“Ghana strongly believes that there can indeed be unity in diversity, and that the challenges of this world can only be surmounted when the citizenry understand and appreciate each other’s differences”, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, has said.
She was addressing the Fifth Inter-Cultural Dialogue currently underway in Baku, the Republic of Azerbaijan, while sharing the Ghanaian experience as drivers and beneficiaries of intercultural dialogue.
It was under the theme: “Building dialogue into action against discrimination, inequality and violent conflicts”.
The Forum which is expected to close on Wednesday was aimed to be an international platform to encourage people, countries and organisations to advance concrete actions to support diversity, dialogue and mutual understanding as foundations for sustainable peace and inclusive development.
Ms Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey was optimistic, the surest way to prevent potential conflict and ensure that today’s increasingly diverse world was peaceful was through intercultural dialogue.
According to her, multicultural harmony could only be achieved through legislation and government policies, coupled with a conscious political commitment as well as education, respect for human rights, equal opportunities for all, and regular interfaith dialogue amongst the citizenry.
The Minister is convinced these were crucial steps in overcoming the different cultural backgrounds, worldviews, stereotypes and misconceptions.
Ms Botchwey disclosed that Ghana would continue to enjoy peaceful coexistence because successive governments had made efforts to promote tolerance, national cohesion and non-discrimination through persistent dialogue to resolve differences and conflicting situations that arise, citing the National House of Chiefs, which is the highest body of all traditional authority in Ghana and, its important role in fostering peace in a country with over 70 ethnic groups.
The Foreign Minister, therefore, acknowledged the need for other countries to involve their eminent chiefs in conflict resolutions.
She further mentioned the institutionalisation of the Ghana National Peace Council by an Act of Parliament in 2011, as a way to strengthen peace and security in the country and to promote the understanding of the values of diversity, trust, tolerance, confidence-building, dialogue and mediation, in society.
Among these, she said, were the inclusion of cultural diversity and its management into mainstreaming of Ghana’s educational system and curricula, as it is believed that education has the potential to create understanding of our world and foster tolerance and respect for diversity.
Ms Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey further stated that the government was keen on ensuring that the three prominent strands of faith in Ghana namely, Christianity, Islam and traditional religions continue to live in peace and harmony and in line with the Government’s efforts to promote national cohesion; all three religions were allowed to be taught in schools.
The fifth Intercultural dialogue is organised under the patronage of Mr Ilham Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan in partnership with UNESCO, the UN Alliance of Civilisations, the UN World Tourism Organisation (WTO), the Council of Europe and the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (ISESCO).
Meanwhile on the sidelines of the 5th World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue, the Foreign Minister Ms Botchwey, met with her counterpart in Azerbaijan, Elmar Mammadyarov, to further discuss issues of mutual interest.
The two exchanged views over the development of relations between Ghana and Azerbaijan, as well as the educational opportunities in Azerbaijan for the Ghanaian student population, as way of enhancing people-to-people contacts between the two countries.
BY TIMES REPORTER