UNESCO, IOM urge countering threats to cultural diversity
Cultural diversity, widely acknowledged as the driving force of change and development, is increasingly under threat, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said.
The UN agencies, in their messages marking the 2017 World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, reaffirmed support for the cultural diversity that particularly stemmed from migration.
“Across the world, violent extremists have targeted cultural minorities and destroyed our shared heritage, to weaken the essential links between people and their history,” Irina Bokova, the Director-General of UNESCO, said.
Bokova called for a new humanism for the 21st century, to renew the fundamental aspirations to justice, mutual understanding and dignity that guide all women and men.
She quoted Martin Luther King Jr., saying: “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny”.
“By embracing cultural diversity, the international community can more easily achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals which draw upon “the strength and creative potential of humanity’s diversity of cultures,” she said.
Similarly, the Director-General of the IOM, William Swing, urged Governments and their citizens to embrace migration, despite its challenges, and help to develop common understandings, values and perspectives.
“It is sometimes asked whether the West’s multiculturalism, its diversity, has reached its limits. Can a society only cope with so much diversity?
“The answer is no. There has never been a city or a country brought down by too much ‘diversity,’” Swing said.
IOM had compiled stories from some of the migrants with whom it had worked, highlighting their lives and journey, and how they were making their families and their new community better through its ‘I am a migrant’ collection’.
Swing noted that all societies were so-called multi-ethnic because no single State lived with a single culture..
“Even States averse to permitting entry to more ‘foreigners’ must acknowledge the multiple ‘cultures’ within their own borders.
“All countries have them: religious, ethnic, social, societal, sexual, occupational, educational, dietary specificities,” she said.
The World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in December 2002 and celebrated annually on May 21.
It is meant to be an opportunity for mobilisation on the part of governments, policy makers, civil society organizations, communities and cultural professionals to promote culture in its diversity and in all its forms.
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