|United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization|
UNESCO's strategy for the Dialogue among civilizations is based on several documents emanating either from UNESCO itself or from resolutions adopted by the United Nations General assembly. These documents include:
26 March 2003 -- 166 EX 5 Part I: Report by the Director-General on the follow-up of decisions adopted by the Executive Board at its previous sessions 164 EX Decision 7.1.3 -- Report by the Director-General on UNESCO’s contribution to the implementation of the Global Agenda for Dialogue among Civilizations
20 October 2001 -- UNESCO General Conference 31C/Res/39 -- Call for international co-operation to prevent and eradicate acts of terrorism
7 May 2002 -- 164 EX 27 -- "Intensifying the dialogue among communities, cultures and civilizations" (paragraph 5 a.)
164 EX Decision 7.1.3 -- Report by the Director-General
on UNESCO’s contribution to the
implementation of the
Global Agenda for Dialogue among Civilizations
UNESCO has actively pursued the implementation of the United Nations Global Agenda for Dialogue among Civilizations, and the provisions of the Executive Board decisions on the subject, in particular “with a view to encouraging and facilitating dialogue among civilizations and formulating ways and means to promote dialogue among civilizations in the activities of the United Nations in various fields”, as envisaged by the United Nations General Assembly.
UNESCO has reinforced its contribution to the “dialogue among civilizations”, in its areas of competence, drawing on partnerships with other agencies of the United Nations, regional and subregional organizations and their specialized agencies, research institutions, the academic world in general, civil society in general and parliamentarians. A genuine process of reviewing the concept of, and approaches to, dialogue among civilizations has been started with a view to broadening its scope and enhancing its relevance to current challenges in various regions and subregions, including the identification of new obstacles to dialogue and the analysis of emerging, new ignorances.
Action in favour of the dialogue among civilizations has been closely linked to the celebration of the United Nations Year for Cultural Heritage, among others through the wide dissemination of information and promotion material underlining UNESCO’s integrated approach comprising dialogue between cultures, reconciliation based on the values of heritage in all its forms, and sustainable development. Action in favour of intercommunity reconciliation and common safeguarding of heritage threatened by conflict have taken place in several regions, and new initiatives and reinforcements are envisaged with the setting up of the international coordination committee for the safeguarding of the Afghan cultural heritage. Well-entrenched activities related to the dialogue among civilizations have also been pursued in the context of the General and Regional Histories Series, the Arabia Plan, the Mediterranean Programme, the Slave Route project, the Intercultural Dialogue in Central Asia Project, and the Programme on Interreligious Dialogue. 4. Special efforts have been made to link action in favour of the dialogue among civilizations systematically to the follow-up to and implementation of the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity. An important initiative in this regard has been the joint UNESCO-UNEP High-Level Round Table on “Cultural Diversity and Biodiversity for Sustainable Development”, held at the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development (26 August-4 September 2002). Moreover, by resolution 57/249, the United Nations General Assembly has welcomed the adoption of the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity and proclaimed 21 May as World Day of Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development.
In order to broaden the basis of UNESCO’s activities pertaining to the dialogue among civilizations and to involve a larger number of contributors from different regions and experiences, a global (electronic, Internet-based) network has been set up, involving competent international organizations and research institutions as well as individual researchers, philosophers and intellectuals. The network will serve the threefold purpose of: (i) identifying potential contributors to various UNESCO activities on the subject; (ii) gaining an overview of various activities and approaches in different countries and regions; and (iii) undertaking outreach and advocacy efforts about UNESCO’s approaches and results of various endeavours.
Coherence and complementarity between different regional and subregional approaches to the dialogue among civilizations have also been pursued through publications, presentations at international conferences and a dedicated website. Scientific and policy-relevant papers and speeches on the subject of dialogue among civilizations, presented in international conferences, organized or co-organized by the Organization, have been systematically published in UNESCO’s “Dialogue Series”:
“The Round Table on the Eve of the United Nations Millennium Summit”, United Nations Headquarters, 5 September 2000 (published 2001);
“The International Conference in Vilnius, Lithuania, 23-26 April 2001” (published 2002);
“Civilizations in the Eye of the Other”, Proceedings of the international conference, Paris, 13 and 14 December 2001 (published 2002 and available online in English (www.unesco.org/dialogue2001));
“Dialogue of Civilizations”, Kyoto, 3 August 2002. An international conference on the Political Aspects of the Dialogue of Civilizations (forthcoming April 2003).
