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UNESCO - Dialogue among Civilizations




Click here to find out more about what National Commissions are doing for a Dialogue among Civilizations

Click here for the complete list of Speeches by the Director-General of UNESCO relative to the
Dialogue among Civilizations.


Click here to down-load a free electronic copy of this book >>> Message to the Children of the
Twenty-first Century

An International Symposium Commemorating the
50th Anniversary of Japan’s Participation in UNESCO
3 July 2001, Tokyo, Japan

'The children of the twenty-first century will face many challenges. What should they be learning to help them overcome these challenges, and how should they be learning? These are questions that are particularly important now, as values continue to diversify and the world continues to change. This book presents six themes that are linked by the concept of harmony. ... This idea of harmony in place of confrontation in solving our various problems is one that the Director-General of UNESCO, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, emphasized in his inaugural address in 1999, and this concept is reflected in UNESCO’s initiatives to promote dialogue among civilizations...'
Atsuko Toyama
Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan

'As children of the twenty-first century, no matter where you are and how different you may be, you have at least one thing in common: you all embody our hope for the future. It is our hope that you will carry on doing what the preceding generations ... have done well; more than this, we hope that you will do even better, far better, than us. ...
'As we begin the new century, our top priority must be the eradication of poverty, ignorance, and violence, each of which acquires new dimensions and new meanings in a world characterized by globalization.'

Koïchiro Matsuura
Director-General of UNESCO
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Dialogue among Civilizations
The International Conference
in Vilnius, Lithuania
23-26 April 2001

The question of the scope and potential of dialogue among cultures and civilizations is achieving unprecedented significance, especially in the present international context. More than ever before, dialogue poses a fundamental challenge and must be based on the unity of mankind and commonly shared values, the recognition of the world’s cultural diversity and the equal dignity of each civilization, culture and individual. This publication underlines the need to prevent the emergence and nurturing of new prejudices and stereotypes.

Dialogue among Civilizations: the International Conference in Vilnius, Lithuania, 23–26 April, 2001, is the second publication in UNESCO’s Dialogue among Civilizations series. It contains the proceedings of a major event organized by UNESCO during the United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations (2001).The Vilnius Conference brought together heads of state, political decision-makers and diplomats, distinguished scholars, academics and artists to debate about the complex issues of culture and civilizations in the contemporary world.
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Director-General opens symposium on Franco-Arab Dialogue
UNESCO Headquarters 
29 April 2002

The symposium was attended by numerous leading figures from the political, academic and industrial spheres, was organized by Mr Amin Esber, Chairperson of the Arab States Group, and Mr Mohamed El-Aswad, Permanent Delegate of Libya.
Ms Aziza Bennani, Chairperson of the Executive Board, Mr Ahmad Jalali, President of the General Conference, and a large number of  Ambassadors, Permanent Delegates of the Arab countries to UNESCO, also took part in the meeting, the first in a series of symposia on Franco-Arab relations.
In his address, Mr Matsuura emphasized “the rich and manifold interactions shaped by history, geography and culture between the Arab world and France”. He invited the participants “to ponder the way in which we perceive others”, this being a particularly important question “at a time when we must do all we can to prevent the emergence and spread of new stereotypes and prejudices and reaffirm the equal dignity of all cultures and civilizations”.
To enhance and encourage this dialogue and ensure the preservation of cultural diversity, the Director-General stressed the role of cultural heritage, both tangible and intangible. “By learning to appreciate and develop our own heritage, we can learn to know and appreciate other cultures. This is an essential step towards ensuring fruitful dialogue and mutual understanding”, he said.

  Address by the Director of UNESCO's Bureau of Strategic Planning, Hans d'Orville entitled "Dialogue among Civilizations: The Role of International Organizations, Western Policies and the Islamic World
Wilton Park, United Kingdom, 13 February 2002
"The events of 11 September 2001 thus suddenly brought the values which are at the heart of UNESCO’s mission – tolerance, dialogue, mutual respect and understanding – in one word a culture of peace – to the forefront of international priorities. If the Dialogue among Civilizations had previously tended to be catalogued and discounted as a "soft issue" in some quarters, its hard core relevance is now beyond doubt." More >>>

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The United Nations, indeed the entire global community, is observing the year 2001 as United Nations Year for Dialogue among Civilizations. This book captures the essence of what was an important starting point for the year in stimulating global discussions on this challenging subject.

