The Cordoba Foundation of Geneva was launched in November 2002, in a difficult international context, in which the rise of extremisms of all sorts was feeding discord and hatred between people. Major events, especially following the tragedy of 11 September 2001 and the ensuing “war on terror”, supported the view that the logic of confrontation increasingly governed international relations.
It was therefore urgent that advocates of peace all over the world acted in a well thought-out and effective manner to prevent threats of violence and increased exclusion. They could do so by promoting the spirit of authentic communication, exchange, generous sharing, mutual understanding, recognition and respect among world cultures and civilisations.
The establishment of the Foundation was the initiative of several individuals concerned with these dangers and willing to contribute to promoting peaceful coexistence among people and communities.
The name of the Foundation recalls the spirit that ruled 10th-century Cordoba, called the "Capital of the Spirit", which remains an almost unique model of tolerance, cultural plurality and dialogue among civilisations, and for the cross-fertilisation of ideas.
Cultural métissage in Cordoba was a fertile ground for the progress of thought, notably in philosophy, and gave rise to a tremendous artistic flowering, particularly in poetry and music. An impressive scientific revolution took place in Cordoba; it covered the fields of mathematics, astronomy, geography, chemistry, agronomy, medicine, and many others. Cordoba was a melting pot of sciences that considered the human being as an end, not separated from reason, wisdom, or faith, and which questions the ends before seeking the means. The Cordoba spirit gave humanity intellectual giants such as Ibn Rushd (Averroes), Ben Maimon (Maimonides), Ibn Arabi and Alphonso the Wise.
In 16th-century Geneva, known as the “City of the Spirit”, openness and tolerance to different peoples lead to the establishment of an intellectual centre of contemporary Europe. Through the centuries, Geneva kept its focus on the human being. Rousseau, anthropologist and political scientist, used his hometown of Geneva to propose a “Model of Democracy”, based on the fundamental values of human nature, human dignity and the respect of the citizen. Geneva has also been a centre for the pursuit of peace, reinforcing an adherence to the laws governing international relations and promoting negotiation and dialogue over the use of force. The work of peace actors like Henry Dunant have made Geneva a “Home of Humanitarianism”.
In a 21st-century increasingly defined by violence, conflict and extremism of all kinds, the Cordoba Foundation of Geneva strives to promote communication, knowledge of the “other,” mutual recognition, exchange and sharing, in a climate of authenticity and sincerity. It is our view that no effort should be spared to achieve a more peaceful human society.