09.05.2012 - ODG

Prime Minister of Bangladesh receives UNESCO’s Cultural Diversity Medal at Asia-Pacific Forum

© Sumon DasUNESCO Director General Irina Bokova handing UNESCO’s Cultural Diversity Medal to Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina, 9 May, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

The Director-General and the Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina urged countries to protect and promote their diverse cultural expressions as a force for peace and development at the opening of the first Cultural Diversity Ministerial Forum in the Asia Pacific Region, celebrated on 9 May in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

The Forum aims to increase the number of countries from the region that ratify the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. To date only 12 out of 44 countries in the region have done so.

Thanking the Prime Minister for organizing the Conference and commending her leadership, the Director-General later awarded her UNESCO’s Cultural Diversity Medal in front of the country’s Ministers of finance, culture and education, as well as those from the region present for the Forum.

“Cultural diversity and culture play a hugely important role in promoting development, peace, understanding and tolerance,” said Mrs Bokova, awarding the medal in recognition of Sheikh Hasina’s contribution.  

Speaking at the opening ceremony, the Prime Minister stated that “Bangladesh is one of the few countries whose Constitution ensures the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions.  It has helped our people, which comprise many races and religions, to have absolute freedom in practicing their own cultures and to live in peace and harmony. I sincerely hope this Forum will help the multicultural nature of our region to flourish”. ´

The Director-General commended Bangladesh for putting the protection of culture and language at the forefront of its development.  She stressed that “culture and creativity are the ultimate renewable resources, the only sure path to freedom,” reiterating her call to Member States in the region to ratify the Convention. “Culture means jobs, growth participation and more inclusive societies.”

 Bangladesh gave the audience a sampling of its vibrant cultural traditions with performances of Baul songs (inscribed on the Intangible List), dances of the country’s different ethnic peoples and choreographies on songs composed by Rabindranath Tagore.

The streets of Dhaka were flanked with billboards about the Forum illustrated with the flags of the 44 nations of the Asia Pacific region that comprises 60 percent of the world’s population.

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