Prince Claus was a German married to the Dutch queen Beatrix and as such was able to see the Dutch with German eyes and vice versa. He had a personal intercultural experience which influenced his thinking about development cooperation. Jan Pronk in his book Willens en wetens bring this again to our attention. Claus often said: 'on ne developpe pas, on se developpe', refering to the fact that people take their own learning and developement processes at hand, which you can stimulate but not orchestre or control.
He also felt that there needs to be more attention for the cultural side of the development cooperation (or international cooperation). "Rethinking development means first and foremost curbing ethnocentrism". "The poly-cultural nature of the world we live in is indeed something to be treasured and kept alive."
He thinks that "it is recognised that there is a cultural dimension to development, but it is at the same time regarded as a nuisance and solutions are ought by just adding a dash of culture to our development efforts which otherwise remain valid as before. Such a conception is rooted in the economically minded cultures. Economic achievements are still at the top of their scale of values."
Though it is written 10 years ago, I wonder how much things have really changed in this regard and how much the development sector has learned about the cultural elements at play in development cooperation.
PS. somehow it feels weird not to write about the elections in the Netherlands, you see how much blogging is somehow associated with citizens journalism.