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Inclusion @ Baku, Azerbaijan

Effenus Henderon [Baku Process] 6th World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue Highlights Importance of DEI in Promoting Global Peace and Security

The 6th World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue, held in Baku, Azerbaijan from May 1 to May 3, 2024, brought together a diverse array of stakeholders to explore the intersections between dialogue facilitation, cooperative frameworks, leadership efficacy, and interconnectedness in the pursuit of global peace and security. The event was part of the "Baku Process" initiated by President Ilham Aliyev in 2008 and was conducted in collaboration with prominent international entities such as the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), UNESCO, the UN Tourism, and the Islamic World Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (ISESCO).

The forum featured a series of plenary sessions and panel discussions, including a session titled "Leveraging Soft Power for Multilateral Strength: Bolstering compassion, building solidarity, and resisting fragmentation." This session was moderated by Mike Hardy, Founding Director of the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations, Coventry University, and Chairman of the International Leadership Association. The session included speakers such as Gabriela Ramos, Assistant Director-General for the Social and Human Sciences of UNESCO, Alexandre Zouev, Assistant Secretary-General for Rule of Law and Security Institutions in the UN Department of Peace Operations, Jean-Christophe Bas, Founder of the Connecters for Peace and The Global Compass, Senior Advisor of the Brazzaville Foundation, Soltan Mammadov, Azerbaijani MP, Head of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation's International Relations Department, Gladden Pappin, President of the Hungarian Institute of International Affairs, Effenus Henderson, Co-Director of the Institute of Sustainable Diversity and Inclusion, President and CEO of Henderworks Inc, DEI Thought Leader, USA, Ambassador Gusti Agung Wesaka Puja, Executive Director of ASEAN Institute for Peace and Reconciliation (ASEAN-IPR), and Asmita Satyarthi, CEO of the Satyarthi Movement for Global Compassion.

Effenus Henderson, in particular, highlighted the importance of valuing diversity and fostering inclusion as part of the concept of "soft power" advocated by Dr. Joseph Nye, Jr. He emphasized that in the convergence of soft power, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), and intercultural dialogue lies the promise of a world where diversity is celebrated, equity is ensured, and dialogue becomes the currency of connection. Henderson's remarks focused on "Soft Power, DEI, and Intercultural Dialogue: Intersections, Exploration, and Collaboration in 2024." 

"Diversity is universal and unifying, not just secular, religious or nationalistic, but global. The more a nation pushes against it, the more it pushes against the world." - Effenus Henderson

His participation in the plenary session underscored the significance of these themes in the pursuit of global peace and security through dialogue and cooperation.The growing importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in promoting intercultural dialogue, peace, and social justice is a crucial aspect of fostering a more harmonious and inclusive global community. The recognition of the value of diversity in achieving these goals is reflected in various international initiatives and policies. For instance, the European Union's emphasis on cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue as a means to promote social cohesion and sustainable development highlights the significance of DEI in these contexts.

"In the convergence of Soft Power, DEI, and Intercultural Dialogue lies the promise of a world where diversity is celebrated, equity is ensured, and dialogue becomes the currency of connection. It is here, at this intersection, that we find the roadmap to a future built on empathy, respect, mutual trust, and the boundless potential of collective collaboration." Effenus Henderson

The United Nations' efforts to enable intercultural dialogue through initiatives like the UNESCO Framework for Enabling Intercultural Dialogue further underscore the importance of DEI in promoting peaceful and inclusive societies. The framework's focus on fostering a culture of peace, understanding, and respect for human rights through dialogue and education underscores the role of DEI in achieving these goals.Moreover, the celebration of the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development by organizations like the Enel Group demonstrates the widespread acceptance of DEI as a vital component of sustainable development and social justice.

The growing importance of DEI is also reflected in the increasing recognition of its role in addressing social and economic inequalities. This is evident in the efforts of organizations like the European Union to promote social cohesion and inclusion through policies that support diversity, equity, and inclusion.

In contrast, there are indeed voices that push back against the importance of DEI, often citing concerns about political correctness or perceived threats to traditional values. However, these voices are largely outnumbered by the overwhelming consensus among international organizations, governments, and civil society that DEI is essential for promoting peace, social justice, and sustainable development.

The world's embrace of DEI as a crucial aspect of shared humanity is evident in the widespread adoption of DEI initiatives across various sectors, including education, business, and government. This shift towards greater inclusivity and diversity is driven by a growing understanding that DEI is not only morally just but also economically and socially beneficial. It fosters creativity, innovation, and collaboration, ultimately contributing to a more equitable and peaceful world.

The 6th World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue served as a platform for stakeholders to engage in discussions and share best practices on promoting intercultural dialogue, peace, and social justice through the lens of DEI. The event's focus on the intersections between soft power, DEI, and intercultural dialogue underscores the critical role that these themes play in shaping a more inclusive and harmonious global community.

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