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Baku Forum: Time to find ‘magic formula’ for peaceful coexistence

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[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] I [/yt_dropcap]t is time to find that “magic formula” that will encourage people to live together in peace, the head of the United Nations Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (UNESCO) urged at the end of a UN-backed conference on intercultural dialogue in Baku, Azerbaijan.

In her closing remarks at end of the event, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova expressed hope and optimism that the world is “on the right path” towards building “inclusive and resilient” societies.

Hundreds of delegates, experts, academics, business and civil society leaders from 120 countries took part in this year’s 4th World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue, which aimed at further promoting and sustaining understanding and dialogue within and between cultures.

The UN-backed intercultural dialogue ended on a high note with the UNESCO chief calling on participants to act now to stamp out extremism and “build peace in the minds of men and women,” echoing the UN agency’s own timeless message about the need to make the most of the opportunities to bolster peaceful coexistence provided by our globalized world of increasing interconnections and diversity.

The past three days were a flurry of debates, panel discussions, exhibits and concerts held by renowned artists working to bring people of different walks of life closer together, what UNESCO has called “a rapprochement of cultures.”

Preventing terrorism in cyberspace, educating girls to combat violent extremism, and changing people’s negative perception of migrants in cities were some of the topics broached at the Forum. The agenda also included such topics as the role of faith, religions, human security, sport, education, art, sustainable development, preventing violent extremism, and business in building trust and cooperation among cultures and civilizations.

Ms. Bokova urged the participants to try and establish an intercultural dialogue in their respective countries.

“I think it’s a moment of commitment, of engagement, I think we all feel a certain sense of urgency, that we have to act […] but outside this beautiful country […] the world out there is very fragile, and peace is very fragile,” she said, emphasizing that: “How to sustain peace, how to build these inclusive, resilient societies, and how to prevent, in certain cases this extremism, and find this magic formula of living together […] deserves all our efforts and all our commitments.”

Reflecting on the outcome of the Baku Forum, Maher Nasser, Acting UN Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications, said it is too early to “cry victory” or dismiss the event as a failure because that can only be determined by what will follow.

Baku Forum spotlights importance of culture as a way to connect societies

“The discussions that I have seen bring back the importance of dialogue and using culture as a way to connect and to connect societies – sometimes within the same country. How culture bring us together as humans. We may see things differently, but there are also, sometimes, things that can bring us together. Culture and art are important elements of that,” he explained.

Speaking to UN News, Mr. Nasser also highlighted the important connection between tourism and culture. “Toursim today is one the top employers around the world,” he said. “Toursim depends on stability. No one wants to go to a region in conflict, unless you are war reporter. So tourism has a vested interested in promoting peace.”

The UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is one of the organizing partners of the Baku Forum, along with UNESCO, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Council of Europe, the Islamic Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) and the North-South Centre of the Council of Europe.

Mr. Nasser concluded by saying that the conference was “timely” and that he was optimistic moving forward.

The UNESCO Director-General praised the Government of Azerbaijan for hosting the World Forum for the fourth time, praising the country as an example of a nation where people of different faiths and cultures can live in peace.

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Culture

2018 Crystal Award: Leading artists who are bridge-builders and role models for all leaders of society

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Actor Cate Blanchett, musician Elton John and actor Shah Rukh Khan are the recipients of the 24th Annual Crystal Award, the World Economic Forum announced today. The winners will be honoured at the opening session of the Forum’s Annual Meeting 2018 in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, on the evening of Monday, 22 January. The award celebrates the achievements of leading artists who are bridge-builders and role models for all leaders of society.

“We heartily congratulate the 24th Annual Crystal awardees. Their commitment to dignity and to the upholding of essential human values serves as an inspiration to us all, particularly in these trying times when compassion is needed more than ever,” said Hilde Schwab, Chairwoman and Co-Founder of the World Economic Forum’s World Arts Forum, which gives out the awards.

