We should globally counter threats to cultural diversity

21May 2021
Editor
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
We should globally counter threats to cultural diversity

Cultural diversity , the driving force of change and development , is increasingly under threat, United Nations agencies said, reaffirming support for the cultural diversity that stems 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,” said Irina Bokova, the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

Marking the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, 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 (SDGs) which draw upon “the strength and creative potential of humanity’s diversity of cultures.”

Similarly, the Director-General of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), William Lacy 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,’” said Swing.

IOM has compiled stories from some of the migrants with whom it has worked, highlighting their lives and journey, and how they are making their families and their new community better.

In today’s statement, Swing noted that all societies are so-called multi-ethnic because no single state lives 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.”

The World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in December 2002 and celebrated annually on 21 May, 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.

The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has emphasised that cultural diversity is a good weapon in the fight against poverty.Cultural diversity is as necessary for humankind as biodiversity is for nature. Cultural diversity - the driving force of change and development - is increasingly under threat, United Nations agencies said, reaffirming support for the cultural diversity that stems from migration.

More than 7 billion people live on this planet spread among 7 continents, 194 states of the United Nations (UN) and numerous other non-self-governing territories. The world is made up of a mosaic of people belonging to different cultural and religious backgrounds. Our planet has been a cultural melting pot since time immemorial.

According to the UN, the world population is expected to rise to 8.5 billion by 2030, 9.7 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion people in 2100. The projected rise of the global population will further reinforce the world's cultural wealth and the opportunities for dynamic interchange between cultures and civilisations.

The World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development is a United Nations sanctioned international holiday for the promotion of diversity issues. It is currently held on May 21. The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed this holiday due to UNESCO's Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity in November 2001.

Diversity Day, officially known as ‘The World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development’, is an opportunity to help communities understand the value of cultural diversity and learn how to live together in harmony. This day was created as a result of the destruction of the Buddha statues of Bamiyan in Afghanistan in 2001.

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