CITIZENSHIP, IDENTITY AND LINGUISTIC AND CULTURAL DIVERSITY IN A GLOBALIZED WORLD
QUEBEC CITY DECLARATION
Adopted unanimously by the 127th IPU Assembly
(Quebec City, 26 October 2012)
- We, members of parliament gathering in Québec City on the occasion of the 127th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, firmly uphold cultural, linguistic, ethnic, racial, political and religious diversity as a global value which should be celebrated, respected, encouraged and protected within and among all societies and civilizations.
- We are convinced that a diversity of ideas, values, beliefs, languages and cultural expressions among peoples and civilizations enriches our outlook and experiences at the national, regional and international levels.
- We affirm our aspiration to attain harmony and unity in our diversity and the reconciliation of human cultures. We believe that a world where people with their differences co-exist is possible, one where there is awareness of differential solidarity and where a dialogue of civilizations is encouraged. Such a world, which depends on our mutual understanding and acceptance, would be a source of progress for humanity and would lead to the well-being of our global society.
- All individuals must be allowed the full enjoyment of their equal and inalienable rights recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights and humanitarian law treaties and standards. Limitations or restrictions on any of these rights must be consistent with international law, necessary and proportionate. They should not lead to any discrimination whatsoever based on culture, race, colour, language, ethnicity, religion, sex, sexual orientation or political affiliation.
- States thus have an obligation to respect, protect, fulfil and promote the interconnected civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of all individuals. In order to prevent uniformity, each State, together with civil society, must play its role in developing and implementing cultural policies, including by providing the requisite means and creating an enabling environment.
- We affirm the importance of balancing respect for diversity with social inclusiveness and cohesion as a means of building trust within and among societies and as a sine qua non for progress, prosperity and a high quality of life. Differences of language, culture, ethnicity, religion, belief, race and colour are evident in many societies, with no single experience common to all others. In accordance with international law and standards, each society’s efforts to guarantee these rights will reflect its historical, political, economic and social circumstances. The variety of experiences with diversity among societies and civilizations makes it possible to have a constructive exchange of best practices and innovative ideas about the promotion of inclusiveness while respecting diversity.
- The diversity of our societies and civilizations is a prominent feature of our ever more globalized and interconnected world. People and societies are in closer and more frequent contact because of many forces, such as past and recent migration trends, technological advances in communication and transportation and new and more integrated patterns of regional and global trade. These developments have resulted in greater awareness of different ideas and values, as well as in closer ties between various communities and their countries of origin.
- In a world of deepening global and regional linkages and interdependence, States, international organizations and civil society are increasingly cooperating to mitigate the consequences of economic distress, natural disasters and conflicts, events which we believe should not serve as pretexts for restricting diversity or violating fundamental human rights.
- Diversity in a globalized world can facilitate the efforts of States and national parliaments to navigate the complexities of the 21st century by offering opportunities to share different perspectives and ideas on common issues. In so doing, we enhance our knowledge and innovation, develop our shared human capital, promote mutual awareness and understanding of differences and commonalities and enable opportunities for peace and prosperity.
- We are concerned and deeply regret that alienation, intolerance, distrust, racism, aggressive nationalism, ethnocentrism and xenophobia against groups and individuals belonging to religious, ethnic, cultural, linguistic, racial and other communities, among other disturbing forms of discrimination and prejudice, have persisted.
- While reaffirming our commitment to the right to freedom of thought, opinion and expression, we strongly and unequivocally condemn all acts which intimidate and incite to extremism, radicalization, hatred, racism, xenophobia and violence. We reiterate that under no circumstances can violent reactions be justified. Exchanges, education and dialogue that promote peaceful and lawful expressions of anger over grievances, that build mutual respect, trust and confidence on the basis of shared responsibility and international law and standards and that contribute to peace and security should be encouraged and sustained.
- We are alarmed by the deterioration of the economic situation in many parts of the world, which threatens the cohesion of many societies by generating forms of exclusion likely to fuel social tensions and manifestations of xenophobia.
- We stress that the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions presuppose the recognition of equal dignity of and respect for all cultures, including the cultures of persons belonging to minorities and indigenous peoples.
- We affirm that indigenous peoples are full-fledged and equal members of our societies. We are deeply concerned that indigenous peoples, especially indigenous women, are particularly susceptible to political, economic and social marginalization, intolerance and prejudice, which undermine their representation and participation in decisions affecting their well-being, advancement and contributions to society.
- We also affirm that gender equality and respect for diversity are fundamentally linked and we deplore the fact that women belonging to racial, religious, linguistic, cultural and ethnic minorities are particularly vulnerable to political, economic and social alienation and discrimination. Recalling UN Security Council resolution 1325, the 1995 Beijing Declaration issued by the Fourth World Conference on Women, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women we recognize the role that women can play in promoting mutual understanding, tolerance and peaceful relations in diverse societies as equal decision-makers and participants in the political sphere in order to build more stable, inclusive and equitable societies. We emphasize that non-discriminatory and affirmative action measures are needed not only to pave the way to women’s full participation but also to empower them in order to achieve such goals.
