According to the United Nations, three-quarters of the world’s major conflicts are linked in some way to culture.
It’s apparent in disputes in South Sudan, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Iraq, and Nigeria, to name just five countries experiencing conflict-related fatalities.
But a lack of understanding of other cultures is also fuelling horrific violence in western industrialized countries, including Canada.
In 2017, a gunman burst into a Quebec City mosque, murdering six worshippers and injuring another 19. Mass shootings have occurred at synagogues in the United States, churches in Sri Lanka, and mosques in New Zealand.
Those who are appalled by these developments—as well as the growing bigotry in politics in those industrialized nations—can look to the United Nations for guidance.
In 2002, the UN General Assembly declared May 21 the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development—and a day for recognizing that bridging the gaps between cultures is “urgent and necessary for peace, stability, and development”.
Marking this day is also a way to draw attention to the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, which was adopted by UNESCO in 2001.
It describes cultural diversity as “the common heritage of humanity”.
“As a source of exchange, innovation and creativity, cultural diversity is as necessary for humankind as biodiversity is for nature,” the declaration states. “In this sense, it is the common heritage of humanity and should be recognized and affirmed for the benefit of present and future generations.”
In recognition of the upcoming World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, the Georgia Straight is highlighting three educational initiatives in Vancouver that have helped to promote greater understanding between people from very different backgrounds.
You can see the links below.