Review and strategy, 1946-2000
Editor: Katérina Stenou, Director, Division of Cultural Policies, UNESCO
Synopsis: Chimene Keitner
Published by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO, Paris 2000)
The authors are responsible for the choice and presentation of the facts contained in this book and for the opinion expressed therein, which are not necessarily those of UNESCO and no not commit the Organization.
Cultural pluralism is, by definition, an enduring and central feature of the United Nations Organization. Nevertheless, the way in which cultural differences have been conceived in theory (ideas) and handled in practice (institutions) has varied substantially over the Organization's history. A selective chronological overview of the platforms and programs of UNESCO, the UN agency specifically charged with cultural issues, can offer a guide to some of these developments. While this method of historical sampling may not be all-inclusive, it can prove useful in suggesting some theoretical trends and practical implications of UNESCO's approach to cultural diversity in the past, with a view to reinforcing and refining efforts in the present and future.
Chronologically speaking, four broad periods emerge in the discourse and emphasis of UNESCO documents (looking primarily at Director-General's Reports and, from the mid-1970s, Medium- Term Plans). First, during the period of post-war reconstruction and the establishment of the UN and its related agencies, UNESCO focused on education and knowledge as the key to peace, citing for example the Orient-Occident divide as a major cultural division and source of (needless) misunderstanding and conflict.
This optimistic approach treated nation-states as unitary entities: the idea of pluralism, diversity, or interculturality (these words, although they carry different meanings, are often used interchangeably) was therefore linked to that of international, not intra-national, differences (the terms 'nation' and 'state' also tend to be used interchangeably to delineate both a cultural and a political unit, even though in reality these may have blurred or contradicting geographic boundaries). At this early stage, culture itself seems to have been thought of more in terms of artistic production and external practices than as deeply internalized and identity-creating ways of thinking, feeling, perceiving, and being in the world.
The proliferation of newly independent nations marked the second period, leading to a shift in definitions and emphasis. The unique cultural identities of these nations, a justification for their independence and their international existence, became a central political issue. The concept of culture was expanded to encompass that of 'identity' itself. These developments were accompanied by two forces: a resistance to the homogenizing effects of uniform technology, and a largely unspoken fight against the ideological imperialism of powerful states in an emerging Cold War context. (As it turns out, the Cold War rivalry often gave smaller states additional leverage and allowed them to 'manipulate' the superpowers to their own advantage.)
During the third period, an extension and crystallization of the second, the notion of culture as political power took on added momentum by being attached to the idea of endogenous development. The link between culture and development generated arguments for financial and administrative support to developing countries, countries which claimed a right to define their 'own' paths of development in order to participate equally and fully in international affairs. While attaching specific dates to these periods is not possible since the evolution was gradual and overlapping, the fundamental shift towards an emphasis on the political and material underpinnings of the concept of culture itself remains clear.
The fourth and most recent period has been characterized by a link between culture and democracy, creating an emphasis on the need for tolerance not only between societies, but within them as well. Evidence of tensions on a variety of levels (local and regional, as well as international) has led to a focus on intra-societal problems, especially in urban centers, and on the theoretical and practical questions of minority rights and the coexistence of diverse cultural communities. This emphasis has not replaced the other discourses, but it has attracted significant attention in response to contemporary needs and developments. As in previous periods, UNESCO's definitions and priorities have evolved to accommodate changing social and political realities.
In this perspective, the major shift is due to the acceleration of the process of globalisation, which had not been foreseen during the elaboration of the last Medium-term strategy ( 1996-2001 ). Globalisation has brought a radical change not only in the economic and technological order, but also in the mentalities and the ways of conceiving the world. This new dimension requires a redefinition of the type of actions and strategies to be established in order to preserve and promote cultural diversity, in particular at the time when new global markets are being formed and the statute of cultural goods compared to that of ordinary consumer goods is being debated.
This report will look at these periods in slightly greater detail, sketching the evolution of UNESCO's approach to cultural diversity through selected texts. First, though, a small warning: methodologically speaking, documentary analysis has to rely on words, both those that are used and those that are not used (le dit et le non-dit). This results in the paradoxical situation of using words to interpret and analyze meaning while maintaining some critical distance from them. A certain skepticism is all the more important when reading political texts like Director-General's Reports, which respond to the demands and concerns of Member States, and declarations and resolutions arrived at through negotiations during which semantic compromises may have been reached to mask conflict in vague consensual language. This caveat does not invalidate this exercise-to the contrary, it makes it all the more interesting and important. It simply points to a need for caution in interpretation, and suggests the possibility of conclusions other than those put forth by this preliminary analysis.
In the aftermath of World War II, political leaders sought to make it impossible for history to repeat itself. Criticism of the idealism and ineffectiveness of the League of Nations had a direct impact on the way the United Nations was conceived and established. But though the drafters of the United Nations Charter provided more concrete institutional recourse to sanctions and enforcement measures through the UN Security Council than had existed in the League, they did not ignore the role and importance of ideas, as evidenced in the UNESCO mandate. The famous notion that 'wars begin in the minds of men' prescribed a certain kind of approach to conflict prevention, one that focused on knowledge as the key to understanding and peace. Ignorance was identified as the underlying cause of suspicion, mistrust, and war between 'peoples'. As a result, the key to peaceful relations was the cultivation of the 'intellectual and moral solidarity of mankind' through the efforts of UNESCO. The optimistic faith in the automaticity of this formula: knowledge-+understanding-+peace was made easier by the relatively small number of delegates to the UNESCO Constitutional Conference (18 governments attended the first London Conference, and 44 attended the Constitutional Conference in November 1945) and by their common agenda, rendered all the more urgent by the horror of the recent war.
The purpose of the Organization they created was thus to 'advanc[e],
through the educational and scientific and cultural relations
of the peoples of the world, the objectives of international peace
and of the common welfare of mankind'. The emphasis was placed
on the maintenance, increase, and diffusion of knowledge (art,
monuments, books, science, and history) and of information. The
spread of 'culture' involved increasing access to this general
knowledge base through popular education; 'culture' referred to
historical information and artistic production, not yet understood
explicitly as a particularistic experience with a specific, identity-forming
Culture as such was not yet politicized.
The only hint of the future political power of cultural diversity at this stage came in the Constitution's domestic jurisdiction reservation clause. This was a standard formula, designed to reassure Member States that their sovereignty would not be infringed or reduced as a result of their participation in international institutions. Limits were placed on UNESCO's scope and competence with a view to 'preserving the independence, integrity, and fruitful diversity of the cultures and educational systems of the States Members of the Organization'. Again, the rationale behind this clause was primarily a desire to reassure participating governments, not a preoccupation with cultural diversity per se. Diversity was understood within a model of unitary States, each sovereign over its own people and territory (hence the idea that 'in electing members to the Executive Board, the General Conference shall have regard to the diversity of cultures and a balanced geographical distribution'). Governments acted on their peoples' behalf; the idea that UNESCO would reach over the heads of governments and engage people directly was contrary to its mandate and would likely have prevented the formation of the Organization as a whole.
Only the stipulation that 'the responsibilities of the Director-General and of the [Secretariat] staff shall be exclusively international in character' opened up the possibility for UNESCO itself to embody an international community somehow qualitatively different from its individual members. In the 1940s, the idea of this international community as an actor with duties and responsibilities was clearly ahead of its time. But, like the idea of a more politicized cultural identity, it was an embryonic notion that would develop in time.
Given its postwar origins, it is not surprising that the overriding goal and raison d'être of the United Nations Organization was the establishment and preservation of peace. Culture, like other issues, inscribed itself in this framework. As written in a September 1946 report on 'Les Arts de la Creation', 'l'art transcende la documentation par l'interprétation. Il aide les hommes et les nations à apprendre à se connaître en tant qu'êtres vivants places dans des conditions différentes mais unis dans une même expérience humaine, condition essentielle a l'avènement de la paix dans le monde' (p.1). In this report, diversity is acknowledged within this unified human experience, but it is upheld as a source of richness, not of conflict: 'Chaque nation ou groupe ethnique de la grande famille humaine a ses propres caractéristiques et ses valeurs distinctes et apporte sa contribution au trésor commun de la culture' (p. 2). Art, the concrete product of culture, is a means of exchange and mutual understanding: 'l'art est un moyen de comprendre notre propre culture et celle de nos voisins' (p. 6). With all of these observations, this report echoes the formula in the UNESCO Constitution of knowledge understanding peace, with a similar optimism.
Still, as early as the Director-General's Report of 1947 (written by Sir Julian Huxley), there were indications that this variety of human experiences could lead to conflict. In the face of this possibility, Huxley urged a middle ground between standardization and incomprehension, captured in the now-familiar slogan 'l'unité dans la diversité' (p. 13). However noble, this remained a promise without a prescription, a credo with an as-yet unclarified content. On the one hand, the 1947 Report referred to a 'universal culture'; it did not use the word 'culture' as a metonymy or a substitute for the word 'people' to mean a unique and particularistic group of human beings, as would become common in later years. On the other hand, the project of a 'Histoire Generale des Civilisations' (plural) implied that there were multiple civilizations, not one single category that could adequately embrace all of human experience.
This second idea, the emphasis on particularism rather than on universality, was reflected in the Director-General's observation that culture is diverse, unlike science whose ultimate goal is unity or even uniformity. This diversity could lead to a certain possessiveness-as in the idea of endogenous development as a people's own path of development arising from its unique culture, rather than a uniform or formulaic path prescribed by the dictates of science-but it was not meant to be isolating. Still, the potential for empowerment contained in this diversity was suggested by the goal of preventing smaller nations from being overpowered by the propaganda of more politically powerful ones, a message clearly related to the emerging Cold War context.
From very early on, then, two major issues emerged in UNESCO's platform, linked to each other and both involving a certain internal tension, if not a contradiction: first, the trade-off between unity and difference, and the idea that one could be obtained without sacrificing the other; and second, the idea of individual paths of development, with the benefits of empowerment balanced against the potential dangers of excessive isolation. These were both theoretical and practical problems. In the realm of theory, UNESCO has earned the title of the 'tête pensante' of the United Nations, evolving as it did from the International Institute for Intellectual Cooperation. Huxley's 1947 Report was explicitly aimed at intellectuals and professionals (p. 17), a kind of international 'epistemic community' (to borrow a term from Ernst Haas) designed to facilitate understanding and cooperation through mutual knowledge. But the distinction between theory and practice, intellectualism and geopolitics, would not remain rigid-especially in UNESCO's later years, during which the link between culture and politics was emphasized in order to make culture a higher priority, both rhetorically and in terms of the allocation of material resources.
An overview of some of the section headings in the Director-General's Reports from the 1950's gives a good idea of the way in which culture was perceived and supported. The category 'cultural activities' included: the preservation and protection of works of art, heritage, and artists; international cooperation; and the diffusion of culture. In this sense, culture seemed to occupy an autonomous sphere separate from the social sciences. In 1951, however, subsection 4E of the cultural activities category dealt with 'action in the service of human rights'. Establishing this link between culture and legal rights-'dignité' and 'droits'-was an important step in bringing culture into the political mainstream, making it constitutive (and not simply expressive or a product) of individual and group identity and independence. While it was ECOSOC that was specifically charged in 1952 with the 'Lutte contre les mesures discriminatoires et protection des minorites', UNESCO's emphasis on culture and education also necessarily brought its activities in to the domain of human rights.
In other subtle ways, the question of international tensions and minority rights made its way into the culture umbrella, rather than remaining strictly in the applied social sciences section of the UNESCO agenda. This again reflected a realization that culture could not be limited by definition to artistic production. In the Director-General's 1952 Report, subsection VIIIB invoked the 'Fondements culturels de la solidarité internationale', and urged a 'new humanism' that involves patriotism rather than nationalism (assuming that, in this context, patriotism means allegiance to one's country still compatible with duties to humanity as a whole, while nationalism means an exclusive and potentially aggressive or xenophobic attachment). The recognition of fundamental differences between human beings living in different cultures was clear in the collection 'styles de vie', which presented analyses of various 'national characters'. Again, it was by spreading knowledge about these different characters that understanding was to be achieved, as suggested in the 1945 Constitution.
The question remained as to whether this knowledge-based approach would be sufficient. Subsection 4F of the 1955 Director -General's Report on 'Culture et comprehension internationale', and subsection 6A of the 1957 report on the 'Projet majeur relatif a l'appréciation mutuelle des valeurs culturelles de l'Orient et de l'Occident' both sound very positive and important, but what exactly does 'international understanding' and 'mutual appreciation' entail? Only in later years would the distinctions between attitudes and policies of tolerance, understanding, acceptance, constructive engagement, etc. be elaborated in theory and implemented in practice (either constitutionally, through government projects, or through civil society). Already in 1959, however, subsection 5f of this 'Projet majeur' talked about 'La communication entre les cultures'. Here we find the substitution of the word 'culture' for that of 'people' or 'nation' that marks definitively the acknowledgment of culture as an all-encompassing, and not epi-phenomenal, aspect of a particular group.
Several other elements are worth noting in the 1952 Report. First, the question of industrialization and technical assistance was limited by the concern for cultural diversity, as was evident in the goal of 'une modernisation équilibrée qui preserve l'originalité de leurs valeurs culturelles et sociales' (p. 210). The question of 'social integration' (p. 209) was beginning to emerge, most notably with respect to the 'cultural assimilation' of immigrants-with assimilation being upheld as a positive goal that needed to be achieved so that immigrants could belong to society and fully enjoy their rights, a goal that might be jeopardized by an excessive emphasis on the preservation of unique cultural communities within host societies. This was also reflected in the emphasis on 'mesures pour mettre fin aux discriminations et hater l'integration des groupes qui se trouvent encore exclus de la communaute' (p. 217), with the theoretical and practical difference between policies of assimilation and integration not yet clearly developed. On a concrete level, the Yugoslav National Commission was carrying out a study of 'la politique suivie et des resultats obtenus en ce qui concerne l'integration des minorites nationales et culturelles', suggesting that individuals would need to be treated as members of specific groups in certain political situations, an observation that would take on added importance with the emergence of a discourse of 'the rights of peoples' in later decades.
The theme of mutual knowledge remained important as related to the sciences, as the Report articulated the conviction that if people knew there was no scientific basis for prejudice according to ethnic differences, they would automatically become more accepting and support racial equality (p. 215). Of course, while representing an important element of the struggle to promote equality, this position ignores the political motivations for perpetuating misconceptions and constructing ethnic difference as indicative of natural inequality or socio-political distinctions.
