International Cultural Relations Council

The ICR Council brings together organizations and experts active in international cultural relations in practice, theory and research.

It aims to contribute to a better understanding of different approaches to international cultural relations and the different cultural values underlying and shaping thought and action in the pluralist international relations arena.



= act as a central, virtual knowledge-hub for current multidisciplinary thought and research on the role of culture in international relations, peace and security, highlighting, in particular, the cultural narrative underlying countries' IR strategies and actions


= follow trends and developments in countries' international cultural relations actions, including cultural investment, priorities underlying geographic and thematic key areas of international cultural cooperation, as well as methods of engagement and outreach

Meeting Space

= create a neutral meeting space to connect cultural relations practitioners with a wide range of stakeholders from academia, civil society, business and politics in face-to-face meetings, thereby helping to build trust and maintaining open channels of communication


Recent additions to publications from our contributing experts

Peter T. Chang (2018), "China's Confucian Push", The Straight Times, Print.

Kevin V. Mulcahy (2017), "Public Culture, Cultural Identity, Cultural Policy - Comparative Perspectives", Palgrave Macmillan, Print.

Latest news

More research and news updates on 'cultural narratives' here


International Cultural Relations News Digest

VOL. 40 (1) 2018

ICR NEWS DIGEST VOL 40(2)_final.pdf

Previous Editions

VOL. 39 (2) 2017 | Download

  • Turkey's Soft Power Push: The Maarif Foundation
  • Belt & Road Initiative - Updates
  • Dossier: Cultural Values

VOL. 38 (2) 2017 | Download


The ICR Council builds on the work of the Funders Task Force on Culture and Development, an informal network of bilateral and multilateral agencies, banks and foundations committed to enhancing the role of culture in international development cooperation that was established at a meeting in 2012 at the European Investment Bank.

The ICR Council was set up as an initiative under the Arts Investment Forum to create a designated platform for discussions previously held at the Task Force. It goes beyond the culture and development paradigm and refocuses the debate with a view to addressing the implementation challenges of the 2030 Development Agenda by advancing one of its overarching aims, namely to " foster inter-cultural understanding, tolerance, mutual respect and an ethic of global citizenship and shared responsibility".

Accordingly, the ICR Council pursues the specific aim of coming to a better understanding of countries' different approaches to international cultural relations and, more generally, of the diverse cultural values underlying thought and action in today's pluralist international relations landscape.

At a time when the way in which international relations is conducted is changing fundamentally, multipolarity and interconnectedness make a profound understanding of the diverse cultural dimensions affecting not only bilateral relations but also, vitally, multilateral cooperation aimed at tackling global challenges more critical than ever.

Leading up to the formation of the ICR Council in 2017, an ad-hoc steering committee that included, inter alia, representatives of UNFPA and the African Union Commission, provided guidance during the initial design phase. It looked at how best to reframe the work of the Task Force and bring together diverse cultural perspectives to gain the necessary scale and capacity for impact to be a useful resource for informing international relations theory and practice.

Transforming our World:

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

"We pledge to foster inter-cultural understanding, tolerance, mutual respect and an ethic of global citizenship and shared responsibility. We acknowledge the natural and cultural diversity of the world and recognize that all cultures and civilizations can contribute to, and are crucial enablers of, sustainable development."

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