The UNESCO Regional Office in Beirut has hosted a conference for the Arab regional launch of the UNESCO Framework for enabling Intercultural Dialogue, in close collaboration with the Anna Lindh foundation.
Participants and experts discussed Wednesday the state of Intercultural Dialogue in the Arab region, and the ways to promote it using the UNESCO framework.
Recognizing the potential for Intercultural Dialogue and the need for better data on Intercultural Dialogue to effectively tackle pressing global issues, UNESCO has developed the UNESCO Framework for Enabling Intercultural Dialogue in partnership with the Institute for Economics and Peace.
Including data from over 160 countries, the Framework serves as a guide on how best to improve the structures, values and processes that enable Intercultural Dialogue, knowing that Intercultural Dialogue can be defined as a process undertaken to realize transformative communication that requires space or opportunities for engagement and a diverse group of participants committed to values such as mutual respect, empathy and a willingness to consider different perspectives. An important tool for peace, conflict prevention, fragility reduction, and human rights promotion, a knowledge gap on what makes dialogue effective has hindered our ability to use this tool until now.
Speaking at the opening of the conference, Princess Rym Ali, President of the Anna Lindh Foundation said: “Diversity is a fact, but inclusion is a choice. I am proud to share Anna Lindh's powerful words during the Arab regional launch of UNESCO's framework for Enabling Intercultural Dialogue in Lebanon. In our collaboration with UNESCO, we strive to foster intercultural understanding among Euro-Med youth. Together, let's uphold the shared values of diversity, inclusion, and equality, as we embark on this transformative journey.”
UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Social and Human sciences Gabriela Ramos said that the region is rich in cultural heritage that reflects a wealth of diversity.
“From the Maghreb to the Arabic peninsula, the region holds one of the most ancient civilizations and is home to 450 million people. Despite this richness, the region is home to many of today’s global challenges ...Investing in Intercultural Dialogue is therefore a vital step towards building the trust and collective will to build a better future for all,” added Ramos.
“We now can prioritize and sequence investments to enhance dialogue for transformative impact. Today, we have the opportunity to take a significant step towards our goal, here in the Arab States, by using this initiative as a means to evaluate opportunities in the region for fostering intercultural dialogue and finding concrete ways to implement and contextualize this framework locally.”
Director of the UNESCO Regional Office Costanza Farina said: “As you may know that the Framework offers data sets and a rich analysis of key macro- and micro-level societal factors that create the space and opportunity for successful Intercultural Dialogue. According to its findings, the Arab region performs at different levels in Social Cohesion and Skills and Values. Inclusion, and Global Citizenship Education and Freedom of Expression are the areas which require more attention and hence actions.”
“In these consultations over next two days, we will share and use data and findings from the framework to deepen your collective analysis of gaps, challenges, and opportunities in the Arab region. In this regard, global conversations, and normative instruments such as the Mondialcult Declaration (2022) and Windhoek +30 Declaration (2021) respectively offer a robust policy framework for Intercultural Dialogue. Leveraging youth social innovation and skills enhancement is the core of the Youth Declaration of the recent Transforming Education Summit held in NY in September 2022. In this regard, youth perspectives in analyzing challenges and opportunities in the region and reflecting youth aspirations will be very important.”
“The key outcome of our consultations will be a roadmap which identifies priorities and actionable recommendations for the systemic use and operationalization of the Framework. The roadmap will enable the scaling up of a more sustainable intercultural dialogue in the Arab region.”
The Framework includes nine domains consisting of 21 indicators. Global, regional, and country level data on all nine domains can be accessed through the online platform for the Framework, serving as a guide on needs and priorities in regard to supporting intercultural exchange for policymakers. The first of its kind, the Framework provides stakeholders not only with an understanding of the environment behind intercultural dialogue, but also how to enable intercultural dialogue within their specific context. The Framework also shows for the first time the direct connection between peacefulness, conflict prevention and non-fragility, and human right protection with intercultural dialogue creating an additional incentive for countries to foster this important tool.