Unesco, the World of Islam and the Rapprochement of Cultures

Mrs Irina Bokova (Director-General, UNESCO)
Friday, 4 June 2010
Distinguished Lecture

As part of the United Nations International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures, HE Mrs Irina Bokova, the Director-General of UNESCO, delivered a lecture at the Centre.
Starting by focusing on the role that the Centre has played in contributing to international dialogue and suggesting that its existence has become ‘more relevant, more compelling’ given the global political situation, she explored the ways in which UNESCO uses heritage and dialogue to bring cultures closer together. By drawing both on her experiences as a child in a mixed religious community and the broader historical past, she argued that Islam has always been a force for toleration and has encouraged cultural and linguistic diversity.
It is because of this, she suggested, that it is so important not to allow resentments to linger and be sustained through ignorance. Pointing towards UNESCO-led initiatives such as the World Digital Library, the ‘Intercultural Vademecum’, and the Panel on Peace and Dialogue among Cultures, she showed the way in which education can practically and tangibly benefit the cause of global understanding. 
She concluded by congratulating the Centre on being ‘an outstanding contributor to inter-cultural dialogue’ before adding: ‘May you continue to shed light on Islamic culture and civilization for many, many more years to come!’
After the lecture, HE Mrs Irina Bokova attended a dinner in her honour at the Centre.