In the UNESCO Declaration of Cultural Diversity it is stated that “cultural diversity is the common heritage of humankind.”
As cultural diversity is not a static but a continuously changing process, we need to preserve records both for the future and for diversity to thrive in intercultural dialogue. The future evolves from history and without profound understanding of the past, there is no understanding of the now.
Recognizing oneself as other and plural, as an historical being subjected to social, ethnic, religious, sexual, racial and gender differences, is crucial for the respect for the other and for social and cultural differences. Only then is intercultural dialogue possible.
The double vision of preservation on the one and of intercultural dialogue on the other infuses the Declaration, which
Intercultural dialogue is, in other words, essential to cultural diversity and to human development, else we end up in territorial, religious and ideological protectionism.
aims both to preserve cultural diversity as a living, and thus renewable treasure that must not be perceived as being unchanging heritage but as a process guaranteeing the survival of humanity; and to prevent segregation and fundamentalism which, in the name of cultural differences, would sanctify those differences and so counter the message of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
For intercultural dialogue to take place there need to be “freedom of expression, media pluralism, multi-lingualism, equal access to art and to scientific and technological knowledge, including in digital form, and the possibility for all cultures to have access to means of expression and dissemination.”
The Declaration states in fact that national “cultural policies must create conditions conducive to the production and dissemination of cultural goods” at the same time that it makes it “clear that each individual must acknowledge not only otherness in all its forms but also the plurality of his or her own identity, within societies that are themselves plural.”
The responsibility for cultural diversity is in other words neither restricted to society nor to the individual; it is our common responsibility and the “defence of cultural diversity is an ethical imperative, inseparable from respect for human dignity .”
"UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity." UNESCO, last accessed 19 Sep 2008, unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0012/001271/127160m.pdf.