Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, December 17th, 2018

Intercultural Dialogue Crucial in Preventing and Ending Cultural Conflicts


Intercultural Dialogue Crucial in Preventing and Ending Cultural Conflicts

Thinking as a global citizen there are a lot of new opportunities and threatening issues to global peace process that must be consciously dealt with. One of the common raised problems is clash of cultures. To be better understood, first, culture itself is considered as the set of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features of society or a social group and that it encompasses, in addition to arts and literature, lifestyle, ways of living together, value systems, traditions and beliefs. In fact, human relationships occur not only between individuals and that they cannot be circumscribed by relationships between states. They happen between groups with values, norms, models, behaviours, and ways of representing others that are more or less formalized in institutions. Relations between human groups thus carry huge cultural weight. Traditionally these relationships have been bounded by geographical limits, even if human history has also been built out of distant relationships and an expanding segment of the "elites" has been in continuous exchange with foreign cultures. The rapid evolution of transport and communication has brought the globalization of cultural flows. Today the media, even more than transport and elite mobility, play a growing role in interactions between societies and cultures. In this context, the large media conglomerates are persistently criticized from those in other cultures who see them as instruments for promoting the success of western values and ways of understanding and establishing a profoundly unequal "dialogue."
The cultural diversity can be threats and sources of hatred, and also it can be opportunities for global peace and cultural enrichment through mutual understanding and equal intercultural dialogues. But unfortunately, the peaceful relations among peoples and nations are threatened in the contemporary world by alienation, misconceptions, lack of respect, exclusion, marginalization and ignorance of other cultures, traditions, beliefs and history.  In addition, tensions and dangerous acts of violence have arisen due to essentialist approaches to religions and civilizations, mutual fears, stereotyping and preconceived ideas, perceptions of injustice, use of double standards, disregard for international law, and situations of occupation and oppression.
Is it highly important to have a common understanding of cultures especially between people of different cultures? On something so closely linked to values, can a discussion lead to realistic proposals for balanced relationships between societies and cultures as globalization creates new interfaces between them? Can we do justice to the economic dimension of culture and the concrete political consequences of its fundamental role for all societies? Could the main challenge of globalization be finding ways to organize relations between societies defined through different cultures and different, evolving cultural entities that go well beyond existing economic or interstate frameworks? It is the right times to raise the important questions of our time: how are we prepared to understand other cultures? How well our children are trained to be acceptable citizens for global village? Does Western cultures perceive our culture? Do media productions, newspapers and cinemas follow the right policy leading to global peace? Unfortunately, the answer is largely negative; however, there are some achievements!
Developing international strategies for the modern world to becoming a secure home to people from diverse cultures inclusion of all philosophies is a vital need. In the other words, inclusive intercultural dialogue is a crucial strategy to peace-building. Indeed, Intercultural dialogue as a means of conflict prevention and resolution, as well as peace-building could only be truly effective if all concerned parts are included.  And it is important to notify that no cultural dialogue can succeed when inequalities are too great or when it is controlled by the most powerful.
In addition, promoting cultural pluralism as a defence tool to individual and collective freedom respecting universal values is a great milestone experienced yet. The major elements are summarized as following:
1) It calls first for the recognition of the strategic dimension of relations between geo-cultural entities in a globalized world. If we admit that security is an issue that not only concerns individuals and the physical territory of states, but that it also has fundamental cultural dimensions, geo-cultural issues should be dealt with the same importance as geo-politics geo-economics. Shouldn't geo-cultural entities, largely absent from the current international system, play a role similar to the one assumed by "regional entities" for certain kinds of international issues, and can be areas of privileged cultural exchanges?
2) Because geo-cultural entities do not necessarily overlap states, and because what is at issue for culture and identity is not simply private, we need to create a new place between societies and cultures that is irreducible both to the present international system and to the market. It could be a regime adapted to the specific conditions of cultural exchanges and that would try to reconcile the needs of the logic of identities with the logic of markets, by adopting measures coming out of 5 principles governing such a regime: managed market opening, multi-functionality, precautionary principle, responsibility and reciprocity.

3) Because the interstate system is no longer sufficient to deal with geo-cultural issues, it is necessary to conceive a new kind of political body, for conservation, proposition and supervision, open to different actors concerned by cultural dialogues and who will try to reconcile their interests to establish, by co-decision and co-regulation, in a place where they will have to assume their respective responsibilities. Such a World Council of Cultures (WCC) would be the counterpart of the Security Council as well as of the Social and Economic Council.

Mohammad Zahir Akbari is the newly emerging writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammadzahirakbari@ gmail.com

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