UNAOC-EF Summer School Stories

The UNAOC-EF Summer School blog highlights the stories and people at the heart of this unique project. Discover how former youth participants are applying the lessons learned from their experience and pursuing collaborations initiated in Tarrytown, NY, USA. Applications for the 2015 edition of the Summer School are open until March 9.

Read the blog at: unaocefsummerschoolblog.tumblr.com
To apply to the Summer School: www.unaocefsummerschool.org

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Short Remarks At The Press Briefing By The High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations

Short Remarks

At

The Press Briefing

By

The High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations

New York – 24 February, 2015

Good morning everyone,

Just this past week, we have been seeing a flurry of political activities here in NY and in Washington, all revolving around one theme and one question: How to counter Violent Extremism and terrorism.

Indeed this is very timely, as the world has been witnessing in the past few weeks and months the alarming rise in the wave of extremism, terrorist attacks and continued incitement to hatred. These horrific attacks are not confined to one country, one continent, one race, or one religion. They happened in Paris, and Nigeria; In Copenhagen and North Carolina; In Myanmar, Pakistan , Australia, the Middle East and elsewhere. This is the simple and ugly truth : terrorism knows no boundaries .

These unjustifiable acts have culminated into targeting killings against innocent people from different faiths, resulting in stereotyping, xenophobia and racism. Such unwarranted prejudices violate the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and International law.

They also run contrary to the values of the United Nations Alliance of civilizations which embraces as its core mission the promotion of  cultural diversity, respect of the other, tolerance, and inclusiveness.

This is the new and emerging global challenge threatening peace and security of the human family in the 21st century. What shall we do as an international community? How to stop it?

As you know the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations has the mandate and responsibility to build bridges between societies, to promote peaceful dialogue and tolerance as well as engage in preventive diplomacy.

I invited you to this briefing today because I wanted to brief you on the work that we are engaged in:

  • Few months ago, I proposed to the President of the General Assembly Mr. Sam Kutesa to convene a High Level Meeting at the General Assembly on the theme : Promoting Tolerance and Reconciliation : Fostering Peaceful, Inclusive Societies and Countering Radicalization.
     
    I would like to thank the Secretary General for his support of the proposal. He had mentioned the proposed meeting in his address before the summit in Washington. My office is coordinating closely with the office of President Kutesa regarding the working paper and setting a date for the meeting which will probably take place in May or June this year.
     
  • UNAOC is working to provide substantive engagement on interreligious and intercultural approaches regarding Combatting Violent Extremism.
     
  • The Alliance is engaging with member states, stakeholders, religious leaders, youth, grass root organizations and academia with the aim of finding new means and ways of promoting understanding and tolerance.

We believe that the next battle is not a military battle : it is the battle of ideas. This is a more daunting task than the military solution because it requires long term plans ,dealing with the root causes, and finding solutions accordingly.

These solutions are not possible if the international community does not come together with the civil society, political and religious leaders , academia and of course the media. As we talk about the battle of ideas, the media has a crucial role in shaping perceptions.

I leave it there, and I am ready to take your questions.

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Opening Remarks By The High Representative H.E. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser at the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations Ambassadorial Group of Friends Meeting

Opening Remarks
By
The High Representative for the
United Nations Alliance of Civilizations

H.E. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser

at the

United Nations Alliance of Civilizations Ambassadorial Group of Friends Meeting

Theme: Ethnic and Cultural Dimensions in disasters and emergencies.

18 February 2015

Excellency, Ms. Valerie Amos, Emergency Relief Coordinator,
Your Excellency, Mr.  Roman Oyarzun, Ambassador  of Spain,
Your Excellency, Mr. Yasar Halit Cevik, Ambassador of Turkey,
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the outset of opening the Ambassadorial Group of Friends Meeting of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, I would like to thank you for joining us today and on behalf of all of you welcome two new member to the Group of Friends of the Alliance, Benin and San Marino. I look very much forward to their participation to our programs.
On the same note, I am delighted to receive Under-Secretary-General Emergency Relief Coordinator, Ms. Valerie Amos who is going to brief us on the time-pressing theme of “Ethnic and Cultural Dimensions in disasters and emergencies.”

Allow me to briefly highlight the leadership of Ms. Amos in Humanitarian Affairs since taking office in 2010, as well as, her efforts in defining a new approach to humanitarian action worldwide.

