To promote diversity and inclusion, the United Nations System Staff College and the Vittorio Dan Segre Foundation are hosting “Unity in Difference,” a virtual event that will take place on 7 December from  3:30 – 5:00 PM (CET). Celebrating and unpacking the concept of identity, the event is intended to help strengthen a collective understanding of this critical topic within the United Nations and in society as a whole.

Discussions will focus on the complex nature of identity and it will offer a space for people to talk about the topic beyond the current mainstream confrontational culture, where such discussions often end up fomenting division and conflict.  It will consider the implications of identity on relevant policy domains such as development, social cohesion, climate change, migration and demographics, education, welfare and social security, peace and security, and many others. Critically “Unity in Difference” will serve as a reminder for us all to embrace different identities – cultural, professional, ethnic, national, religious, gender, disability – which have become central elements in our present times.

Event to feature range of thought leaders

The free event, which will also be hosted live on UNSSC’s YouTube channel, will bring together renowned thought leaders – Shireen Lillian Dodson, United Nations Ombudsman; Thoraya Obaid, former Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA); George Papandreou, former Prime Minister of Greece; Laura Thompson, former Deputy Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) ; and Aichatou Mindaoudou ,CEO and Co-Founder Ipiti Consulting, Former United Nations Special Representative in Côte d’Ivoire, as panelists.

“Learning about and respecting different identities are key to creating a peaceful and prosperous society,” said UNSSC Director Jafar Javan. “By hosting the “Unity in Difference” event, UNSSC seeks to promote the principles of diversity and inclusion which are incredibly important as the workforce of the United Nations, our communities, and our world become increasingly diverse. It is important for us to learn how to coexist and develop a sense of solidarity as we all work to create a better future for all. For this to happen we need to understand concepts like identity and how they affect different issues – peace and security, climate change, sustainable development and policy development and implementation.”

Gabriele Segre of the Vittorio Dan Segre Foundation added: “We are thrilled to launch this event in collaboration with UNSSC. I think it is a unique opportunity for us to understand what identity means, and talk about it through a new posture, paradigm, perspective – one that encourages all in society to celebrate their own identities, while embracing others' rights to do the same. It will also give us an opportunity to understand and examine the complex web of traits we all possess rather than thinking about identity in a binary way,” he said.

Beyond a confrontational approach to identity

The phrase “Unity in Difference” is derived from the concept of “Convivencia," a cultural approach to embracing difference based upon the idea that relations among people with different identities do not have to be confrontational. UNSSC and the Vittorio Dan Segre Foundation hope to use this as a platform to offer people an opportunity to understand the concept of identity, spark thought-provoking conversations, and allow them a space to voice their beliefs and learn from and with one another.

Interested? Learn more about the event and register here.