Hans Köchler – Dialogue of Civilizations

Hans Köchler, left, welcomes Sheikh Ibrahim Al-Qattan, Grand Mufti of Jordan, at a conference on Muslim-Christian dialogue in November 1981 in Rome.




Hans Köchler propagated the idea of a "dialogue among civilizations" for the first time in 1972, in a letter to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). In connection with the preparations for the foundation of the International Progress Organization, he explained the concept of "dialogue" in more detail in a programmatic lecture at the University of Innsbruck (Austria) in the same year. In 1974 he undertook a two-month trip around the globe to explain and discuss his conception of cultural hermeneutics with representatives of different cultures. In the same year, he also organized the first international conference on "The Cultural Self-comprehension of Nations." These activities occurred more than two decades before "dialogue of civilizations" had become the preoccupation of international politics in the wake of Samuel Huntington's pronouncements on a "clash of civilizations."


6 September 1972: Meeting at United Nations Headquarters/UNESCO Liaison Office in New York to discuss the organization of an international conference on the promotion of cultural co-operation between peoples.

26 September 1972: Letter to the Director of the Division of Philosophy of UNESCO, Mrs. Marie-Pierre Herzog, containing a proposal for the convening of an international conference on questions related to the dialogue among civilizations ("au sujet des problèmes résultant du dialogue entre les différentes civilisations").

19 October 1972: Lecture at the University of Innsbruck (Austria) on the theme "Kulturelles Selbstverständnis und Koexistenz: Voraussetzungen für einen fundamentalen Dialog" (Cultural Self-comprehension and Co-existence: Preconditions for a Fundamental Dialogue). First published in: Zeitschrift für Kulturaustausch, Vol. 28 (1978).

30 October 1972: Founding Assembly of the International Progress Organization at the University of Innsbruck. At the initiative of Hans Köchler, the Assembly adopted a Declaration of Principles which defined "progress" in the sense of widening a person's and community's intellectual horizon and, thus, deepening the mutual understanding between cultures as basis of a durable order of peace.

5 March – 1 May 1974: Trip around the world with the aim to propagate and discuss inter-cultural dialogue as foundation of a global order of peace ("Global Dialogue Expedition") with lectures, interviews and conversations in 28 cities in 26 countries on all continents.

9 March 1974:  First international lecture by Hans Köchler on his conception of cultural hermeneutics ("Cultural-philosophical Aspects of International Co-operation") at the Royal Scientific Society in Amman, Jordan.

14 March 1974: Meeting with Egypt's Minister of Culture, Youssef el-Sebai, in Cairo.

19 March 1974: Meeting with the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates, Saif Ghobash, in Abu Dhabi.

26 March 1974: Meeting with India's Minister of Education, Prof. Nurul Hassan, in New Delhi.

1 April 1974: Meeting with the Foreign Minister of Thailand, Charoonphan Israngkul Na Ayudhya, in Bangkok.

6 April 1974: Meeting with the General Director for Culture at the Ministry of Education of Indonesia, Member of the Executive Board of UNESCO, Prof. Ida Bagus Mantra, in Jakarta.

25 April 1974: Meeting with the President of the Republic of Senegal, Léopold Sédar Senghor, in Dakar. The President  presented to Köchler his book "Négritude et humanisme" with the following dedication: "Au Professeur Hans Köchler qui poursuit la réalisation d’un grand dessein humaniste – en hommage cordial."

27-29 July 1974: Organization of an international symposium on "The Cultural Self-comprehension of Nations" under the joint patronage of the President of the Republic of Austria, Dr. Rudolf Kirchschläger, and the President of the Republic of Senegal, Léopold Sédar Senghor, in Innsbruck, Austria.

17-19 November 1981: Organization of an international symposium on "The Concept of Monotheism in Islam and Christianity" under the patronage of His Royal Highness Crown Prince Hassan of Jordan in Rome, Italy. The Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Habib Shatty, the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, Chadli Klibi, the Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Dr. Franz König, and the Foreign Minister of Italy, Emilio Colombo, were members of the Honorary Committee of the conference.


Selected interviews from the early years, with Köchler explaining his paradigm of intercultural dialogue:

        Egyptian daily El-Goumhouria, Cairo (14 March 1974, published on 11 April 1974)

        Senegalese daily Le Soleil, Dakar: "L’Europe a beaucoup à apprendre" (27 April 1974)

        German daily Abendzeitung (AZ), Munich: "Wir Europäer und die Dritte Welt" (24 July 1974)



Since the middle of the 1990s, Köchler has been lecturing on the philosophical foundations of the dialogue among civilizations, on numerous occasions and in all parts of the world; at the same time, he published his theory in international journals. In an op-ed article dated 11 January 2008, the political commentator of the Portuguese daily Jornal de Notícias drew his readers' attention to the fact that Köchler had been propagating the dialogue among civilizations in the period of the 1990s, followed by the initiative of Iranian President Mohammad Khatami in 2001.

On 18 October 2003 the Hans Koechler Political and Philosophical Society was established in Manila (Philippines) whose statutes define the promotion of inter-cultural dialogue as one of its main goals.

In a solemn ceremony on the University's Foundation Day on 1 September 2004, Mindanao State University (Philippines) conferred upon Hans Köchler the degree Doctor of Humanities honoris causa, in recognition, inter alia, of his contribution to the dialogue of civilizations.

On the same day (15 Rajab 1425), the Sultan of Marawi (Muslim Mindanao), Chairman of the Grand Council of the Legislative Assembly of the 28 Sultanates of Mindanao, conferred upon Hans Köchler the Islamic honorary title "Dato."

In a solemn ceremony on 16 October 2008, Pamukkale University (Turkey) conferred upon Hans Köchler the Honorary Professorship, in recognition of his contribution to the theory of international relations.

In recognition, inter alia, of his philosophy of intercultural dialogue, the Armenian State Pedagogical University on 17 April 2012 conferred upon Hans Köchler the honorary doctor degree.

General overview of Hans Köchler's activties in the field of civilizational dialogue: