Organised under the Cypriot Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on 27-28 March in Limassol, the event "Building diverse communities based on shared values – the Intercultural cities approach" engaged international and Cypriot stakeholders in a discussion on the added value of the Intercultural integration approach for the promotion of human rights, including minority rights, as well as democracy an inclusion in diverse societies. Questions involved how to raise awareness of these values among host populations and new-comers alike, how to deal with dilemmas and challenges for local policy related to cultural difference and how to build a shared and pluralistic identity.
The event included a round table with Mayors from the Intercultural cities' network, and workshops on citizen participation, on inter-faith relations and on building local strategic partnerships to help design and deliver intercultural policies.
An important outcome of the event was a strong commitment by Limassol municipality and local organisations to work together towards the setting up of an Intercultural council, and the preparation of an intercultural strategy for the city. Significant insights were shared about the role of Intercultural cities in promoting Human Rights (in practical terms by introducing the concept of reasonable accommodation), and the need to connect Human Rights, equality and diversity work strands in a coherent, mainstreamed urban policy. The notion of Urban Citizenship was extensively discussed as a means for ensuring equal access to rights for non-nationals, as well as a basis for a new collective solidarity. To cut across ethic, religious, linguistic, social and economic divides, such solidarity needs to stem from adhesion of a common set of values, a shared sense of “ownership” of the city by all residents, and the embracement of a pluralist local identity. Cities should engage civil society as well as administrative and political actors in co-designing the narrative and the practical tools for building this value-based solidarity and in putting in place effective mechanisms for equal access to rights and combatting discrimination.