The initiative to form an “Alliance of Civilizations” as a means to overcome cultural and political gaps originated in a proposal made by José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero to the Secretary-General of the United Nations during a speech at the 59th UN General Assembly on September 21, 2004.
Kofi Annan officially took over the initiative, co-sponsored by the UN, the Spanish and the Turkish governments, on July 14, 2005. The Secretary-General also put in place a process to form a High Level Panel, which is expected to hold its first meeting in late November, in order to convert this first impulse into a feasible and operative concept by the end of 2006.
On June 6-7, 2005, the Instituto Complutense de Estudios Internacionales (ICEI) and the Fundación para las Relaciones Internacionales y el Diálogo Exterior (FRIDE) organized an international seminar in Madrid, bringing together experts, academics and practitioners to analyse contemporary challenges, reflect critically on their implications for the present initiative, and enhance and enrich it.
The present paper summarizes the main ideas for an Alliance of Civilizations, the major critical points, and the suggestions made, during the seminar, in order to tackle them.