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Cultural Diversity

  • © UNESCO

Cultural diversity: a new universal ethic

Cultural Diversity has been at the core of UNESCO’s concerns since the Organization came into being 60 years ago. The adoption of the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity (2 November 2001) confirmed yet again the Organization's commitment to the "fruitful diversity of… cultures" in a spirit of dialogue and openness, taking into account the risks of identity-based isolationism and standardization associated with globalization.

Given that cultures embrace literature and the arts as well as ways of life, value systems, traditions and beliefs, the protection and promotion of their diversity presents special challenges: notably defending creative capacity through the multitude of its material and immaterial forms and ensuring that all peoples live together peacefully.

The preservation and promotion of this "common heritage of humanity" is an ethical imperative backed up by a series of normative instruments and constitutes the foundation and the final goal of UNESCO's entire cultural programme in the various fields of: heritage (world heritage, monumental heritage, movable heritage, intangible heritage); living cultures (traditional expressions, crafts, contemporary expressions, languages and copyright); sustainable development (cultural tourism, crafts, indigenous knowledge, sustainable environment); and intercultural dialogue.