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UN Celebrates Cultural Diversity and Multilingualism

UNITED NATIONS, Mar 21 2014 (IPS) - “We live in a multicultural world. The language we speak affects both the way we think and act,“ said Under-Secretary-General Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal, the UN Coordinator for Multilingualism, at a roundtable discussion on the occasion of the International Francophonie Day on Thursday.

The discussion focused on both cultural diversity and multilingualism, which play an essential role to spread the message of the United Nations throughout the world.

Currently, about 220 million people speak French in 77 countries that are official members of the International Organization of la Francophonie (IOF).

Panelists highlighted the importance of multilingualism for a better understanding of the contemporary world. “Multilingualism is a basic condition to the establishment of an international cooperation,” said Launsky-Tieffenthal, head of the department of public information (DPI).

He added that cooperation and common values have the power to reinforce creativity and build a more inclusive society.

Ambassador Mohammed Loulichki, Permanent Representative of Morocco to the United Nations and President of the Group of Francophone Ambassadors, stressed the need to stand up for multilingualism, which is a federative and connected process.

“Diplomacy and culture have so much in common,” he said.

Manu Dibango, a well-known Cameroonian saxophonist, singer and UNESCO Artist for Peace in 2004, underscored the contribution of artists with a view to peace.

“The constant struggle for peace still exists because war is still in place,” said Dibango. “Between peace and war, artists try to create room for dreams.”

The Chief of Cabinet of the UN High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations, Tariq Al-Ansari,singled out the issue of cultural diversity and multiculturalism in the service of effective international action.

He said that Francophonie is not only a language; it is also about how civilizations can share and communicate with each other.

“Better languages provide better opportunities to understand each other correctly,“ Al-Ansari added. “Francophonie is a catalyst between nations,“ he stated.

By its singular network throughout five continents, and by educational, cultural and political initiatives, Francophonie contributes to the elaboration of a better comprehension between nations.

“Culture must play a stabilizing role as regards human rights and development,” said Filippe Savadogo, Permanent Representative of the IOF to the United Nations.

Quoting Léopold Sédar Senghor, Senegalese poet, politician, cultural theorist and first president of Senegal, he underlined the fact that “culture is at the beginning and the end of development.”

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