Towards A Constructive Pluralism
Paris, UNESCO, 2000, 52 pp.
The idea behind the colloquium entitled Towards A Constructive Pluralism was to address the theme of cultural pluralism and its implications for inter- and intra-societal relations. The purpose was to consider the nature of pluralism and the role of the state and civil society in preventing pluralism from becoming divisive, and assisting the building of a positive and constructive pluralism for the future.
The report is
divided into two parts. The first contains official documents approved by
UNESCO and the Commonwealth Secretariat and written for the colloquium either
by the participants or in the name of the two institutions. The second part, an
initiative of the Division of Cultural Pluralism of UNESCO, represents a
synthesis of the main ideas mentioned by the participants in the papers they
submitted or expressed in the course of the debates.
affirmed that ethnic, religious, cultural and other pluralism is a positive
phenomenon, to be welcomed and celebrated. There was an agreement that
everything possible should be done to create conditions in which it can
flourish within and between states. At the same time, it was recognised that
differences can be used to promote division and tension. It was argued that
'divisive pluralism' would constitute one of the key threats to peace in the
twenty-first century unless appropriate action was taken.
also recognised that approaches to this issue need to take account of the
significant changes that have taken and are taking place in the world. In
particular, it highlighted the dual forces of globalisation and fragmentation
and the fact that the world is becoming increasingly homogeneous at a global
level but more and more heterogeneous locally. This has important implications
for attempts to accommodate the complexities and to meet the challenges of
pluralism. In this context, the participants agreed on the importance of
appreciating our common humanity and the shared and universal values that this
entails. The recognition of difference can strengthen unity by allowing
individuals to enjoy the security of particular identities within an accepted
social and constitutional framework./p>
recognised the need to balance the affirmation of particular identities and the
requirements of an increasingly inter-dependent world in which we all have to
co-exist and co-operate. Identities can be mobilised or exploited for either
negative or positive purposes. Finding ways to encourage the positive uses of
identity is important for all countries, developed and developing, whether they
are involved in conflict or are enjoying a measure of peace. This issue is
relevant to everyone, as all countries are vulnerable to division.
took a dynamic and positive view of ethnic, religious, cultural and other
pluralism as an invitation to people to interact, to celebrate and to learn
from difference, rather than a passive acceptance of the fact that pluralism
simply exists. It was stressed that pluralism is enriching and that it can make
an important contribution both to balanced development within particular
countries and to the building of positive relationships between countries. The
colloquium acknowledged that particular identities and society's means of
dealing with cultural and other forms of difference involve arrangements and
attitudes that can be made and unmade. Consequently, there is always a
possibility of improvement and dynamic evolution, regardless of whether this
involves building new forms of identity or working with existing ones. The
colloquium also recognised that there are problems of terminology and
vocabulary and that lack of clarity can impede understanding and the
development of consensus.
Finally, it was
recognised that greater clarity is needed regarding our understanding of the
past and its relationship to the development of a constructive pluralism for
information, please contact: UNESCO, Division of Cultural Pluralism, 1, rue Miollis - 75732 Paris Cedex 15, France, tel.: +33 1 45 68 43 03; fax: +33 1 45 68 55 97.