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2010, International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures

TEHRAN, Feb 23, -– Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova has launched the International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures with the establishment of the High Panel on Peace and Dialogue among Cultures.

“This year marks the beginning of an intellectual journey throughout which we will reflect on ways to trace new perspectives for peace in the 21st Century,” declared the director-general.

Meeting for the first time in Paris last weekend, the international panel comprises prominent political, intellectual and religious personalities from all regions of the world. Its members have been asked to reflect on and reinvent the construction of peace founded on justice, respect for human rights, gender equality and solidarity in the context of globalization, and the challenges its poses, such as climate change, management of resources and ethical and economic issues, to which we must respond by consistently using the strength and impact of dialogue.

The Panel’s mission is to ring out UNESCO’s message of peace in the world, through education, science, culture, information and communication. It will meet once or twice a year, and its membership may vary according to the subjects addressed. The members were selected for their exceptional careers and are volunteering their expertise.

The conference on intercultural dialogue was opened by Ms Bokova on Thursday February 18, with the participation of some of the Panel members. Subjects debated were “The power of cultural diversity and dialogue” and “Building peace – the place of shared values in the era of globalization”, a press release issued by the UN Information Center (UNIC) said here on Tuesday.

In the context of globalization, which is also that of migrations, the parallel challenges of preserving cultural diversity and cultural identities and promoting intercultural dialogue take on a new importance and urgency. Education is the key to success, especially for girls. However, it is also the key to learning to live together. The concept of peace has greatly evolved since the creation of UNESCO and particularly in the last two decades, including greater involvement for women and youth.

The launch culminated in a conference on intercultural dialogue, opened by Irina Bokova, in which several members of the Panel participated. Two themes directed debate: “The Power of Cultural Diversity and Dialogue” and “Building peace – the role of chared values in a globalised world”.

The goal of the International Year is “to help dissipate any confusion stemming from ignorance, prejudice and exclusion that create tension, insecurity, violence and conflict,” underlined Ms Bokova. “Exchange and dialogue between cultures are the best tools for building peace.” The main strategic lines of action, according to Ms Bokova, entail notably strengthening quality education, which includes the teachings of the world’s great civilizations and cultures. The year will also be celebrated with a variety of cultural events all over the world. It will lay the foundation for a new cultural dialogue that aims to build a framework of commonly shared values.

UNESCO, designated by the General Assembly of the United Nations as lead agency for the International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures, intends to unite the efforts of both states and civil society, in order to promote original, positive projects. It will base its action on the UN system and UNESCO’s long experience in this domain, particularly concerning young people. (PNA/IRNA)

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