mode of diplomatic conduct now known as the ‘ASEAN Way’. Given the plenitude of vexing global governance questions we face that require more political-economic cooperation among countries with diverse cultures and polities—the environment, the world economy, and so forth—the ‘ASEAN Way’ holds strong suggestions on how fruitful interfaith dialogue and cross-cultural communication can take place. Drawing from the ASEAN experience, this paper explains how unity in diversity may become more of a reality worldwide by distilling the virtues of the ‘ASEAN Way’.

Until then, best regards to all!