The Ministries of Education and Cultural Affairs are responsible for cultural issues in cooperation with the Council of Europe, the EEA, the EU and the region. In addition to its cooperation with the UN, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is responsible for cultural events at the embassies located in Bern, Vienna, Berlin, Strasbourg, Brussels, Washington and New York. The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights also includes the right to education and participation in cultural life. As a member of the United Nations since 1990, Liechtenstein has made a noteworthy commitment especially to human rights issues. For instance, Liechtenstein has played a leading role in the establishment and strengthening of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Starting in March 2015, the small state will be a member of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) for four years. The CSW is the most important intergovernmental UN body on women’s issues and gender equality, composed of 45 members. Liechtenstein is especially interested in advocating for the protection of women in armed conflicts.
As a member of the Council of Europe since 1978, Liechtenstein takes part in European cultural projects. The Council of Europe’s cultural goals – promotion of diversity, identity, creativity – are mirrored in Liechtenstein’s cultural policy. Liechtenstein has ratified the European Cultural Convention and the European Conventions for the Protection of Architectural and Archaeological Heritage. Liechtenstein has also concluded an agreement with the Russian Federation regarding cooperation on cultural issues. Due to this close connection between culture and foreign policy, various cultural projects have evolved in recent years, such as with Iceland and Croatia.
The exchange with the neighbouring countries in the Lake Constance area has been particularly active. In 1998, Liechtenstein joined the International Lake Constance Conference after having previously contributed as a guest to the cultural commission and having participated in projects. Liechtenstein is a member of the Conference of Cultural Officers of the Cantons of Eastern Switzerland and the Principality of Liechtenstein. From 2009 to 2012, the Conference promoted regional, professional dance culture with the “DancePlan East” project. Additionally, bilateral meetings with various Swiss cantons and with the Austrian province of Vorarlberg take place annually. In 2011, artists from Liechtenstein took part in the 11th Lake Constance Conference artist meeting, IMPROfessional. For the first time, more than 30 artists from the Lake Constance region met for a cross-genre improvisation experiment. Every two years, the International Lake Constance Conference initiates encounters of artists in rotating domains of the arts. The purpose is to promote artistic dialogue across borders in the Lake Constance region.
In 2012, the state of Liechtenstein hosted the Cultural Forum of the International Lake Constance Conference under the heading of “The Added Value of Culture”, which brought together distinguished researchers and artists at the University of Liechtenstein in Vaduz. Furthermore, a special exhibit in the Old Rectory in Balzers, the southernmost municipality of Liechtenstein, called for a discussion of the topic of “Swabian children”. Far more children of poor farming families from Liechtenstein moved to Upper Swabia than was previously assumed, in order to hire themselves out to Swabian farmers as herd boys and maids. The suddenly renewed interest in “Swabian children” is thanks to an international EU research and exhibition project. Together with partners from Southern Germany, Vorarlberg, Graubünden, Tyrol and the Principality of Liechtenstein, a closer look was taken at the history of the Swabian children. The cooperative project was supported by the Interreg IV programme of the EU entitled “Alpine Rhine – Lake Constance – High Rhine”.
The International Lake Constance Conference is a grouping of the states and cantons of Baden-Württemberg, Schaffhausen, Zurich, Thurgau, St. Gallen, Appenzell Ausserrhoden and Innerrhoden, the Principality of Liechtenstein, Vorarlberg, and Bavaria, which adjoin Lake Constance or are connected with it. The goal of the International Lake Constance Conference is to preserve and promote the region as an attractive living, natural, cultural, and economic environment and to strengthen regional identity. In 2014, the International Lake Constance Conference for the first time nominated 17 projects for the IBK Sustainability Prize, including the Liechtenstein project entitled “The Workshop of the Future”, which brings people together who want to make a contribution to a sustainable future society.
In 1999, Liechtenstein outlined strategies for a targeted promotion of international and regional cultural exchange. One goal is to afford artists the opportunity to introduce themselves and their work and to compete abroad as well. The other goal is to have culture shape Liechtenstein’s image abroad. In addition, invitations extended to foreign artists enrich the Liechtenstein cultural scene. Regardless of the extension of its support, Liechtenstein nonetheless respects the guaranty of autonomy and freedom of artistic expression.