2010, International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures launched at UNESCO
The Director-General of UNESCO Irina Bokova yesterday launched the International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures with the establishment of the High Panel on Peace and Dialogue among Cultures*. “This day marks the beginning of an intellectual journey throughout which we will reflect on ways to trace new perspectives for peace in the 21st Century,” declared the Director-General.
Meeting for the first time in Paris yesterday morning, the international panel comprises prominent political, intellectual and religious personalities from all regions of the world. Its members have been asked to reflect on and reinvent the construction of peace founded on justice, respect for human rights, gender equality and solidarity in the context of globalization, and the challenges its poses, such as climate change, management of resources and ethical and economic issues, to which we must respond by consistently using the strength and impact of dialogue.
The Panel’s mission is to ring out UNESCO’s message of peace in the world, through education, science, culture, information and communication. It will meet once or twice a year, and its membership may vary according to the subjects addressed. The members were selected for their exceptional careers and are volunteering their expertise.
High point of the launch on Thursday 18 February, the conference on intercultural dialogue was opened by Ms Bokova, with the participation of some of the Panel members. Subjects debated were “The power of cultural diversity and dialogue” and “Building peace – the place of shared values in the era of globalization”.
In the context of globalization, which is also that of migrations, the parallel challenges of preserving cultural diversity and cultural identities and promoting intercultural dialogue take on a new importance and urgency. Education is the key to success, especially for girls. However, it is also the key to learning to live together. The concept of peace has greatly evolved since the creation of UNESCO and particularly in the last two decades, including greater involvement for women and youth.
Today’s launch culminated in a conference on intercultural dialogue, opened by Irina Bokova, in which several members of the Panel participated. Two themes directed debate: “The Power of Cultural Diversity and Dialogue” and “Building peace – the role of chared values in a globalised world”.
The goal of the International Year is “to help dissipate any confusion stemming from ignorance, prejudice and exclusion that create tension, insecurity, violence and conflict,” underlined Ms Bokova. “Exchange and dialogue between cultures are the best tools for building peace.” The main strategic lines of action, according to Ms Bokova, entail notably strengthening quality education, which includes the teachings of the world’s great civilizations and cultures. The Year will also be celebrated with a variety of cultural events all over the world. It will lay the foundation for a new cultural dialogue that aims to build a framework of commonly shared values.
UNESCO, designated by the General Assembly of the United Nations as lead agency for the International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures, intends to unite the efforts of both States and civil society, in order to promote original, positive projects. It will base its action on the UN system and UNESCO’s long experience in this domain, particularly concerning young people.
The 34th session of UNESCO’s General Conference unanimously approved the draft resolution concerning the proclamation of the International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures, proposed by Kazakhstan and seconded by Armenia, Azerbaijan, the Russian Federation, Ukraine and the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Members of the High Level Panel on Peace and Dialogue among Cultures present at 18 February meeting:
Kjell Magne Bondevik (Norway), Former Prime Minister of Norway, Founder and President of the Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights; Lydia Cacho (Mexico), journalist, World Press Freedom Laureate 2008; Mustafa Ceric (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Grand Mufti of Bosnia and Herzegovina; May Chidiac (Lebanon), journalist, World Press Freedom Laureate 2006; Souleymane Cissé (Mali), film-maker; Esther Coopersmith (USA), United Nations Peace Prize Laureate (1984) and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Intercultural Dialogue (2009); Vigdís Finnbogadóttir (Iceland), Former President of Iceland and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador (1998); Monsignor Francesco Follo, representing Monsignor Gianfranco Ravasi (Vatican), President of the Pontifical Council for Culture; Mohamed Ibrahim (Sudan), Founder and Chair, Mo Ibrahim Foundation; Attiyah Inayatullah (Pakistan), Member of the National Assembly of Pakistan and former Minister for Women Development Social Welfare of Pakistan; Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière (France), President of the Foundation Culture and Diversity, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador (2009); Monsignor Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya (Democratic Republic of Congo), Archbishop of Kinshasa; Ilber Ortayli (Turkey), President, Topkapi Palace Museum; Tavivat Puntarigvavat (Thailand), Director, Institute of Research and Development at the World Buddhist University; Hegumen Philip Riabykh (Russian Federation), Vice-Chairman, Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Relations; Yazid Sabeg (France), French Commissioner for Diversity and Equal Opportunities, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador (2010); Wole Soyinka (Nigeria), writer, Nobel Laureate for Literature (1986); Simone Veil (France), Former President of the European Parliament, Honorary President of the Foundation for the memory of the Shoah.