Even the cultivation of international solidarity could be a politically sensitive issue, as evident in the section on education in the 1952 Report. In saying that education 'visait la loyauté de chaque homme a l'egard de chaque nation et de la communauté humaine, son appartenance a une grande famille, sa confiance dans les institutions internationales qui maintiennent et développent l'union et la paix entre tous les peuples' (p. 221 ), the Director-General had to specify that this did not entail replacing national loyalty with international loyalty, but fulfilling international obligations through state patriotism and national obligations. This two-level structure, with the state level remaining the most important but not the sole platform for loyalty, was the definition of a 'civisme international', the best an international organization dependent on the support of its member states could hope to encourage at this point. However conservative, this conception was still qualitatively different from a solely inter-state model with each state completely autonomous and self-sufficient. As the report emphasized, international reality (a 'dépendance mutuelle sans précédent' and a 'multiplication de relations de tous ordres') created a 'champ nouveau de devoirs' that states could not ignore. With this in mind, 'Le programme de l'Unesco, en entier, atteste l'existence et favorise la croissance de la communauté internationale' (p. 223). The Project for a 'Histoire du développement scientifique et culturel de l'humanité', unlike that of the Histoire des civilisations, reinforced the idea of the unity of the human family, and the interconnectedness of progress and development in all areas of the globe.
The 1960 Director-General's Report added two interesting reflections to the 'Projet majeur relatif a l'appreciation mutuelle' between the Occident and the Orient. First, the emphasis on 'programmes de vulgarisation' (p. 166) highlighted the importance of diffusing culture, not just among the intellectuals of different countries, but to the people within countries themselves. Second, the terms used to describe the process of cultural exchange could equally be applied to political exchanges among different cultures, revealing the potential sensitivity of such endeavors: 'la réunion de personnes représentatives de différentes branches des arts et des lettres a permis de poursuivre la confrontation des valeurs de l'esprit et des critères de sensibilité artistique entre l'Orient et l'Occident en tenant compte des nuances capitales dues à la personnalité des créateurs et a l'inspiration qu'ils ne cessent de puiser au sein des cultures les plus diverses' (p. 166). Individuals are not determined by their cultures, but their ways of perceiving and being in the world are necessarily influenced by them. Understanding this precise developmental connection and the implications it can have for interactions among people influenced by different cultural backgrounds is just as important as learning about multiple cultures themselves; it is the question of how difference can shape behavior that is important, going one step beyond the mere acknowledgment that people from different cultures may react differently in the same situation.
An important document emerging from 1960s discussions about culture and its influence on international relations was the Declaration des principes de la cooperation culturelle internationale, a resolution adopted at the 16th General Conference, on 4 November 1966 (marking the twentieth anniversary of UNESCO). Not surprisingly, the Declaration targets 'l'ignorance du mode de vie et des usages des peuples', maintaining the by-now familiar emphasis on knowledge as the key to peace. Article I establishes the importance of each culture, both for the particular people to which it belongs (Article 1.2) and as part of the common heritage of humanity (Article 1.3). Article IV.4 reflects a similar balance, as each individual is supposed to be able to enjoy the culture of any people, not just his/her own. Again, Article VI evokes this trade-off on a different level, urging both mutual enrichment and respect for the originality of each culture in international cooperative endeavors. The ideals of freedom and openness (Article VII) are upheld alongside the imperative of state sovereignty (Article XI.1 ), again suggesting an implicit tension between 'truth' as a common goal and the confrontation among various 'truths' embodied in national states that mayor may not be ideologically or practically compatible with each other. Individual flourishing in accordance with the Declaration of Human Rights could mean flourishing in accordance with so-called 'universal' values, or development in a more culturally-specific context, also recognized as essential in Article 27 of the Universal Declaration. Asserting that particularism and universalism are necessarily complementary is as hollow as insisting that tensions will always exist between them: for principles to have meaning, they must offer a key to achieving concrete solutions, even if the precise formula may vary on a case-by-case basis. The 1966 Declaration was important in enshrining a political will to cooperate, but it failed to work out in detail the modalities and potential contradictions of this push towards cooperation. The politicization of culture brought it closer to the top of the international agenda, but it also raised the stakes in cultural cooperation and intercultural activities.
The need to back rhetoric up with resources became a priority in the late 1960s. This was reflected in a series of meetings, including the December 1967 Monaco Round Table on Cultural Policies, and the August-September 1970 Venice Intergovernmental Conference on the Institutional, Administrative, and Financial Aspects of Cultural Policies. The Director-General's Report of 1969 (section 3.2.d) indicated a study on the 'right to culture', making culture an even more important category by emphasizing an individual's entitlement to it (as articulated previously in Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights). While aid to Member States for cultural development in the 1969 report focused mainly on translation, literary diffusion, and cultural exchanges, the need for material support for cultural development became increasingly clear as UNESCO moved into the 1970s. The 1975-76 Director General's Report linked cultural flourishing to the development and well-being of a nation as a whole ('La culture au service du développement', category 4A); the 1979-80 report highlighted that this challenge to the traditional dichotomy between economics and aesthetics was an essential element of the strategy to promote funding for culture (p. 50).
