Note No 151
29 August 2001



SALZBURG, 28 August (UN Information Service) -- The Salzburg Dialogue among Civilizations was convened in the framework of the United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations bringing together participants from various regions and backgrounds to discuss the potential of the Dialogue among Civilizations as a new paradigm of international relations. The results of these discussions will feed into the ongoing work of the United Nations on this subject which will culminate in a Special Session of the General Assembly on 3-4 December 2001.

The following are some of the reflections which emanate from the discussions:

As the reality of a more interdependent world is pushing us ever closer together, we will have to improve our management of diversity.

Science, technology, communication, migration, trade, finance and diseases are becoming increasingly borderless, affecting our societies in an unprecedented manner. Yet, culture and religion are re-emerging as major driving forces in the political set-up of our world.

Globalization and localisation are two sides of the same coin but it may need dialogue to avoid confrontation between the two. Dialogue necessitates a change of mindset, which has to be based on trust. Civilisations are anchored in a common set of values we all share and in our common aspiration for peace, justice, partnership and truth.

We recognize that many walls have been build throughout human history, too many of them in recent times. Ethnicity, religion and culture have repeatedly been misused as reasons for enmity and war.

The most practical way to create trust is "to build together" across the divide. We recognize a growing fatigue with human conflict and violence, therefore we are witnessing a common yearning for human solidarity. Much has been accomplished by the existing international institutions yet much more has to be done.

The new heroes of this dialogue will be different from our heroes of the past. They will be those who stand ready to extend their hand, to listen to the other, to take advantage of the commonality which unites us, and to expand our faith in our common humanity.

What we can pass on to the next generations is therefore a willingness to learn from reach other instead of a fear of diversity. Future generations will bear witness to the realisation of a successful policy of dialogue and reap the fruits. It is our responsibility to sow the seeds.

The call for a dialogue among civilizations comes from those who want to meet this challenge aimed at governance through inclusion.

"War begins in the mind of those who perceive diversity as a threat" (John Hume).

"Peace begins in the mind of those who perceive diversity as an element of betterment and growth" (Kofi Annan).

The following eminent persons took part in the Salzburg Dialogue among Civlizations:

Kofi Annan
Secretary-General of the United Nations

Dr. Benita Ferrero-Waldner
Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs

Amb. Rosario Green
Ambassador of Mexico to Argentina

Prof. Joseph Ki-Zerbo
Founder of the Centre d’Etudes pour le Developpement Africain

Prof. Dr. Hans Küng
Professor emer. of Theology

Dr. Attaollah Mohajerani
Director, International Centre for Dialogue Among Civilisations

Giandomenico Picco
Personal Representative of the Secretary General
for the United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilisations

Dr. Andrei A. Piontkowskij
Director, Strategic Studies Center

Surin Pitsuwan
Form. Foreign Minister of Thailand

Prof. Emer. Paul Ricoeur
University of Paris-X (Nanterre)

Prof. John Ruggie
Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

Dr. Nafis Sadik
Form. Executive Director of the UN Population Fund

Rabbi Arthur Schneier
President, Appeal of Conscience Foundation
New York

Dr. Wolfgang Schüssel
Federal Chancellor of Austria

Prof. Klaus Schwab
Davos World Economic Forum

Shashi Tharoor
Author and Interim Head, UN Department of Public Information

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