Summary of the report
The Commission defines cultural diversity as having just as much value as biodiversity; it brings us into contact with the full range of human experience and wisdom. We should not merely tolerate cultural differences, but embrace them and learn from them. At the same time, however, certain absolute values - those discussed as a system of global ethics - must be retained.).
Cultural pluralism is an integral part of present-day society. The global market with its free movement of goods, money and people will only serve to reinforce this tendency. Economic development leads to increased mobility - migration to cities or across frontiers. Different cultures are brought together on a large scale. Newcomers and indigenous population groups come face to face with one another, with all the social tension this may engender.
It is an understandable reaction to globalisation for people to identify with their own ethnic groups and cultures. Emphasising one's own identity, culture and ethnicity does not automatically lead to violent conflict; this happens only when such emphasis is mobilised and manipulated to that end. The task facing the State, in the Commission's view, is to find ways of ensuring that different cultures meet in an atmosphere of harmony and justice, and to seek peaceful solutions to the conflicts that will inevitably ensue.
Minorities and indigenous peoples, racism and genocide
The Commission takes the view that some of the most acute political conflicts in the world could have been prevented if governments had paid due attention to the demands of minorities. The Commission believes that the State should be seen as a civil society composed of different groups, not as a homogeneous (in terms of ethnic or religious makeup) nation. Racism should be fought with practical measures in such areas as employment, and by conducting an open debate about the underlying beliefs that foster racism, in the arts, in schools and elsewhere. Development should include, as integral elements, respect for the value systems and the traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples.
In the Commission's view, international criticism and sanctions can help to divert a country from the disastrous path that leads from discrimination and racism to ethnic "cleansing".
The resurgence of religion
In the Commission's view, the worldwide resurgence of religion can be highly constructive as an answer to the identity crisis experienced by many in this hard world with its myriad conflicting values. But there is a negative side to the coin; that of the coercive imposition of extremist doctrines by means of intimidation and violence, a dark side that is a feature, it may be added, of all religions.