Background: Why does diversity matter?

Diversity and Global Understanding: What does it mean? Why does it matter?

The UN workshops will deal with communication and language in the diverse working environment of the UN system.

We seek to bring together researchers and practitioners with an interest in the issues and challenges of diversity in a globally active organization. The workshops seek to promote greater awareness of the importance of efficient communication tools and a common language spoken when people from diverse backgrounds work together. Our objective is to deepen the international debate on questions relating to cultural diversity, particularly its effects to the working environment of the UN organizations and its peace operations. Working for the United Nations means experiencing cultural diversity and multilingualism.

In our workshop series, we will look into the realities of diversities in the UN system, as they manifest in the field. We will seek to explore the full range of what diversity means for the UN's working procedure and explore the modes of diversity in real-life situations of working together on the ground.

Cultural diversity in peace operations

Hence, it must be asked how dangerous misunderstandings caused by different cultural backgrounds of troops can be prevented: Which problems (language barriers, differing definitions) occur to multinational troops in UN peacekeeping operations? How to strengthen group performance and co-ordination when UN peacekeepers with find themselves in violent and dangerous situations?  How to assure an equal understanding of UN terms and what kind of training and preparation should UN peacekeepers get before being deployed to the field?



Concepts can be defined as abstract ideas or units of knowledge. In the field of international relations and international organizations, concepts play an essential role in framing policy-fields, actor roles, and strategies for action.


Terminology is defined as the entirety of all concepts and terms in one specialist field. Therefore, one can equate terminology with specialist vocabulary. Efficient communication with regard to technical language is not possible without the correct use of specialist vocabulary.

Terminology work deals with the preparing, the processing, the documenting and the use of specialist vocabulary; tools like terminology management software support this work. Terminology work is concept-oriented and thus, from a methodical point of view, specially suited to solve multilingual communication tasks.

Terminology is

  • essential for precise and efficient communication across language and cultural barriers. 
  • a prerequisite for translators, interpreters and localizers. 
  • an indispensable component in virtually all standardization and harmonization activities.

Terminology management has become an integral part of business processes aiming at increasing productivity, quality and user satisfaction.


The concept of diversity encompasses acceptance and respect. It means understanding that each individual is unique, and recognizing our individual differences.  These can be along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies.  It is the exploration of these differences in a safe, positive, and nurturing environment.  It is about understanding each other and moving beyond simple tolerance to embracing and celebrating the rich dimensions of diversity contained within each individual.

Diversity management (DiM)

a strategic management approach aimed at the targeted consideration and deliberate utilization of the diversity of persons and relevant organizational environments or stakeholders in order to create structural and social conditions under which all employees can develop their abilities and reach their full performance to the benefit of all parties involved and for raising the organization´s success.