Is There a Clash of Civilizations?

In 2007 the United Nations created an ambitious new institution called the Alliance of Civilizations (AOC), dedicated to defusing crises that arise at the intersection of religion and politics and transforming education and mass media representations of Islam in hopes of changing public opinion. The AOC is the successor to the Dialogue among Civilizations, a series of conferences that took place under UN auspices between 2001 and 2005.

Both enterprises were in part presented as alternatives and correctives to the "clash of civilizations" thesis, associated with the writings of Bernard Lewis and Samuel Huntington, which was said to forecast and maybe even condone intractable tensions and cultural confrontations between "the West" and "the Islamic world."

This report critically surveys the debate over the notion of a clash of civilizations and the UN responses. We find the UN responses to be fundamentally flawed, and we propose an alternative that is rooted in secular, liberal values.

Read the report here.