The 3rd World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue opens in Baku

The 3rd World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue “Sharing Culture for Shared Security" opened today at the prestigious Heydar Aliyev Center in Baku, Republic of Azerbaijan.

After a warm welcoming speech by the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, His Excellency Mr Ilham Aliyev, the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, addressed the large audience of eminent personalities, government representatives, leaders of international and regional organizations, religious and civil society institutions, artists and wide range of scholars and experts from over 100 countries.

“Our vision of the world – the vision of the Baku Process – has never been more important”, said Ms Bokova.

“We recognise the deepening interdependence of the world – our responsibility is to make this a source of strength… This is why UNESCO is working to include culture in the post-2015 development agenda”.

Referring to the need for new forms of cultural literacy, between and within societies, the Director-General strongly underlined that the protection of cultural heritage has today become an imperative for security and peace.

“We say it again today, on the occasion of this World Forum – cultural diversity is another way to say human dignity and human rights,” declared the Director-General.

Other speakers at the opening ceremony were the High Representative of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, Mr Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, the Secretry-General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, Mr Iyad bin Amin Madani, the Director General of Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Mr Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri and the representative of Taleb Rifai, UNWTO Secretary-General.

After the opening, the Director-General launched the book “Agree to Differ”, a landmark publication by UNESCO and Tudor Rose on the International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures, for which UNESCO is lead agency.

“Agreeing to differ – or agreeing to disagree – does not imply a passive form of tolerance for the views of others – it means an active engagement with others, on the basis of respect, equal dignity and compassion”, said Ms Bokova when presenting the book in the presence of Ms Mehriban Aliyeva, the First Lady of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the President.

UNESCO has been given a very prominent place in this third edition of the Baku Forum. The Chairperson of the Executive Board, Ambassador Mohamed Sameh Amr, and Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences, Ms Nada Al-Nashif, spoke in today’s two plenary sessions.

In addition to a number of UNESCO-led working groups, an Academic Forum of 40 UNESCO Chairs on Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue will run in parallel during the Forum. The major aim of this side event is to assess the state-of-the-art with regard to current research on interreligious and intercultural dialogue.

Mr Abulfas Garayev, Minister of Culture of Azerbaijan, will officially close the Baku Forum tomorrow, 19 May 2015.