I would like to praise Ms. Amos’ dedication to providing first-aid assistance to displaced populations and victims of disasters and conflicts, regardless of their national, ethnic and religious backgrounds.

As High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, I cannot but acknowledge the growing mistrust between communities, particularly during emergencies, which is caused by seeing “perceived or real” differences as tensions.  Natural and man-made disasters can play a harmful role in many cases, especially when fueled by cultural and ethnic dimensions

All over the world, there is a terrifying increase of radicalization, extremism, and terrorism, especially manipulating the youth and caused by the wrong interpretations of religion, cultural and humanitarian factors. Here comes the cooperation and role that UNAOC and OCHA can play together to deliver as one in the UN system.

All over the world, too many examples of cultural, religious and politically-driven conflicts and emergencies have presented themselves, including in countries such as Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Central African Republic, South-Sudan, Nigeria, The Americas, Ukraine and Myanmar to name just a few.

And all over the world, cultural, religious and political differences play a role in human rights abuses instead of reinforcing our shared human heritage.  In the midst of all this turmoil, we can all recognize the connection between cultural-ethnic dimensions and conflicts with humanitarian impact and emergency situations.

Sometimes, humanitarian emergencies are the results of ethnic, cultural and religious misconceptions and of their social expressions.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is clear that the protection of civilian populations requires global action. It requires that the priority of humanitarian assistance is delivered equally with no discrimination, coherently and efficiently, with the causes of conflict tackled effectively.

This mission becomes more sensitive when cultural differences take place as a driving force for the conflict.
Humanitarian assistance should not and must not be hijacked during situations of conflict as reaffirmed by the Security Council Resolution 2165 advocated by Ms. Amos last year.

Subsequently, the protection of civilians through preventive action is the ultimate objective of the UN Alliance of Civilizations, which I would like to recall, serves as a soft power tool to prevent violence and to foster post-conflict reconciliation.

I truly believe that UNAOC and OCHA significantly share common responsibilities to secure safe and resilient human settlements and to promote peaceful and inclusive societies, as reinforced by SGDs 11 and 16.

Recognizing the ethnic and cultural dimensions of conflicts and emergencies, I am also aware that the protection of individuals is paramount to peaceful societies.

In this interlinked world, it has become clear that no single entity alone can, nor should, address the various issues brought by humanitarian conflicts and disasters driven by ethnic, religious or cultural disparities.

My experience has taught me that each crisis has specific challenges and therefore, the presence of civil society on the ground greatly influences the effectiveness and timeliness of humanitarian response. They can provide the necessary inputs and recommendations for action.

I also believe that both our specialized agencies demonstrated their critical involvement, as it was done during our joint mission to Mindanao, Philippines, in June 2013. This mission was successfully completed with the cooperation of OCHA, OIC and the Government of the Philippines.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Alliance of Civilizations will continue its endless efforts to counter the causes of violence and extremism since humanitarian impact is paramount to the mission of the United Nations.

I would like to seize this opportunity to inform you that we are currently partnering with Fordham University Center for Humanitarian Affairs in order to co-host a one-week program on the role of Media and Communications in Humanitarian Crises.”

Moreover, the Alliance has started to engage with OCHA in view of advancing the current discourse for the 2016 ”World Humanitarian Summit” that is set to take place in Turkey.
A once-in-a-generation event, this summit will allow us to grab the necessary tools and policies for the advancement and maintenance of good humanitarian practices. I truly believe in the prime role the Alliance will play at helping understanding the cultural and religious dimensions of humanitarian emergencies.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In summary, let me say that, the Alliance, in cooperation with OCHA, can implement innovative grass-root initiatives that are to contribute to intercultural dialogue and understanding, mutual respect and cooperation across divides through 3 pillars of actions.
Taking into consideration the mandate of UNAOC as the lead UN agency in dealing with cultural and religious tensions, UNAOC will support the efforts in organizing the first UN World Humanitarian Summit alongside with OCHA and other UN agencies. The summit is planned to take place in May 2016.

UNAOC’s engagement entails:

  1. Substantive inputs on preventive action based on our mandate.
  2. The appropriate modalities to tackle the rise of tensions that may drive to cultural and ethnic-based humanitarian conflicts and emergencies.
  3. The exploration of joint activities and programs with OCHA.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I now give the floor to H.E Ms. Valerie Amos, who in her own words will highlight the efforts of OCHA in disasters and emergencies and address the various areas of cooperation with UNAOC as we see them as relevant and complementary.

