The event "Building diverse communities based on shared values – the intercultural cities approach" was organised under the Cypriot Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on 27-28 March in Limassol. It engaged international and Cypriot stakeholders in a discussion on the added value of the intercultural integration approach to the promotion of human rights, including minority rights, as well as democracy and inclusion in diverse societies. Questions focused on how to raise awareness of these values among host populations and new-comers alike, how to deal with dilemmas and challenges in the context of local policy related to cultural differences and how to build a shared and pluralistic identity.
Significant insights were shared about the role of intercultural cities in promoting human rights, in practical terms by introducing the concept of reasonable accommodation, as well as about connecting human rights, equality and diversity in a coherent 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. In order to bridge ethnic, religious, linguistic, social and economic divides, such solidarity needs to stem from adhesion to a common set of values, a shared sense of “ownership” of the city by all residents, and the embracement of a pluralist local identity. An important outcome of the event was a strong commitment by the 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.