Cultural diversity declaration

Dhaka outcome should be built up on

Published on 20 May 2012

Author(s): The Daily Star

Type:  News

Cultural Diversity Ministerial Forum of the Asia-Pacific Region, 2012 concluded in Dhaka on Friday on an inspirational note. It adopted Dhaka Declaration signed by ministers and representatives from 33 out of 44 countries of the region. Kudos to Bangladesh's ministry of cultural affairs and the Unesco for organising such a colourful as well as important event.

As Bangladesh's cultural diversity was showcased through participation by renowned artistes, it provided a glimpse of the universal appeal of culture that knows no boundary. Indeed, respect for and promotion of cultural diversity should be the guiding spirit in the Asia-Pacific region.

The salient features of Dhaka declaration emphasise linking culture to development endeavours; urgent need for collective political will to ensure cultural cooperation for sustained human resource development; developing a platform for cross-sector dialogue and cooperation with the civil society to ensure active participation of myriad voices in the policy-making and implementation processes.

Basically, awareness across the board would have to be raised to promote, protect and support diversity of cultural expressions and enable cooperation on sustainable development and poverty reduction goals. In this context, what assumes critical importance is the "Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions" of 2005 which has only been ratified by 12 out of 44 countries. Happily, Bangladesh is one of the ratifying countries. It is a pity that a vast majority of the countries have not signed up to it.

Our understanding is that it's not only at the people's level but also at the country level that the states should embrace the catalytic role that cultures can play in unifying governments and peoples on a common cause of enriching human material and consequently accelerating inclusive processes of national developments.

The Dhaka Declaration calls for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) to assist in implementing the declaration throughout the Asia-Pacific region. 'Assist' the Unesco would, but the endeavour surely needs to be underpinned through national and regional capacity building efforts. To our understanding, that requires refocusing.

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