On 15 November 2011 in Paris, the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) launched the regional initiative “Reconciling diversity and social cohesion: a human rights model to build inclusive and participatory societies in European countries”.
Migration and growing mobility of people result in increased diversity of our societies thus leading to new challenges but also to untapped resources. Changing the narrative that most European societies have constructed about diversity seems a necessary move in order to start thinking of cultural diversity as an asset rather than a liability and make it a full advantage for democracies in the 21st century.
In the context of a globalized and inter-connected world we all live in, the UNAOC which aims to improve understanding and cooperative relations among nations and peoples across cultures and religions, launched an initiative aiming at developing a wide process of consultation and hearings of a broad array of experts, policy and opinion-makers, local actors, academics, associations, faith-led organizations, corporations, community leaders, etc.
In a first meeting, representatives of intergovernmental and international organizations as well as non-governmental organizations including foundations, think tanks and private sector reflected on how best to construct optimal transformative policies that respond to 21st century complexities.
While stressing the positive value of pluralistic societies, the panel identified gaps and priority issues that need to be addressed to provide people with a modern sense of belonging. Thinking deeper about social cohesion it drafted a number of practical recommendations that will be further developed on the occasion of the UNAOC annual Forum in Qatar in December 2011.