Baku Forum on Intercultural Dialogue calls for enhanced cooperation

The 4th World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue concluded on 6 May in Baku, Azerbaijan, with UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova emphasizing in her closing remarks the importance of commitments made at the event and greater cooperation in the context of the plethora of current global issues, including the global growth of violent extremism, the mounting migration and displacement crisis, deepening economic inequality, and the rise of divisive political populism.

"As the Forum closes, we all feel commitment and a sense of urgency. We have to act (...) the world out there is very fragile. Peace is very fragile. How to sustain peace? How to build inclusive resilient societies? How to fight extremism and find this magic formula of living together? This deserves all our efforts and our commitment,” she stated.

Hosted generously by the Government of Azerbaijan, and H.E. Ilham Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, in partnership with UNESCO, the UN Alliance of Civilizations, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the UN World Tourism Organization, the Council of Europe and the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the Forum was attended by over 800 participants from over 120 countries. It underscored that dialogue is a prerequisite to preventing and addressing the challenges we face, for without dialogue the aspirations of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all, will remain elusive. In this context, partner organizations acknowledged the upcoming 10th anniversary of the Baku Process, recognizing the need to further their collaboration and joint action.

In cooperation with the Government of Azerbaijan, UNESCO convened a high-level meeting on girls’ education, attended by the first ladies of Azerbaijan, Ethiopia, Mali and Rwanda, which resulted in a Global Humanitarian Call to Invest in Girls Education seeking to build momentum for Girls Education to rank higher as a priority on global policy agendas. UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova also opened a session hosted by the Aladdin Project in memory of the late Samuel Pisar, UNESCO Honorary Ambassador and Special Envoy for Holocaust Education, entitled Lessons of the Holocaust for a Better Future of Intercultural Relations, underscoring UNESCO’s commitment to promoting a culture of prevention.

Some 13 UNESCO sessions covered topics such as the prevention of youth radicalization on the internet and the centrality of education for preventing violent extremism; empowering youth through intercultural dialogue; the potential of e-resources; the Muslim-Arab legacy to the West; mobilizing sport as a tool for dialogue; and the history of peace work across the UN system. UNESCO launched an e-Platform on intercultural competences, supported by Azerbaijan, which aims to become a global hub of resources to record and inspire innovative and impactful action on dialogue. A seminal research publication Interculturalism at the crossroads, establishing an ambitious new direction for collaboration focusing on intercultural competences, was also presented.

Discussions provided opportunities for the sharing of resources, knowledge and experience, opening new possibilities for joint thinking and action towards the aspirations of the International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures (2013-2022), Sustainable Development Goal 16 to promote peaceful and inclusive societies, and the Baku Process itself.