Media Advisory Globalization and Sustainable Development : The Role of Governments, NGOs and the Private Sector

October 31, 2014 (10:00 am – 12:30 pm)

What : The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, the Universal Peace Federation and the Global Citizens Forum are organizing a meeting on Globalization and Sustainable Development : the Role of Governments, NGOs and the Private Sector. The interactive discussion will focus on how to use the private and public investment to foster inclusivity and harmony, best practices for achieving the SDGs and the revitalization of the UN system towards achieving the SDGs.

Who : Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, The UN High-Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations , Dr. B.K. Modi, Founder & President of Global Citizen Forum, Dr. Thomas Walsh, President of Universal Peace Federation, Ms. Michele Klein Solomon, Permanent Observer of IOM.

When : Friday, 31 October 2014 (10:00 am-12:30 pm)

Where : UN Dag Hammarskjold Auditorium

Meeting is open to the media. For further information, check attached program and concept note.

Press contact : Ms. Nihal Saad, Spokesperson for the UN High-Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations, saadn@un.org

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Media Advisory World Cities Day 2014 Leading Urban Transformations

October 31, 2014 (9:30-12:30)

What : On the occasion of World Cities Day, the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, The Permanent Mission of Italy, the Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of China and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) are organizing an interactive discussion between international organizations, governments, mayors and civil society representatives on the need to pursue people-centered urbanization and manage social inclusion and diversity in today’s cities. The event aims at sharing ideas on how to enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and how to empower migrants for effective integration in cities.

Who : Opening remarks by Mrs. Maria Emma Meja Velez, VP of ECOSOC , President of the General Assembly Sam Kutesa, the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (tbc), The UN High-Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi, The PR of Italy , Ambassador Liu Jieyi, the PR of China. A panel of experts will lead the discussions after the opening segment.

When : Friday, 31 October, 2014 (9:30 am – 12:30 pm)

Where : ECOSOC Chamber, United Nations Headquarters, New York

Event is open to the media. See attached Programme and concept note.

For more information, contact Ms. Francesca De Ferrari (deferrari@un.org) and go to http://unhabitat.org/wcd/

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Remarks by the High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations at University of Central Florida

University of Central Florida
October 16, 2014

 

Mr. David Dumke,
Director of Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd Program for Strategic Research Studies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good afternoon,

At the outset, I would like to thank Mr. David Dumke for inviting me here and giving me the opportunity to be part of this timely event marking Diversity Week at the University of Central Florida. The theme of your conference this year could not have been more apt : Promoting Understanding on the International, National and Local level.

It would be stating the obvious to say that the world today is undergoing a period of profound turmoil, radicalization, polarization and violent extremism.  It is alarming to see that the majority of conflicts we see broiling on daily basis have a cultural, religious or ethnic dimension from the Central African Republic, Palestine and Nigeria to Iraq, Syria and Myanmar.

Ironically, the simple truth is that today, more than at any other time in history – diversity is the reality that informs and nurtures  life ; diversity in nations and cities, tribes and villages, in ethnicities and identities, in beliefs, faiths and traditions.

We often hear the term “we live in a global village” and that we are closer today and more interconnected than ever before. But just because we are more connected does mean that we are more united. To be united in our diversity and to celebrate our shared and common values depends on everyone of us. And here is where  the role of the Alliance of Civilizations come to play. The Alliance of Civilizations has become a global platform of action and dialogue.

Just last August, we held our 6th Global Forum in Bali, Indonesia and the theme was : Unity in Diversity. The Alliance provided world leaders, politicians, religious leaders, journalists  and the academia as well as grassroot organizations and youth from around the globe with the platform to exchange ideas and engage in a meaningful debate on how to celebrate our shared and common values and how to enhance understanding between the different cultures, faiths and ethnicities. Most of all, we were trying to answer a central question : how to manage diversity and turn it into an incubator of progress, peace and security – locally, nationally and internationally.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Having spent a life time at the UN , I would like to point out that the United Nations was built on the premise that dialogue is the best path leading to peace. That cultural diversity, freedom of thought, respecting each other and our Human Rights, enhances our life.

Hence, the United Nations recognized that our world consists of different faiths and religions.

The UN always expressed its special concern over hatred and religious intolerance, and it took several initiatives to fight these scourges.

The principles of the Alliance of Civilizations are every where in International Law.

For instance, I invite you to take a look at the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, at the 1965 International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of racial discrimination, as well at the many other relevant Human Rights covenants and instruments put in place since 1948.

 

The Charter of the United Nations reaffirmed the importance of achieving its purposes and principles, in the context of equality and I quote “without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion”

The United Nations was built on those principles.

How to achieve this and apply those principles to our current challenges, defines our task – a vital task.

The principles of coexistence are enshrined in International Law, but we also need the right mechanism to do so, the philosophy of its practical implementation.

The United Nations, through its General Assembly, Human Rights Council and bodies, have endlessly introduced Human Rights resolutions prohibiting discrimination on grounds of religion, race, xenophobia and of related intolerance.

The reason for doing so is clear.

Because peace can only last where human rights are respected, where the people are fed, and where individuals and nations are free.

Because multi-ethnic, multi-faith, multi-lingual and multi-cultural societies are to be viewed as a source of wealth for all humanity. This is diversity.

Therefore we need a strong Alliance of Civilizations to augment our strength for better understanding of one another and foster dialogue with one another.

Ignoring these facts would be inconsistent with our international promises towards our people and would endanger our survival on our planet.

World leaders need to understand that we are living during an era with unprecedented challenges and that we really need to unite.

We simply need to revert to International Law, International human rights law that protects our living in real civilized societies.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations was established at a time when grave tensions rooted in cultural differences gripped our world. It was initiated in 2005 in response to the recommendations of the High-Level Group of eminent personalities widely acknowledged for their wisdom and their prestige. Beyond its immediate purpose, the new institution was intended to equip the United Nations with a new soft power tool of preventive diplomacy to be used to diffuse situations of cultural and identity-based tensions in a world equally blessed and damned by the new paradigm of globalization.

Through various activities in the areas of Youth, Education, Media and Migration, the Alliance is helping in developing visions and strategies to disseminate the message of peace and promote global understanding.

Allow me to reflect for a moment on the work we do at the Alliance :

Much of our work consists of creating avenues of empowerment for marginalized communities, and especially young people. We believe that youth are tomorrow’s leaders these young women and men should be part of the conversation .We empower them through small grants and train them to resolve tensions. When it comes to media, we firmly believe that media shape our perceptions. As such, we try to enhance the level of public debate through skill building workshops and seminars for journalists. Not just in the area of media and youth, but in all areas of programming, our ability to deliver on our goals is based on meaningful partnerships on the ground.

We believe in the role religious leaders, academia, civil society and the corporate sector can play in fostering understanding at all levels, international, national and international.

 

Ladies and Gentleman,

 

I can say there is still a long way. However, As educated individuals, diplomats, academics and leaders who understand the challenges of our time, we must build bridges for Humankind that are strong enough to carry the weight of our differences.

Understanding one another and respect for the other, should be our mission. Future generations should be equipped with the tools that will enable them to understand the virtues of tolerance, mutual respect and moderation. Educational institutions, such as UCF and Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd Program for Strategic Research and Studies have already taken many strides in the right direction by organizing an annual forum on Interfaith dialogue.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As an Arab Muslim, I always like to recall what our Prophet peace be upon him said “Shall I not inform you of a better act than fasting, alms, and prayers? Making peace between one another”

How wise was that saying.

Before concluding, let me sincerely thank you once again for giving me this opportunity to be you.

I have worked and will continue to work to promote interfaith dialogue, and mutual understanding.

Thank you.

 

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Al-Nasser Reiterates His Plea for Peace

Statement Attributable to the Spokesperson for the High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations

New York – October 10, 2014

The High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations, Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser reiterated his plea for global peace at a gathering celebrating the launch of his book: “A Year at the Helm of the United Nations General Assembly”.

In his book, published by NYU Press, Al-Nasser chronicles the events of a dynamic year (2011-2012 during which he presided over the 66th session of the General Assembly, and reflects on a wide range of global challenges that were addressed during that session ranging from political transformations and financial crises to natural disasters and humanitarian issues.

Al-Nasser reaffirmed his commitment to promoting a culture of peace, tolerance and dialogue, issues, that he took to his heart as President of the 66th Session of the General Assembly and continued to uphold in his role as High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations emanating from his belief that global efforts towards peace and reconciliation can only succeed through a collective approach built on trust, dialogue and collaboration. He stressed that he was determined to advance the noble goals of the Alliance to preserve international peace and security and promote tolerance and moderation particularly against the backdrop of the rising forces of radicalism.

The celebration at NYU’s President Penthouse, was attended by Prof. Farhan Nizami Director of Oxford Center for Islamic Studies, Professor Vitali Numkin, Chair at the Faculty of World Politics at Moscow University as well as a number of diplomats, UN officials, NYU academia, elite members of the society and prominent journalists.

Earlier, the High Representative met with Mr. Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary General and presented him a copy of the book.

