The importance of intercultural contact and cooperation was emphasized in the preamble to the initial Constitution of
… a peace based exclusively upon the political and economic arrangements of governments would not be a peace which could secure the unanimous, lasting and sincere support of the peoples of the world, and that the peace must therefore be founded, if it is not to fail, upon the intellectual and moral solidarity of mankind.
This statement was subsequently elaborated in a series of conventions as well as in a number of programs, plans, road maps, and other standard-setting and awareness-raising texts in the course of the manifold activities of
The objectives and inner logic behind the aforementioned sequence of paradigmatic shifts would deserve to be fully reflected upon as part of a specific domain of inquiry within the “history of ideas.” Suffice it to say here that the latest move, namely from the “intercultural and interreligious dialogue” to the “rapprochement of cultures,” implies shifting the focus from “celebrating diversities” to cooperating “over the borders.” As stated in the Action Plan of the International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures, adopted by
Rather than emphasizing the differences in culture, heritage, religion or belief among groups, focusing on common elements leads to understanding that there are also similarities worth celebrating … Therefore, it is important to provide opportunities for citizens to not only learn about the values, attitudes, behaviors of those living in specific other cultures, but also to support conversations relating to values, attitudes, and behaviors shared across groups as a way of fostering social cohesion.2
This change of focus obviously stemmed from the inner development of the cultural strategy of
‘Interculturality’ refers to the existence and equitable interaction of diverse cultures and the possibility of generating shared cultural expressions through dialogue and mutual respect.3
At the same time, the change of focus should be regarded within the framework of the general shift from the multicultural to the intercultural paradigm, which is central to present-day cultural studies. A recent publication supported and endorsed by
… at the core of the
ipp[Intercultural Policy Paradigm] lies one basic idea: that the interaction among people from different diversity groups matters, and that this has been overlooked by the mpp[Multicultural Policy Paradigm], which has mainly concentrated on securing the cultural practices of diverse groups in terms of rights and equal opportunities. Currently, the strategy based on the promotion of interaction, community-building and prejudice reduction is one of the approaches most widely recognized by international institutions, especially European ones.4
Dialogue belongs to the very core of the mission of
unesco’s mission statement shall be: As a specialized agency of the United Nations, unesco– pursuant to its Constitution – contributes to the building of peace, the eradication of poverty, and sustainable development [italics added] and intercultural dialogue through education, the sciences, culture, communication and information.5
Still, the lists of focal issues set by
Imposing a culture of peace and non-violence is an overarching objective that also recurs in
Given its mandate and its experience,
unescohas been designated by the United Nations General Assembly as lead agency for the implementation of all resolutions related to the ‘culture of peace’, defined as consisting ‘of values, attitudes and behaviours that reflect and inspire social interaction and sharing based on the principles of freedom, justice and democracy, all human rights, tolerance and solidarity, that reject violence and endeavour to prevent conflicts by tackling their root causes to solve problems through dialogue and negotiation [italics added] and that guarantee the full exercise of all rights and the means to participate fully in the development process of their society’.6
As for promoting sustainable development, the main relevant document issued by the
Other texts that are pivotal in reflecting the cultural strategy of
As poverty and environmental degradations are recognized causes of conflict and obstacles to reconciliation among and within nations, the rapprochement of cultures builds on the same requirements as sustainable development [italics added], notably with respect to the oft-neglected ethical, social and cultural dimensions of the latter.8
If our interpretation is correct, then dialogue could be regarded as playing the same fundamental structural role in both sustainable development and the cultural strategy of
The same applies to “observing human rights.” As is known, commitment to the implementation of “universal, indivisible and interdependent” human rights lies at the very core of the mission of
All persons have therefore the right to express themselves and to create and disseminate their work in the language of their choice, and particularly in their mother tongue; all persons are entitled to quality education and training that fully respect their cultural identity; and all persons have the right to participate in the cultural life of their choice and conduct their own cultural practices, subject to respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.9
This statement would make sense and be relevant had
The principles laid at the core of the Declarations the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity did not contradict each other. There is nonetheless a latent point of tension, for the 1948 Declaration has gradually come to be regarded as a manifesto of universalism while the 2001 Declaration as advocating pluralism. This tension has not been perceived as inexorable and unworkable, as evidenced by a 2015
Cultural diversity and universal values are often posited at opposing poles of law and practice. The Decade responds to the pressing need to identify and demonstrate new articulations between cultural diversity and universal values. The rapprochement of cultures can be a means of reducing tensions between universalism, asserted by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and pluralism [italics added] qualified by the
unescoUniversal Declaration on Cultural Diversity (2001) …11
As already suggested, rapprochement of cultures tends to depend significantly upon intercultural dialogue being restructured and reoriented. In point of fact, conceptions at the intersection of human rights and intercultural dialogue seem to currently gain new momentum in both theoretical and practical terms.
