In an address at World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue in Baku: ISESCO Director General describes serious and constructive dialogue is a sound method for countering discrimination, inequality and violent conflicts
Dr Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri, the Director General of the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), is taking part in the Fifth World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue, which opened today in Baku, Republic of Azerbaijan, in the presence of the Azerbaijani president, Mr Ilham Aliyev, several cabinet members, and a large number of political, scientific, cultural and academic figures. ISESCO co-held the Forum.
At the Forum’s opening session, Dr Altwaijri gave an address wherein he stated that intercultural dialogue, which yielded the alliance of civilizations, is a key human issue at this particular juncture in history, as it deeply affects international policy. He added that the interest of the international community in issues of dialogue started off as a theory, and, throughout the few last decades, developed in terms of concepts, and diverged into branches which researchers and academicians address in their studies, thus reaching a series of milestones. “This interest has taken a different shape in this current stage as it moved from conceptual theorization and methodological consolidation to actual implementation of its goals and practical application of its principles”, he further explained.
In addition, the Director General said that ever since the emergence of its modern manifestations, intercultural dialogue has moved beyond the culturally based purpose. “In fact, even from the beginning, intercultural dialogue was geared towards changing the situation of peoples for the better; spreading the values of tolerance, coexistence and harmony among individuals and communities; and promoting the concept of coexistence among nations” he added, describing it as an intrinsically goal-oriented, serious and productive form of dialogue that builds people, civilizations and peace, and serves the human lofty goals.
Moreover, Dr Altwaijri stated that fourteen years ago, ISESCO organized an international conference in Rabat on “The Promotion of Intercultural and Inter-civilizational Dialogue through Concrete and Sustainable Initiatives”, in cooperation with UNESCO, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (ALECSO), the Danish Centre for Culture and Development, and Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for the Dialogue between Cultures. “This conference put forward key undertakings and recommendations that substantially contributed to the activation of dialogue, in its deep and broad sense, through practices that involve all segments of human communities and is translated into realistic initiatives that interpret goals into concrete and sustainable actions benefitting present and future generations, and reflecting humanity’s will to rebuild the world order on the firm foundations of international law, human principles and the teachings of the Abrahamic religions”, said the Director General.
In this connection, the Director General stated that the current session of Forum on is heading in this direction, adding “we look forward to reaching outcomes that are more positive, influential and extensive, and likely to keep abreast of present-day variables”.
Likewise, Dr Altwaijri stated that the whole world is aware that that the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UNHR), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights and the relevant international instruments reject all forms of discrimination, and call for equality as being an inherent human right.
He also stated that when it is serious, responsible, purposeful, and founded on sound bases, intercultural, inter-civilizational and interreligious dialogue helps bring about understanding among dialogue parties, promotes mutual trust, and leads to understanding which results in the respect of the right to difference. “Thus, dialogue encourages rapprochement in terms of thoughts, perceptions and visions conducive to coexistence; and strongly contributes to addressing the factors of discrimination, motives of inequality and aspects of violent conflicts until their causes, effects and impact diminish and eventually vanish”, he added.
In the same vein, the Director General underscored that discrimination, in all its forms and levels, is at the forefront of the factors which significantly affect relations between nations, peoples, individuals and groups. He explained that when discrimination spreads, expands in scope, and becomes a determinant of human relations, it turns into a strong factor and a serious motive to inciting hatred and hostility as it fuels conflicts and triggers clashes that only exacerbate extremism and violence, and pave the way for the growth of all forms of terrorism.
Combating discrimination, he stated, through effective and practical methods capable of eradicating or at least mitigating its scourge at all levels, is one of the objectives of intercultural dialogue strives to achieve through spreading the values of cultural, civilizational and religious dialogue, enhancing its concepts, enriching its contents, and disseminating its culture in various circles. “It is the right method that should be adopted to counter all forms of inequality”, he reaffirmed.
By the same token, the Director General stressed that true and purposeful intercultural dialogue spreads the culture of moderation, acceptance of the Other and flexibility in dealing with him; and helps the wisdom of equality to subdue the ignorance of inequality, consequently reducing the zones of violent conflicts to the lowest possible level and decreasing their effects on public life of nations and peoples. “Thus, these ideal values become a code of conduct, a method of good human practices, a motive of wise practical initiatives, and an inspiration for human solidarity”, he maintained.
Dr Altwaijri concluded his address by reaffirming that through this sound method we can fight against the most dangerous and threatening phenomenon to world peace and security: violent conflicts including destructive armed conflicts, raging political crises, and racial and religious conflicts which tear social ties, stir hatred and enmity, and lead to revenge and retaliation, thus creating hotbeds of tension which destabilize societies.