Culture, civil society and development


The United Nations Alliance of Civilisations (UNAOC) Doha forum held on 2-4 May 2011 in Doha, Qatar was a unique opportunity to gauge how civil society organizations view the challenges of and opportunities for achieving intercultural understanding and social inclusion.

Overall, the discussions have highlighted the critical importance of the concept of ‘culture’ as a key dimension of not only intercultural relations but also human development in a very broad sense.

In particular, the workshops that were guided thematically by the plenary sessions enabled us to appreciate and debate specific models of practice in the area of cultural diversity and intercultural relations situated within various local contexts.

Some of the most powerful ideas and recommendations came from grassroots practitioners with first-hand experience of what it means to operate in culturally pluralist societies where resources and information are not always easily accessible.

These discussions have shown that UNAOC is ideally placed to work towards a mutually beneficial strategic alliance with civil society in all key regions where a shared agenda can be pursued within a framework of collaboration, partnerships and joint initiatives around key debates and issues.

If this pre-Forum is an indication of what the December 2011 Doha Global Forum is going to be like, then we can look forward to a highly engaging Forum in December.

The December Doha forum will herald landmark decisions about the role of intercultural understanding in world affairs and announce a reinvigorated and exciting agenda for UNAOC in the area of intercultural relations and human development.

Fethi Mansouri