Cultural diversity

News Releases / Speeches / Declarations

Cultural Diversity and Dialogue among Civilizations : a necessary condition to improve international relations and development

UNESCO, April 5, 2005 – 2005/04/05

The Director-General of UNESCO , Koïchiro Matsuura chaired in Paris the opening of an International Conference on the Dialogue among Civilizations, Cultures and Peoples, attended by more than 300 participants, including eminent academics and decisions makers from the Arab region, Asia, Europe and the United States . Recalling that dialogue underpinned the creation of the United Nations and UNESCO, the Director-General said that « the processes of globalization, by creating an unprecedented framework of meetings and interactions among peoples, have rendered the building of bridges among civilizations, cultures and peoples absolutely vital. Such dialogue must by necessity be soundly based on democracy, human rights and basic liberties, the sole guarantors of lasting peace and development and indispensable conditions for reconciliation ».

In his keynote address , Mr. Mohammad Khatami, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran , praised UNESCO’s contribution to dialogue among civilizations, highlighting UNESCO’s Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (adopted in 2003), its Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity (adopted in 2001), the preparation of a convention on cultural diversity, and ongoing work on the ethics of science . Pleading for the moralization of politics, the President argued that « The political translation of dialogue among civilizations would consist in arguing that culture, morality and art must prevail on politics. (…) As long as politics remain estranged from morality and impervious to culture (…) human rights will not be defended ».

Moreover, UNESCO, as lead agency for the dialogue among civilizations, is engaged in dialogue-related activities in all of its domains of competence, including education, the sciences, culture and communication. [05-09]