Home | News    Friday 16 July 2004

UN report says cultural diversity vital for human development


NAIROBI, July 15, 2004 (IRIN) — A UN human development report launched on
Thursday argues that respecting cultural diversity could prevent conflict
and enhance development. It urges states to adopt policies allowing people
to choose their own identities without fear of discrimination.

"Cultural liberty is about allowing people the freedom to choose their
identities - and to lead the lives they value - without being excluded
from other choices important to them (such as those for education, health
or job opportunities)," says the Human Development Report 2004 launched by
the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

The report, entitled
"Cultural Liberty in Today’s Diverse World", stressed that cultural
liberty was a human right and an important aspect of human development
worthy of state attention and action.

It identified two forms of cultural exclusion. In the first - "mode
exclusion" - groups of people are denied recognition and accommodation of
a lifestyle that a group chooses to have, and an insistence that
individuals must live exactly like all others in society. Examples of this
kind of exclusion include religious oppression or the insistence that
immigrants must drop their cultural practices and language.

In the second - "participation exclusion" - people are subjected to
discrimination or suffer disadvantage in social, political and economic
opportunities because of their cultural identity.

The report noted that both forms of cultural exclusion could lead to
conflict or the suppression of cultural liberties, including the use of
ethnic cleansing, and formal restrictions on the practice of religion,
language and citizenship.

"Policies recognising cultural identities and encouraging diversity to
flourish do not result in fragmentation, conflict, weak development and
authoritarian rule. Such policies are both viable, and necessary, for it
is often the suppression of culturally identified groups that leads to
tensions," the report said.

"Individuals do have multiple identities, and those identities are
complementary, they do not have to be competing; you can have the identity
of being a Kenyan on the one hand, and yet at the same time have the
identity of belonging to a linguistic group, an ethnic group or religious
group," said Santosh Mehrotra, a co-author of the report, when he briefed
reporters in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, on Tuesday.

According to the report, cultural differences are not in themselves causes
for violent conflict. "It is not the identity itself, it is the
politicisation of one’s cultural identity," said Mehrotra.

"If states were to take into account of what we call the three Rs -
Recognition [of cultural or religious identity], [political]
Representation and Redistribution [of economic resources]- then it is
possible for states to build multicultural democracies," he added.

The report argued that conflicts in Liberia, Sri Lanka, Sudan and Sierra
Leone were not necessarily conflicts of identity, but had resulted from
the politicisation of ethnic identity.
It also said culture did not require the defending of traditional
practices. "Cultural liberty is about expanding individual choices and not
about defending tradition," said Mehrotra.

The report also sought to debunk the myth that ethnically diverse
countries had less ability to develop, and gave the examples of Malaysia
and Mauritius, two multiethnic states that had achieved considerable
economic growth in recent decades. It also said there was no evidence that
some cultures were more amenable to economic development or democracy than

The UNDP report called for policies that promoted equitable growth to
achieve socio-economic inclusion of all groups, noting that in many
African countries, state-based control and distribution of mineral
resources became a key source of ethno-regional wealth disparities and

In Sudan, for example, the discovery and distribution of oil became the
major source of post-independence conflict, with the government annexing
oil-bearing land in the south," the report noted.

Comments on the Sudan Tribune website must abide by the following rules. Contravention of these rules will lead to the user losing their Sudan Tribune account with immediate effect.

- No inciting violence
- No inappropriate or offensive language
- No racism, tribalism or sectarianism
- No inappropriate or derogatory remarks
- No deviation from the topic of the article
- No advertising, spamming or links
- No incomprehensible comments

Due to the unprecedented amount of racist and offensive language on the site, Sudan Tribune tries to vet all comments on the site.

There is now also a limit of 400 words per comment. If you want to express yourself in more detail than this allows, please e-mail your comment as an article to comment@sudantribune.com

Kind regards,

The Sudan Tribune editorial team.

Comment on this article

The following ads are provided by Google. SudanTribune has no authority on it.

Sudan Tribune

Promote your Page too

Latest Comments & Analysis

Pragmatic patriarchy of Sudan over South Sudan 2018-09-22 09:28:17 James Okuk, PhD “We honour the human capacity to manage our collective lives with peace and even, at times, dignity” – Barbour & Wright The political process of Sudan and South Sudan has (...)

Salient features of South Sudan latest peace deal 2018-09-21 05:36:06 By Roger Alfred Yoron Modi Last week, the government of South Sudan under President Salva Kiir, various armed and unarmed opposition groups and other parties, including the SPLM/A-IO led by Dr (...)

Open letter to South Sudan Civil Aviation Authority 2018-09-19 04:05:10 By Telar Ring Deng On the cold morning of 9th September 2018, we were all in utter shock and bewilderment at the very tragic accident that occurred in Eastern Lakes State when a Plane crashed (...)


Latest Press Releases

Unity State community in Kenya supports Khartoum peace agreement 2018-08-17 08:33:21 PRESS STATMENT 14th Aug, 2018 Re: We shall Rally behind Khartoum Peace Agreement The Unity State Community Association in Kenya was established in 2010 to organize and mobilize the people of (...)

The Suspension of Hurriyat Online Newspaper 2018-04-29 07:04:37 Sudan Democracy First Group 28 April 2018 The Sudanese civil and political circles and those concerned with Sudan were shocked by the news that the management of Hurriyat online newspaper has (...)

Petition on the Deteriorating Human Rights and Humanitarian Situation in Sudan 2018-04-22 10:01:20 UN Secretary-General, New York African Union Commission, Addis Ababa UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Geneva Petition on the Deteriorating Human Rights and Humanitarian Situation in Sudan (...)


Copyright © 2003-2018 SudanTribune - All rights reserved.