Responsible intercultural dialogue should be dynamic. In introducing this attribute,
The Decade shall be a chance to illustrate that diversity is above all a dynamic process which offers new opportunities for all to increase knowledge, competences and skills thanks to the creative potential of people to constantly reshape standards of well-being and ways of living together.12
This means that, for its part, the nature of dialogue within the framework of the cultural strategy of
Another focal point of the cultural strategy of
Heritage, understood in its entirety – natural and cultural, tangible and intangible [italics added] – constitutes assets inherited from the past that we wish to transmit to future generations because of their social value and the way in which they embody identity and belonging.15
The added Italics relating to the “natural and cultural, tangible and intangible” heritage as well as to the issue of identity deserve a comment, albeit brief. The former points to a series of standard-setting devices such as, in particular, conventions elaborated and, at least partly, implemented by
As for “identity” it forms “the human dimension of heritage.” Serving as a springboard for other conceptions and standing high on the
Let us briefly consider a typical conflict situation. Objects of cultural heritage may be endangered – especially those that do not belong exclusively to either side of the conflict. These are objects of “shared or cross-border” descent, to speak in more technical terms. The one-sided identity belligerents have to accept and handle multi-faceted cultural identity situations by adopting shared attitudes and viewpoints. To this end, corresponding modalities of intercultural dialogue must be implemented, and genuine understanding of situations where multiple identities are involved must be developed. This is what gives impetus to the protection of the objects of heritage at stake.
In this sense, matters of heritage are linked, at least temporarily and in operational terms, to that of dialogue. With this in mind, we can better appreciate the purport of the following statement from the Medium-Term Strategy of
In advancing dialogue, ‘learning to live together’ and inclusiveness,
unescowill promote the role of shared or cross-border cultural heritage and initiatives [added italics] to build bridges among nations and communities.18
Two types of projects have proved to be most effective in promoting “shared or cross-border heritage” and “building bridges among nations and communities,” namely elaborating and promoting regional histories and historical “routes of dialogue.” In the former, projects focus on tracing back shared viewpoints and attitudes of large clusters of nations, such as, typically, Central Asia or the Caribbean.19 In the latter, historical routes of migrations or travels serve as focal points for discussion and action, e.g., “The Slave Route” or “Integral Study of the Silk Roads, Roads of Dialogue,” both being endorsed and supported by
To retrieve and understand basic ways in which heritage narratives used to be generated, transmitted and implemented, means that we have to turn to history and memory. This comes as no surprise given the rapid pace of development of contemporary memory studies – or, to reiterate Pierre Nora’s felicitous expression, the “age of commemoration.”21 Memory, whether personal or collective, tends to be generated from lower societal strata and to remain informal and oral, or, at least, not strictly codified.
History, especially national histories, tends to come from the upper strata of society and is then transmitted to the lower strata in a variety of ways (school, museums, mass-media, commemorative rituals, and so on). This is when history is written (and/or digitalized), ordered, and structured. A constructive dialogue between history and memory becomes all the more timely, with the aim of promoting processes of reconciliation that are vital for ensuring social coherence in general. The following recent
Dialogue between history and memory can be a way to move towards a more holistic and pluralistic vision of the tragedies of history, their consequences and how to transcend them.22
To sum up, the spheres of dialogue and heritage form indispensable parts of the cultural strategy of
Dimitri Spivak, Ph.D., Dr.Sc., is
See our flagship publication, “World Religions in the Context of the Contemporary Culture: New Perspectives of Dialogue and Mutual Understanding. Christianity and Islam in the Context of Contemporary Culture: New Prospects of Dialogue and Mutual Understanding in the Russian Federation and Eastern Europe, in Central Asia and the Caucasus,” (English and Russian) eds. D. Spivak and S. Shankman (St. Petersburg: St. Petersburg Branch of Russian Institute for Cultural Research / Russian Baltic Information Center “Blitz”, 2011). http://www.spbric.org/index.php?action=pub_UNESCO_mir_reg.
“Action Plan 2013-2022,” International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures” (Paris:
“2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions” (4:8). http://portal.UNESCO.org/en/ev.php-URL_ID=31038&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html.
Ricard Zapata-Barrero, “The intercultural turn in Europe: process of policy paradigm change and formation,” in Interculturalism at the Crossroads. Comparative Perspectives on Concepts, Policies and Practices, ed. F. Mansouri (
37 C/4 2014-2021 Medium-term Strategy (Paris:
For details, see Resolution Adopted by the General Assembly on 25 September 2015, 70/1, “Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” (New York:
“Priority Area of Action IV,” see “Action Plan 2013-2022,” International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures (Paris:
Article 5 of
For the full official text of the “Joint Message on the Occasion of World Teachers’ Day 2017”, see http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0025/002592/259268e.pdf.
Expert Meeting 2015, International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures, 9.
See Preamble to the
“Medium-Term Strategy,” International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures, 37C/4, 24.
For the full texts of
For the full text, see http://unesdoc.UNESCO.org/images/0022/002278/227860e.pdf.
“Medium-Term Strategy,” International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures, 7:72.
For more information, see the following internet site specifically created and developed within the
For more information, see the following official internet site: http://www.UNESCO.org/new/en/social-and-human-sciences/themes/slave-route. Also see the following online platform: http://en.UNESCO.org/silkroad/UNESCO-silk-road-online-platform).
See Pierre Nora, “L’ère de la commémoration,” [The age of commemoration] in Les Lieux de mémoire, ed. P. Nora (Paris: Gallimard, 1984-92), vol. 3, 977-1012.
See Expert Meeting 2015, International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures, 19.