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Friday, December 22, 2006

Alliance of civilizations, not "clash of civilizations".

Here is an interesting article from IPS News, A Bridge Over Troubled Waters:
UNITED NATIONS, Dec 19 (IPS) - Key political figures from the West and the Muslim world, as well as the outgoing U.N. chief Kofi Annan, urged the international community Monday to seriously examine ways to promote greater dialogue among civilisations and cultures.

"It is not enough to publish an insightful report, and applaud great ideas, unless then we do something about them," Annan said at the General Assembly's informal discussion on a U.N.-sponsored report to advance an "Alliance of Civilisations".

Alliance of civilizations, not "clash of civilizations".
"In this period of rising tensions, none of us should simply call from the sidelines for peaceful coexistence, and then go on with our life as usual," Annan said. "We should make an active effort to learn from each other to understand the source of our differences."

This is not just about people like John Kerry and Chris Dodd getting opposing leaders in the Middle East to sit down and talk to each other. This means each one of us in our everyday lives, understanding the differences between us and others that might bring us into conflict, and working out ways to value others not only despite, but perhaps, because of those differences.
Rejecting the notion of a "clash of civilisations", Erdogan said that "increasing disparities and injustices, as well as exaggerated fears and suspicions, feed into mutual hatred, prejudice and intolerance prevailing all over the world."

Exactly. Too bad many people will automatically call this a "blame America first" attitude, stick their fingers in their ears and run away. The problem is, this is simply a truism, and refusing to acknowledge it does not make it any less true, just means one is less equipped to deal with it effectively.
The report puts forward a range of concrete proposals in the areas of education, media, youth and migration, including film and television programmes co-produced across religious and cultural boundaries and showing diversity as a normal feature of society.

Wait, is that the dreaded spectre of "multiculturalism"?
Speaking on behalf of the European Union, Kristi Lintonen, the Finnish envoy, said the European nations welcomed the report as "an important contribution to the common platform of unity at national, regional and local levels."

Speaking on behalf of the United States...um, no. Nothing in the article about any involvement, support or response from the U.S. An omission in the article, or an omission in U.S. policy?
As part of the U.N. efforts to do more, General Assembly President Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa of Bahrain said she intends convene an informal interactive debate of the General Assembly next summer.

I can't wait to see the extended coverage of that debate in the U.S. media.


UPDATE: website for the Alliance of Civilisations project. From "about":
The initiative responds to a broad consensus across nations, cultures and religions that all societies are interdependent, bound together in their development and security, and in their environmental, economic and financial well-being.

UPDATE 2: No, apparently the U.S. can't be bothered.

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