Director-General opens the 4th Baku Forum on intercultural dialogue

On 5 May, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova opened the 4th World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue in Bakou in the presence of H.E. Ilham Alijev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, addressing the world’s largest gathering on intercultural dialogue.

“We have no choice – we must remain true to the compass setting of human rights and dignity, and we must respond, ‘Hard power’ is not enough,” Ms Bokova said. “We need the ‘soft power’ of education, knowledge, culture, communication, the sciences, to strengthen the values we share and recognise the destiny we hold in common.”

Convened by the government of Azerbaijan in partnership with UNESCO, the UN Alliance of Civilizations, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the UN World Tourism Organization, the Council of Europe and the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the Forum seeks to advance intercultural dialogue by finding new avenues for human security, peace and sustainable development, serving as a platform for exchange and cooperation. Over two days, it brings together representatives from international organizations.

Over 800 participants from 120 countries, representing academia, the private sector and civil society will be part of a dialogue aimed at cooperation among peoples in addressing some of the world’s most vexing issues including the global growth of violent extremism, the mounting migration and displacement crisis, deepening economic inequality, and the rise of divisive political populism. As President Alijev underscored “the impact of the success of dialogue can be seen in every area”.

Following the opening, the Director-General launched the UNESCO publication entitled Interculturalism at the Crossroads: Comparative perspectives on concepts, policies and practices, prepared in partnership with UNESCO’s UNITWIN Network on Interreligious Dialogue for Intercultural Understanding. Assimilation, multiculturalism and presently interculturalism have all been proposed as possible policy conduits for managing socio-cultural diversity. This book, in focusing on the latter concept, offers fresh analysis, policy discussion and practical exploration of intercultural dialogue through in-depth case studies from across the world.