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Cultural diversity

Culture takes diverse forms across time and space as it derives from the numerous and diverse identities of the groups and societies making up humanity. This diversity creates a rich world, which brings new opportunities, nurtures human capacities and values, and therefore forms the mainspring of sustainable development in communities. Furthermore, cultural diversity, flourishing within a framework of tolerance and mutual respect, is also indispensable for peace and security at the local, national and international levels. In our increasingly diverse societies, it is therefore of vital importance to ensure that people and groups with different cultural identities are willing to cooperate and live together.

Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO (1999–2009), wrote that "as a source of exchange, innovation and creativity, cultural diversity is as necessary for humankind as biodiversity is for nature". Culture is one of the very few areas where individuals can freely express themselves irrespective of their social status, ethnic origin, nationality or health condition, in other words of circumstances due to which they may find themselves in an unequal position. This feature of culture – in particular art – enables individuals to voice their stories and views presenting our mutual relations in a new and enriched perspective. The alchemical feature of culture is the ability to transform a lack of understanding for something different into understanding, which is why the process of social integration is crucial.

Common heritage of humanity

In 2001, the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) adopted the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, which raised cultural diversity to the level of "common heritage of humanity". The Declaration is one of the cornerstones of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions and stems directly from the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations as early as in 1966. All these international commitments have also been ratified by the Republic of Slovenia. We primarily aim to protect and promote cultural diversity, create the conditions for cultures to flourish and draw on each other for enrichment, encourage dialogue among cultures, and raise awareness of the importance of respecting cultural diversity in order to foster social cohesion and peacefully living together.

The Office for Cultural Diversity and Human Rights makes every effort to provide opportunities for people who in other areas of social life find it difficult to voice their opinion and to choose their own forms of cultural expression. It pursues the promotion of equal opportunities, the development of the cultural contents of minorities and tolerant civic society. The Office also develops and implements various measures, such as a special programme for the members of the various minority ethnic communities, an integration programme covering the development and implementation of measures for effective participation in cultural life, and a programme to increase the employability of vulnerable social groups in culture. Moreover, it provides analyses on the accessibility of culture for people with disabilities, proposes measures and links the sphere of culture with similar efforts in the international environment and other sectoral policies.