Symposium on "Repentance and forgiveness in the public space"
UNESCO will host a symposium on the theme “Repentance and forgiveness in public space” at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on 12 November 2014. This is an initiative of the University of Québec in Chicoutimi (Canada), in collaboration with the Permanent Delegation of Canada to UNESCO and UNESCO's Social and Human Sciences Programme.
The symposium draws on the results of scientific research coordinated by the University of Québec in Chicoutimi and published in 2014 under the title "La Repentance. Le retour du pardon dans l’espace public" [Repentance: The Return of forgiveness in the public space] (Cerf Editions).
The research is based on the observation that "repentance and forgiveness on all continents and in many spheres of human life is now in the process of globalization, imposing itself as a political category in all cultures, States, organizations and with various minority groups who use it as a right or out of a sense of duty."
The findings are presented by several contributors around four main themes that will frame the discussion, namely:
(i) From arrogance to repentance: self-doubt in the West;
(ii) The highs and lows of of forgiveness in the public space;
(iii) Memory, forgetting the past, and time: Forgiveness as ahistory regenerator; and
(iv) Forgiveness and hope.
Presenting the major conclusions of this research, the symposium will enable a discussion on the use of repentance and forgiveness in support of reconciliation and peace in our societies. The objective is to contribute to a better understanding of the Other, his/her history, language, heritage, religion and beliefs, combining the past and the present, to suggest ways of living together in peace.
The International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures (2013-2022), for which UNESCO is the lead agency for the United Nations system, provides an appropriate framework for this reflection. Its Action Plan, adopted by the Executive Board of UNESCO at its 194th session, aims inter alia "to encourage a greater awareness of the history and relationships developed between cultures and civilizations and to highlight the processes that have advanced intercultural dialogue and rapprochement of cultures".