Expert Colloquy - Dialogue serving intercultural and inter-religious communication - Strasbourg, 7 to 9 October 2002 

Culture for conflict prevention – Council of Europe brings together peace specialists and religious figures

Strasbourg, 03.10.2002 - Enhancing dialogue between different cultures and religions is the aim of a high-level expert colloquy from 7 to 9 October in the Palais de l’Europe, Strasbourg. This meeting brings together representatives of major world religions and international specialists in peace studies, conflict resolution, human rights and leading NGOs working to re-establish intercultural dialogue. It is an important contribution to the priority projects programme of the Council of Europe, dedicated to intercultural dialogue and conflict prevention, in particular following the tragic events of 11 September 2001.

“The Council of Europe is convinced that culture, as a privileged instrument of communication, is not only an essential factor to be considered in the prevention of conflict situations, but is also indispensable to ensure effective post-conflict social reconciliation”, says the Council’s Secretary General Walter Schwimmer. The colloquy will be opened at 10.30 am on Monday 7 October by Mr Schwimmer, together with the Consul General of Japan, Mr Hidekazu Yamaguchi, and the Chairman of the Ministers’ Deputies of the Organisation, the Ambassador of Luxembourg Gérard Philipps.

Among the participants are leading figures from the international academic, cultural and religious worlds, including Johan Galtung, the founder of the International Peace Research Institute in Oslo, Hassan Hanafi Hassanien, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Cairo, Awraham Soetendorp, the Rabbi of the Liberal Jewish Community in The Hague (Netherlands), Swami Maheshwarananda, the Yoga humanitarian worker and the Cyprus university researcher Maria Hadjipavlou who founded the first international Cypriot women’s NGO, “Hands Across the Divide”.

One of the concrete aims of the colloquy is to lay the foundations for redefining the governmental role of Culture Ministers, with regard to conflict prevention.

The three-day colloquy, which is organised by the Council of Europe with the support of the Japan Foundation, Tokyo, and the European Cultural Foundation, Amsterdam, is open to the press.

Further information about the working programme and the participants will be available at:

Directorate General IV for Education, Culture and Cultural Heritage, Youth and Sports, Council of Europe, Strasbourg, Simone Bernhardt, + 33 (0)3 88 41 26 04, E-mail :

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