On 18 January 2020, Prof. (Dr.) Federico Lenzreni, Department of Political and International Sciences, University of Siena, Italy delivered the fourth lecture in the Alternative Approaches to International Law (AAIL 2020) series. He explained multiculturalism from a legal point of view and how the COVID-19 pandemic may impact the same.
He believes an international legal order paying attention to multiculturalism is better equipped to concretely help human beings and communities to give realisation to such aspirations and expectations. Coherently, special attention to multiculturalism has recently developed in the field of international human rights law, characterised by understanding, interpretation and adjudication of human rights standards through paying particular attention to the particular needs of the people specifically concerned in a concrete case.
However, the pandemic is determining a sharp recurrence of negative attitudes to multiculturalism. From its very beginning, multicultural communities have been disproportionately impacted by the plague of COVID-19 he argued. For instance, in the United States, African-Americans have been dying disproportionately, while access to healthcare by Asian-Americans has been particularly complex due to racist attitudes against them. Another example is represented by India where the pandemic has caused a rise in child marriages. More generally, the global epidemy has increased intolerance and lack of understanding for the value of cultural diversity, translating into racial discrimination, marginalisation and even persecution of minority groups, as has happened for example with the Shincheonji Church of Jesus in South Korea. Also, on an international plane, he argued that multiculturalism is threatened by a severe decline in international solidarity, taking various forms, including the restriction of the flow of refugees and other categories of migrants.
He called for the positive role of multiculturalism in the pandemic and post-pandemic period. He said it is required to maximize multicultural models of social interaction in facing the consequences of the pandemic, which are responsive to the specific needs of the diverse communities.