What can be done to close the divides which often end up as violent clashes of culture or ideologies?
That is the thinking behind the third forum of the UN’s Alliance of Civilisations, which has been meeting at Rio de Janeiro.
Brazil’s President Inancio Lula da Silva opened the forum by calling for more economic development and social justice to combat growing polarization.
But the UN Secretary General added that greater efforts need to be made to build societies based on mutual respect.
Our reporter in Rio asked Argentina’s President, Cristina Fernandez Kircher, if she agreed with Ban Ki-moon’s statement that three quarters of the world’s conflicts have cultural origins?
“Yes of course, because it’s about ideas, a conflict of ideas fundamentally. What’s more when there’s an economic crisis and we can’t control it, there’s a tendency for it to be resolved with violence as history as shown,” she said.
But what about from a European point of view, how is this dialogue between civilisations seen?
There is no doubt in the mind of Spain’s Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos of the need for greater dialogue.
“We need an alliance to establish solid programmes, to change mentalities regarding exclusion or division to face and develop educational, social, immigration and youth programmes. Concrete programmes which could improve the understanding and cooperation between cultures and different civilisations.”
World leaders attending the two-day long event will also discuss global issues such as nuclear energy and human rights.