Leaders from all continents assembled in September 2000 to share their views on the eve of the historic Millennium Summit. The political perspectives advanced then were complemented by contributions from personalities drawn from literature, the media, academia, diplomacy and international organizations. In presenting the various contributions, this book sets out a frame for dialogue in an increasingly interconnected world, although also one of growing and troubling disparities and divisions.

The ideas put forward during the Round Table show that a ‘dialogue among civilizations’ is an essential stage in the process of founding a form of human development that is both sustainable and equitable, humanizing globalization and laying the basis of an enduring peace.

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Message by the Director-General of UNESCO at the Official Celebrations of World Tourism Day on the theme: “Tourism, a tool for peace and dialogue among civilizations”
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, 27 September 2001
It is a privilege for UNESCO to partake in the celebrations of the 2001 World Tourism Day in Tehran.  This year’s event occurs at a particularly critical moment for the world community, which may well have serious repercussions for tourism and the tourism industry as a whole.  The terror attacks unleashed earlier this month must cause us to reflect how tourism will be affected by this indiscriminate use of force directed at people and directed at tourism targets. What will be the implications for other regions of the world? There is no alternative but to work strenuously and engage in a true dialogue of civilisations that will not be overshadowed by antithetical events and developments as well as mistrust, especially if they are caused by anonymous forces. We must in particular uphold the basic precepts of tolerance and respect for diversity that are at the very heart of the notion of dialogue.
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  Address by the Director-General of UNESCO on the occasion of the International Conference on Dialogue among Civilizations, Special Session on "Political Aspects of Dialogue among Civilizations"
Kyoto, Japan, 3 August 2001
Currently, this speech is available in French only
Click here >>>.
Click here to go to the UNU's dedicated conference site >>>


A virtual gallery of original artwork for the Dialogue among Civilizations
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Report by the Director-General on the execution of the programme adopted by the General Conference: United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations; UNESCO framework for action
This document was prepared for information of Members of
the Executive Board. It provides background about the consideration of the subject "Dialogue among Civilizations", especially in the context of the United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations, 2001 and sets out principles followed by UNESCO. Furthermore, it reviews activities undertaken by UNESCO in observing the year and presents a framework of action for UNESCO and its programme sectors pertaining to the subject, which is the result of an intersectoral effort. More >>>

Address by the Director-General of UNESCO on the occasion of the inaugural ceremony of the International Colloquium on the Indus Valley Civilization
Islamabad, Pakistan, 6 April 2001
"Right from the start, the discovery of the Indus civilization ... raised two major issues that lie at the heart of all thinking on the dialogue of civilizations. Was it a continuation of other civilizations, in particular those of Mesopotamia? Or did it draw its underlying force from its birth out of a local culture?" Continue

In Islamabad, Director-General stresses role of cultural cross fertilization past, present and future
6 April 2001
UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura today highlighted the historic and ever-pertinent importance of inter-cultural dialogue in an address to the opening session of the International Colloquium on the Indus Valley Civilization in Islamabad, Pakistan, where he is on an official visit of two days. Continue

Message from the Director-General of UNESCO on the occasion of World Poetry Day
21 March 2001
"Poetry has much to teach us about other people’s worlds, values and dreams. It is a door open to dialogue and understanding between peoples that we are celebrating in this United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations..." more

UNESCO Director-General addresses Governing Council of UNEP
Nairobi (Kenya), 8-10 February 2001.
The Environmental Dimensions of Dialogue among civilizations.
Address to the 21st session of the Governing Council.
Dialogue in the Field -- Renewable Energy Technologies: Potential for Africa.

UNESCO Director-General addresses Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies
Oxford (United Kingdom), 5 February 2001.
The idea of "dialogue among civilizations" is no mere catch-phrase or trite political slogan. It is an invitation for us all mentally to leap over our ancient cultural divides in order to better understand not only one another's world-view and sence of right and wrong, but also our irreplaceable respective contributions to our common humanity's pooled cultural heritage. more...