Several presentations have been made at international conferences and meetings on
UNESCO’s involvement in the dialogue among civilizations, e.g. the international conference on
“Western Policies Towards the Islamic World”, Wilton Park, United Kingdom, 15 February 2002;
the International Policy Dialogue “Development of Cultures – Cultures of Development”, Berlin,
Germany, 4-5 March 2002; the Joint Meeting of Euro-Arab Cooperation, organized by the Euro-Arab Task Force of UNESCO National Commissions, the Council of Europe and
ALECSO, Strasbourg, 28-29 October 2002; the international conference “Dialogue between Civilizations:
Women’s Empowerment”, Brussels, 3-5 March 2003. Substantial input has been frequently
provided to addresses by the President of the General Conference. A dedicated website with latest news and contact information is constantly being updated (www.unesco.org/dialogue2001).
UNESCO has actively reinforced its involvement in co-organizing international conferences, meetings and events on the dialogue among civilizations. The second international symposium “Civilizations: how we see others, how others see us”, was co-organized by UNESCO and the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes at Headquarters on 30 January 2003. The symposium, the proceeding of which will be published in June 2003, brought together academics and intellectuals from different continents to continue discussions begun in December 2001, at the first symposium organized within the framework of the United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations. A third symposium of the series will be held in 2004 on the theme: “Les civilisations dans le regard de l’autre : le commun et le responsable”.
UNESCO has provided support to the forthcoming symposium on the “Dialogue among Civilizations” to be held in Sana’a, Yemen, and is actively and substantially involved in the preparations for the Regional Forum on the Dialogue among Civilizations, co-organized by the President of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and the Director-General of UNESCO, to be held in Ohrid, on 29 and 30 August 2003. In a similar vein, support is being provided to the organization of an international conference “Dialogue among Civilizations – Quest for New Perspectives”, envisaged for 9 and 10 July 2003 in New Delhi, India.
As a new initiative in the overall effort to intensify the dialogue among communities, cultures and civilizations, UNESCO is making steps to strengthen public-private partnerships in this domain, especially with a view to enhancing intercultural dialogue and exchange at the global level within the ASP network, promoting intercultural partnership and cooperation in the area of engineering and technology, and developing an authentic and diversified communication platform for the entire initiative on the Internet.
(a) Intensifying the dialogue among communities, cultures and civilizations
Dialogue in the present global circumstances needs to address a complex range of sociopolitical
issues and parameters, cutting across all fields of competence of the Organization
and all regions and cultures. It ranges,inter alia, from the impact of globalization, human
rights, migration to the impact of scientific and technological developments.
UNESCO will seek to broaden the scope of the dialogue and to make it more relevant to
current challenges by reviewing and assessing the concept and past approaches to the dialogue
among cultures and civilizations, identifying and overcoming obstacles to dialogue, including
new and old ignorances and prejudices, and charting novel approaches to dialogue beyond
established frameworks. Different dimensions must be included, drawing also on belief
systems, cultural parameters, scientific expertise, civil society resources, such as
parliamentarians, and especially young people. Effective new modalities and tools will
enhance international encounters, such as through hearings presenting contradictory
164 EX/27 – page 3
viewpoints, the use of new media and information and communication technologies to enlarge
the outreach, and the production of studies and interactive media materials.
Efforts will be made to reach the young generation with materials developed for them
conveying the universal messages on peace and understanding promoted by UNESCO.
The conduct of corresponding media education and training programmes will serve to impart
historical, educational, ethical and value dimensions to press and media professionals,
especially young journalists, so as to promote informed and sensitized reporting and coverage
by independent media of events, particularly in situations of violence and areas of conflict.
"Violence on the screen" has a significant impact on young people. Based on previous
UNESCO studies, follow-up research could be launched going beyond the traditional
"cause-effect" approach and seeking to analyse processes inculcating values into the minds of
(i) obstacles to dialogue and measures to address them better identified, in partnership with
regional and international organizations;
(ii) better understanding reached of contradictory viewpoints and interregional and
intercultural understanding promoted;
(iii) new mechanisms and encounters designed and tested to involve a broader segment of
society in dialogue-related activities and exchanges, including parliamentarians,
educators, scientists, journalists and youth;
(iv) audiovisual media (including dedicated television programmes) and ICT-based content
(including CD-ROMs and websites) developed to foster dialogue and networking
activities and to share conclusions and results of dialogue events, especially through
UNESCO’s Infoyouth programme and the associated schools;
(v) online material and CD-ROMs for children and youth with access to the Internet
developed and disseminated through UNESCO’s portal and school networks;
(vi) young media professionals sensitized to historical, educational, ethical and value
dimensions so as to promote informed coverage of events, particularly in situations of
violence and areas of conflict.
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