Kofi Annan on Pluralism: A Key Challenge of the 21st Century — Text and video of the lecture on Pluralism Canada

kofiannan johnstackhouse 2013lecture

On May 23, 2013, former United Nations Secretary-General and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Kofi Annan delivered the Global Centre for Pluralism’s second annual Pluralism Lecture. Addressing a crowd of 250 people and an online audience of nearly 400, Mr. Annan reflected on his recent experiences in Kenya and Syria as part of the challenge of managing pluralism in a globalized world.

Mr. Annan is a member of the Centre’s Board of Directors.

Pluralist societies by their nature are challenging to govern. To secure the equitable outcomes of pluralism, Mr. Annan urged governments to:

  • Ensure that equal weight is given to the three pillars of successful societies, which are peace and security, development, the rule of law and respect for human rights.
  • Create the right institutions and policies to manage diversity and prevent communities from becoming marginalized and oppressed.
  • Educate citizens to foster mutual respect and tolerance.
  • Promote dialogue to combat fear, intolerance and extremism.

“My long experience has taught me,” he said, “that, whatever our background, what unites us is far greater than what divides us…We have to learn from each other, making our different traditions and cultures a source of harmony and strength, not discord and weakness.”

But he stressed there is no simple, one-size-fits-all formula for pluralism that will solve the problems of diversity in all societies.

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