Building Human rights-based intercultural competences

If one compares the process of intercultural dialogue to the weaving of a tapestry, then intercultural competencies would be its main thread. Having adequate knowledge about one’s cultural environment, receptive attitudes encouraging exchange, and specific skills so as to mobilize both knowledge and attitudes when interacting with diverse others is an indispensable requirement for an open and respectful exchange of views. Intercultural competences empower the participating groups and individuals and enable them to interact with cultural others with a view to bridging differences, diffusing conflicts and setting the foundations of peaceful coexistence.

Drawing upon their conceptual convergence, UNESCO is working to enrich the content of intercultural competences with the principles and values of human rights. This exercise is expected to result in the development of a Port-folio aimed to mainstream the use of human rights-infused intercultural competences in various fields of policymaking. The port-folio contains inter alia Guidelines accompanied by a Training Manual to support such a mainstreaming process. The guidelines and the training manual, intended for a variety of actors and stakeholders, from ministerial officials and planners, to local authorities and youth leaders, are planned to be tentatively tested in pilot countries (from the South-Mediterranean region and from Europe). All these activities are to be implemented throughout 2014. Within this context, the Conceptual and operational Framework on Intercultural Competences was published by UNESCO in 2013.The study explores the meaning of key concepts for the definition of intercultural competences (some already widely accepted, like cultural diversity, cultural identity, intercultural dialogue, and universality, others less frequently used, like intercultural literacy, reflexivity, semantic availability and resilience). It further proposes a five-step plan for operationalizing intercultural competences, one of which, such as respect, self-awareness, adaptation, relationship-building and cultural humility, are regarded as the basic minimum requirements for holding intercultural dialogue. This project was funded by the Government of Denmark and partly implemented in cooperation with the Institut Arabe des Droits de l’Homme base en Tunisie.