Cultural diversity

News Releases / Speeches / Declarations

Journée mondiale de la diversité culturelle pour dialogue et développement - 2004: Quel est notre devoir?

M. Koïchiro Matsuura, Directeur général de L’UNESCO, le 18 mai 2004 – 2004/05/18

On the occasion of World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development on May 21, 2004, UNESCO director-general Koïchiro Matsuura delivered a Message to the International Community inviting all member states, intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations, and civil society as a whole “to enhance public awareness of the value of cultural diversity and the ethical imperative to respect it.” He maintained that “it is through action of a very practical kind that cultural diversity will assume its full significance and become a reality experienced and appreciated by all.” In this regard, he declared that “the day of 21 May encourages us to learn more about other cultures, to appreciate all that we owe to them, and to take the measure of the diversity of their contributions, their uniqueness, their complementarity, and their solidarity. Indeed, to be aware of and acknowledge our differences, to respect them as constituents of our own identity, is to afford an opportunity to the new century to flourish, away from identity-based conflicts of all kinds.” He emphasized that “cultural diversity is a basic human right; to promote it is to counter stereotypes and cultural fundamentalism. This just cause must never be perverted. The UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity reminds us that ‘no one may invoke cultural diversity to infringe upon human rights guaranteed by international law, nor to limit their scope.’” He expressed the wish that May 21, 2004, be an opportunity to bolster all the principles in the UNESCO Declaration—those that place cultural diversity among human rights and those that defend it on account of its capacity for cultural expression and innovation: “Respecting the dignity of each culture, resisting any infringement of human rights, and defending and promoting every form of creative activity are so many indissociable parts of the same struggle. This is a truth of which we are most particularly reminded by the celebration of the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development.” (Available in French, English and Spanish)