UNESCO & other
From the very outset Auroville was conceived as an international township dedicated to the promotion of international understanding and the realisation of "an actual human unity"
The first manifestation of Auroville's international dimension was the inauguration ceremony itself on 28th February 1968, when youth from 121 nations and all the States of India came together to place a handful of earth from their home lands in a lotus-shaped urn at the centre of the future township.
"We have tried in UNESCO... we have tried every way, and we have failed. And so now we turn to Auroville... On behalf of UNESCO I hail Auroville, its conception and realisation, as a hope for all of us and particularly our children..."
The statement by Dr.Adiseshiah, former Deputy Director-General of UNESCO, illustrates the interest taken in Auroville by the international community at the time of its inauguration. Since then UNESCO has passed three unanimous resolutions, each affirming support and calling upon member governments to participate in development of the project.
Reflecting Auroville's interest in interchange with the outside world, a number of international events have been held in the township. In 1984, UNESCO sponsored a seminar on "International Understanding", followed by a seminar on "Youth & Human Unity" attended by representatives of over 50 countries and many Indian States as part of the International Youth Year celebrations. A further UNESCO sponsored event was the internationally attended "Humanity at the Crossroads" conference in 1993 timed to coincide with Auroville's 25th year.
International Zone and pavilions
Another indicator of Auroville's international dimension is the layout of the township, with approximately one quarter of the total area allocated to an International Zone where there will be permanent pavilions representing the nations and cultures of the world that have made distinctive contributions towards the progress of mankind. The aim of these pavilions is educational, providing opportunities to study and absorb the essential spirit behind each nation and culture, while at the same time hopefully sensing the underlying unity. The Indian pavilion "Bharat Nivas" and the Pavilion of Tibetan Culture are nearly completed, and others for France, Germany, Italy, Russia and USA are being started or in the conceptual stage.
Site for Asia's Peace Table
When internationally renowned woodworker George Nakashima created 5 great Peace Tables to be placed in each of the 5 continents of the world, Auroville was chosen as the site for the third table, the one for Asia. This magnificent table is now in Auroville, a symbol and repository for mankind's aspiration for peace around the world.
Auroville as international participant
In reverse of its role as host, Auroville has formally participated in a number of important overseas events. By invitation of the Club of Budapest, Auroville representatives attended a conference in 1996 in which the project was adopted as humanity's "first universal city". Under contract with the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements, a one-month's consultancy and training session was given at the Habitat-2 conference in Istanbul in 1996. Auroville representatives participated in and had an exhibit at the Moscow 'Global Forum on Environment and Development' in 1990, and had an opportunity of personally apprising Mikhail Gorbachev of the project and its situation at that time. Auroville representatives were present at the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992, and presented information on the township via an exhibition stand in the NGO Hall. A similar representation was made at the 'Sustainable Communities' conference at Findhorn in the U.K in 1995.
'Auroville International' centres around the world
International interest in and support for Auroville can be seen in the existence of a number of 'Auroville International' (AVI) centres established in Europe and America, all devoted to helping the project, some with charitable status. These Centres help raise and channel funds, pass out information to anyone considering joining the project, and act as national liaison bodies on matters affecting Auroville. They maintain regular contact with each other and Auroville by e-mail, and once a year a 4-5 day General Assembly of the Auroville International Association is hosted by one of the Centres for representatives of all the other Centres, plus people from Auroville. It is at this time that work experience of the various centres is shared, new policies are formulated and a unified approach to work for Auroville agreed upon.
International support base
Auroville has received occasional or regular financial assistance from overseas Governments, and from internationally recognised organisations, such as European Community (EC), ICEF (India - Canadian Environment Facility), United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (UNCHS), United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), and many others, both governmental and non-governmental.
The missing elements
While Auroville already has representatives of many nations and cultures participating, most are from India, Europe and USA/Canada. In the long run it seems important that the project also includes a good representation of peoples from Asia, the Middle East, Africa, the Pacific nations, north and south America's Indians, the Caribbean and central America. There can be no question of "recruiting" such people, but it is hoped that as information on Auroville gets more widely disseminated, people from these areas and cultures of the world will be increasingly drawn to the project.
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