Cultural Diversity in the Focus of the International Community
This issue of Culturelink is largely devoted to cultural diversity. On 2 November 2001, the 31st General Conference of UNESCO adopted by acclamation the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, for which its Director-General Ko‹chiro Matsuura expressed hope that it could 'one day acquire as much force as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (...) This is the first time the international community has endowed itself with such a comprehensive standard-setting instrument, elevating cultural diversity to the rank of common heritage of humanity - as necessary for the human race as bio-diversity in the natural realm - and makes its protection an ethical imperative, inseparable from respect for human dignity.'
A large number of experts had worked on this document, considered historical by many, and the Round Table of Ministers of Culture held in December 2000 at UNESCO's headquarters also centred around it.
The UNESCO Declaration is a determining instrument to humanise globalisation. The dignity of cultures, the dialogue between them, and thus their enrichment with new insights and values, tolerance and cooperation, are the best investment into international peace and stability. Diversity is seen as a factor of inclusion (a 'guarantee of social cohesion and peace'). To understand, value and stimulate diversity, as well as the 'will to live together', is the central idea of the Declaration, which insists on the dynamic character of culture. It is accompanied by the Action Plan for the Implementation of the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity. Maybe, this Declaration represents the first step towards a convention on cultural diversity.
The issue also discusses the Council of Europe's Declaration on Cultural Diversity, adopted by the Committee of Ministers in December 2000. This Declaration has several visible implications for cultural policy at the global and at local levels, and it 'provides a framework for the organisation to develop a work programme to elaborate a catalogue of measures which could assist member states in confronting the challenge of cultural diversity'.
Entitled Cultural Diversity: Towards a Global Cultural Pact, the issue's Dossier also focuses on this topic. The published papers were presented at the conference organized by the International Network for Cultural Diversity (INCD) and held in Luzern, Switzerland, in September 2001. Burama K. Sagnia expressed the need for the establishment of a new international instrument for cultural diversity, stressing that 'it is important to state that in an increasingly globalized world, the preservation and promotion of cultural diversity is a gigantic challenge that requires international cooperation and solidarity to address the issue from a holistic and broad-based perspective. What makes the task even more challenging is that culture is meant to be all embracing and affecting almost every strand of human activity, be it economic and social development, governance, creativity, etc. This means that the subject of cultural diversity should be looked at from a much broader perspective than the traditional areas of concern to culture.'