Apart from scientific discourse, the European Academy is committed to intercultural dialogues as it considers the acceptance of other values and cultures as precondition for peaceful coexistence. In the 90s we started to convene interreligious dialogues with representatives of the world religions to promote the exchange between different religious groups. These dialogues formed the basis for the Charta of Tolerance (PDF), which was handed over to the United Nations in New York 2002 and includes i.a. six fundamental principles for peaceful coexistence.
The Academy has been awarding the Prize of Tolerance since 1997 to individuals or institutes committed to humanity and the dialogue between religions and countries. „The Prize has the function of contributing to the awareness in society as well as promoting a tolerant and peaceful coexistence of humans and cultures. A glance at the world shows the significance of practicing tolerance on a daily basis “ (Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Felix Unger, President European Academy of Sciences and Arts).
Initiated by the British publisher and diplomat Lord George Weidenfeld †, who was honoured for his merits of building bridges between cultures and states, the Academy has been awarding the Rings of Tolerance to one representative of the three Abrahamic religions Christianity, Judaism and Islam, who actively engage for justice, humanity and tolerance between cultures. The idea of three identical rings can be traced back to the Ring Parable from Lessing’s Nathan the Wise. The story is about a father who traditionally bequeaths a special ring to his most beloved son and determines that this ring should always be passed on to the favourite son. The tradition ends when a father loves his three sons alike and replicates two identical rings.
Regarding the interpretation of the Parable, the three rings represent the three monotheistic religions Christianity, Judaism and Islam, the three sons stand for the respective religious communities, and the father represents a loving God, who does not prefer any religion. Thus, God (father) loves all humans alike, no matter which religious community they belong to. The Rings were lately awarded to Katajun Amirpur (Islamic scholar, University of Cologne), Doris Leuthard (Swiss Federal Councilor), and Esther Bejarano (Holocaust survivor).