Awardees

Cate Blanchett, for her leadership in raising awareness of the refugee crisis
Cate Blanchett is an internationally acclaimed award-winning actor and director of both stage and screen. Appointed a UNHCR Global Goodwill Ambassador in 2016, in recognition of her commitment to refugees, she has lent her voice and influence to raising awareness, advocating and fundraising for the UNHCR. Having met refugees in countries including Lebanon, Jordan and her home country, Australia, she advocates for increased solidarity and responsibility sharing for the 65 million-plus displaced people across the world. She has brought her creative skills to bear in sharpening focus on the individual human stories that lie behind the vast numbers.  Blanchett said: “As a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, my job is simple: to help connect people to the human stories of those forced to flee, and to state the case for all of us to stand with refugees.”

Sir Elton John, for his leadership in the fight against HIV/AIDS
Sir Elton John is one of the world’s most successful musical solo artists of all time, whose career has spanned more than five decades. With thirty-five Gold and twenty-five Platinum albums, he has sold more than 250 million records worldwide. In 1992, he established the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF), which today is one of the leading non-profit HIV/AIDS organizations. EJAF has raised more than $400 million to date to support hundreds of HIV/AIDS prevention, service and advocacy programmes around the globe. In 1998, HM Queen Elizabeth knighted him Sir Elton John, Commander of the Order of the British Empire for his services to music and charitable causes. Sir Elton John recently received the Harvard Foundation’s Peter J. Gomes Humanitarian Award. John said: “AIDS is the leading cause of death for women of childbearing age, yet the medicine and know-how exists to prevent this. If we want to give the next generation a better future, we could solve this problem. What it takes is our collective passion and compassion.”

Shah Rukh Khan, for his leadership in championing children’s and women’s rights in India
Shah Rukh Khan is one of Bollywood’s most prominent actors who has been at the forefront of the Indian film and television industry for over 30 years. He is the founder of the non‐profit Meer Foundation, which provides support to female victims of acid attacks and major burn injuries through medical treatment, legal aid, vocational training, rehabilitation and livelihood support. He has also been responsible for the creation of specialized children’s hospital wards and has supported childcare centres with free boarding for children undergoing cancer treatment. Khan said: “With victims of acid attacks I have had the privilege to witness the unparalleled courage and compassion that women are capable of. I have seen the transformative strength of goodness and the healing power of gentleness.”

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New Museum on Underwater Archaeology opens in Mexico

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Photo: UNICEF

On December 5th 2017 the new Museum of Underwater Archaeology opened in the 18th century fortress of Reducto San Jose el Alto, in Campeche, Mexico.

The museum was designated by the 6th session of the Meeting of States Parties to the 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage as a Best Practice of access to underwater cultural heritage. It has been considered one of the most important in underwater archaeology in the Latin America and Caribbean Region by Xavier Nieto Prieto, Vice-President of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Body to the 2001 Convention (STAB) at the opening event, where Helena Barba and Michel L’Hour, also members of the STAB attended.

The Museum contains spectacular finds from Mexican cenotes and from historical shipwrecks as well as a collection that retraces all the Mexican history through the archaeological sites found under water. The Museum uses new technologies to reconstruct sites and is illustrated with different media platforms on the history of the discoveries.

Designed to preserve the underwater cultural heritage, the 2001 Convention seeks to promote public access to this heritage and to stimulate archaeological research. The Museum of Underwater Archaeology of Campeche is an example of how the submerged heritage can be shared with the society for its benefit and enjoyment.

The museum has also been evaluated as a Best Practice concerning Underwater Cultural Heritage by the STAB. The STAB is an Advisory Body compound of 12 experts elected by the Meeting of States Parties. It provides advice and assistance in technical matters in the national implementation of the 2001 Convention and in the observance of the Rules of its Annex in all activities directed at the underwater cultural heritage. The STAB recommended, during the 5th session of the Meeting of States Parties (2015), to promote examples of best practices worldwide. These initiatives include maritime heritage museums, scuba diving routes, virtual exhibitions, and other cultural activities.

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UNESCO Launches Global Report Re-shaping Cultural Policies

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Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, together with Annika Markovic, Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of Sweden to UNESCO, representing  Alice Bah Kuhnke, the Swedish Minister for Culture and Democracy, launched on 14 December UNESCO’s new 2018 Global Report, Re| Shaping Cultural Policies.

(more…)

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