The idea of endogenous or diversified development, a cornerstone of the 1977- 78 Report, connected culture to development. For newly independent and developing countries, culture provided the unique direction for an autonomous path of progress that would be both politically liberating and economically empowering. Education subsection 1.2 and Social sciences section 2.1.2 of the 1977-78 Report, both entitled 'Appreciation et respect de l'identité culturelle', involved respecting cultural identity as a set of political and economic choices (rather than simply aesthetic ones), a prerequisite for greater equality among nations on the world stage.
Beyond the question of power in international relations, another element was emerging in the study of culture and cultural policies. As noted in the 1977-78 Report, 'La principale nouveauté du programme d'étude des cultures est la part faite a l'interculturel' (p. 46). As part of this change in direction, 'on s'efforce d'approfondir l'étude des cultures régionales' and 'un intérêt accru est porte aux régions culturelles qui sont en elles-mêmes des centres de synthèse ou se sont mêles des influences et des apports culturels divers'. The question of intra-societal cultural diversity often had been underplayed or overlooked in the post-war context, when peace and understanding between sovereign states was a higher priority for international organizations than peace and understanding within those states. This was especially true for an organization like UNESCO, whose mandate explicitly prevented it from 'interfering' in the internal affairs of its members. In fact, it became increasingly clear that many of the same issues arose in intercultural relations within as between societies. In both cases, as noted in the 1977-78 Report, 'Les reunions qui ont été organisées ont en effet abouti a des recommandations portant sur des plans d'action qui comportent l'étude des valeurs convergentes, sans négliger la reconnaissance des différences' (p. 46). While the suggestion that strategies might prove useful on both the intra- and inter-national levels would become an important part of the UNESCO platform, this balance between emphasizing 'convergent values' and 'recognizing differences' proved easier to uphold in theory than it was to implement in practice.
The Medium- Term Plan for 1977-82 identified a number of these
This Plan included some of the following objectives, which help illustrate the priorities in the study of culture during that period:
The question of how to encourage identity-affirmation while preventing divisiveness or reclusion was illustrated in the 28 November 1978 General Conference Resolution 4/01 on Culture and Communication, which put forth the threefold goals of 'epanouissement-développement-solidarité', hoping that these could reinforce rather than work against each other. Earlier that year, at the Bogotá Intergovernmental Conference on cultural policies in Latin America and in the Caribbean, it had been concluded that 'il ne saurait y avoir de politique culturelle sans une politique appropriée de la communication' (p. 3). The conference was held from 10-20 January, and the Director-General issued his Report on the Conference on 28 July (from which these citations are drawn). The major themes of the conference were cultural identity, cultural development, and cultural cooperation. The fourth in a series of regional intergovernmental conferences on the issue of cultural policies, this particular conference saw 'Une remarquable convergence de points de vue sur l'essentiel des problemes'; indeed, the Director-General reported that 'la Conference marque pour l'Unesco un tournant de la coopération culturelle' (p. 1 ). The idea that cultural pluralism could be 'the very essence of cultural identity' challenged the picture of culturally monolithic states and introduced the notion, familiar in the Caribbean, of a 'culture de métissage'. Given this tremendous diversity, the conclusion was reached that 'la diversité culturelle des peuples doit être considérée comme facteur d'équilibre et non de division'. Taking advantage of this potential would involve 'La reprise en main, par les peuples, de leur propre destin, tout en renforçant leur ouverture sur le monde'. Empowerment would lead to exchanges, not exclusions.
The by now well-established idea of culture as the very essence of a people, and not just a product or a means, is clear in the Bogota declaration: 'La culture, en tant qu'ensemble de valeurs et de créations d'une société et expression de la vie même, est essentielle a celle-ci et n'est pas un simple moyen ou un instrument accessoire de l'activité sociale' (p. 1 ). In the Bogotá spirit, communication would ensure 'liberty, authenticity, universality' (p. 3), and cultural cooperation would provide the link between diversity and solidarity, with UNESCO as an institutional facilitator. The conference report is encouragingly positive, but the precise balance between particularism and universalism remained to be clarified. Its optimistic slogans still had to be matched by the implementation and success of more concrete arrangements.