- As parliamentarians, we are mindful that representation in and access to institutions of authority and decision-making positions – both in the public and private spheres – and opportunities for effective political, economic and social participation are important elements of inclusion, tolerance, mutual respect and stability in diverse societies. These are enhanced through respect for and fulfilment of international human rights obligations and commitments, inter alia by:
- holding free and fair elections with universal and equal voting rights for all citizens;
- upholding the rule of law, respecting the equality of all persons before the law and their entitlement to the equal protection of the law;
- ensuring freedom of thought, conscience and religion, freedom of expression, including freedom of the media, and freedom of association, which are necessary to promote an active and engaged civil society and a network of global citizens;
- guaranteeing all persons full respect of their civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights;
- explicitly prohibiting discrimination of any kind; and
- providing a legal framework that enshrines and protects these rights and values.
Intercultural dialogue, as a process that comprises an open and respectful exchange between individuals and groups with different ethnic, cultural, religious and linguistic backgrounds and heritage, plays an important role in enhancing knowledge and awareness of differences and commonalities among groups, leading to acceptance of diversity as a source of enrichment, tolerance and inclusiveness. In this context, we stress the importance of justice and dialogue in societies emerging from crisis and conflict in order to promote reconciliation and peaceful co-existence with due recognition of national sovereignty.
Citizenship affords persons opportunities for participating in political and decision-making processes. It is thus instrumental in protecting vulnerable members of diverse societies. It is also an important tool by which disparate elements in a State can share a civic identity that exists simultaneously with, not at the expense of, other identities. Accordingly, statelessness must be reduced and prevented with the assistance of the international community. In particular, solutions for stateless peoples, including persons of indigenous origin and migrant children, need to be found in accordance with national laws.
Interactions with the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government are vital to fostering the inclusion, representation and participation of members of diversity groups. In this context, legislation and policies governing the language(s) of such interactions can contribute to respect for diversity. Accessible and effective development and training in official language(s) will also be beneficial. Moreover, persons belonging to linguistic minorities should not be denied the right to use their own language or to gain access to minority-language education.
Non-discriminatory access to quality education and training is necessary to promote knowledge about civic rights and duties and awareness and tolerance of other cultures and civilizations, thereby facilitating political, economic and social participation and inclusiveness of marginalized groups. Youth who might otherwise be susceptible to alienation, radicalization and extremist ideologies benefit particularly from these measures and are more likely to contribute politically, economically and socially to society at large.
Natural resources are vital to the prosperity of society. In countries with a diverse population, the development of these resources must take duly into account the diversity of values and beliefs of all societal groups, in particular those of indigenous peoples and local communities, thus recognizing the importance of natural resources and ancestral lands to their identity. Accordingly, natural resource development must be managed responsibly in order to ensure that the traditions and interests of these groups are preserved for future generations.
The role of parliaments in protecting diversity at the national level
We call on our parliaments and their members to use all means available to them to protect and celebrate diversity within and among their societies as a global value. These means include, but are not limited to, effective measures to:
- adopt and implement international conventions outlining basic human rights, civil, economic and social rights as well as applicable instruments that recognize and promote efforts to maintain cultural differences and provide special rights to ethnic or linguistic minorities, such as promoting their cultures and the use of their languages in education and through the media;
- enact legislation and adopt political measures designed to strengthen acceptance of diversity among members of different social communities and to nurture understanding, tolerance, mutual respect and friendship among human beings;
- adopt and implement laws, in particular in the area of civil rights, that provide for and enhance the effective participation of diverse groups in decision-making processes, including in parliament;
- prevent, combat and eliminate discrimination; repeal any existing discriminatory laws; and enact legislation to counter the dissemination, in the media and via the Internet, of hate messages;
- heighten public awareness of the role of parliaments in dealing with cultural diversity governance at the national level, notably by celebrating the UN International Day for Diversity (21 May), participating in the UN World Faith Harmony Week (first week of February) or participating in the global campaign “Do one thing for Diversity;”
- promote policies and legislation that favour diversity as a driving force for innovation, prosperity and development at the local and national levels;
- promote policies and legislation that protect and guarantee respect for the full and equal enjoyment of fundamental human rights and freedoms by all members of society;
- ensure that the national legal framework provides effective access to legal protection and remedies for individuals experiencing discrimination;
- ensure access to justice and strengthen the independence and impartiality of the judiciary, which is entrusted with enforcing and ensuring respect for the legal protections related to non-discrimination; and
- ainstream a gender perspective into all of the above-mentioned measures and, in particular, strengthen the representation of women in parliament.
