22.05.2012 - ODG

The Director-General and HRH Prince El Hassan Bin Talal discuss fostering intercultural dialogue

© UNESCO/Paola Leoncini-BartoliUNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova with HRH Prince Hassan bin Talal, Jordan, May 2012

During her official visit to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova met with HRH Prince El Hassan Bin Talal. Fostering intercultural dialogue through enhanced regional cooperation was at the core of their discussions, with a focus on engaging youth in the social and political transformations in the Arab Region.

The need to sustain reconciliation and reconstruction was also identified as a central dimension of peace-building processes.

Prince El Hassan Bin Talal underlined that youth employment is becoming an increasing challenge in the Arab world, adding that oil producing countries are looking for alternatives avenues for growth and prosperity.

"We have to look increasingly at multilateral issues as we can no longer think about bilateral solutions", said the Prince.

"It is essential to invest more in intergenerational consultative processes within the Arab region, notably by building on the impact of the Arab Spring movements," commented the Director-General.

Prince El Hassan suggested that youth should be invited to develop a social charter for the Arab region that would proscribe all forms of discrimination and added "we need UNESCO’s help to help ourselves".

The Prince referred also to the challenges of interfaith dialogue in the region, which he said is "a regional responsibility." He informed the Director-General of the efforts of the Royal Institute for Interfaith Studies in Jordan to facilitate constructive dialogue between Muslims and Christians in the region. In his words, "a regional security conference becomes a necessity" in the face of increasing movement of conflict-affected people who have become refugees.

The Prince expressed hope to see the creation of a regional cultural heritage foundation in the Arab region -- to build self-confidence amongst youth on their identity, to mobilize greater awareness on the value of their cultural heritage and shared history, and to allow them to make informed choices on better balancing tourism and sustainable long-term preservation.

"Human dignity must be sustained in all possible ways," he concluded.

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