The Director-General's Report of 1979-80 expressed a concern that 'le decalage entre les concepts et leur application pratique restait trop grand' (p. 60). It stressed that the relationships between cultural development, cultural policies, and governmental responsibility still needed to be specified. With respect to cultural rights, the Director-General's Report of 1981-83 referred to Resolution 4101 and encouraged 'la mise en oeuvre de la Recommandation concernant la participation et la contribution des masses populaires a la vie culturelle et les études sur les législations culturelles nationales' (XXII). As indicated above, the management of cultural pluralism was acknowledged as an issue within societies, as well as between them. Hence the 1981-83 report's reference to studies on 'les personnes et les groupes en situation pluriculturelle' (p. 58), and the idea of migrant workers 'Living in Two cultures'. Cultural rights could be claimed by individuals and groups within developed and developing countries, not just by less powerful states themselves.
The Mondiacult Conference held in Mexico in July-August 1982
was a high point in UNESCO's activity in the culture sector in
the 1980s. The Mexico Declaration on Cultural Policies included
a definition of culture and an explanation of its role, demonstrating
the evolution of these concepts since UNESCO's creation. The Declaration
noted that 'dans son sens le plus large, la culture peut aujourd'hui
être considérée comme l'ensemble des traits
distinctifs, spirituels et matériels, intellectuels et
affectifs, qui caractérisent une société
ou un groupe social. Elle englobe, outre les arts et les lettres,
les modes de vie, les droits fondamentaux de l'être humain,
les systèmes de valeurs, les traditions et les croyances'
(p. 39). According to this definition, the concept of culture
itself contains both the universal and the particular:
The universal idea of fundamental human rights, and the particular traits, beliefs, and ways of living that allow members of a group to feel a special and unique bond with other members.
The Mexico Declaration also defined the role of culture as broad and encompassing: 'la culture donne à l'homme la capacité de réflexion sur lui-même. C'est elle qui fait de nous des êtres spécifiquement humains, rationnels, critiques et éthiquement engages. C'est par elle que nous discernons des valeurs et effectuons des choix. C'est par elle que l'homme s'exprime, prend conscience de lui-même, se reconnaît comme un projet inachevé, remet en question ses propres réalisations, recherche inlassablement de nouvelles significations et crée des oeuvres qui le transcendent' (p. 39). This more sophisticated view of culture as a universal faculty, rather than a rigid set of practices, allows the maximum potential for flexibility and transcendence. It builds the ideas of renewal, reevaluation, and critical choice into the definition of culture itself, preempting the criticism that cultural particularism can become a bulwark against intercultural sharing and solidarity. Further clauses in this Declaration reflect the more traditional view of culture as highly specific, thereby preventing the more sophisticated notion of culture as critical evaluation from becoming so open and non-specific that it loses its relevance and potency. This constant attempt to balance affirmation with openness, a central pillar of the approach to culture crystallized in this document, represents an important counterweight to the excessive politicization of cultural identity at the expense of a search for common values. Finally, the realization that cultural diversity needs to be managed within societies themselves, and the recognition that no culture can live isolated in today's interdependent world, underlies this Declaration and its principles.
The Medium- Term Plan for 1984-89 followed up on the theme of specificity and universality. It affirmed that 'Chaque patrimoine culturel est un bien commun a l'humanité' (p. 232), suggesting the importance for all cultures of preserving and respecting each one of them. A more detailed study was also envisioned on this general topic: 'Le cinquième sous-programme (Etude sur la spécificité et l'universalité des valeurs culturelles) comprend des études et recherches visant à approfondir les notions de valeur culturelle et de spécificité des valeurs culturelles; a eclairer les conditions d'un equilibre entre l'affirmation de l'identite et les imperatifs d'une cohabitation harmonieuse et d'un enrichissement mutuel des cultures; a preciser sur le plan methodologique la definition d'un ensemble de valeurs communes, d'ordre esthetique et ethique, largement partagees, et a degager les conditions de leur reconnaissance par les individus, les societes et la communaute internationale' (p. 235). A recognition of the importance of these issues was the first step towards developing more thoughtful and useful approaches to them.
On a very concrete level, the situation of apartheid focused attention on the question of diversity and equality. As the Medium-Term Plan noted, the July 1950 Declaration on race 'montrait que l'enjeu du racisme n'était pas seulement le déni de l'égalité a l'égard de certaines populations, mais la mise en question de l'unité de l'espèce humaine' (p. 245). The Plan highlighted that 'Ce que la politique délibérée de l'apartheid met fondamentalement en jeu est un choix entre l'image de l'être humain que l'Unesco a reçu mandat de défendre au nom de la communauté internationale et l'image qui résulte de cette politique' (p. 246), and that 'l'apartheid représente l'aboutissement logique et le stade ultime du colonialisme' (p. 255). The politicization of cultural identity as a potential liberating factor within societies themselves was illustrated clearly and dramatically by these condemnations of apartheid policies, showing the connection between identity and human rights that had been theorized in UNESCO documents.
