dissent

‘Dialogue of Civilizations’ as a Theoretical Model for a Multipolar World Order

In a rare unanimous vote, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a proposal by the scholar and then-President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mohammed Khatami, to designate 2001 as the ‘Year of the Dialogue among Civilizations’. This normative vision sought to lay out a new ethical paradigm of international relations and the formulation of a truly multicultural international society based on the simple premise of ‘unity in diversity’, a political acceptance and manifestation of the world’s inherent cultural pluralism seated in the aspiration of cross-cultural respect and understanding. The ‘Dialogue of Civilizations’ (DAC) calls for the ‘re-opening and rediscussion of the core Western-centric and liberal global order’ and in so doing, ‘represents a powerful normative challenge to the contemporary political orthodoxy implicit in all the major political discourses of the future world order’ (Petito 2009, 12). Sadly, and in hindsight, tragically, these proposals were not to be acted on or developed, either theoretically or in policy, as events outpaced the political process.

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