United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
Congress in Abuja: 'Dialogue on civilizations, religions, and cultures in West Africa'

About 50 religious leaders from West Africa will gather in Abuja (Nigeria), from December 15 to 17 for an international congress - organized by the Nigerian government with support from UNESCO - on “Dialogue of Civilizations, Religions and Cultures in West Africa”.

Nobel Prize winner for literature, Wole Soyinka, along with several historians, important religious leaders from the region and representatives of traditional religions in West Africa, will attend the Congress, which will be inaugurated by Nigeria's Minister for Culture and Tourism, Franklin Oqbuewu and the President of the General Conference of UNESCO, Ambassador Michael Abiola Omolewa (Nigeria).

The congress will address the following topics: How religions in West Africa could work together towards common goals: well-being of local people and sustainable development on the basis of the best local practices; How religious leaders can contribute to diffusing ethnic, cultural and religious conflicts and tension; How can women, working with religious leaders, ensure religious freedom, teach and transmit to children and youth, mutual respect and peaceful co-existence through education; and how can mediation, peace-keeping and reconstruction in West Africa become a cultural experience?

The role of religious leaders and religious organizations in the fight against HIV/AIDS will also be discussed during a round table which will take place on the second day of the Congress. The round table has been organized as part of a UNESCO/UNAIDS project - A Cultural Approach to HIV/AIDS Prevention and Care - and will comprise two panels, bringing together representatives of all confessions. The first will examine the theme: How to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic from a religious perspective: theoretical approaches. The second panel will discuss Best Practices and Case Studies.

It is essential to root inter-religious dialogue in a regional context because memories of periods of conflict or of peace-time stem from a shared geography and history. It is the first time that a conference of such scope will take place in Africa. It follows similar meetings, which have taken place around the Mediterranean, in Central Asia and in Europe.

Source Media advisory No 2003 - 106
Editorial Contact: Hubert Charles, UNESCO Abuja. Tel : +234 9 523 70 88 – h.charles@unesco.org
  • Rosa Guerreiro, Division of Cultural Policies and Intercultural Dialogue. Tel : +33 (0)1 45 68 47 47
  • - Email r.guerreiro@unesco.org
    Publication Date 12 Dec 2003
    © UNESCO 1995-2007 - ID: 17594