Thank you.

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Press Statement By Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser On New and Emerging Ideological Threats of the 21st Century: The Need for a Global Reconciliation

PRESS STATEMENT

By

Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser

The High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations  

On

New and Emerging Ideological Threats of the 21st Century: The Need for a Global Reconciliation

New York – 18 February 2015

The International Community is facing an unprecedented alarming rise of cultural extremism, terrorist attacks, and continued incitement to hatred. The terrorist attacks and violent acts in Paris, Copenhagen, Libya, North Carolina, Nigeria, Myanmar, the Middle East and elsewhere, are the exact opposite of the core values that should prevail among peaceful communities that embrace the principles of coexistence, tolerance, mutual respect, reconciliation and forgiveness.

Manifestations of religious based intolerance and violence are increasing across the globe. Such unjustifiable acts have culminated into targeted killings against innocent people from different faiths, perpetuating stereotyping, xenophobia and racism. Such unwarranted prejudices would only play into the hands of terrorists and threaten our global stability, international peace and security as well as human rights and development. Moreover, these acts violate the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and International Law.

The scourge we are all facing as a Global human family runs contrary to the values of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations which embraces as its core mission the promotion of cultural diversity, religious tolerance, and inclusiveness as UNAOC has consistently maintained, these values are best promoted through, peaceful and meaningful dialogue in accordance with universally accepted norms and shared values.

Peace, stability, intercultural harmony and Sustainable Development are closely interlinked and mutually reinforcing; they are key factors to accomplishing an environment conducive to prosperity and Human Rights. Therefore, we need to protect our future and our generations from the forces that fuel tensions, hatred and violence.

The United Nations, since its inception was given the sacred task of addressing threats to international peace and security. The existing United Nations resolutions, including the resolutions of the General Assembly, Security Council and Human Rights Council, as well as other UN and regional instruments, provide the international community with legal and moral tools to prevent and combat conditions conducive to the spread of extremism, violence and terrorism.

Sadly and despite the efforts made, certain ideological mindsets continue to project their uncivilized face in our world. Yet, these vicious forces should not hamper our efforts nor dissuade our political will to prevent and combat extremism, discrimination and xenophobia in all its forms. These collective efforts should become priority to the international community for the sake of our Global Human Sustainable Development.

We should not forget that there is a need for universally agreed parameters to combat hate speech and incitement in all their forms. We should do so, while being mindful of the freedom of expression as a tool that can be invested to promote and protect Human Rights and peoples dignity when practiced in a constructive manner.

Having said this, we cannot ignore our collective responsibility to do so.

Our preventive action should not be limited to only reforming the UN as a body but also should entail reforming the way we responsibly execute our actions in accordance with International Law. Preventive action should entail the empowerment and reform of the relevant existing instruments needed by the International Community to respond to and cope with the new and emerging ideological threats, for the sake of our collective security and Human Rights for all.

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Remarks By The High Representative of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser At the IFFD Briefing (UNHQ)

Remarks
By
The High Representative of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations
Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser

At the
IFFD Briefing (UNHQ)

Delivered by
Senior Advisor on Humanitarian Affairs and Civil Society
Hanifa Mezoui

Wednesday 11 February 2015
Conference room 7 – General Assembly Building – United Nations, New York

 

Dear Ms. Marina Robben, President of IFFD,
Dear Ms. Renata Kaczmarska,
Distinguished Speakers,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Dear Colleagues and Friends: it is a great pleasure for me to participate in the IFFD Briefing on The Role of Families in the Future we want, at the United Nations Headquarters.

The High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, H.E. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser conveys his profound regrets on being unable to participate personally to this Briefing session.

I will deliver a message on his behalf:

 

Statement by his Excellency Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser United Nations High Representative for the UN Alliance of Civilizations

 

First and foremost, I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation to the International Federation for Family Development for selecting me as one of the recipients of the 2015 Family Awards Ceremony. I am greatly honored to receive this award, which highlights past and ongoing efforts in advocating family-oriented policies worldwide.

The dedication of my life to public good, and in particular to family through international diplomacy, was an essential part of my work while President of the Sixty-Sixth Session of the United Nations General Assembly and remains highly significant, as I serve as the United Nations High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations.