Liberation was an imperative for groups within society and
for societies themselves, even long after the initial wave of
decolonization: 'La negation des droits des peuples à l'autodetérmination
entraîne la négation des autres droits de l'homme
et des libertés fondamentales' (p. 263). This Medium-Term
Plan acknowledged 'la multiplicité des conditions-non seulement
politiques et juridiques, mais économiques, sociales, culturelles-qui
sont indispensables a la jouissance et a l'exercice par tous les
peuples d'une indépendance véritable, c'est-à-dire
de la capacité de forger leur devenir conformément
a leurs aspirations' (p. 263). The link between culture and politics,
dating from several decades earlier, was fortified by the focus
on democracy and the promotion of economic, social, and cultural
rights both within societies and in the international arena. As
always, this affirmation of specificity was tempered by the perennial
question, 'Est-il possible de dégager un ensemble significatif
de valeurs partagées par toute l'humanité?' (p.
234). Even though many of UNESCO's conceptual models and practical
priorities have shifted over the years, certain fundamental and
enduring questions remain at the center of its discourse and programs.
On 8 December 1986, at its 100th plenary meeting, the United Nations General Assembly issued the Proclamation of the World Decade for Cultural Development. Its goals were: acknowledging the cultural dimension of development, affirming and enriching cultural identities, broadening participation in culture, and promoting international cultural cooperation. The links between culture and politics, development, and democracy were all evident in these four objectives-again, implicitly, on both the inter-national and intra-national levels. The Director-General's Report for 1988-89 highlighted this connection between the domestic and international levels, stating that 'the effective exercise of cultural and linguistic rights is becoming increasingly important in resolving national and international conflicts and protecting human rights' (p. 77). An international meeting of experts at the UNESCO headquarters in November 1989 focused on the concept of the rights of peoples, with special reference to the relationship between peoples' rights and human rights, as the latter are defined in universal international instruments (p. 76). An international symposium in collaboration with the Societé Française de Philosophie looked at 'Philosophy and the French Revolution- The Universal Ideal and its Limits', while another symposium studied 'The Three Declarations of Human Rights: 1776, 1789, and 1948'. All of these projects showed the desire to achieve universality without imposing uniformity, as even 'universal' human rights have been challenged as culturally-specific and imperialistic by societies who feel threatened by external standards in whatever form.
The Medium-Term Plan for 1990-95 emphasized the unique role of UNESCO and the importance of 'les travaux que seule l'Organisation peut mener à bien, c'est-à-dire des projets interculturels requerrant une coopération culturelle internationale' (p. 85). While lamenting a serious insufficiency of financial resources for the study of culture and intercultural studies (p. 84), the Plan demonstrated a keen awareness of the contemporary global situation, summarized as follows:
Given these conditions, the 1952 conception of a 'civisme internationale' seems equally relevant in the 1990s, combining particular, culturally-rooted loyalties with broader and more universal obligations derived from membership in a common humanity. A primary role for UNESCO in coming decades will be contributing to the theoretical elaboration and practical implementation of these more dynamic, multi-layered concepts.
The Director-General's Report for 1990-91 began to devote greater attention to these areas, with an increasing emphasis on democracy, and on the expansion of peace and intercultural dialogues (X). The September 1991 Prague International Forum on Culture and Development explored 'ways of building a new concept of citizenship, based on greater awareness and accountability, through developing the civic dimensions alongside the purely political aspects'. Related to this project were UNESCO's continued efforts in the area of peoples' rights, self-determination, and cultural identity, with a plan to prepare 'a specific study on autonomy and new political arrangements as well as on multiculturalism as an alternative model to assimilation and integration for dealing with the rights of national minorities' (p. 81 ). Far from the days when assimilation was regarded as a goal for migrant workers-the only way for them to enjoy rights as members of the host society-this newer model of multiculturalism allowed for a greater preservation of cultural diversity and autonomy within societies themselves, with the hope that the ties of citizenship would hold together those from different cultures within a single state. The questions of how value-free this conception of citizenship could or should be, what degree of sameness or consensus is required as a minimum social cement in a given society, and how multiculturalism can work to hold societies together while at the same time giving free expression to that which might otherwise threaten to break them apart, all remain highly relevant, and largely unresolved, in the present day. The priority of promoting 'the cultural expression of minorities in the context of cultural pluralism' remained central in the early 1990s, for example in the Director-General's Report on 1992-93 (XIII), in the 1994 Seoul International Meeting on Democracy and Tolerance, and in the proclamation of 1995 as the UN year for tolerance, explained by the Director-General in his 1994-95 report as 'promoting the idea, and above all the practice, of "active" tolerance'. But this emphasis did not replace previous ones, especially the enduring connection between culture and development. In Apri11993, a seminar was held in New Delhi on Cultural Identity and Development, and in Hanoi on the Cultural Dimension of Development. 21 May 1993 was designated the World Day for Cultural Development, and the WCCD report on 'Our Creative Diversity' focused on development as inseparable from culture in every respect, even in a post-colonial context.
