Saluting 20 years of ISESCO
Tunis Appeal on Dialogue among Civilizations

  • 20 years of ISESCO, the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization 1982-2002
  • Tunis Appeal on "Dialogue among Civilizations"

20 years of ISESCO, 
the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization 1982-2002

Following efforts of Organization of the Islamic Conference to establish an international organization specialized in the fields of education, science and culture, the Third Islamic Summit Conference, held in Saudi Arabia, in January 1981, decided to set up the Islamic Organization. The Founding Conference of ISESCO was then held in Fez, Morocco, in May 1982. Today, ISESCO has some 50 member states from Africa, Asia and Europe (Bosnia-Hercegovina). 

According to its charter, "The objectives of the Islamic Organization are : 
a) To strengthen and promote cooperation among Member States and consolidate it in the fields of education, science, culture and communication; 
b) To develop applied sciences and use advanced technology within the framework of the lofty and perennial Islamic values and ideals; 
c) To consolidate understanding among Muslim peoples and contribute to the achievement of world peace and security through various means, particularly through education, science, culture and communication; 
d) To consolidate complementarity and to seek to achieve coordination among the specialized institutions of the Organization of the Islamic Conference in the fields of education, science, culture and communication and among the Member States of the Islamic Organization (ISESCO) in order to consolidate Islamic solidarity; 
e) To make Islamic culture the basis of educational curricula at all levels and stages; 
f) To consolidate Islamic culture, protect the independence of Islamic thought against cultural invasion and distortion factors, and safeguard the features and distinct characteristics of the Islamic civilization; 
g) To safeguard the Islamic identity of Muslims in non-Islamic countries."

The fields of action are organized according to ISESCO's Directorates for Education, Science, Culture and Communication, External Relations and Cooperation, Information and Documentation. Since its inception in 1982, the Islamic Organization has implemented a Founding Plan (1982-1983), a two-year and five three-year Action Plans. The Organization is currently implementing its sixth three-year Action Plan for the years 2001-2003 which includes 187 programmes and 11 major civilizational projects.

More information on the organization is available at their website 

Tunis Appeal on "Dialogue among Civilizations"

Saluting 20 years of ISESCO, we would like to quote the final declaration of a conference convened after the September 11th terrorist attacks reaffirming the dialogue among civilizations and outlining some of the implications from a Muslim perspective.

Tunis Appeal on "Dialogue among Civilizations"

The participants in the international symposium on "dialogue among civilizations: theory and practice" held, under the high patronage of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, President of the Tunisian Republic, by the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization-ISESCO- on 12-13 November 2001, in the Tunisian capital, Tunis, land of culture and crucible of civilizations in which the Carthage Covenant for Tolerance was proclaimed in 1995;

 - Inspired by the true spirit of the Islamic civilization pervaded by the values of dialogue, tolerance and human fraternity;
 - Referring to the Charter of the United Nations, the Charter of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the Charter of ISESCO and the Charter of UNESCO which, all, call for brotherhood and dialogue among peoples;
 - Pursuant to the Resolution of the United Nations General Assembly proclaiming the year 2001 “The United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilization”;
 - In compliance with the resolutions of the Islamic Summit Conference and Islamic Conference of Foreign Affairs Ministers in connection with the contribution of the Islamic world to the celebration of the international year of dialogue among civilizations, as part of affirming the distinct cultural presence of the Muslim world on the international arena;
 - Recalling the relevant decisions of ISESCO and UNESCO in connection with education for democracy and dissemination of the culture of peace, tolerance and dialogue;
 - Fully aware of their intellectual and cultural responsibility towards the contemporary human civilization, especially under the present international conditions fraught with dangers menacing all human societies;
 - Noting with great appreciation the expression of the lofty human values enshrined in the opening address of the symposium delivered by H.E. Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, President of the Tunisian Republic, as well as the contents of the address of H.E Dr. Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri, Director General of the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization;

 Agree to launch the present appeal in which they stress the following:
 - Dialogue among civilizations is a pressing need for life in peace and mutual respect and for fair and equitable implementation of the international law.
 - Dialogue among civilizations epitomizes the intellectual maturity attained by humanity as a corollary of the past experiences and the present events, as well as the great expectations of the future. The fight against all forms of indifference and misunderstanding requires full knowledge of the cultural specificities and aspirations of the other, a fact which renders it compulsory to promote the spirit of mutual recognition and respect.
 - Dialogue among civilizations affirms the right to difference and to the respect of human rights as guaranteed by the international conventions and rules.
 - The globalization process shall consider cultural diversity and civilizational plurality a driving force for globalization and not an impediment thereto, in such a way as to capitalize on the specificities of the peoples and nations which shall all be publicized and held in high esteem, especially in a world reduced by the information and communication revolution to a tiny global village.
 - Adopting dialogue among civilizations as a principle of the international law and a basis for international relations, on the understanding that dialogue constituted a lofty means of international cooperation conducive to the achievement of the objectives set out in the Charter of the United Nations.
 - Making of dialogue among civilizations an efficient means for fighting terrorism under all its forms and with all its methods, by means of eliminating the deep roots of terrorism and cutting the way before planners and perpetrators of terrorist acts.
 - Economic and social disparity among peoples compels the adoption of fair measures and appropriate strategies liable to secure an environment proper for the development of balanced human relations and work out auspicious framework for dialogue among civilizations away from all forms of violence and extremism.
 - At this crucial juncture in the history of mankind, in which dialogue among civilizations constitutes a lofty human principle and an efficient method on both political and ethical levels, and given the fact that dialogue is an acquired civilizational behaviour, the education on respect of the other, acceptance of difference and preference of understanding over struggle and confrontation shall be duly considered as a linchpin for dialogue and a strong pillar supporting its position and affirming its traditions.
 - Promoting dialogue among civilizations is a universally- shared responsibility that should be taken up by all decision-makers at different layers of responsibility, by the elite and media and information leaders round the world, for a better future of the peace built on sturdy foundations liable to cope with any fortuitous crises resulting from unexpected events likely to compromise
 international stability or bring prejudice to the collective human conscience.
 - Disseminating inter-civilizational dialogue among the rising generations by means of integrating the subject of dialogue among civilizations into educational curricula throughout the different educational stages, the purpose being to bring up generations committed to dialogue and to the promotion of its message.
 - Sustaining action geared to promoting dialogue among civilizations to avoid interruption of efforts in this connection by the end of the International year of dialogue among civilizations, and heightening awareness of the international community and public opinion about the universal issue of dialogue.

Concluding this appeal, the participants commend the choice of Tunisia as a venue for this symposium, in view of the rich civilizational asset of this ancient country and the sincere efforts exerted to promote international peace and security. They also praise the initiative taken by President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to create a university chair for dialogue among civilizations and religions, and express appreciation for the laudable support extended by ISESCO and the Tunisian Republic to celebrate the international year of dialogue among civilizations.

Back to Report 2001/2002 "A Soul  for Education"