Allow me to highlight that the themes that you have chosen for your briefing are unquestionably timely and vital, for the world is currently and actively preparing for the celebration of the end of the Millennium Development goals and for the launching, next September, of the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda.

When agreeing on the next areas of actions that will define the primary setting of the world’s policies to fight hunger, poverty; to advance quality education, and to secure the rights of women, children, and of all those who need a voice to speak out their essential needs, the essence of family has to be taken into consideration. The experience of the MDGs has highlighted that its achievement greatly depended on families. How better could we grasp The Future We Want, as defined by the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development, than by giving the voice to families in order to create the most adequate blueprint for tomorrow’s sustainable development goals.

In my position of High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, I witness, first-hand, the consequences of culturally and religiously driven conflicts upon families. From refugee camps – where basic human needs such as water and food security are not provided – to war zones – where access to decent healthcare, quality education and decent work are not secured for families – families are at risk.

These conflicts threaten the sustainable development of families and therefore the overall of the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

In this particular understanding, it is critical to realize that no one country is fully protected against the aforementioned threats, and that only multilateral and concertive efforts to understand and to advance family-oriented policies and actions, will allow to leverage the weight off of the shoulders of families. In that regards, global organizations such the United Nations and the International Federation for Family Development, play a primordial role through resolutions and grassroots actions worldwide.

When serving at the UN General Assembly, I was able to introduce two resolutions, which I believe are connected: The Global Day of Parents and the International Happiness Day. Family holds a primary place in my life, for my wife, Muna, and my son, Aziz, play an incredible role in my happiness and in my development as a person.

Therefore, it appeared natural for me to honor parents throughout the world by offering them the opportunity to be appreciated for the sacrifices and lifelong commitments they give to their children, and therefore, to building society.

The well being of families flourishes from happiness, but also from a strong culture of peace. In addition to my efforts to secure the unit of family and happiness, I continuously work towards a more widespread Culture of Peace. We all know that peace secures the rights of families and allows its members to serenely live together in sustainable communities through the principles of freedom, justice, democracy, tolerance, solidarity, and respect.

Hence, targeting families remain meaningful because there cannot be true peace unless each and every individual forming a family is at peace.

Thank you

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Message of H. E. Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser At UNWTO/UNESCO World Conference on Tourism and Culture Building a New Partnership

Message of
H. E. Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser
The High Representative of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations

At
UNWTO/UNESCO World Conference on Tourism and Culture
Building a New Partnership

Delivered by
Amb. Tariq Al-Ansari, Chief of Cabinet, UNAOC

4-6 February 2015
Siem Reap, Cambodia

 

Your Excellency, Mr. Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister, Kingdom of Cambodia,
Your Excellency, Dr. Thong Khon, Minister of Tourism, Kingdom of Cambodia,
Your Excellency, Ms. Phoeurng Sackona, Minister of Culture and Fine Arts, Kingdom of Cambodia,
Your Excellency, Mr. Taleb Rifai, Secretary General, UNWTO,
Your Excellency, Ms. Irina Bokova,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure for me to participate in the “UNWTO-UNESCO World Conference on Tourism and Culture: Building a New Partnership, and particularly to deliver a message on behalf of His Excellency Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, the United Nations High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations.

I start by transmitting the UNAOC’s respect to His Majesty the King of Cambodia and his Government, as well as to the people of Cambodia and the city of Siem Reap, for hosting this very special conference.

We also appreciate the efforts of UNESCO and the World Tourism Organization and thank them for inviting the Alliance of Civilizations to address this occasion.

The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations has solid partnerships with both UNESCO and WTO since our organizations have common objectives in promoting dialogue and understanding across cultures as essential instruments for peace and prosperity. The High Representative himself is in constant contact with Mr. Refaei and Ms. Bokova to coordinate and complement the efforts between the 3 organizations. Our support to and engagement with both organizations is priority on UNAOC’s agenda.

We gather here today to strengthen the connections between tourism and culture and the socio-economic opportunities they provide for Human Sustainable Development.
There couldn’t be a more splendid place than Cambodia for this conference, with its wealth of ancient cultural sites and its centuries old tradition of art. Cambodia has magnificent sites on the UNESCO World Heritage List, such as Angkor Wat Temple and Preach Vihear Temple. The Royal Ballet of Cambodia is another sign of historical legacy.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

UNAOC was created to galvanize international action towards a core understanding among nations regardless of differences in religion, history, background or culture. International stability requires that people of different cultures find ways to respect and tolerate each other’s beliefs and values. UNAOC is the expression by the international community of the need to address such issues, to act as soft power: a preventive diplomacy in the face of ideological threats to our global peace and security. Our activities are essential to support economic growth and human development for all.

