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COVID-19: intercultural dialogue is essential for building back better

With 825 million learners out of school, 340 million jobs at risk, and up to 100 million additional people projected to enter extreme poverty, the COVID-19 crisis has exposed and exacerbated vulnerabilities, fragilities, and inequalities in a manner unprecedented in recent history. Evolving on top of an already mounting crisis of civic trust, and a low ebb of commitment to multilateralism, the pandemic represents a unique threat to social peace, working against the very solidarity and cohesion that is needed to find equitable solutions in the current moment.  


This was the message conveyed by Gabriela Ramos, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for the Social and Human Sciences at the High-Level Forum on a Culture of Peace, convened by the President of the UN General-Assembly on 10 September 2020.


The pandemic has demonstrated the fragility of our world. But it has also confirmed that among our growing diversity, we remain fundamentally interconnected and unavoidably interdependent. (...) The need for a culture of peace, the need for UNESCO, is more pronounced today than ever before. Peace is as an essential enabler, and an ultimate outcome of a fairer, sustainable world.

-- Gabriela Ramos, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for the Social and Human Sciences


Opening the Forum with the President of the UN General-Assembly and the UN Secretary-General, the Assistant Director-General underscored the important role that intercultural dialogue must play in forging the trust and cooperation to tackle major risks – from structural inequalities to  systemic discrimination – that both represent our greatest shared challenges, and have played a major role in worsening the effects of the pandemic.


Addressing representatives of UN Member States, she called for an urgent international effort to strengthen the effectiveness of actions to promote a culture of peace and intercultural dialogue, emphasizing that better evidence, stronger coherence, and bolder commitments are needed to address the mounting material hardships and growing social injustices that challenge sustainable peace.