Feb 4 2010 — The head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has set up an expert group to find ways to increase tolerance around the world, as part of her commitment to promoting a ?new humanism? to pursue a rapprochement of cultures. The world, said Director-General Irina Bokova, is marked by a growing interdependence, but mistrust has also arisen in recent years. ?I am convinced that UNESCO has all the strengths needed to provide a humanist response to globalization and crisis,? she said. ?In response to the sense of vulnerability which permeates all levels, there is indeed a need to invent new forms of action to safeguard social cohesion and preserve peace.?
The new panel will meet for the first time on 18 February in Paris. The gathering will also mark the launch of the International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures 2010, which will kick off with a round-table discussion on the theme, ?The Dialogue of Cultures: New Avenues for Peace.?
?The objective of this International Year is to help dissipate any confusion stemming from ignorance, prejudice and exclusion that create tension, insecurity, violence and conflict,? Ms. Bokova emphasized. The task, she said, will be to promote mutual knowledge and to generate respect for other cultures. ?Exchange and dialogue between cultures are the best tools for building peace,? the UNESCO chief said.
?Four main strategic lines of action for the Year have been devised. They involve promoting reciprocal knowledge of cultural, ethnic, linguistic and religious diversity; building a framework for commonly shared values; strengthening quality education and intercultural competences, and fostering dialogue for sustainable development.
The goal is to make the rapprochement of cultures the hallmark of all policy-making at local, national, regional and international levels, involving the greatest number of relevant stakeholders. Entrusted with the mandate to contribute to build “the defences of peace in the minds of men” through education, sciences, culture and communication, UNESCO is designated to play a leading role for the celebration of the Year.
In her message, Ms Bokova said, ?We are living in a world that is increasingly marked by a growing interdependence in all areas of human activity. The resultant cross-fertilization of our societies offers new opportunities to strengthen the ties between peoples, nations and cultures at the global level. At the same time, with globalization, incomprehension and mistrust have increased in the last few years. The economic, environmental and ethical crisis has further increased this sense of insecurity and mistrust.?
She added, ?In the light of these developments, I have proposed a new universal vision, open to the entire human community, which I have called the ?new humanism?. I am convinced that UNESCO has all the strengths needed to provide a humanist response to globalization and crisis. In response to the sense of vulnerability which permeates all levels, there is indeed a need to invent new forms of action to safeguard social cohesion and preserve peace.?
Ms Bokova said, ?Cultures encompass not only art and literature, but also lifestyles, value systems, traditions and beliefs. In this globalizing world, marked by increasingly rapid exchanges and greater complexity, the protection and promotion of this rich diversity present numerous challenges. True, culture is not included among the Millennium Development Goals in its own right, which I regret. But the links between culture and development are so strong that development cannot dispense with culture. I firmly intend to show, through new initiatives, that these links cannot be separated.?
?The task will be, in campaigning for dialogue and mutual knowledge, to foster respect for each other?s culture and break down the barriers between different cultures. Exchange and dialogue between cultures are the best tools for building peace. Given the new challenges of an increasingly interconnected world, our shared task is to build solid bridges, based on solidarity between all cultures so as to create a new universal ethics of living together.
Ms Bokova called on all UNESCO?s partners to mobilize with the purpose of reaching these objectives: the National Commissions for UNESCO, agencies of the UN system, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, Goodwill Ambassadors and Artists for Peace, UNESCO Chairs and Associated Schools, Clubs and Centres, parliamentarians, locally elected officials, the world of culture, the sciences, education and the media, opinion leaders, youth organizations, and civil society as a whole, including the private sector.
In Pakistan There will be only once activity related to this and that will be organised by Department of Archaeology and Museums, Government of Pakistan:
National Seminar on ?Integrating the community into the
safeguarding of Pakistan?s Interreligious Cultural Heritage? to
be held at the Pakistan Institute of Archaeological Training and
Research, Lahore Punjab Pakistan (September 2010)