  Regional Forum on Dialogue among Civilizations
Ohrid, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, 

A number of Heads of State from South-East Europe and other regions, high-level representatives of the United Nations system, eminent scholars, intellectuals and politicians will be invited to present their views on key issues within the framework of the follow-up to the United Nations Year for Dialogue among Civilizations.
Dates to be announced

IXth Summit of the Francophonie on the theme "Dialogue of Cultures"
Beirut (Lebanon), 18 - 20 Octobre 2002.
Organized by the Francophonie and the Government of Lebanon
The Director-General of UNESCO participated in the proceedings and delivered an address at the opening ceremony, on Friday 18 October. He took the opportunity to stress the many objectives that UNESCO and the International Organization of “La Francophonie” share, foremost among which are the dialogue of cultures and the necessary promotion of cultural diversity. More >>>

UNESCO-EPHE Conference "Civilizations in the Eye of the Other"
UNESCO, Paris (France) 13-14 December, 2001
Within the framework of the United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations, UNESCO and the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes are organizing a conference which will bring together historians and intellectuals from various continents in order to confront opinions and points of view on such topics as voyages, texts and translations, dreams of empire or new forms of universalism. The talks will be followed by debates.

Essay-writing competition, organised by Seton Hall University on the topic:
“How do you envision the contribution the Dialogue among Civilizations can make to better prepare the peoples of the world, especially the youth, for the challenges of tomorrow?”
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Annual Forum of the Mediterranean Programme
Valencia (Spain), September/October 2001 (date to be determined).
The Annual Forum of the Mediterranean Programme will have as it's theme "Dialogue among Civilizations of the Mediterranean".  It will bring together immenent personalities from the world of culture, the sciences, education and communication from the countries of the Mediterranean.

World Youth Festival on Dialogue Among Civilizations
Vilnius (Lithuania), 20-24 August, 2001
This festival is in celebration of the UN's Year of Dialogue Among Civilizations. It will bring together hundreds of young people from around the world for an exciting week of activities including live music, cultural and artistic performances, and spirited dialogue on the important issues of our "global village." Free food and accommodation and possibility of travel coverage for some participants.
For more information, please
click here >>>


UNU International Conference on the Dialogue among Civilizations
Tokyo and Kyoto (Japan), 31 July - 3 August 2001.
The United Nations University will contribute to the 2001 "United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations" with a scientific exploration of the dialogue itself, bringing together academics from diverse cultural backgrounds for discussions aimed at a better understanding of what is necessary to realize a meaningful dialogue among civilizations. The conference is organized in collaboration with UNESCO.
UNU Centre (Contact: Birgit Poniatowski, email:
here for more information >>>

IV International Kondratieff Conference "Dialogue and Interaction of East and West Civilizations: Alternatives for the XXIst Century"
Moscow (Russian Federation), 15-17 May 2001
Outstanding political figures and scientist from Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, USA and Italy will be discussing the theme: "Dialogue and Interaction between Civilizations: Alternatives for the XXIst Century", which ties in directly with the orientation given by UNESCO to celebration of the Year in UNESCO's many ongoing programmes and planned special events.
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International Conference "Dialogue among Civilizations"
Vilnius (Lithuania), 23-26 April 2001.
Under the auspices of H.E. Valdas Adamkus, President of the Republic of Lithuania, H.E. Alexander Kwasniewski, President of the Republic of Poland, and Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, Director General of UNESCO

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International Conference "How to counteract Xenophobia and Intolerance in Countries with Multi-ethnic populations"
Republic of North Osetia, Russian Federation, April 2001

Technology and Medicine: the Spirit of Tolerance
Bologna, Italy, 25 November - 20 January 2001.
International Exhibition on Islamic Sciences in cooperation with the University of Bologna (Italy), ISESCO & ALECSO.

International Forum "Young Russia on the Eve of the XXIst Century.   How to counteract aggressive extremism, xenophobia and violence
Moscow, Russian Federation, November 2000.
With participation of youth leaders and officials responsible for work with young people in the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States and of Central and Eastern Europe.

International Seminar on "Bantu Cultures in the Americas and in the Caribbean"
Libreville, Gabon, November 2000.
International Seminar on "Bantu Cultures in the Americas and in the Caribbean" in the framework of the Slave Route Project.

Slavery in the Mediterranean, Launching of UNESCO Chair on San Benedetto, Meeting of the 5th Session of the Scientific Committee on the Slave Route
Palermo, Italy, 26 - 30 September 2000.
In the framework of the Slave Route Project.

International Conference on Interreligious Dialogue
Tashkent, Uzbekistan, 14 - 16 September 2000.
In the framework of the "Spiritual Convergence and Intercultural Dialogue" and the "East-West Intercultural Dialogue in Central Asia" Projects.- Final Document.

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| last up-dated: 23/10/02