Today, May 21st, is the World Day for Cultural Diversity. This annual celebration of world diversity follows on from the adoption of the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity by UNESCO in 2001. The General Assembly welcomed the Declaration and the Action Plan, which includes this day of celebration, to further its aims.
The Declaration contains a number of articles which among other objectives recognises cultural diversity as the common heritage of mankind under Article 1, recognises human rights as a guarantee of diversity and the need to protect cultural property from being treated simply as a consumer good. In its preamble it also
Affirm[s] that respect for the diversity of cultures, tolerance, dialogue and cooperation, in a climate of mutual trust and understanding are among the best guarantees of international peace and security
Since its establishment UNESCO has broadened the events surrounding the day into a Festival of Diversity with events held at UNESCO headquarters with other events being held in China, Italy and Canada among others. In Ireland, Concern have organised events surrounding the theme in Cork.
Over the past few weeks a number of news stories have emphasised the need for an appreciation and support of cultural diversity and dialogue as to how best to accommodate and celebrate the wealth of world diversity. This has included the Belgian Burqa ban, with the possibility of France following suit, Pakistan’s banning of both elements of You Tube and Facebook or the lack of diversity among members of the new UK Government. Within Ireland, a new Director of the Equality Tribunal, Mr. Niall McCutcheon, was appointed on Monday. Though since March 2009 responsibility for the Tribunal has shifted from the Department of Justice to the Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs (which was supposed to be renamed the Department of Community, Equality and Rural Affairs, though there seems to be some confusion as the link from the main government website calls it Community, Equality and Rural Affairs, and then brings you to the Department’s site which is called Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, arguably this does not bode well as an indicator of the importance of equality to this Government Department as there is no mention of equality on its front page), the importance of diversity does not appear to be among the issues which the Irish Government take seriously.