Global Centre for Pluralism

The Global Centre for Pluralism (French: Centre mondial du pluralisme) is an international centre for research, education and exchange about the values, practices and policies that underpin pluralist societies. Based in Ottawa, Canada, the Centre seeks to assist the creation of successful societies and was founded on the premise that tolerance, openness and understanding towards the cultures, social structures, values and faiths of other peoples are now essential to the survival of an interdependent world.

The Global Centre for Pluralism is an international initiative of His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th hereditary Imam of Ismaili Muslims, and was established jointly with the Government of Canada in 2006. Located in the old Canadian War Museum building along Ottawa's Sussex Drive, the Centre draws inspiration from the Canadian experience. It functions as a global repository and a source of knowledge and know-how about fostering pluralistic values, policies, and practices. It aims to work with countries to nurture successful civil societies in which every citizen, irrespective of cultural, religious or ethnic differences, is able to realize his or her full potential.

Board of directors

The Board of Directors of the Global Centre for Pluralism gathered for their inaugural meeting in Ottawa from October 7–8, 2010. Composed of renowned Canadian and international leaders and thinkers, the Board includes the following members:

  • His Highness the Aga Khan, (Chairman of the Board) Founder and Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) and 49th hereditary Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims;
  • The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, former Governor General of Canada;
  • Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations;
  • Princess Zahra Aga Khan, Head of the AKDN's Social Welfare department;
  • Iain Benson, Canadian lawyer and Professor of Law at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein;
  • Yash Ghai, leading Kenyan constitutional expert;
  • Rudyard Griffiths, co-founder of the Dominion Institute;
  • Huguette Labelle, Chancellor of the University of Ottawa;
  • Azim Nanji, Senior Associate Director for The Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies at Stanford University;
  • Margaret Ogilvie, Chancellor's Professor of Law, Carleton University; and
  • Khalil Shariff, Chief Executive Officer of the Aga Khan Foundation Canada.


  • Media related to Former Archives Building at Wikimedia Commons

When fully operational, the Global Centre for Pluralism will be located at 330 Sussex Drive in Ottawa, a building that served as the home of the Public Archives of Canada from 1906 to 1967 and the Canadian War Museum from 1967 to 2005. The building was built from 1904 to 1906 and is designated a National Historic Site of Canada and a Classified Federal Heritage Building.

The building has been vacant for several years and requires significant renovation and rehabilitation. A multi-phased revitalization of the heritage property is currently underway.

Profile of activities

The Global Centre for Pluralism draws on Canada’s successful record in constructing and sustaining pluralist civil society. Working closely with governments, academia and civil society around the world, the Centre is a think-tank for studying and fostering pluralism. It seeks to foster legislation and policy that strengthens developing countries’ capacity for enhancing pluralism in law, justice, the arts, the media, financial services, health and education. In addition, it will deliver programs, facilitate dialogue, develop pedagogical materials and work with partners worldwide to build capacity to promote indigenous approaches to pluralism within countries and communities.

From its inception, the Centre is expected to be one of the largest think-tanks in Canada. Its mission is consistent with Canadian international policy objectives, including the promotion of democracy and good governance, a more equitable sharing of the world’s resources between developed and developing countries, and the projection of Canadian values, such as the rule of law, human rights and respect for diversity.