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Remarks by H.E. Nassir AbdulAziz Al-Nasser Open briefing of the Counter-Terrorism Committee

Countering Incitement to Commit Terrorist Acts Motivated by Extremism and Intolerance: the Kingdom of Morocco’s Approach and Experiences of other African States

ECOSOC Chamber, United Nations Headquarters
New York, 30 September 2014

➢ At first I would like to thank The Kingdom of Morocco and CTED for inviting me to address this very important and timely meeting. This initiative to discuss the issue of “Countering Incitement to Commit Terrorist Acts Motivated by Extremism and Intolerance”, is indeed of serious importance to the maintenance of International Peace and Security.

➢ Excellencies, Ladies, and Gentlemen, today, I speak before you at a very important moment in the history of multilateral efforts at countering terrorism. As many of you are aware, five days ago on September 24, the U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a historic resolution aimed at stopping the flow of foreign extremists to battlefields around the world, in the context of combating the threat of terrorism.

➢ Resolution 2178 requires Member States to take specific steps to prevent suspected foreign terrorist fighters from entering or transiting their territories and to implement legislation to prosecute such fighters. It also calls on states to undertake various steps to improve international cooperation in this field, such as by sharing information on criminal investigations, interdictions and prosecutions.

➢ While these are all extremely significant aspects of the resolution, relevant to the work of the organization I lead, the Alliance of Civilizations, in this resolution, for the first time ever, the Security Council underscores the importance of Countering Violent Extremism or CVE as a key element in effective responses to the foreign terrorist fighter phenomenon.

➢ Specifically, the resolution “calls upon States to enhance CVE efforts and take steps to decrease the risk of radicalization to terrorism in their societies, such as engaging relevant local communities, empowering concerned groups of civil society, and adopting tailored approaches to countering FTF recruitment.”

➢ In this respect, the resolution also builds on previous Security Council Resolutions, such as 1624, which focuses on prevention and places increased emphasis on social contexts that may be conducive to the spread of terrorism.

➢ In Security Council resolution 1624, the Council specifically calls upon all States to continue international efforts to enhance dialogue and broaden understanding among civilizations, in an effort to prevent the indiscriminate targeting of different religions and cultures, building bridges between nations and to take all measures as may be necessary and appropriate in accordance with their obligations under international law, to counter incitement of terrorist acts motivated by extremism and intolerance and to prevent the subversion of educational, cultural, and religious institutions by terrorists and their supporters.
➢ The two tracks of combating FTF recruitment, Combating Violent Extremism and incitement to hatred are so essential for the mandate of the UNAOC.

➢ Critical to observe here is that both these resolutions emphasize that any action that Member States and the international community take in this area must be firmly guarded by respect for fundamental freedoms, including freedom of religion or belief, expression, opinion and association. If we are to stop those who would seek to undermine our freedoms, we must always begin from the moral higher ground of first honoring and protecting those freedoms.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
➢ From my perspective, counter terrorism efforts generally have two dimensions. The first is the operational. This refers to efforts made by states and the international community at disrupting the planning and execution of potential attacks, primarily through law enforcement methods.

➢ The second is strategic. This refers to addressing the root causes through which terrorist organizations and networks may be able to build support and sympathy for their causes, and even recruit individuals into such causes. And as you are aware, these root causes may be political, social or economic.
➢ While I believe that law enforcement, as a means of combating terrorism, must remain a priority, long-term success depends largely on strategic approaches to address the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism. This specifically means that we need to work in the area of preventing violent extremism and radicalization, by not only reacting but also preventive and proactive approaches are imperative in this context.

➢ A big part of this comes from countering the ideologies that help justify and build support for terrorist causes. Ideology is a powerful mobilizing tool. Terrorists know and recognize this. They also use social injustice, political and protracted conflicts and economic fragility as socially attractive grounds for their crimes.
➢ It is thus no surprise that extremists for their own political ends seize religion—or the very frameworks that human beings use, to make sense of their vision and mission on this planet and to justify their actions. Extremist organizations work in sophisticated manner and under organized pattern, so lets not undermine their organizational abilities.

➢ One of the key ways that extremist organizations mobilize support among young people is not only by appealing to religious ideology, but also marginalization that young people face, from being outside of the decision-making processes that affect their own futures, to the problem of social injustice and lack of equal opportunities.

➢ The fact is that in many societies around the world, young people constitute a majority of the population, but have very little influence on local, regional, and national policies that affect their lives. This is especially true of many Muslim-majority societies. I see this as a deeply problematic paradigm, and as something that extremists can exploit.

➢ At the Alliance, much of our work consists of creating avenues of empowerment for marginalized communities, and especially young people.

