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DIRECTOR-GENERAL OF UNESCO

Director-General presides over adoption of Abuja Declaration on the Dialogue among Civilizations, Cultures and Peoples: The Pivotal Role of Education and Science

During his visit to Abuja, Nigeria, the Director-General also opened on 20 June 2006 together with the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, the first African Regional Conference on the Dialogue among Civilizations, Cultures and Peoples.

Subsequently, he presided together with the Minister of State for Education of Nigeria on 21 June 2006 over the adoption of the Abuja Declaration on the Dialogue among Civilizations, Cultures and Peoples: The Pivotal Role of Education and Science. The conference was attended by Government Ministers and officials, parliamentarians, traditional and religious leaders, representatives of civil society, the private sector, the media and eminent experts from academia, coming from several African countries. The Director-General welcomed in particular the string participation of women and young people.

The Abuja Declaration consists of three parts: a general introductory section setting out the relevance of the dialogue for Africa in its quest for peaceful and sustainable future; a section developing a set of principles to be observed in the organization and conduct of dialogue in Africa drawing on education and science; and a section containing a host of concrete proposals at the community, national and regional levels pertaining to the contribution of two key areas - education and of science - to fostering a dialogue.

The Declaration calls for a new culture of tolerance, inclusion and social justice. It stated that a well-functioning regional integration is unthinkable without genuine dialogue, which will also help align national policies and structures with new regional and global initiatives. Building on Africa’s rich diversity, participants in the conference resolved to work towards a shared vision of quality education and genuine scientific engagement through scientific communities, networking and centres of excellence, drawing also on local and indigenous knowledge. The mainstreaming of culture throughout all educational activities was seen as crucial for the effective promotion of dialogue and mutual understanding.

Quality education was identified in the Declaration the most powerful vehicle for dialogue, as it seeks to promote respect for human rights, democratic citizenship and tolerance, including the promotion of peaceful cohabitation, and to teach students and learners throughout life to enjoy a peaceful existence in an environment of diversity.

For its part, science and technology was considered capable to deal effectively with the common heritage of humankind and serve as an innovative vector for dialogue among peoples and cultures. Scientific cooperation, networking and interaction, both within and beyond the African region, is a driver of intercultural exchange and dialogue. There was also a strong call for women, often excluded from the domains of technology, science, and engineering, to be integrated as full and equal partners.

At the conclusion of the Regional Conference, the Director-General expressed his satisfaction with the results and recommendations of the Conference, which validated UNESCO’s approach to focus on regional and sub-regional situations with participation of a broad range of stakeholders and a concentration on select issues falling within the domains of UNESCO, in this case education and science. He also urged countries to take early action to implement the various recommendations made.

During the conference, the Director-General also attended a dinner hosted by President Olusegun Obasanjo in honour of him and other participants at Aso Rock State House.

  • Author(s):Office of the Spokeswoman
  • Source:Flash info n°098-2006
  • 26-06-2006
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