Since its inception, UNAOC has brought together an influential network of political and corporate leaders, civil society activists, youth, journalists, foundations, international organizations, and religious leaders to agree on joint actions for improving relations across cultures, combating prejudice and building the conditions conducive for long-term peace, Human Rights and Development.

We spearhead programs, which aim at facilitating these goals through a series of programs and projects in the area of Youth, Education, Media, Migration and religious mediation.
Youth must be taught the culture and benefits of diversity and coexistence, Education is a basic Human Right that is needed to open the minds and heart to accept the others, Media is a tool that should be used to spread the message of peace, not the messages of insult, hate, discrimination, xenophopia and incitement, Migration is the first phenomena of Globalization that began thousands of years ago and it should be conceived as a prospect for development, not a problem.

On the other hand, tourism, more than ever, plays an essential role in helping people of different cultures to understand each other and eliminate cultural barriers. Millions of people travel across the globe every day to discover and share each other’s cultures. Tourism provides a means for people from different cultures and religions to know and understand each other.

Sustainable tourism can create opportunities for visitors and local communities to share cultural experiences and open the minds of the visitors and the hosts to appreciate the importance of diversity for the sake of advancement of humanity.

I am pleased to see that the conference brings together professionals of the tourist industry to find ways to expand sustainable tourism, create jobs while promoting standards for the respect of sites, craft industries and art forms that are part of the cultural, religious and social identity of the people who have been living around these sites for centuries.

The growth of tourism industry between developed and developing countries can provide great potentials for growth and development, if regulated in accordance with laws and ethics to protect human rights from exploitation.

We cannot underestimate the importance of sport values as well, which became a focus area to the work of the Alliance since it can easily pass the culture of peace to all peoples around the world, like music and Arts as well.

Therefore, Sustainable Tourism is essential for carrying these human expressions around and within different nations and cultures.

Let us continue to work together for the benefit of all and discuss how to build a renewed sense of commitment and partnership through Tourism and Cultural exchange, knowing that forging and strengthening global partnership for sustainable development is advancing towards the implementation of the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

In conclusion, the UNAOC supports Siem Reap Declaration and wish all of us a very successful meeting.

I thank you.

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Remarks by the High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations H.E. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser at the IX Meeting of the 9th Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean Plenary Session

Remarks
By
The High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations
H.E. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser

At the

IX Meeting of the 9th Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean Plenary Session

Delivered on his behalf by Ms. Nihal Saad
Spokesperson for the UN High Representative

February 2–4, Monaco

 

Your Excellency, Laurent Nouvion, Speaker of the Parliament of Monaco
Your Excellency Senator Francesco Amoruso, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean,
Your Excellency, Amb Sergio Piazzi, PAM Secretary General
Dear Parliamentarians,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure for me to participate in the 9th Plenary Session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean.

On behalf of the UN Alliance of Civilizations, I would like to thank the generosity of the Principality of Monaco for hosting the gathering this year.

The High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, H.E. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser conveys his profound regrets on being unable to participate in person in this Plenary session.

I am honored to deliver a message on his behalf:

Statement by his Excellency Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser
United Nations High Representative for the UN Alliance of Civilizations

First, allow me to express the profound appreciation of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean (PAM). Since its inception in 2005, it has played a time-needed role in promoting transnational parliamentary diplomacy, essential to building peace, security, understanding and confidence among peoples and nations. Allow me to note that the themes that you have chosen for your discussion in the Standing Committee are very timely.

We have been witnessing over the past weeks and months the alarming rise of radicalism, terrorist attacks, and continued incitement to hatred.

Manifestations of religious based intolerance and violence are increasing across the globe. Such unjustifiable acts have culminated into targeted killings against innocent people from different faiths, perpetuating stereotyping, xenophobia and racism. Such unwarranted prejudices would only play into the hands of terrorists and threaten international security and stability as well as human rights and development. Moreover, these acts violate the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and International Law.

The scourge we are all facing as a Global human Family runs contrary to the values of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations which embraces as its core mission the promotion of cultural diversity, religious tolerance, inclusiveness as well as peaceful and meaningful dialogue in accordance with universally accepted norms and ethics.

