Whilst dialogue is widely promoted as an instrument to advance peace, little is currently understood about what conditions are needed for it to be effective, making it difficult to understand the impact of interventions on the ground. Strengthening the evidence base on what enables dialogue to work is therefore much needed, and indeed is something that UNESCO’s Member States identified as a priority area for work in their responses to the 2017 Member State Survey on Intercultural Dialogue.
It is against this charge that UNESCO, in partnership with the Institute of Economics and Peace, has launched an ambitious new initiative to measure the structural and interpersonal conditions that enable dialogue to be an effective instrument for peacebuilding, covering themes such as inclusivity, stability and absence of violence, and cultural literacy.
The proposed measurement framework was scrutinized for its relevance and validity at a technical expert meeting held on the 5th and 6th of December at UNESCO’s Headquarters. Ms. Nada Al-Nashif, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences, opened the meeting by stressing that ‘more effective dialogue processes are needed to reinforce the values and strengthen the institutions that encourage understanding over discrimination, cooperation over mistrust, and peace over conflict, and without this, reaching the ambitions of the 2030 Agenda will be impossible’.
The experts attending the meeting – who represented institutions including the World Bank, the OECD, UNDP, the Council of Europe, the Nordic Cultural Fund, Global Affairs Canada, the Institute of Economics and Peace, the CELL Foundation (The Netherlands), City University (UK), Durham University (UK), Deakin University (Australia) and Pontifica Universidade Catolica de Sao Paulo (Brazil) – offered insights and reflections to refine the suggested measurement framework, which will now be consolidated into a final draft (to be published in early 2019), and also reflected on how the data can be applied in innovative new initiatives on the ground.
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