International Progress Organization 1972 - 2012
40 Years of Dialogue among Civilizations
United Nations publishes article by President of I.P.O. on the integrative approach towards intercultural dialogue
New York / Vienna, 1 October
The UN Chronicle, a quarterly magazine issued by the United Nations Organization, has published in its recent issue (3/2012) an article by the President of the International Progress Organization (I.P.O.), Prof. Hans Köchler, on "The Integrative Approach towards Intercultural Dialogue." Following his speech at the UN Alliance of Civilizations Forum in Doha (13 December 2011) on "Politics and Cultural Diversity: An Integrative Approach," the United Nations Department of Public Information invited the President of the I.P.O. to contribute an article to the Chronicle's special issue on inter-civilizational dialogue. The 2001 United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations was established to redefine diversity and to improve dialogue between civilizations and cultures. The special issue of the UN Chronicle looks at the progress made and lessons learned during the past ten years in achieving these goals. In his article, Prof. Köchler explains the structural link between intercultural dialogue and development, and proposes a number of practical measures, following from a comprehensive and integrative approach, in the fields of education, sports, tourism, and domestic as well as international politics.
The publication of the article coincides with the 40th anniversary of the foundation of the International Progress Organization at the initiative of students and intellectuals from Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America. The Founding Assembly was held on 30 October 1972 in Innsbruck, Austria. Since then, individuals and organizations from over 70 countries on all continents have joined the organization which obtained consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations in 1977 and with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1978.
The organization was founded with a strategic commitment to dialogue - in the years of the "Cold War" between East and West. Several decades before the topic entered the global mainstream, the I.P.O. has played a vanguard role in the promotion of peace through inter-cultural and inter-civilizational dialogue. In September 1972, the President of the I.P.O. held consultations at the United Nations headquarters in New York on the promotion of cultural co-operation as a basic element of international peace. In a letter, dated 26 September 1972 and addressed to the Division of Philosophy of UNESCO, he suggested the holding of an international conference to discuss the basic issues of a "dialogue between civilizations." He further explained the paradigm in a public lecture at the University of Innsbruck on "Cultural Self-comprehension and Co-existence: Preconditions of a Fundamental Dialogue" (19 October 1972), an idea which he further developed in his lecture at the Royal Scientific Society of Jordan on "Cultural-philosophical Aspects of International Co-operation" (Amman, 9 March 1974). In the same year, the President of the I.P.O. travelled around the globe and visited 26 countries on all continents to explain the idea of inter-cultural dialogue and to invite experts to an international conference on "The Cultural Self-comprehension of Nations." He met, among others, with the Poet-President of Senegal, Léopold Sédar Senghor, with the leading Arab author and Minister of Culture of Egypt, Youssef el-Sebai, with the Minister of Education of India, Prof. Nurul Hassan, and with the Director-General of Education of Indonesia, Prof. Ida Bagus Mantra. The International Conference on "The Cultural Self-comprehension of Nations," the first of its kind, eventually took place in Innsbruck, Austria, in July 1974. To symbolize the idea of dialogue, it was held under the joint patronage of the Heads of State of Austria and Senegal. The International Progress Organization also was among the first to deal with issues of Muslim-Christian dialogue. In November 1981, the I.P.O. organized in Rome, Italy, an International Symposium on "The Concept of Monotheism in Islam and Christianity," which was held under the patronage of Crown Prince Hassan of Jordan and officially supported by Cardinal Franz König, Archbishop of Vienna; Habib Shatty, Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference; Emilio Colombo, Foreign Minister of Italy; and Chadli Klibi, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States.
Since the end of the Cold War and the events of September 11, 2001, the International Progress Organization has continued to promote the idea of peace through dialogue among civilizations and cultures, and has established working relations with a number of like-minded organizations such as the World Public Forum "Dialogue of Civilizations" (Moscow / Vienna), the Dialogue Eurasia Platform (Istanbul), the Asia-Europe Foundation (Singapore), the International Peace Bureau (Geneva), the Islamic Conference Youth Forum (Istanbul), the International Movement for a Just World (Malaysia), and the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy (Berlin / New York).
Apart from its promotion of the dialogue of civilizations, the International Progress Organization has launched numerous initiatives in the fields of democracy, conflict resolution, human rights, international law, and in particular international criminal law, and United Nations reform. In a letter to the Security Council, dated 25 April 2000, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan nominated two representatives of the I.P.O., including the organization's President, as international observers to the Scottish Court in the Netherlands.
The contribution of the International Progress Organization to global dialogue was recognized by numerous international figures including UN Secretaries-General Kurt Waldheim, Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, and Boutros Boutros-Ghali. Gyani Zail Singh, President of India (1982-1987), conferred on the President of the I.P.O. the Award of the Unity International Foundation. On the occasion of the centenary celebrations of the International Peace Bureau (Geneva), the President of the I.P.O. was awarded with that organization's Honorary Medal.
On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the foundation of the International Progress Organization, the President of the organization, Prof. Hans Köchler, issued a special message which concludes with the following words:
We will continue to emphasize the crucial issues of a world order of peace and equality among peoples, nations and, not least, among citizens of all cultures and races. In the 21st century, "progress" must not be understood in a narrow materialistic sense. The concept of human rights, if it is to be more than a tool of hegemonial foreign policy, has to be applied to all aspects of society: cultural, social, economic, and political. Only if human rights are established as the guiding principles of international law can we credibly proclaim a "New World Order" of peace and justice. This is the message of the International Progress Organization for the multipolar order of the future.
International Progress Organization