Historically, all nations over a long period of time tend to integrate diverse ethnic groups. The cultures and sub-cultures of the minority are preserved in part as influences and contributions to the main-stream, and in part are lost. Integration, with its positive and negative aspects, is achieved more or less rapidly depending on ethnic and language distance. A minority group of the same race and same family of languages may be absorbed more readily, unless religious or other ideological differences persist, than another race with an unrelated language. In the latter case, compensatory efforts to artificially accelerate integration or assimilation may suppress ethnic evidences such as food and clothing preferences, behavioural characteristics, minority language, and knowledge of ethnic history. Loss of ethnicity is considered a loss to the entire society when conceived in the world context. Within minorities themselves, as well as in the majority culture, there is insufficient preservation of ethnic history and characteristics.
Integration or assimilation, that is, the minimizing of ethnic differences and the mastering of a common language, is in the interests of all, including those who in the short-term might be considered minorities. The proper places to preserve the ethnic legacies of peoples are the museums, for the dynamics of society will continuously form a new and common heritage for all people.
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a collaboration between UIA and Mankind 2000, started in 1972. It is the result of an ambitious effort to collect and present information on the problems with which humanity is confronted, as well as the challenges such problems pose to concept formation, values and development strategies. Problems included are those identified in international periodicals but especially in the documents of some 60,000 international non-profit organizations, profiled in the Yearbook of International Organizations.
The Encyclopedia includes problems which such groups choose to perceive and act upon, whether or not their existence is denied by others claiming greater expertise. Indeed such claims and counter-claims figure in many of the problem descriptions in order to reflect the often paralyzing dynamics of international debate. In the light of the interdependence demonstrated among world problems in every sector, emphasis is placed on the need for approaches which are sufficiently complex to encompass the factions, conflicts and rival worldviews that undermine collective initiative towards a promising future.
Non-profit, apolitical, independent, and non-governmental in nature, the UIA has been a pioneer in the research, monitoring and provision of information on international organizations, international associations and their global challenges since 1907.