The UN General Assembly proclaimed 2010 the International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures (A/RES/62/90), affirming that “mutual understanding and interreligious dialogue constitute important dimensions of the dialogue among civilizations and of the culture of peace.” In her message for this international year, Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, describes the objective as
to help dissipate any confusion stemming from ignorance, prejudice and exclusion that create tension, insecurity, violence and conflict. The task will be, in campaigning for dialogue and mutual knowledge, to foster respect for each other’s culture and break down the barriers between different cultures. Exchange and dialogue between cultures are the best tools for building peace.
Given the new challenges of an increasingly interconnected world, our shared task is to build solid bridges, based on solidarity between all cultures so as to create a new universal ethics of living together.
Understood from this broad international perspective, the rapprochement of cultures is an essential part of peace education which, in formal or informal education, is sometimes referred to as Education for Conflict Resolution, Human Rights, Global Education, Social Justice Education, Environmental Education, etc. – whatever the name, its principal aim is often to foster cultural diversity and dialogue, to educate for a culture of peace.
Some helpful resources from the United Nations include the following:
- Website of the International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures 2010 – this elaborate page on UNESCO’s website has an excellent leaflet explaining the goal, strategies and ways of implementing the theme; it also has a list of activities that will be held around the world throughout 2010, and a photo gallery.
- UNESCO’s culture page has links to several informative sections, including sections on cultural diversity and dialogue.
- An exceptionally fine resource for human rights education is the book ABC – Teaching Human Rights: Practical activities for primary and secondary schools. To download this book from the website of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, click here (No. 4).