The United Nations, since its inception was given the sacred task of addressing threats to international peace and security. The existing UNGA and Security Council resolutions as well as other UN and regional instruments, provide the international community with the appropriate legal and ethical tools to prevent and combat conditions conducive to the spread of extremism, violence and terrorism.

Sadly and despite the efforts made, certain ideological mindsets continue to project their ugly face in our world. Yet, these vicious forces should not hamper our efforts nor dissuade our political will to prevent and fight extremism, discrimination and xenophobia in all its forms including Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and anti-Christian sentiment. These collective efforts should remain one of the core aspects of the work of the international community for the sake of its human sustainable development.

We should not forget that there is a need for universally agreed parameters to tackle hate speech and radical rhetoric in all its forms whether on line, in print, or any other medium. We should do so, while being mindful of the freedom of expression as a fundamental human right that is being practiced in a constructive manner to safeguard international security and public safety.

Having said this, we cannot ignore our collective responsibility to do so.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The UN Security Council acts through its Resolutions – particularly 2170 and 2178  call for stronger international efforts to address the challenges of “Foreign Terrorist Fighters.” It is important to note that the number of foreign terrorist fighters is on the rise. Recent Statsitics have highlighted an unsettling truth: many foreign fighters are not only recruited from Arab countries but also from European ones. This dynamic raises the question of how terrorists are effectively able to recruit young people from across the globe.

The PAM organization has early recognized the major institutional role it can play as a regional unit in countering threats such as (1) terrorism in all its forms; (2) the deep socio-political changes of the MENA region since 2012; as well as (3) sustainable development goals in line with the Post-2015 Agenda. I can only be optimistic to witness that these efforts are being reinforced with the PAM 2013-2017 Strategic and Action Plan.

I would also like to highlight that the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations stands by PAM in these efforts to advance democratic governance and to counter extremism/terrorism with programs and activities, which target and involve young leaders in promoting peace, cultural diversity, tolerance and democratic processes in the Mediterranean region. And I would like to echo here the words of Sen Francesco Amuroso on the need to promote intercultural dialogue.

Allow me to highlight a few of our projects:

(1) (Intercultural Innovation Award) IIA: established in 2011 in partnership with the BMW Group, aims at identifying and at providing support to highly innovative grassroots initiatives working to alleviate identity-based tensions and conflicts around the world. Importantly, these projects promote intercultural dialogue and understanding, thereby making vital contributions to prosperity and peace.

(2) Entrepreneurs for Social Change brings together 20-25 aspiring young social entrepreneurs from the Euro-Med region for a targeted five-day to address obstacles that can often lead to marginalization, radicalization and extremism.

(3) The Fellowship Program: gives emerging leaders from these societies opportunities to become more familiar with the diverse realities and cultural environments of the others. This approach is particularly powerful as it is an experiential tool for dialogue aiming to improve intercultural relations and therefore

(4) Youth Solidarity Fund (YSF): provides seed funding to outstanding youth-led initiatives that promote long-term constructive relationships among people from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds to promote more peaceful societies.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As you may all be aware of, the world will gather in September 2015, to review and assess the Millennium Development Goals launched in 2005 as well as the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

My long experience at the United Nations has taught me that if we are to live in an inclusive and understanding world, essential human elements have to be secured such as the end of poverty, hunger, education and the transnational situation for migrants.

We cannot deny that we are currently experiencing religiously and culturally driven conflicts around the world. These conflicts threaten the sustainable development of human life, and therefore the overall of the Post-2015 Agenda.

And unfortunately, no one country is fully protected against the threats of environmental concerns, intolerance and extremism.

I truly believe that by bringing people together, through common interests and intercultural dialogue, we can visualize the necessary tools to eradicate the threats to human life such as global warming, poverty and terrorism. The global conversation for the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda is happening now. I trust that the PAM Plenary Session can greatly contribute to its advancement.

Having said this, the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations attaches great importance to the role of PAM in dialogue among civilizations.

Based on four key pillars, namely youth, education, media, and migration, UNAOC occupies a unique place within the UN family. It allows to reduce tensions and conflicts between peoples and nations stressing the shared heritage of humanity, rather than differences.

