“Prejudices are the starting point of many accumulating disasters in this world”, Sir Peter Ustinov stated in a letter on the occasion of the foundation of the Institute. And he warned: “Beware stale opinions, dead opinions, inherited opinions, thoughtlessly adopted.”
It was at the initiative and with the personal collaboration of Sir Peter Ustinov that the Institute was founded in Vienna in 2003. The Institute is aimed both at combating prejudices in our society and at contributing to a better understanding of prejudices.
In compliance with the wishes of its founder, the Institute is, generally speaking, expected to perform the tasks of an international centre of excellence, to advance research into and strategies against prejudices and to foster a rethinking process among the general public.
In the Statutes the purpose of the Institute is described as follows (extract):
§2 (1) The association is not profit-oriented. It is a non-material, exclusively non-profit and beneficent association in compliance with §§ 34 ff Federal Tax Code.
§2 (2) a Support and conduct studies investigating the origins of prejudices and their impact on the resolution of conflicts and on human behaviour, with a view to combating and overcoming prejudices seen as a root cause of poverty, discrimination and conflicts in the world and thereby contribute to a non-confrontational social coexistence among peoples.
Sir Peter’s Motives
Sir Peter considered prejudice as a widespread cause of suffering and discord, with pure ignorance as its weapon. He wished to call upon people to test conventional beliefs and traditions for their veracity and to consistently question them. He was seeking to have the structures that spawn prejudices unmasked and to make options for learning and accessing knowledge more widely known. This is how he wished to undercut prejudices and hostile perceptions.
“His” Institute was intended to work towards this objective. Being both cosmopolitan and a humanist, Sir Peter sought to add to his impressive work as an artist and to make his personal contribution to the creation of a better, peaceful world, free of conflicts.