On 23 August 2013, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, the Chairperson of the National Commission of the Republic of Kazakhstan for UNESCO and ISESCO, Mr Imangali Tasmagambetov and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Mr Erlan Idrissov, officially launched the International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures.
The Proclamation of an International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures (2013-2022), for which UNESCO has been designated as lead agency for the United Nations system, was adopted by UNESCO General Conference’s Resolution 36C/40 in November 2011 followed by the UN General Assembly Resolution 67/104 in December 2012.
“The objective of the Decade is to promote mutual understanding and respect for diversity, rights and equal dignity between peoples, through intercultural dialogue and concrete initiatives,” said the Director-General.
“These tasks have never been as important as they are today – in a world changing quickly, where all societies are transforming and deeply fragile, where ‘differences’ are too often seen as ‘challenges.”
In her keynote speech, Irina Bokova recalled that cultural diversity is a reality for all societies and that it must also be a policy - multiple policies that unfold within a framework of democracy and pluralism, to lay the foundations for greater tolerance, dialogue and cooperation.
“International dialogue can act as a major source for building peace and attaining sustainable development. This idea lies at the heart of the International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures, initiated by Kazakhstan and led by UNESCO”, highlighted Mr Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, UN High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations.
The opening ceremony was followed by a Plenary Session in which the Director-General was a keynote speaker.
“In a world that is increasingly fragile, we need a renewed commitment by all to dialogue, to tolerance, reconciliation and understanding. It is not enough to live together, societies must grow together. It is not enough to exchange, we must share”, emphasized the Director-General.
Mr Imangali Tasmagambetov, Chairperson of the National Commission of the Republic of Kazakhstan for UNESCO and Honorable Mayor of Astana, Mr Erlan Idrissov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Mr Mukhtar Kul-Mikhammed, Minister of Culture and Information of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Mr Wole Soyinka, Nigerian writer and Nobel Laureate in Literature, Mr Candido Mendes, Secretary-General of the Academy of Latinity and Dean of the Universidade Candido Mendes (Brazil) and other high-level personalities were among the speakers at the opening ceremony.
On the occasion of the Forum, the Director-General presented the inscription certificate for the Alakol Biosphere Reserve in Kazakhstan, recent added to the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves.
This Reserve includes the Alakol-Sasykol lake system - famous since the times of the Great Silk Road for its salty waters and their health benefits. The Alakol reserve covers 193,089 hectares, including wetlands of world significance. It is an important bird migration route, a water bird habitat and aggregation site.
Photo caption: UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, at the launch of the International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures with Mr. Dusen Kasseinov, Secretary-General of the International Organization of Turkic Culture (TURKSOY), Mr. Kishore Singh, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, Mr. Nassir Al-Nasser, UN High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations, Mr. Imangali Tasmagambetov, Chairperson of the National Commission of the Republic of Kazakhstan for UNESCO and ISESCO, Mr. Olzhas Suleimenov, Ambassdaor, Permanent Delegate of the Republic of Kazakhstan to UNESCO, Dr. Candido Mendes, Secretary-General of the Academy of Latinity and Dean of the Universidade Candido Mendes (Brazil) and Prof. Dr. Wole Soyinka, Nigerian writer, 1986 Nobel Laureate in Literature.