We urge our parliaments to promote the education of children and youth in diversity and plurality in society.
We also call on our parliaments to take effective action in the area of intercultural dialogue, namely to:
- establish and support intercultural dialogue and cooperation involving governments, parliaments and parliamentarians, civil society and groups representing society’s diversity, to increase awareness of the new challenges, expectations and concerns of a culturally diverse population, notably by organizing annual public hearings to encourage active public participation;
- adopt and implement national legislation, policies or strategies for intercultural dialogue as part of a framework that integrates different policy fields, namely: education, youth and sports programmes, and media and culture, which inter aliaprovide the basis for understanding and respecting diversity, facilitate practical experience with intercultural dialogue, connect different value systems and challenge established views; and
- engage and consult with civil society and groups representing cultural, religious, racial, ethnic and linguistic diversity when developing legislation and policies that are of direct concern to them.
The role of parliaments in international efforts to protect diversity
We emphasize the contribution of parliaments to the peaceful co-existence of ethnic, cultural, racial, linguistic and religious groups, minorities, local communities and indigenous peoples and to international reconciliation.
We recall the purposes and principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expression, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and other regional and international instruments that recognize and establish standards for the exercise and enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the civil, economic, political, social and cultural spheres.
We urge our parliaments to encourage States that have not yet done so to ratify and sign international and regional agreements that aim to combat incitement to acts of violence, discrimination and hatred, and to propose international parliamentary initiatives in cooperation with the United Nations to promote this Declaration.
We supportthe efforts of States, relevant bodies within the UN system, other intergovernmental organizations, parliaments and inter-parliamentary organizations, civil society and the media to develop a culture of peace and promote understanding and tolerance among human beings. We encourage them to pursue such efforts, including by promoting interfaith and intercultural interaction within and among societies inter alia through congresses, conferences, seminars, workshops, research work.
We reiterate our commitment to the 2005 UN World Summit Outcome, which acknowledges the importance of respect and understanding of religious and cultural diversity throughout the world. We commend the work of the UN Alliance of Civilizations in improving understanding and cooperative relations among nations and peoples across cultures and religions, and helping to counter the forces that fuel polarization and extremism.
We reaffirm our support for the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, which entered into force on 18 March 2007, and invite national parliaments and parliamentarians to take an active part in the programmes of the United Nations and UNESCO on dialogue among civilizations and cultures and to encourage their governments to contribute to such programmes.
We recall the International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures proclaimed in 2010 by the UN General Assembly and consider it an important vehicle for promoting mutual awareness and understanding and celebrating the diversity of societies and civilizations.
We call on international and regional organizations, inter-parliamentary associations, States and national parliaments to develop tools that enable legislation to protect the rights of indigenous peoples and minorities. We commend the joint efforts of the Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the UNDP, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the IPU in developing a Handbook on the implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We encourage parliaments and States to consult the Handbook for practical ideas and good practices related to improving the situation of indigenous peoples and parliaments throughout the world.
We reaffirm the significant role of the IPU in working towards peace and cooperation among peoples, enhancing interaction between societies and peoples and promoting dialogue among different civilizations and cultures.
We recall our commitments as affirmed in the following resolutions: Migration and development, adopted at the 113th IPU Assembly (Geneva, 2005), Ensuring respect for and peaceful co-existence between all religious communities and beliefs in a globalized world, adopted at the 116th IPU Assembly (Nusa Dua, 2007), Promoting diversity and equal rights for all through universal democratic and electoral standards, adopted at the 116th IPU Assembly (Nusa Dua, 2007), Migrant workers, people trafficking, xenophobia and human rights, adopted at the 118th IPU Assembly (Cape Town, 2008) and the Chiapas Declaration, adopted at the International Parliamentary Conference on Parliaments, minorities and indigenous peoples: Effective participation in politics (Chiapas, Mexico, 2010).
We call on the IPU to strengthen its relationship with the UN Alliance of Civilizations and strengthen its role in fostering inter-parliamentary exchange of information and experience in respect of the implementation of effective measures concerning the protection of diversity within and across civilizations.
We also call on the IPU and the UN Alliance of Civilizations, as well as any other relevant partners, to share information on national approaches, policies and strategies on intercultural dialogue and national legal frameworks upon which intercultural dialogue and cooperation depend.
We urge our parliaments and parliamentarians to strengthen parliamentary dialogue among civilizations and cultures, within the framework of the IPU and the various inter-parliamentary assemblies they participate in, and through bilateral initiatives such as the establishment of inter-parliamentary friendship groups.
We recommend that the IPU and national parliaments, the United Nations, UNESCO and other relevant organizations, collaborate to implement the provisions of this Declaration.
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