Report on the UNAOC Asia and Pacific Regional Consultation in Shanghai

Sampaio
 

“We are welcoming UNAOC in the region, our only regret is that you are coming only now; the mission and the work of the Alliance are immensely important and relevant in Asia and the South Pacific region!” These were the words of many participants from China and countries in Asia and South Pacific at the occasion of the UNAOC regional consultation held in Shanghai on November 29 and 30, 2012.

About 150 leaders from Governments, academic, corporate sector, media, youth, civil society from China and almost all countries in the region have attended the consultation. The event was opened by the Chinese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Cui Tiankai, the vice Mayor of Shanghai Mr. Tu Guangshao and UNAOC High Representative President Jorge Sampaio. It was organized in partnership with UN Association of China with the support of the Zhongdao Group.

As President Sampaio stressed in his opening remarks “Because of the Alliance’s mission, Asia lies at its core…Asia is home to an astonishing diversity — diversity of civilizations, cultures, religions, ethnic groups, languages. Asia is, in spite of its imprecise borders, the most diverse continent on Earth! Asia hosts the majority of the world’s Muslim population ( est. 60 per cent ) further to being home to a wide range of religious groups…this region faces a rise in tensions, racial and ethnic polarization and homegrown extremism that can span conflicts and result in a high degree of human suffering and Barbary”.

The consultation was aimed at mapping out relevant issues and topics for the work and activity of the Alliance in the region in the coming years. Concrete proposals were put forward at the occasion of eight workshops and a plan of action will be discussed and agreed in January by the steering committee and will be presented at the occasion of the Vienna Forum in February 2013.

Dr. Chandra Muzaffar President of International Movement for a Just World, a partner in the organization of the consultation stated that “Shanghai provided a platform for governments and civil society organizations in  East Asia and South Pacific to come together to reflect on some of the issues central to civilization dialogue. It brought to the fore the critical question of China’s role in civilization interaction. One hopes that the Shanghai meeting would persuade Chinese intellectuals and activists to try to fathom in greater depth other cultural and  religious communities in the region just as non-Chinese groups should view the meeting as an important step in developing a deeper understanding of Chinese civilization at this point in time.”

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