You are here


Democracy and the Accommodation of Diversity: Advancing Pluralism Through Power Sharing, Self-Governance and Limited Government
Place of publication | Year of publication | Collation: 
Ottawa | 2018 | 12 p.
Rotimi Suberu
Corporate author: 
Global Centre for Pluralism (Canada)
Europe and North America
© Centre mondiale du pluralisme (Canada) 2018

Democracy is, paradoxically, both essential and precarious in diverse and divided societies with deep cultural or ethnic (i.e., linguistic, regional, religious, racial, and other attributes of identity) divides. group). There are examples of relatively non-violent management of ethnic diversity in undemocratic systems, including the Ottoman Empire's millet system to accommodate non-Muslim communities; the British colonial system of indirect administration; and the informal ethnic balancing practices of many African dictatorships. However, the majority of ethnicity scholars agree that undemocratic regimes are often unsuccessful - and ultimately, unsustainable - managers of ethnic diversity, and that there are "no viable alternatives. democracy ”as a pluralist, peaceful, just and sustainable system of governance of such diversity. This is because basic democratic practices, including credible multiparty elections and effective protections for civil rights and freedoms, are essential for the proper articulation, representation and accommodation of competing ethnic interests.


Resource Type: 
Advocacy materials
Case studies and research papers
Civic / Citizenship / Democracy
Cultural literacy / Intercultural / Cross-cultural / Multi-cultural
Human rights / Human dignity
International understanding / Globalisation / International education / Interdependency
Peace / Culture of peace
Social justice / Equity
Level of education: 
Lifelong learning
Non-formal education


Democracy; Diversity; Power; Self-governance