Intercultural dialogue and world peace
Andy Pratt has been involved in advising a team at UNESCO and the Institute for Economics and Peace on a project initiated by the UN Security Council. There is a general appreciation that cultural dialogue can help to secure peaceful social relations, especially in post-conflict situations. There has been work done on methods and techniques – and here inter-culturalism should be differentiated from multi-culturalism. The latter is more a Status Quo of ‘respecting’ the ‘Other’; however; many argue that it suggests (mere) ‘toleration’ and does not challenge existing heirarchies and privilege.By contrast, inter-culturalism’s focus is on the confrontation of differences and beliefs, an understanding and recognition of those histories, beliefs and positions; and, using that understanding to develop peaceful coexistence. Its a sort of process of ‘de-escalation’ of difference, stereotypes and hate.
This is all very well, but when such notions enter the policy field they have to be evaluated (against other similar investments; or, at the end of a project to see if it succeeded). One approach is using quantitative measures. The project was thus aimed at developing a meaningful measure so that progress can be evaluated: across places, times, and the world. The report published today illustrates this. However, it does not stop there. This is a pragmatic first step using existing available data (which is not really well suited to the task); the next step is to develop better measures, those will likely involve qualitative approaches. However, this report, marks the first step. In common with all policy evaluation, it is the first step of a journey, not the destination.