Professor Fethi Mansouri, UNESCO Chair Cultural Diversity and Social Justice, UNITWIN Network Convenor and Director of the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation, co-chaired UNESCO’S Third Academic Forum of the UNITWIN Network on Inter-Religious Dialogue for Intercultural Understanding (IDIU), which took place in Baku, Azerbaijan, on 1st May 2019. The Academic Forum’s focus was on ‘Inter-religious dialogue and the governance of religious diversity’.

Professor Mansouri presented the first opening plenary paper, which looked at “Secularism, Multiculturalism and Religious Diversity”. Professor Mansouri’s presentation was an opportunity to:

  1. Discuss at a theoretical/normative level some of the competing approaches to managing religious diversity (RD) within contemporary contexts;
  2. Examine empirically case studies from across the world where approaches to RD have engendered different outcomes (positive/transformative and not so positive / transformative for groups/individuals concerned); and
  3. Discuss methodologies for assessing what works/doesn’t work in relation to multi-sectoral approaches to RD across different jurisdictions.

For the first time, this important one-day Academic Forum convened a mixed group of UNESCO Chairs, renowned external experts, and members of the UN Inter-Agency Task Force on Religion and Development and was an opportunity for attendees to elaborate a set of recommendations to UNESCO on potential future action in the area of inter-religious dialogue.