In that regard, I would like to praise PAM’s efforts with the 5+5 Dialogue strategy launched with the Naouakchott Declaration in 2013, which acknowledges driving considerations such as the (1) shared common cultural heritage between peoples on “both of the Mediterranean”; (2) the fundamental importance of North-South partnership to face transnational problems and (3) the prime role of inter-parliamentary cooperation to enhance dialogue.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This time-pressing session will allow us  to reaffirm that by focusing our efforts to understand how dialogue can be a valuable antidote to rejection, violence, and extremism we can enable people to live together in peaceful and inclusive societies.

Thank you.

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The High Representative talks to Al Jazeera America about his role in the world’s governing body

Click here for transcript.

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Presentation Ceremony of the Third World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue By H.E. Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser

Presentation Ceremony of the

Third World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue

By

H.E. Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser

United Nations High Representative

For the Alliance of Civilizations

30 January 2015 – UNHQ, New York

Excellencies,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to welcome everyone for joining us, especially my friend, His Excellency Abulfas Garayev, the Minister of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan. We are gathered here today to launch the Presentation Ceremony of the 3rd World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue scheduled to take place in Baku on May 18-19, 2015.  It is always a great pleasure to join forces with Mr. Garayev who shares the Alliance of Civilizations’ passion for education, dialogue, youth empowerment and whose long and successful career as a Minister offers multitude inputs to our work.

I am also very pleased that UNAOC hosted yesterday in our office the meeting of the Task Force designated with the preparations for the 3rd World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue, which will be held in Baku as of May 18-19, 2015.  UNAOC as a partner in organizing the 3rd World Forum for Intercultural Dialogue has proposed to organize a Plenary Session on:  “Violent Extremism and Promoting Religious Pluralism and Shared Well-being”, and 2 workshops on: Youth as Agents of Change and Contributors to Peace-building and Dialogue, and Youth & the Responsible Use of Social Media. We also look forward to working together with the other partners in this forum UNESCO, UNWTO and OIC.

Now, taking into consideration the ever-growing involvement of Azerbaijan in promoting intercultural and interreligious understanding at the regional and international levels, I am pleased that UNAOC has found such a vital partner.

A partner geographically positioned at the corner of cultures and religions and represents a great example  when it comes to successful cultural and religious development. Azerbaijan’s strategic location at the borders of Eastern Europe and Western Asia has allowed the country to receive the precious and priceless influences of Islamic, Persian, European, Turkish and Russian communities.

Therefore, it is not surprising that this hybrid identity plays a constructive and exemplary role to advance powerful intercultural and interreligious dialogues worldwide. This role is very relevant to the work we do at UNAOC.

I would like to stress the fact that President Ilham Aliyev is to be recognized for his important contribution to multiculturalism through integrative and innovative initiatives.

Allow me to note that Azerbaijan’s support for the UN Alliance of Civilizations is warmly appreciated. As a valuable member of UNAOC’s Group of Friends, Azerbaijan has provided critical inputs for our programs that enhance intercultural dialogue but also valuable contributions for our Trust Fund.

It would be stating the obvious to say that Azerbaijan and UNAOC share an important agenda for tolerance, peace and diversity, which is why I strongly support the Baku Process launched with the Baku Ministerial Declaration of 2008 to promote “Intercultural Dialogue as a Basis for Peace and Sustainable Development.”

 

Distinguished Guests,

We cannot deny that we are currently witnessing a rise in the wave of religious extremism, violence and terrorism across the globe. These religiously and culturally based conflicts threaten  sustainable development, peace and security of human life. And unfortunately, no one country is fully protected by the threats of intolerance, fanaticism and extremism.

They compel us to reaffirm the moral importance of human life, mutual understanding and respect of diversity.

It is necessary to remember not to associate acts of terrorism with any religion, nationality or civilization.

It has become critical to reaffirm our strong commitment to promoting awareness, understanding, reconciliation and forgiveness while preventing conflicts to happen or to escalate to lethal levels. We need to advance a common vision of inclusive, indivisible and respectful societies, while contributing to the pressing themes of the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda.

Very often, some miss the connection between culture, sustainable development and peaceful societies. In my long career at the United Nations, I have observed a simple truth:  culture connects people beyond borders. It allows to bring communities closer through language, music, education, food and tourism. That is why, when I accepted the position of High Representative for the UN Alliance of Civilizations, I recognized culture as one key pillar, in which our efforts have ever since been significant. I would like to thank you for joining us today.

I now leave the floor to H.E Abulfas Garayev.

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UNAOC issues the first edition of its quarterly newsletter

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