“Dialogue of peoples and cultures”: the Director-General calls for “swift and decisive action”

The first conference of the Europe-Mediterranean-Gulf Cultural Workshop on the theme of “Dialogue of People and Cultures” was held in Paris, France from 13 to 15 September.

The Director-General of UNESCO, on the invitation of the President of the French Republic, addressed the closing ceremony on 15 September. In the presence of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain and the French Minister of European Affairs, who represented the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr Matsuura stressed the “unconditional imperative” of dialogue between peoples and cultures, especially from the North and South shores of the Mediterranean.

In his speech, Koïchiro Matsuura underscored the role of education, culture and communication in the promotion of dialogue and appealed to the international community to take “swift and decisive action.”

In the field of education, the Director-General supported “quality education, formal and informal, which calls for tolerance, mutual understanding, respect for human rights and democracy through concerted bilateral and multilateral action. An education that refutes all stereotypes, which speaks to the most deprived through appropriate pedagogical materials and in local languages, but which also promotes the learning of global languages to ensure those people are not excluded from today’s global society. An education that demonstrates to everyone that all identities are the fruit of encounters, sometimes violent, yet often fertile grounds for a new heritage in perpetual creation.” As examples, he cited UNESCO activities for revising textbooks and promoting translations of representative works of world literary heritage, and also teacher kits on world heritage.

The Director-General continued by underscoring the particular role of media as a “vector of analysis and useful information for creating a better understanding of the world.” “For UNESCO,” he recalled, “freedom of expression and freedom of the press are inalienable. They should, nevertheless, as with all rights, be exercised with respect to individual moral and religious convictions. For this reason our action is based, particularly, on the creation of programmes which highlight trans-cultural or multi-cultural approaches to journalism. In supporting the importance of exact and impartial media coverage, be it through traditional media or through new information technologies, so important to the young generation, we leave numerous doors open for dialogue,” he stated.

Mr Matsuura then invited the international community to take “swift and decisive action.” “Take action on the political and diplomatic front, for peace. Take action for a dialogue of societies and cultures. These two forms of action, political action and cultural action, the treatment of crises and the dialogue of cultures, should be carried out in parallel.” It is for these reasons that the entirety of UNESCO’s programmes converge to promote a fertile diversity of cultures and its corollary, intercultural dialogue.”

The Director-General concluded his speech by assuring the organizers of the Cultural Workshop of UNESCO’s active support “to achieve these goals” and highlighted the Organization’s readiness to aid with the preparations of the next meetings in Seville and afterwards in Alexandria during the spring of 2007.

  • Author(s):La Porte-parole
  • Source:Flash info n°138-2006
  • 15-09-2006
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