Parlement of Culture



The International Cultures Foundation was jointly founded by HRH Prince El-Hassan Bin Talal of Jordan, President of the Club of Rome, and Professor Ihsan Dogramaci, President of the Hacettepe University Foundation and President and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Bilkent University in Turkey.

The Foundation was established on July 8, 2002, and it was agreed that Turkey, especially Istanbul, was the appropriate site for such an institution as a crossroads of cultures and the cradle of many civilizations throughout history.

The formalities of establishment of the Foundation have been completed at all levels in Turkey, including a decision of the Directorate General of Foundations attached to the Prime Ministerfs Office and a decree of the Council of Ministers.

The purpose of the Foundation is to promote understanding among different cultures in the world and to enhance dialogue between their thinkers and intellectuals. It carries out its functions through the Parliament of Cultures.

In the Parliament, in addition to the Assembly, the highest ranking of its organs, there is a Standing Committee, an Executive Committee and a Membership Committee. The Membership Committee identifies and proposes candidates for membership in the Assembly to the members of that body.

The mission of the Parliament of Cultures is to strengthen international and intercultural understanding by means of peaceful dialogue, and to this end the members of the Assembly are selected with consideration of geographic, cultural, religious and ethnic equity.

The Parliament of Cultures

I. Background
In the midst of the Bosnian suffering, HRH Prince El Hassan Bin Talal went on a field trip and visited the front lines with some relief supplies. The idea of cultural dialogue had been on his mind, and it persisted as he witnessed the devastation and the on-going atrocities. He deliberated with his good friend, the late Yehudi Menuhin, who had similar ideas about the need for cultural dialogues, and they concluded that a Parliament of Cultures could be the right vehicle for the much-needed dialogue.

II. A Plan of Action
HRH focused his attention in the summer of the year 2001 to this concern. He formulated a proposal for the creation of a Parliament of Cultures and advanced it to potential interested partners in the Federal Republic of Germany on 28 August 2001. The crime against humanity took place two weeks later with the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in the United States. This act of terror emphasised the need for a cultural dialogue that could result in onefs understanding of the other.

The idea was floated in several international forums and HRH made contacts with other interested parties. Dialogue with them resulted in the adoption of the idea and a further design of the components of the Parliament of Cultures, POC.

III. Components of the POC

The POC shall have the following components:

1.The Assembly which is the main body of the POC and represents it.
2.The Standing Committee which sets the policies for approval of the Assembly, and follows up the implementation of the resolutions of the Assembly.
3.The Membership Committee which looks into the application for membership and recommends its findings to the Assembly.
4.The Executive Committee which handles the day to day work.

A provisional assembly and provisional committees will be set up by the founding members. Those will operate until such time as the regular organs are elected and put in position.

IV. Venues of the POC

It is hoped that the headquarters of the POC will eventually be in Istanbul, Turkey. Contacts made by HRH Prince El Hassan resulted in a favorable response by the Minister of Culture of Turkey. It was agreed in mid February 2002 that a joint committee representing the Ministry and Majlis El Hassan should meet and select one of a few historical mansions in Istanbul to serve as headquarters for the POC.

Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey, has agreed to provide the interim secretariat and also provide for communications and teleconferencing, including its liaison office in New York, until the Parliament is established.

Other venues for branches of the POC are proposed to be located in Berlin, Germany and another in Kyoto, Japan. These venues will more or less cover the grounds of the cultures intended for dialogue. Initial contacts were made with a party in Japan, and another with another party in Germany. More follow up is needed on this front.

V. The Statutes

The Joint Committee referred to above drafted the statutes of the POC and put it in final form. Those statutes have been endorsed by the founding group that is composed of at least two organisations in two countries, and, preferably, five organisations from five countries, Turkey included.
VI. Inaugural Meeting

The Inaugural Meeting of the Parliament of Cultures took place at Bilkent University from 27th - 29th June, 2004.

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