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Intercultural Dialogue Europe

Main Recommendations

A number of areas for future action on the part of European, national and local authorities and the various civil society initiatives involved in ICD have been identified in the study. In the form of a strategic typology they are listed on pages 161-169 of the Main Report, together with 50, more specific recommendations. The following summary was first presented in Ljubljana during the official lauch of the "European Year of Intercultural Dialogue", January 7/8, 2008:  

  1. Recognise that intercultural dialogue depends upon the full implementation of human, civic, economic, social and cultural rights as outlined in international and European legal instruments, into national legislative and policy frameworks. Since intercultural dialogue is not a legal category in itself, it relies on the active enforcement and monitoring of fundamental rights in practice. Specific articles of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (2000) are of particular importance to intercultural dialogue by promoting: equality, non-discrimination, cultural, religious and linguistic diversity, freedom of expression and movement, citizenship rights to economic and political participation. This demonstrates that in the context of intercultural dialogue, the application of both universal human rights (as individual rights) and cultural rights (recognising specific and/or multiple cultural identities) are not incompatible.
  2. Acknowledge intercultural dialogue at the heart of citizenship and integration strategies. This would imply the recognition of equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities for everyone, while at the same time advocating respect for diversity and interculturality as expressed in the 'unity in diversity' concept of European citizenship. In this context, the expression of values based on different cultural and religious traditions, world views or lifestyles could become a subject for dialogue rather than a reason for discrimination.
  3. Approach intercultural dialogue as a transversal issue which is part of a complex system of governance based on equality and participation. This requires strategic efforts which bring together policy fields addressing: human rights and citizenship, integration of minorities, immigration, social affairs, employment, health, security, social and labour affairs, sectors such as culture, education, sport, and youth. This would also imply the introduction of mechanisms to facilitate cooperation between different levels of government - European, national, regional/local. Designated cross-sector partnerships with civil society actors are equally important as they have been driving forces to promote ICD long before it became a political priority. At the moment, NGOs play a key role where formal ICD structures, policies or programmes are less developed. They require additional support in the form of grants for activities and/or basic infrastructure, particularly in South and Central/Eastern Europe.
  4. Develop strategies which recognise intercultural dialogue as a process of interactive communication withinb and between cultures, which aims to develop a deeper understanding of diverse perspectives and practices; to increase participation and the freedom and ability to make choices; to foster equality; and to enhance creative processes. In particular, such strategies could be built upon the identification of specific ICD barriers within countries such as incidents of discrimination / racism against "visible minorities" or specific groups (e.g. the Roma or Muslims). These can be brought together with existing goals and programmes to promote trans-border cooperation and dialogue within Europe, with its neighbour countries and other world regions
  5. Intercultural dialogue depends upon the opening up of institutional structures. This applies to all institutions regardless of whether they are operating in specific sectors. In the field of education this would mean increased efforts to diversity teaching staff, to re-examine educational resources such as textbooks, to foster multi-perspective and multi-language learning, avoid segregated schools which separate children on the basis of different social or cultural backgrounds. Intercultural approaches in arts and heritage institutions would mean diversifying governing boards and staff as well as the content of programmes by involving artists with different cultural backgrounds and artistic visions. Such institutions can create shared spaces which encourage dialogue and cross-cultural mixing and engage the public (audiences) in programme development which would turn them into creators rather than consumers of identity.
  6. Encourage the active participation of the media/culture industries in ICD. A three-fold strategy could be developed which addresses diversity in: staff policies and governing boards; audits and codes of conduct; and content production and coverage of intercultural and inter-faith issues reflecting European guidelines. The public as content producers are an important resource to involve in the creation of such programmes. Industry representatives and public policy makers are encouraged to work together to find creative ways to implement the UNESCO Convention on the diversity of cultural expressions.
  7. Integrate the development of intercultural competencies and skills as part of an overall political vision or national strategy on life-long learning. Such a strategy would involve the production of special resources such as manuals, toolkits, glossaries to assist teachers at the kindergarten, primary and secondary school levels, the introduction of intercultural modules at the university level for different professional fields such as journalism or heritage management and programmes to 'train trainers' in intercultural literacy and mediation.
  8. Strengthen ICD in EU Neighbourhood policies and conduct an evidence-based evaluation of successes / failures in present and past schemes; the latter is to be developed together with specialists from neighbouring countries. There is also a need to further clarify the potential role of ICD in other development strategies and policies.
  9. Further expand EU cooperation with other European and international bodies. For example through initiatives to monitor ICD and cultural diversity policies in a new framework agreement of cooperation with the Council of Europe in the culture sector or through creating links between EU and UN Years or designated days which focus on issues relevant to cultural diversity, tackling racism and improving intercultural understanding.
  10. Establish a clear concept/definition of intercultural dialogue. This is especially important for the future development of European, national, regional/local policies, strategies and funding programmes to promote intercultural dialogue. It will help avoid potential misinterpretations of their objectives and make it easier to evaluate their success.
  11. Implement and harmonise evaluation methods for ICD programmes and activities, including quality criteria and indicators to assess their impact, taking account of the dynamics at the heart of such processes. Innovation, institutional and attitudinal change as well as sustainability are to be introduced as criteria in the evaluation of intercultural projects.
  12. Improve research methodologies for intercultural comparisons. Further improvements in the comparability of ICD related research and statistics are required. This could be achieved through a support programme for in-depth trans-national investigations (e.g. on the impact of different ICD policies/programmes) and through the creation of a new EUROSTAT working group open to independent researchers and specialists of minority communities.