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UNESCO - Dialogue among Civilizations

 

Background

United Nations Resolution

In November 1998, the General Assembly of the United Nations proclaimed the year 2001 as the "United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations". The resolution GA/RES/53/22, proposed by the Islamic Republic of Iran and supported by a large number of countries, invites "Governments, the United Nations system, including the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization,   to plan and implement appropriate cultural, educational and social programmes to promote the concept of dialogue among civilizations, including through organizing conferences and seminars and disseminating information and scholarly material on the subject". A subsequent resolution reaffirmed the previsions of the resolution GA/RES/53/22 in February 2000 (resolution 54/113).

The United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations
The celebration of the United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations provides the opportunity to emphasize that the present globalization process does not only encompass economic, financial and technological aspects, but must also focus on human cultural, spiritual dimensions and on the interdependence of humankind and its rich diversity. Globalization and the resulting free movement of ideas and human beings allow unprecedented encounters between individuals, societies and cultures.  But it also profoundly affects lifestyles and patterns of behaviour, decision-making processes and methods of governance, creativity and forms of expression.  Against this dynamic background, there is a need for a renewed commitment to promote and develop international cooperation and understanding on the basis of the recognition of the equal dignity of individuals and of societies and the uniqueness of their contributions to human advancement.

  UNESCO's contribution
Promoting dialogue among civilizations and cultures is a key component of UNESCO’s mission and activities. The Organization’s Constitution provides that peace must be founded "upon the intellectual and moral solidarity of mankind", and that UNESCO has been created "for the purpose of advancing, through the educational and scientific and cultural relations of the peoples of the world, the objectives of international peace and of the common welfare of mankind for which the United Nations Organization was established and which its Charter proclaims". The abiding relevance of this ethical and political assignment embodied in UNESCO’s Constitution endows it well to be at the forefront of implementing the United Nations resolution on the dialogue among civilizations.

In fact, the United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations is a logical sequel to the celebration, in 2000, of the "International Year for the Culture of Peace", for which UNESCO is the lead agency.  UNESCO is duty bound to mobilize the vital resources of the international community in its entirety in the service of a true dialogue among cultures.  UNESCO will analyse the dynamics of interaction between cultures by highlighting their mutual contributions, borrowings and interactions. The aim is to acquire a better understanding of the long-term processes that are the mainspring of the memory of peoples.  They are invariably the source of prejudice and incomprehension if not tolerance of others and they lay the foundations for dialogue between different civilizations, cultures, religions and spiritual traditions.  This approach transcends the traditional, reductive approach to intercultural dialogue addressing only the mutual knowledge of cultures and civilizations.   This will enable an analysis of the basic concepts of heritage, identity and creativity as they take shape and to illuminate their composite nature. The Organization is therefore seeking to strengthen the processes, both historical and contemporary, that are conducive to a favourable interaction, mutual understanding and even convergence between a wide range of cultures through the discovery of a common heritage and shared ethical values.

Any dialogue among civilizations must highlight the importance of values, and hence of ethics.  UNESCO, based on its ethical and intellectual mandate, will promote and stimulate a constructive debate and exchange of ideas that may facilitate the recognition of shared values and foster respect and tolerance for diversity.

Dialogue among civilizations constitutes an essential stage in the process of human development that is both sustainable and equitable.  It humanizes globalization and lays the bases of an enduring peace, by nurturing conscience and a common base for human existence rooted in history, heritage and tradition.

 

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| last up-dated: 24/07/01