Closing Statement of the two Co-chairs of the high-level inaugural segment of the Copenhagen Conference “Education for Intercultural Understanding and Dialogue”

The following is the statement of the Conference’s Co-chairmen delivered by the Director-General of UNESCO, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, on behalf of Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Per Stig Møller, at the conclusion of the high-level inaugural segment of the Copenhagen Conference “Education for Intercultural Understanding and Dialogue”, which took place between 21 and 22 October 2008:

On behalf of my fellow Co-chairman, Foreign Minister Moller, and myself I would like to congratulate all those who have contributed to this most auspicious launch of the Copenhagen Conference on "Education for Intercultural Understanding and Dialogue” (21 and 22 October 2008).

It is organized and sponsored by an impressive group of international and national organizations committed to the objective of the Conference: the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (ALECSO), the Council of Europe, the Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for the Dialogue Between Cultures, the Danish Centre for Culture and Development, the UN Alliance of Civilizations and of course the Danish Government and UNESCO.

It is now my pleasure to share with you a ten point summary of the salient points made during the inaugural meeting. I trust that they will provide guidance for the important work of the three Working Groups, which will culminate in the announcement of the “Copenhagen Agenda”.

1. Recognizing the “Rabat Commitment” adopted during the 2005 Rabat Conference on "Fostering Dialogue among Cultures and Civilisations through Concrete and Sustained Initiatives" as a milestone paving the way for a more concrete and practical “on the ground” approach to intercultural dialogue;

2. Having taken stock of the remarkable progress achieved since 2005 and commending all multi-stakeholder partners having participated in the Rabat Conference for their sincere and sustained commitment over the past three years and welcoming the Alliance of Civilizations as a new partner;

3. Education, at all levels, both formal and non-formal, constitutes one of the most fundamental and sustainable ways to promote intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding;

4. Globalization and growing interdependence between countries and nations are having a significant impact on relations between cultures. As a result, the management of cultural diversity is one of the central challenges facing many societies today;

5. A more inclusive and integrated approach based on cooperation and dialogue at all levels of human relations, be they intergovernmental, international, or interpersonal should be pursued in order to counter those who claim that we are facing a so-called “clash of civilizations”;

6. Intercultural tensions, stereotypes, prejudice and identity-based conflict can be addressed by encouraging mutual understanding and greater knowledge of the “Other”, and by providing platforms for cooperation across cultural boundaries, with a particular focus on young people, as key agents of change;

7. Education should put a stronger emphasis on commonly shared values such as tolerance, mutual understanding, respect for cultural, ethnic and religious diversity; respect for and protection of universal human rights, adherence to non-violence and the principles of peaceful co-existence.

8. The Copenhagen Conference shall be an opportunity to take stock of developments in the implementation of the Rabat Commitment and its Action Plan, and to chart new avenues and initiatives in support of the Rabat and the Copenhagen Conference objectives;

9. Its specific focus on education will provide a strong foundation for promoting intercultural understanding and dialogue;

10. The many participating experts and practitioners in the field of education and intercultural dialogue shall engage in exchanges and dialogue on lessons learned, concrete actions and best practices to be set out in the “Copenhagen Agenda” to be announced publicly on 22 October 2008.

  • Auteur(s):Directeur général de l'UNESCO
  • Source:UNESCO
  • 23-10-2008
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