Antonius Broek. Speech at the Presentation of the Book “How to Preserve Cultural Originality?”

Antonius   Broek
the Head of the UN Office in Belarus

 Dear Minister of Culture, Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

 It is my pleasure to address you today in the context of the Seminar on Cultural Originality.

 I would like to start my speech by noting that the General Assembly proclaimed 2010 the International Year for Rapprochement of Cultures.The theme of this discussion is «How to preserve national originality?» including the aspect of intercultural dialogue. In this connection I would like to mention the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity adopted in 2001, just after September 11, 2001.It was the first ministerial-level meeting held after those terrible events.For the members States it was an opportunity to reiterate their conviction that intercultural dialogue is the best guarantee of peace.


 Since our discussion will be also touching the issue of partnership with the private sector, I would like to quote one of the articles (No 11)of this Declaration which calls for Building partnerships between the public sector, the private sector and civil society. «Market forces alone cannot guarantee the preservation and promotion of cultural diversity, which is the key to sustainable human development. From this perspective, the pre-eminence of public policy, in partnership with the private sector and civil society, must be reaffirmed».

 The Human Development Report (produced by the UNDP in 2004)with the theme of Cultural Liberty in Today’s World is a useful analytical document to get familiarized with the global debates on the most pressing challenges in this area. The 2004 HDR argues that the expansion of cultural freedoms, not suppression, is the only sustainable option to promote stability, democracy and human development within and across societies. In the current rise of identity politics: people,communities and countries demand that their identities are acknowledged, appreciated and accommodated by wider society. This recognition is vital for human development which is first and foremost about allowing people to lead the kind of life they choose – and providing them with the tools and opportunities to make those choices.

 As the UN Resident Coordinator in Belarus I strongly advocate engagement in the process of different UN agencies bringing their expertise together as well as of all governmental partners, private sector and civil society dealing with the same area. This discussion is an example of possible future partnership between intellectuals, scientists,government and private sector.

Cultural diversity is not possible without national identity.At the same time our strength is in being diverse. «…Each individual must acknowledge not only otherness in all its forms but also the plurality of his or her own identity, within societies that are themselves plural». – Koiichiro Matsuura, UNESCO Director-General.

I wish you fruitful discussions!