Intercultural dialogue – an international political priority
Intercultural education, communication and understanding have been themes of international cooperation for a long time, but the notions of “dialogue of civilizations” and “intercultural dialogue” have only recently begun to appear on the political agenda of international institutions.
A political priority of the Council of Europe
Following a series of colloquies and conferences organised since the 1990s, the Third Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe (Warsaw, May 2005) in its Action Plan explicitly endorsed intercultural dialogue – together with political and interreligious dialogue – as a means of ensuring that the diversity of European cultures becomes a source of mutual enrichment. The Summit also committed itself to a new dialogue between Europe and its neighbouring regions – the southern Mediterranean, the Middle East and Central Asia. Since then, the promotion of intercultural dialogue has been a major political priority of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.
The following conference of European Ministers responsible for Cultural Affairs (Faro/Portugal, 27-28 October 2005) was an important milestone for the implementation of this policy. Here, the Ministers adopted the “Faro Declaration” containing the Council of Europe strategy for developing intercultural dialogue. The document places the strategy for the promotion of intercultural dialogue in the context of the overall remit of the Council of Europe to promote human rights, democracy and the rule of law, to strengthen social cohesion, peace and stability. The Declaration thus clears the ground for the “mainstreaming” of intercultural dialogue in all working areas of the Council of Europe.
On the occasion of the Faro Conference, three important agreements were signed by the Council of Europe and different partners, charting future cooperation. The “Faro Open Platform”, created with UNESCO, builds a flexible mechanism of cooperation with international partners, in order to support the development of a coordinated and efficient approach. The bilateral agreements signed by the Secretary General and the “Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for the Dialogue between Cultures” and the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (ALECSO) provide the Council of Europe with the possibility to engage in a closer cooperation with the countries on the southern shores of the Mediterranean and in other regions.
In 2006, the Committee of Ministers launched the preparations of the White Paper on Intercultural Dialogue of the Council of Europe, which is expected to be published in November 2007.
In order to coordinate the different activities in this area, Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni (Director General of Education, Culture and Heritage, Youth and Sport) was nominated “Coordinator for Intercultural Dialogue” of the Council of Europe.
More information on the policy approaches of the Council of Europe
Initiatives of other international institutions
Virtually all other major international institutions have become engaged in the promotion of intercultural dialogue. Among the flagship initiatives, one could mention the following: