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Human Rights Council holds Panel discussion on the promotion and protection of human rights in a multicultural context

Human Rights Council
MORNING 29 June 2012

The Human Rights Council this morning held a panel discussion on the promotion and protection of human rights in a multicultural context, including through combating xenophobia, discrimination and intolerance.

Yuri A. Boychenko, Representative of the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that migration in all its forms was a key factor that was driving the cultural diversification in States around the world. The High Commissioner had repeatedly expressed alarm at the negative portrayals of migrants around the world, by media, politicians and other actors in society. Effective integration, cultural diversity and genuine multiculturalism could only be founded upon the protection and promotion of universal human rights.

Hisham Badr, Permanent Representative of Egypt to the United Nations Office at Geneva and Moderator of the panel discussion, said that the issue discussed was not a new one, and therefore there was a problem. No culture was superior to another and all had contributed equally in the flow of history and that had to be recognized. Despite the global village and information technology, it had not been congruent or mutually reinforcing with respect to multiculturalism. Was it really a lack of understanding? If so, what was the solution?

The panellists were Gurharpal Singh, Dean of the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London; Alain Godonou, Director of the Division of Thematic Programmes for Diversity, Development and Dialogue at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization; Mouna Zulficar, Member of the Advisory Committee of the Human Rights Council; Doudou Diène, Independent Expert on the Human Rights situation in Côte d’Ivoire and former Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism; and Mario Marazziti, Journalist and Member of the International Board of the community of Saint Egidio.

Gurharpal Singh, Dean of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, said that public policies which recognized cultural diversity regularly contested accepted conventions of nationhood, community and identity, thus giving rise to xenophobia, racism and intolerance. This tension should be addressed creatively through dialogue and deliberative frameworks that could foster change. Effective multiculturalism required the State not to merely tolerate minority cultures but to provide positive affirmation and recognition.

Alain Godonou, Director of the Division of Thematic Programmes for Diversity, Development and Dialogue at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, stressed that recognition of the strong link existing between respect of cultural diversity and respect of human rights had been instrumental in gaining global recognition of the importance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It was vital for States to ensure the harmonious coexistence of people with diverse cultural identities and to implement policies of inclusion at the national and international level which would promote social cohesion and peace and would combat xenophobia.

Doudou Diène, Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Côte d’Ivoire and former Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, said that the concept of multiculturalism was misunderstood, in particular, when declared a failure by some Heads of State. Cultural diversity was a fact within societies; however, culture was often misinterpreted in reductionist ways. Three areas where multiculturalism was crucial were ethnicity, religion and culture.

Mouna Zulficar, Member of the Advisory Committee of the Human Rights Council and Member of the Egyptian National Council for Human Rights, drew on some examples of the Egyptian Revolution where it had been demonstrated that ordinary citizens could value and fight for cultural and religious pluralism as well as human rights and fundamental freedoms even though they belonged to a perceived cultural majority. Cultural and religious diversity may not be invoked as an excuse to derogate from or violate universal human rights and fundamental human freedoms.

Mario Marazziti, Journalist and Member of the International Board of the Community of Saint Egidio, noted that cultural diversity had long been recognized as one of Europe’s most important values. As Europe became increasingly more heterogeneous in recent years, new challenges appeared to the art of living together. This reflected the situation in other parts of the world where pluralism, religious, cultural and ethnic diversity were at risk. Drawing on recent personal experience, Mr. Marazziti made reference to parts of Africa, Asia and Europe where sectarianism and discrimination posed a threat to diversity and to the harmonious coexistence of persons.

In the discussion, speakers said that cultural diversity and mutual respect between peoples and cultures was indispensable for peace and security. The Government had the responsibility to promote dialogue and mutual understanding based on respect for human rights for all people, without distinction. One should be careful not to impose one set of values over others. The contribution of different civilizations to the notion of human rights had to be recognized and no single culture should claim to monopolize their meaning. Several delegations asked the panel for its views and any existing good practices, legislative or not, in tackling existing challenges and in the promotion of human rights and multiculturalism.

Speaking in the discussion were Jordan on behalf of the Arab Group, Senegal on behalf of the African Group, Chile, Egypt, Azerbaijan, European Union, Uruguay, Russia, Australia, Austria, Thailand, Argentina, Cuba, Croatia, Algeria, Germany, Turkey, United States, China, Indonesia, Norway, Iran, Italy, Brazil, Morocco, Iran and Pakistan.

The Organization for Islamic Cooperation, the Council of Europe and the following non-governmental organizations also took the floor: United Nations Watch, Tchad Agire Pour l’Environnement, and North-South XXI.

The Human Rights Council will resume its work at 3 p.m. this afternoon to start its general debate on human rights bodies and mechanisms, to be followed by a general debate on the Universal Periodic Review.

Opening Statement

YURI A. BOYCHENKO, Representative of the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, said the Deputy High Commissioner regretted that she could not attend the meeting at the last minute and requested Mr. Boychenko to read her statement to the panel. The growing diversity of cultures within societies was presenting great challenges to Governments, politicians, national human rights institutions and civil society actors in virtually every country and every region of the world. Xenophobia, discrimination and intolerance were addressed where human dignity was respected and where human rights were promoted and protected without distinction of any kind. Migration in all its forms was a key factor that was driving the cultural diversification in States around the world. History had shown that societies had benefited greatly from the movement of peoples across and within borders. However, the current public discourse on migration had been predominantly negative, and increased anti-migrant sentiment and discrimination were being witnessed. In many countries there was a palpable rise in xenophobia and economic hardship tended to bring these sentiments to the fore. The High Commissioner had repeatedly expressed alarm at the negative portrayals of migrants around the world, by media, politicians and other actors in society. The 2001 Durban Programme of Action urged States to ensure that their political and legal system reflected the multicultural diversity within their societies. The Charter of the United Nations reaffirmed faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women, and of nations large and small irrespective of their culture. In this spirit, culture was to be understood as more than just tradition, practice, custom or way of life, and cultural diversity was to be fundamentally grounded upon the human dignity and equality of every and all human beings. Effective integration, cultural diversity and genuine multiculturalism could only be founded upon the protection and promotion of universal human rights. This called for honest and truthful dialogue and discussion, based on facts, and the enlightened vision and voice of leaders who could bring societies and countries together.

Statements by Panellists

GURHARPAL SINGH, Dean of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, said that pubic policies which recognised cultural diversity regularly contested accepted conventions of nationhood, community and identity, thus giving rise to xenophobia, racism and intolerance. This tension should be addressed creatively through dialogue and deliberative frameworks that could foster change. Multiculturalism was often used to refer to a normative doctrine that maintained that principles of justice should be sensitive to and respectful of persons’ cultural identity. Effective multiculturalism required the State not to merely tolerate minority cultures but to provide positive affirmation and recognition. It was much easier to adopt multicultural policies than to implement legislation and policies which could effectively tackle xenophobia, discrimination and intolerance. Today in European Union States, the debates about community cohesion and national values had created coded political discourses between the rights of the national community and those carrying incommensurable values (immigrants, aliens, religious “others”).

The recent experience of the United Kingdom was instructive. The Racial and Religious Hatred Act made it unlawful to incite hatred on religious grounds in England and Wales. Its intention was to protect people and religious ideologies from offence and ridicule. It was important to recognise the need to combat discourses which promoted xenophobia, including phobias coded in surrogates such as religious hatred. The boundaries between what was acceptable and not needed to be carefully drawn. To give a general protection to religious traditions so as to place them beyond criticism, reasonable or otherwise, would seem to be unduly restrictive. If minority communities were committed to the State, then the State must be committed to them in recognising their difference and promoting their value. Cultural change was better achieved by supporting processes within communities than by insisting that they conform to established benchmarks. Strong human rights were essential for the development of multicultural policies.

ALAIN GODONOU, Director of the Division of Thematic Programmes for Diversity, Development and Dialogue at UNESCO, stressed that recognition of the strong link existing between respect of cultural diversity and respect of human rights had been instrumental in gaining global recognition of the importance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Recognizing that all men and women were free and equal was essential for accepting cultural and institutional diversity. UNESCO, which had adopted a broad definition of cultural diversity in its Universal Declaration of 2001 and its Convention in 2005, always promoted the protection of cultural diversity through its programmes and encouraged people to understand each other. The appreciation of cultural sites helped to understand the universality of cultures and their equality, but it was not enough to keep out racism, xenophobia, discrimination and intolerance. The destruction of cultural works in the past 20 years was an example of this. It was in this spirit that UNESCO had inscribed Timbuktu on its world heritage in danger list, in the context of the crisis in the north of Mali
It was vital for States to ensure the harmonious coexistence of people with diverse cultural identities and to implement policies of inclusion at the national and international level which would promote social cohesion and peace and would combat xenophobia. Recognizing that cultural creativity could help to create a dynamic for cultural change, UNESCO had helped to promote and protect cultural creativity and human rights through its Universal Declarations of 2001 and 2005.

MOUNA ZULFICAR, Member of the Advisory Committee of the Human Rights Council and Member of the Egyptian National Council for Human Rights drew on some examples of the Egyptian revolution, focusing on cultural diversity, and referred, among other events, to the first democratic presidential elections that had been tense; the repercussions on cultural and religious life were at the forefront of the debates. People voiced concerns about the two polarized political camps represented by the candidates as well as fears of unilateralism, tyranny of the majority, discrimination, xenophobia and stigmatization that might compromise rather than foster dialogue and peaceful co-existence. This had demonstrated that ordinary citizens could value and fight for cultural and religious pluralism as well as human rights and fundamental freedoms even though they belonged to a perceived cultural majority. It was a reminder that sometimes citizens were more mindful than political leaders of the reality of cultural pluralism and the importance of tolerance and mutual respect of the human rights of ‘the other’ in a democratic environment in order to sustain peaceful coexistence and a multicultural way of life. The challenge to protect the human rights of cultural and religious minorities whether as citizens or refugees in the context of cultural diversity was equally sensitive in various parts of the Western world, and there was insufficient genuine effort from the relevant Governments to make such offences legally punishable and socially condemnable. These Governments had been accused of permitting relatively lax legal parameters in addressing religious discrimination against Muslim minorities. Cultural and religious diversity may not be invoked as an excuse to derogate from or violate universal human rights or fundamental human freedoms. This should be temporary as societies would, at the appropriate time, be capable of reviving the values of tolerance, solidarity and mutual respect in asserting full respect of human rights.

DOUDOU DIÈNE, Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Côte d’Ivoire and former Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, said that the concept of multiculturalism was misunderstood, in particular, when declared a failure by some Heads of State. Multiculturalism could not be a failure for it was a fact of life. Cultural diversity was a fact within societies; however, culture was often misinterpreted in reductionist ways. In the case of Rwanda, for example, genocide had taken place between two groups that shared language and other cultural elements. At the core lay the idea of identity building and how countries built their national identities. The three areas where multiculturalism was crucial were ethnicity, religion and culture. It was worth recalling that no human society could escape the question of multiculturalism. It was a long-term problem that all societies had to deal with by themselves. Diversity was not a value but a fact, just like it appeared in nature; therefore it was necessary to move from diversity to pluralism. Pluralism involved respect and promotion of diversity and should be enshrined in constitutions. It was necessary to move away from multiculturalism to interculturality, where communities recognising each other. In order to ensure successful multiculturalism, it was necessary to combat discrimination; to ensure equality among diverse communities; and, finally, to promote cultural interaction and different communities living together in the same place in order to generate new multicultural entities.

MARIO MARAZZITI, Journalist and Member of the International Board of the Community of Saint Egidio, noted that cultural diversity had long been recognized as one of Europe’s most important values. As Europe became increasingly more heterogeneous in recent years, new challenges appeared to the art of living together. This reflected the situation in other parts of the world where pluralism, religious, cultural and ethnic diversity were at risk. Drawing on his recent personal experience, the speaker illustrated this point by making reference to parts of Africa, Asia and Europe where sectarianism and discrimination posed a threat to diversity and to the harmonious coexistence of persons. Concerning Europe, in particular, it was important to note that it had taken many wars over three centuries before “unity in diversity” became the new motto of the continent. In Europe, where different ways of promoting integration were still being tried out, it was important to avoid social marginalization which could give rise to religious and cultural clashes. Taking Italy as an example, it was pointed out that the National Anti-Racial Discrimination Office had registered an increase of 300 per cent of cases of intolerance in major Italian cities during the period 2008-2011. The programme Bravo, which had been launched by the Community of Sanit Egidio and had been implemented on a mass scale in Burkina Faso, was put forward as an example of how the right to exist or not exist, the mother of all discriminations, could be tackled. Use of language that reflected the real situation rather than political correctness and effective use of the media and new media were also mentioned as possible ways of encouraging a more balanced understanding of “the other”. Incentives and benefits for businesses such as de-taxation could also help to further integration and interculturalism.

Statement by the Moderator

HISHAM BADR, Permanent Representative of Egypt to the United Nations Office at Geneva and Moderator of the Panel, said that the issue discussed was not a new one, and therefore there was a problem. They were sitting in the hall conducting a dialogue between civilizations, but the problem was that despite the literature, the legislation, despite the institutions, resolutions, and gatherings as a collective body, there remained a gap, a discrepancy. Was it a lack of more of these laws and institutions to deal with the problem of xenophobia, racism and lack of respect for multiculturalism? If so, then they would have known. Was it the problem of implementation of existing laws, or a more profound problem? What did they need? It was not an issue of blame. They needed to find a way to realize that nobody had monopoly over wisdom. No culture was superior to another and all had contributed equally in the flow of history and that had to be recognized. Had they really had a dialogue? Had all opinions been listened to, though perhaps they were not what they had wanted to hear? Despite the global village and information technology, it had not been congruent or mutually reinforcing with respect for multiculturalism. Was it really a lack of understanding? If so, what was the solution? What about political agendas, those who had them, and saw them as a cause? Why did intellectuals define fault lines along these lines, not economic or others? Why did an enemy have to be defined along religious and cultural lines? On extremists, how could the world isolate them? Why did they have the upper voice? What could the silent majority do? The world outside depended on what was happening here.

Discussion

Jordan, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said that the debate acquired special importance in the international context. The Arab Group stressed the importance of preserving differences, not only cultural but also religious diversity, and expressed concern about extremism and violence against Muslims and Arabs in many countries. Senegal, on behalf of the African Group, denounced racism and the victimisation of migrants. It advocated a holistic approach to promote multiculturalism and diversity in a changing world. Chile inquired how to reconcile effectively notions of difference and diversity, and the need to emphasise the universal character of human rights; at the same time cultural differences should be preserved. Egypt stressed the need to recognise the contribution of different civilizations to the notion of human rights, and no single culture should claim to monopolise their meaning. Azerbaijan said that people from different religious and cultural backgrounds could be brought together by dialogue and multicultural dialogue and Azerbaijan was an example of peaceful multicultural coexistence. European Union said that non-discrimination, mutual tolerance and respect, and common ground were important. The European Union had adopted a strong legislative framework to combat discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance. The European Union asked Ms. Zulficar which aspects of the Egyptian experience she recommended for discussion in the Council. Uruguay said it was no stranger to discrimination, for instance in the case of people of African descent, education was the most powerful way to combat racism and discrimination. Russian Federation said that respect for the culture and values of other communities was essential; the understanding of human dignity, on which human rights depended, was embedded in culture and transmitted from generation to generation.

Australia firmly believed that the Government had the responsibility to promote dialogue and mutual understanding based on respect for human rights for all people, without distinction. A key tenet of anti-discrimination laws should be to provide legal protection to minority groups to observe their own practices free from harassment and persecution. Austria said that in order to effectively stimulate a multicultural context, a free and open society, fostered by the rule of law and the protection of human rights, was crucial. It underlined that cooperation, dialogue, inclusiveness, substantive preparation and mutual understanding were needed in the Council. Thailand said that while there might be a need to reinforce national identity in order to secure order, peace, stability and prosperity in a country, this must not be done by imposing one set of values over others. Argentina said education in the area of combating xenophobia, discrimination and intolerance was of fundamental importance. It highlighted the launching of a guide known as “we are the same but different”, a guidebook for children, inculcating in them the respect for differences. Cuba said that cultural diversity and mutual respect between peoples and cultures was indispensable for peace and security. It condemned frequents acts of discrimination seen in many societies, which proliferated particularly in the developed countries. Croatia called for the global ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. It was proud to say that gay pride in Split and Zagreb had taken place peacefully.

Algeria said practices and attitudes of discrimination took many forms. Its contemporary form had become current currency and was sometimes used for policy setting, in some cases with success. Policies and measures had to be taken at all levels to combat this. United Nations Watch said that based on numerous statements heard in the session, it was deeply concerned that the Council was promoting a concept and not shielding individuals from persecution, rather than the opposite. Tchad Agire Pour l’Environnement drew attention to the massive violations against black Libyans and foreigners, and the impact and geopolitical consequences of that part of Africa on the rest of the continent. Australia firmly believed that the Government had the responsibility to promote dialogue and mutual understanding based on respect for human rights for all people, without distinction. A key tenet of anti-discrimination laws should be to provide legal protection to minority groups to observe their own practices free from harassment and persecution. Austria said that in order to effectively stimulate a multicultural context, a free and open society, fostered by the rule of law and the protection of human rights, was crucial. It underlined that cooperation, dialogue, inclusiveness, substantive preparation and mutual understanding were needed in the Council.

HISHAM BADR, Permanent Representative of Egypt to the United Nations Office at Geneva and Moderator of the Panel Discussion, asked Mr. Singh what the Council could do in order to protect human rights, advance multiculturalism and fight xenophobia.

GURHARPAL SINGH, Dean of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, said that there was tension between human rights and multiculturalism. Human rights were extremely important but had also emerged in a particular context and the way forward would be to emphasize religion not as a faith but as an identity. He pointed out that, despite there being a public denial of multiculturalism, in reality the world was multicultural. In Europe multicultural policies were not particularly effective and more work needed to be done in that respect. Multiculturalism as a political phenomenon and multiculturalism as it operated in every day life were not the same thing.

HISHAM BADR, Permanent Representative of Egypt to the United Nations Office at Geneva and Moderator of the Panel, asked Mr. Godonou to provide a view from the perspective of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Specifically, from an educational perspective and with reference to ongoing programmes, what was the current state of play and challenges?

ALAIN GODONOU, Director of the Division of Thematic Programmes for Diversity, Development and Dialogue at UNESCO, stressed the importance of UNESCO conventions and the responsibilities of States in this regard. Recently, it had been decided to place Timbuktu on the World Heritage in Danger list at the request of Mali. These sites were under attack and were threatened by the current situation and it was necessary to ensure cooperation to avoid the trafficking of manuscripts. It was important to work closely with specialised services and to produce inventories of tangible and intangible heritage in order to promote recognition of cultural diversity. On this basis and working with all relevant actors in the educational systems, including museums, this work needed to be done. By virtue of education young people became able to grasp and fully understand the heritage that belonged to other people, thus promoting respect and mutual understanding.

HISHAM BADR, Permanent Representative of Egypt to the United Nations Office at Geneva and Moderator of the Panel, spoke of legislation as a mechanism that would enable people to combat racism and promote understanding. What did Ms. Zulficar believe was the role of legislation to assist and promote the dialogue against xenophobia, racial discrimination and intolerance?

MOUNA ZULFICAR, Member of the Advisory Committee of the Human Rights Council and Member of the Egyptian National Council for Human Rights, said that there were laws to punish the perpetrator but there were also laws which functioned as a dynamic instrument for cultural change. The latter was the kind of law that she was advocating. Discrimination, be it religious, cultural or other, was the mother of all evils and gave rise to xenophobia. The Equal Opportunity and Non Discrimination law initiated by the National Council for Human Rights in Egypt was not specifically tailored to address minorities. In this context, in many cases, it was a battle fought by the majority, as there was no specific cultural minority against State oppression and other cultural groups in Egypt. It was crucial, therefore, for the law to function as a driving force and to create mechanisms that would promote the implementation of equal opportunities and eradicate discrimination on the basis of sex, wealth or religion. The idea of having a model international law would be a good project for the Human Rights Council, as well as further discussion that benefitted from world experience and good practices. The law itself was not enough to achieve the result.

HISHAM BADR, Permanent Representative of Egypt to the United Nations Office at Geneva and Moderator of the Panel, thanked Mr. Diene for the strategies which he had proposed and asked him to elaborate on those from the human rights perspective.

DOUDOU DIÈNE, Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Côte d’Ivoire and former Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, said that there was tension between the State and cultural diversity, which in certain European countries was further intensified. It was necessary to accept that multiculturalism was a fact and that interaction needed to be promoted in cultures that were marked by diversity. That required the right legal framework and real political will from countries. Appropriate legislation could protect the rights and freedoms of minorities, but that legislative strategy needed to go hand in hand with other strategies. For example, the issue of how they saw each other should also be addressed through their education systems and organizations like UNESCO.

HISHAM BADR, Permanent Representative of Egypt to the United Nations Office at Geneva and Moderator of the Panel, said that Mr. Marazziti had mentioned concrete examples of how multiculturalism could be promoted through specific practices such as providing incentives, and asked him to elaborate on his recommendations. What more could be done in terms of policies?

MARIO MARAZZITI, Journalist and Member of the International Board of the Community of Saint Egidio, said that first of all they had to implement the noble causes laid out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Two ways of doing that was through sanctions and incentives. In recent years war had become popular, but there was a time when war was less popular as a means of resolving problems. It was necessary therefore to find sanctions that were not based on violence and the use of force to resolve problems. In practice they should fight against marginalization because that made discrimination active in States and societies. They should also avoid catalogues of people according to race, religion and ethnicity. For example, a recent census of Roma people in Italy was a big mistake. Any kind of similar catalogue had to be avoided in other countries. They should create a mechanism which ensured that a percentage of money in international funds was allocated to civil society projects engaged in promoting multiculturalism.

Germany stressed that, given the universality of human rights, it was important for all persons to have equal opportunities. Germany actively promoted cultural diversity in all areas of life and opposed any manifestation of racism and discrimination. Turkey said it was essential for peace and harmony that all persons in society were able to enjoy their fundamental rights without discrimination of any kind. The recent increase in acts of religious hate had rendered the need to attain that objective even more important than before. United States said that as a nation of immigrants and indigenous peoples, it was firmly committed to equal opportunities and multiculturalism. The United States stressed that the protection of human rights was crucial to enabling persons to practise their religious and cultural traditions. China stressed the importance of promoting cultural diversity and development as a means of promoting and protecting human rights through achieving social harmony and stability. China, as a society with multiple minorities and ethnic cultures, attached great importance to protecting the distinct identity of minorities.
Indonesia said that it was proud of its cultural diversity and hundreds of ethnic cultures and languages. It noted that, while it was undeniable that multiculturalism and diversity were facts of life, efforts to promote human rights in a multicultural context should not be prescriptive. Norway said that it was aware that it was increasingly becoming a culturally diverse society and its aim was to maintain a free and open society. Last summer’s incidents in the country, which had been fuelled by intolerance, had been traumatic for the whole nation. It was important therefore to continue to combat xenophobia and discrimination, to fight the stigma attached to minorities and to respect all persons’ right to decide how they want to live their lives.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation stressed the need to take practical measures to combat acts of xenophobia, discrimination and acts of violence which many societies were experiencing, especially against Muslims. It called upon the international community to take urgent and effective measures to prevent discrimination against Muslims around the world.

Italy said that freedom of religion was a new frontier for the protection of human rights. Discrimination stemmed from fear and ignorance and investing in education and advocacy should be priorities. Brazil noted that cultural diversity was an asset for the enhancement of humanity; Brazil as a multicultural nation counted on a strong legal framework to promote cultural diversity, including through education. Venezuela said that its Constitution guaranteed multiculturalism without discrimination and emphasised the importance of equality. Legal systems should reflect legal diversity of their societies when combating discrimination. Morocco said that, amidst economic crises, xenophobia was on the rise. To counter this trend and extremism, the new Constitution preserved and promoted the cultural diversity of different regions. Iran said that multiculturalism and respect for diversity prevented hatred and xenophobic actions, racism and discrimination. Iran called on European States to observe their obligations and take measures to protect ethnic and religious minorities. Pakistan also expressed concern about the rise of xenophobia and discrimination. Cultural diversity should be promoted and respected to promote tolerance among societies and Governments should ensure that education contributed to multiculturalism, tolerance and diversity. North-South XXI noted efforts to undermine the importance of the Durban Declaration after representatives of the United Nations had refused to distribute copies of the Durban Declaration during Rio+20. North-South XXI asked how the combat of racism could contribute to the promotion of multiculturalism.

Concluding Remarks

MARIO MARAZZITI, Journalist and Member of the International Board of the Community of Saint Egidio, in concluding remarks said that they must work a lot on interculturalism and in the field because any implementation also came from life and struggles. Secondly, on how to help all these important resolutions to be effective, Mr. Marazziti thought that they had to put them on their personal agendas and had to work a lot at the cultural level and the real human beings level.

DOUDOU DIENE, Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Côte d’Ivoire and former Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, in concluding remarks recalled the statement by Norway and said that the question was not an abstract theoretical issue, but one which today was an issue for democracy. It was profound and serious. It was important to specifically ask all Member States to include in their constitutions a reference to cultural pluralism as a fundamental value of all countries, including both cultural and religious pluralism. Non-incitement to hatred had to be balanced with the promotion of intercultural dialogue.

MOUNA ZULFICAR, Member of the Advisory Committee of the Human Rights Council and Member of the Egyptian National Council for Human Rights, in concluding remarks said that multiculturalism was a fact of life and therefore it was important. Democracies in transition and the impact that transitions had on human rights should be considered in the context of multiculturalism, especially in cases where political ideas breached human rights.

ALAIN GODONOU, Director of the Division of Thematic Programmes for Diversity, Development and Dialogue at UNESCO, in concluding remarks pointed out that it was crucial to incorporate multiculturalism and tolerance in the educational system of countries.

GURHARPAL SINGH, Dean of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, in concluding remarks said that multiculturalism, which came in many forms, had worked best in developing countries and they should try to understand that phenomenon in that context rather than just in absolute terms.
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