Where, then, is UNESCO now? The Medium-Term Strategy for 1996-2001 continues to emphasize intra-state conflicts, 'dont les sociétés pluriethniques, pluriculturelles ou multiconfessionnelles constituent le terrain de prédilection' (p. 6). These conflicts, stemming from 'la peur de la difference', menace global security and societal cohesion. The idea that 'le nouveau monde qui se dessine est sans doute beaucoup moins homogène, et partant beaucoup moins "gouvernable", qu'il n'y paraît' (p. 7) highlights an urgent need for concepts and strategies to address and to manage these forces. While the assumption that homogenous populations are more easy to govern than plural ones may not be as self-evident as this statement suggests, the observation that conflicts can erupt along perceived lines of cleavage between populations cannot be ignored. The job of the United Nations, according to the Medium- Term Strategy, is to attempt 'd'ordonner une société internationale qui tout à la fois se mondialise et se fragmente' (p. 7), notably by building and maintaining peace on the bases of 'equity, justice, and liberty'. The key is to find definitions of 'equity, justice, and liberty' that all peoples can accept and live with: in other words, to identify common values that could constitute 'la base d'un vouloir-vivre en commun' (p. 48). The Medium- Term Plan's high priority, repeated again and again, of creating 'les politiques publiques permettant de renforcer la cohésion sociale au sein des sociétés multi-ethniques ou multiculturelles' (p. 49), and its emphasis on the special need to focus on 'la gestion des rapports inter-communautaires' (p. 49), represent the culmination of a trend that began in the 1980s and that has become increasingly prominent and important in the present day.
As seen above, the connection between culture and knowledge made UNESCO central in the quest for achieving peace; the connection between culture and politics made cultural identity crucial to the quest for political independence; the connection between culture and development allowed new countries to build economic power and to assert themselves on the world stage; and the connection between culture and democracy focused attention on intra-state as well as inter-state cultural relations. Now, approaching the twenty-first century, the implicit connection between culture and security may also serve to reinforce the importance of positive intercultural relations as a cornerstone of international peace, with all of the financial and administrative support this priority requires.
In discussing international security, the Director-General in the Medium- Term Strategy is careful to restrict himself to UNESCO's specific constitutional mandate to 'batir la paix dans l'ésprit des hommes-en aidant a construire les bases, intellectuelles et morales, de la réconciliation entre des parties en conflit' (p. 50). In fact, he need not be quite so cautious: a potential historical precedent for UNESCO's role in peace-building has existed untapped for decades. The Director-General noted in his 1952 Report that the theoretical foundations existed for UNESCO to participate in peace-keeping activities (although no request had yet been made for this service): 'pour la premiere fois, le programme de 1952 comprend-il une resolution m'autorisant : "a collaborer, sur la demande du Conseil economique et social des Nations Unies et avec l'approbation du Conseil executif, par des etudes, des enquetes ou des conseils d'experts en matiere de sciences sociales, a l'action des Nations Unies, so it pour maintenir la pa ix dans des regions ou des conflits risquent d'eclater, soit pour restaurer la vie normale des communautes" nationales, apres cessation des hostilites, dans des regions troublees par des conflits' (p. 208). This is precisely the kind of action that could be extremely useful on the contemporary world stage, if carefully planned and coordinated with the UN and other international bodies. UNESCO has come a long way in the past half-century but, despite certain changes, the continuity in its mandate and mission is also unmistakable. Intercultural relations are, indeed, an international security issue. As UNESCO's history has demonstrated, the need to study and to handle situations of cultural pluralism on every societal level will remain a vital and indispensable focus for the Organization's activities. This attention to cultural pluralism will ensure that UNESCO remains proactive and relevant in the most pressing areas of international relations today.
While taking note of this continuity, it is also necessary to acknowledge that new challenges have arisen during these last years in relation to the extension of the globalization process. This movement brings both unprecedented potentialities of expression and innovation, and the risk of marginalization of the most vulnerable cultures. Taking advantage of the new possibilities being offered by globalization and regulating it are vital actions so that all cultures may achieve full recognition, without undergoing exclusion in an emergent global economy.
In this perspective, UNESCO highlights the necessity to protect tangible and intangible heritage in its plural aspects, as well as the diversity of contemporary intellectual and artistic creation. Cultural goods indeed are not mere consumer goods; they express a vision of the world and the most complete identity of individuals and peoples. Particular attention is paid, therefore, to the commercial exploitation of cultural goods which are also symbols of identity. This means taking copyright into consideration and remaining vigilant as to the respect of intellectual property and the constitution of new global markets. It is equally important, in the view of UNESCO, that the development of new technologies should not weaken cultural diversity. In this regard, UNESCO insists on the need to promote pluralism of media, linguistic diversity and the presence of local contents in the cyberspace. By including the new economic and technological dimension induced by globalization in the definition of its strategy, UNESCO is involved in promoting cultural diversity, when it faces new challenges without supporting cultural relativism or fundamentalism.