Dr. NASIRI GHYDARI, the Secretary-General of Iranian National Commission for UNESCO:
Culture is the basis of any promising relationship. As long as nations interact and communicate under the banner of culture, peace will replace conflict, affection will replace violence and science will replace ignorance in human relations.
UNESCO is considered the cultural wing of the United Nations and its inception is rooted in a serious void of world peace and security that the UN could not eliminate otherwise.
In their review of world transformations, the founding members of the UN concluded that a security-driven and hardware look at peace, as stipulated under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, entrusting the Security Council with the power to take action with respect to threats to the peace, breaches of the peace and acts of aggression, cannot help establish sustainable peace in the world. As such, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) was established seventy years ago as a flagbearer of culture, to spread the message of friendship and peaceful co-existence between nations and governments.
UNESCO views culture as a window to a garden where, despite the diversity of its flora, a unique and harmonious odour is emitted from the garden of humanity, revealing a sense of unity in diversity.
To me, this initiative of the Cultural Coordination Centre of Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) is a valuable act of establishing sustainable co-existence and understanding between the various cultures and sub-cultures of this ancient continent, creating a luminous symphony of empathy among the different nations in Asia.
Among the Asian nations, the culture-driven and culture-spreading nation of Iran has always striven for promoting culture in the world.
In line with its mission and UNESCO’s mandate, in its seventy years of active existence, the Iranian National Commission for UNESCO has contributed to promoting friendship and affection in the region and the world.
To summarise the activities of the Iranian National Commission for UNESCO in culture, reference can be made to the inscription of the Iranian intangible cultural heritage on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, including Nowruz, which was the first trans-national nomination of an intangible cultural tradition, nominated and inscribed jointly by elven other countries that celebrate this ritual.
Nominations of personalities for the celebrations of which UNESCO can be associated jointly with neighbouring countries is yet another dimension of the Iranian National Commission for UNESCO’s cultural interactions in the region, aimed at promoting a culture of dialogue and intercultural communications. In this trend, Iran and her neighbouring countries have currently nominated Mir Seyyed Ali Hamedani, Seyyed Morteza Alam-ol Hoda, Abdul Qadir Maraghi, Sheikh Abu Saeed Abul Khayr, Adurahman Jami, and other renowned figures.
Preparation of the joint nomination file for Polo, in cooperation with India, Pakistan and Tajikistan is yet another dimension of strengthening national cultural foundations, carried out by the NatCom.
Adoption by UNESCO of a joint resolution proposed by Iran, Kazakhstan, China and ten other countries in the region regarding the revival and renovation of the Silk Road, a place of trade and business in centuries ago, is yet another achievement of the NatCom in regional inter-cultural cooperation and coordination.
Today, more than any other time in history, humanity needs to resort to the power of culture to eliminate the darkness of the world of politics and to eradicate ignorance, and this is what I greatly wish for.
I would like to conclude with a few verses by the renowned Ferdowsi. These verses are inscribed in a temple in Kyoto since 800 years back, symbolising intercultural interactions between the Iranian and Japanese nations since:
Learn not from worldly behaviours
But prominence, culture and righteousness.
Keep your heart a living with culture and art
Strive not for evil in the world as much as thou art.
The world remains for the world and we depart
Nothing will remain of humankind but humane art.