The United Nations observes designated days, weeks, years, and decades, each with a theme, or topic. By creating special observances, the United Nations promotes international awareness and action on these issues. The majority of observances have been established by resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly, although some have been designated by UN specialized agencies. The United Nations also observes anniversaries of key events in its history.
Equitable exchange and dialogue among civilizations, cultures and peoples, based on mutual understanding and respect and the equal dignity of all cultures is the essential prerequisite for constructing social cohesion, reconciliation among peoples and peace among nations.
This action is part of the global framework of an Alliance of Civilizations launched by the United Nations. More specifically, within the larger framework of intercultural dialogue, which also encompasses interreligious dialogue, special focus is placed on a series of good practices to encourage cultural pluralism at the local, regional and national level as well as regional and sub-regional initiatives aimed at discouraging all expressions of extremism and fanaticism and highlighting values and principles that bring people together.
UNESCO’s Interreligious Dialogue program, an essential component of Intercultural Dialogue, aims to promote dialogue among different religions, spiritual and humanistic traditions in a world where conflicts are increasingly associated with religious belonging.
It stresses the reciprocal interactions and influences between, on the one hand, religions, spiritual and humanistic traditions, and on the other, the need to promote understanding between them in order to challenge ignorance and prejudices and foster mutual respect.
Learning the art of dialogue is both a personal and social process. Developing one’s skills and capacity for dialogue implies a willingness to be open while retaining one’s critical judgment. Dialogue concerns us all: from decision-makers and leaders to individuals within each community. Alongside relevant international conferences to raise awareness, UNESCO strives to promote grass-root activities, particularly in sensitive geo-strategical areas that reach target-populations such as women, youth and marginalized populations.
Placing culture at the heart of development policy constitutes an essential investment in the world's future and a pre-condition to successful globalization processes that take into account the principles of cultural diversity.
Development is inseparable from culture. In this regard, the major challenge is to convince political decision-makers and local, national and international social actors to integrating the principles of cultural diversity and the values of cultural pluralism into all public policies, mechanisms and practices, particularly through public/private partnerships.
The aim is, on the one hand, to incorporate culture into all development policies, be they related to education, science, communication, health, environment or cultural tourism and, on the other hand, to support the development of the cultural sector through creative industries. By contributing in this way to poverty alleviation, culture offers important benefits in terms of social cohesion.
- Visit an art exhibit or a museum dedicated to other cultures.
- Invite a family or people in the neighborhood from another culture or religion to share a meal with you and exchange views on life.
- Rent a movie or read a book from another country or religion than your own.
- Invite people from a different culture to share your customs.
- Read about the great thinkers of other cultures than yours (e.g. Confucius, Socrates, Avicenna, Ibn Khaldun, Aristotle, Ganesh, Rumi).
- Go next week-end to visit a place of worship different than yours and participate in the celebration.
- Play the “stereotypes game.” Stick a post-it on your forehead with the name of a country. Ask people to tell you stereotypes associated with people from that country. You win if you find out where you are from.
- Learn about traditional celebrations from other cultures; learn more about Hanukkah or Ramadan or about amazing celebrations of New Year’s Eve in Spain or Qingming festival in China.
- Spread your own culture around the world through our Facebook page and learn about other cultures.
- Explore music of a different culture.