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Intercultural Dialogue Europe


Major Challenges Change from being merely a country of emigration (1/3 of those born in Portugal live abroad) to being also a country of immigration (10 % of the population is foreign-born). Subsequent need to find a new approach, adapt public hosting and support policy as well as adopting new regulations and social attitudes in everyday life.
Main InterpretationsInterpretation builds on a long-lasting intercultural experience: Going beyond multicultural co-acceptance and mutual respect to have a real encounter with the "other"; hosting the "other" within us and accept being transformed within that encounter ("OTHERNESS WITHIN"). Basis: Paradigm of an equal value of all cultures and cultural blends, claiming the richness of diversity and dialogue.

1. General authority

Portugal is one of very few European countries where a single public body takes responsibility for policies on intercultural dialogue.

High Commission for Immigration and Intercultural Dialogue
(Alto Comissariado para a Imigração e Diálogo Intercultural - ACIDI)
(http://www.acime.gov.pt/) (formerly High Commission for Immigration and Ethnic Minorities/ ACIME)

Directly under the Prime Minister, it is an interdepartmental support and advisory structure of the Government in respect of immigration and ethnic minorities. Created in 1992, it was changed in 2002 into a public body, recently being renamed and its scope of intervention being broadened.

Policies: The Commissions' priorities are: Making the State the principle source of help for the integration of immigrants; combating social exclusion; sensitising public opinion towards a spirit of welcoming and tolerance; working in a spirit of co-responsibility with the Immigrant Associations and NGOs. The national partnership strategy foresees the involvement of civil society through building a partnerships' network including all kind of actors within society. Culture and Education are seen as public key sectors for ICD. ACIDI has close working relationships - fixed by formal agreements - with around 100 local, regional and national Immigrant Associations. A new Immigration Law is being introduced, slightly enlarging the conditions needed to obtain residence permits. There is a broad national support system for immigrants functioning through a decentralized network of public assistance centres especially dedicated to the needs and questions of immigrants, consisting of: 

National Immigration Support Centres (CNAIs)

There are two CNAIs, in Lisbon and in Porto, offering services for immigrants at national level.

Local Immigration Support Centres (CLAIs)

The approx. 60 CLAIs countrywide offer information, guidance and integration help for immigrants within a local context and including a large involvement from local authorities and local institutions from civil society. Immigrants are supported in such different and important areas as health or employment.  

Mission for Dialogue with Religions

Was established by the Council of Ministers in 2004, shortly being integrated in ACIDI. Contains an approved Action Plan, including:

(a) courses on the administration of intercultural and religious relationships, designed for teachers and workers that have contact with people of diverse religious sensibilities;
(b) establishing an advisory group representing major religious communities; and
(c) publishing significant texts of various religions to promote knowledge, mutual understanding and appreciation.

Policies: Plan for Immigrant Integration (http://www.acime.gov.pt/docs/PII/PII_Ing.pdf)

The plan was approved by the Council of Ministers in May 2007. It proposes a framework for the development of an integrated public policy on the forthcoming years in view of social cohesion.

EYID-coordination body: ACIDI (see 1.)

National implementation strategy: http://ec.europa.eu/culture/eac/dialogue/strategies_en.html

2. Culture

Ministry of Culture

Reinforce expression of cultural diversity in Museums and Cultural Centres; support initiatives which promote interculturality.

Centro Nacional de Cultura

a) Promoting, defending, disseminating and registering Portuguese cultural heritage,
b) promoting "cultural tourism" based on an integrated idea of tourism, environment, heritage and cultural itineraries, and
c) educating the younger generations on a feeling of global citizenship.  

civil society (EX):

Centro em Movimento (CEM)

Lisbon-based Cultural association known for activities connected to dance and movement. It runs projects in schools and in the old Lisbon neighbourhood involving all kinds of audiences - a good example of ICD because of its integration in the milieu, the inclusion of diverse publics and collaboration with universities.

3. Education


Coordinator of Multicultural Education Programmes; created in 1991 as a part of the Ministry of Education, it was integrated as the education and training section into ACIMI in 2003, thus opening at the scale of activities in a transversal way.

Central tasks: Development and systematisation of education and training methods for action in contexts of cultural diversities; Qualification of new trainers in matters of immigration and interculturality; Contribution to thematic debates, developing tools for intercultural mediation; Creation of public awareness of ICD through dissemination in media etc..

Ministry of Education

EX: Campaign "My school fighting discrimination", intending to acknowledge students group actions in the fields of information or training against racism and discrimination, promoting dialogue and cooperation between people with different cultural backgrounds (part of the EYEO 2007).  

Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education

Awareness raising among the scientific community and university decision-makers of the importance of including interculturality issues within the curricula of university study schemes, namely in those of Human and Social Sciences areas.

4. Youth

Ministry of the Presidency, Secretary of State for Youth and Sports

Aims at promoting the social inclusion of children and youngsters from vulnerable social and economic contexts, particularly migrant descendents and ethnic minorities. It supports 120 projects run all over the country.

EX:  "Choices" Programme.

5. Sports

Ministry of the Presidency, Secretary of State for Youth and Sports

6. Other domestic responsibilities of importance for ICD

Ministry of Labour and Social Solidarity

Commission for Equality and against Racial Discrimination (CICDR)

Official executive body involving many private and public organisms and acting independently, in close cooperation with ACIDI. Provides legal assistance and offers information on immigrant's rights and services. 

Associations of minorities and immigrants residing in Portugal

7. Trans-border / International ICD programmes

The Office of International Cultural Relations (GRCI)

GRCI has administrative autonomy and works under the aegis of the Ministry of Culture. Its mission is to contribute towards disseminating Portuguese culture abroad. The Office represents the Ministry of Culture in several international organisations, in particular the European Union, the Council of Europe and UNESCO, collaborating in the preparation and co-ordination of implementation in Portugal of projects directly related to cultural policy, for example, protection of world cultural and natural heritage and cultural diversity.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Providing support to the large number of Portuguese citizens living abroad.

EX: Programme"Portugal in the heart", helping elder Portuguese citizens to finance travels to their home country after more then 10 years of absence.