Dignity of Difference and the UN


Vesselin Popovski


Jonathan Sacks' book offers an innovative cross-cultural ethical angle to the globalisation, less elaborated so far in the literature, comparing with political and economic theorizing of globalization. It comes also with the strong argument that civilizations may clash, but they can also co-operate, when dignifying the differences between them. This paper addresses the role that such cross-civilizational tolerance can play for the work of a global organization, such as United Nations. The UN is primarily a political forum, where states gather to raise voices of concern or approval with various global processes. They attempt to co-operate in reaching agreements and designing action plans to address pressing issues with common policies. A global forum can be a place for tolerance, but also for intolerance, where, apart from religious and cultural differences, political, economic, ideological and other differences are often reflected in the debates. The paper will look at the changing agenda of the UN and will suggest analysis whether the dividing lines between groups of states in the UN is across civilizational lines, or have more to do with secularist differences - power status, historical heritage, economic prosperity, diplomatic competence etc.


Dr. Vesselin Popovski is currently a Senior Academic Programme Officer, and Director of Studies on International Order and Justice at the Peace and Governance Program, United Nations University in Tokyo, Japan. He spent 2002 to 2004 in Moscow, Russia, working on the EU TACIS project "Legal Protection of Individual Rights". From 1999 to 2002 he was Lecturer at the School of Historical, Political and Sociological Studies at the University of Exeter, UK. He taught for several years the core modules for the MA in International Peace and Security, School of Law, King's College, London, where he pursued his PhD. He was also teaching courses in Westminster Universlity and Huron University. Prior to become an academic, Dr. Popovski pursued fast-track diplomatic career. From 1988 to 1991 he was UN Desk Officer in the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry, and from 1991 to 1995 worked at the Bulgaria's Embassy in London. Dr. Popovski's professional and academic interests include United Nations and international security, human rights, international humanitarian law, post-communist transition in Russia and Eastern Europe.

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