➢ We find that one of the most effective ways to work in this area is by focusing diverse groups of young people, working across different communities, to come together to work on a shared need—whether that is youth unemployment, access to water, or the need to mediate and resolve local conflicts.

➢ When we model effective cooperation in a society around a shared need—including by bringing religious leaders into the conversation—we believe that we create the most effective counter narrative to the radical ideologies.

➢ In summary, to be truly successful in countering the incitement and appeal of extremist organizations, we need to address not just the ideological dimension, but crucially also the socio-economic and political grievances of the populations that extremists prey on. While reducing the space in which terrorists can mobilize support for their activities, this approach also leads to better and more integrated communities that are more resilient and better able to meet the development challenges they face.

➢ As the international community, I firmly believe that it is incumbent on us to provide viable, meaningful exposition to the falsifications of religion that terrorists propagate.

➢ In the Arab world, the region from which I come, it is an unfortunate reality that in the last 30 years, we have seen a singular rise in the mis-approp-riation of Islam by extremist organizations for their goals. There are many causes for this, some of which I aim to touch upon momentarily. But I want to take this opportunity to recognize how crucial it is that we, as Muslims and non-Muslims, furnish our young with interpretations of this religion that speak to their reality in a way that is ultimately viable and universal.

➢ In other words, for young Muslims, their personal practice of Islam should be a source of inspiration for being in the world in a way that both recognizes the interdependence at the heart of human existence, and position them to serve to improve the world and the lives of everyone around them, and this is what the Muslim World should strive to do.

➢ In putting forward such an interpretation, I must praise the efforts of the Kingdom of Morocco under its responsible and wise leadership, which since 2004, has embarked upon an ambitious program to engage religious leaders—male and female—in working with young Moroccans. I look forward to hearing more about these efforts from the following speakers.

➢ The UN Alliance of Civilizations has a long record, through its many civil society, youth, and media engagement programs, of working with the grassroots around the world. Much of our work is dedicated to creating viable and effective alternatives to radicalization.

➢ Even though the Alliance is not primarily or directly a counter-terrorism entity, its work is valuable to global counter-terrorism efforts because it aims to combat and prevent the hatred and extremism that can serve as conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism. Combating extremism is of great importance to me as High Representative and principal implementer of the vision of the Alliance.

➢ We have worked with religious leaders in many different parts of the world to provide a platform to amplify their voices and more effectively disseminate messages of pluralism to their communities. This has been meaningful work, but we are also seeking constant improvement, and so we have found that there is more we can do.
➢ Having considered the recent development around the world, I hope that I get the chance to interact with the Security Council on so many preventive and cultural activities the Alliance can contribute with. It is time for this important organ to use the service we are providing. I count on our cooperative agreement with the CTED to do so as well. My participation in this very event is clear message of my role as High Representative of the Alliance in combating violent extremism.

➢ Finally, while I welcome all of you to visit the website of the Alliance to learn more about some of our projects that adopt this approach, I want to end by saying that as an organization, we are constantly seeking partnership among all sectors—Member States, International Organizations, civil society, and others—to help us run more projects in which we can effectively and more holistically counter the appeal of extremist organizations.

➢ I thank you and looking forward for good interaction with all of you.

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OPENING REMARKS BY H. E. MR. NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER THE UNITED NATIONS HIGH REPRESENTATIVE FOR THE ALLIANCE OF CIVILIZATIONS BEFORE THE ANNUAL MINISTERIAL MEETING OF THE UNITED NATIONS ALLIANCE OF CIVILIZATION

NEW YORK
26 SEPTEMBER 2014

Your Excellency Mr. Sam Kahamba Kutesa ,President of the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly,

Your Excellency Mr. José García-Margallo y Marfil, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Spain;

Your Excellency Mr. Volkan BOZKIR, Minister for EU Affairs of the Republic of Turkey,

Your Excellency Mr. Jean-Paul Laborde, Executive Director, Counter Terrorism Executive Directorate,

Dear Dr. Jehangir Khan, Director, Counter Terrorism Implementation Task Force,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

• Good morning and welcome back to New York. It is good to be back after the summer season, and especially after the successful Sixth UNAOC Global Forum we convened in Bali.

• First and above all else, I would like to reiterate my sincere thanks to the people and government of Indonesia for making us feel at home in Bali. We are deeply indebted to you for the success of the Sixth Global Forum.

• As you are all aware, we did not have any rest after Bali, as we have just started the 69th Session on the UNGA with its very busy schedule. Tens of world leaders have expressed their concern for what is happening in the world. There is a barely a region in the world where we are not seeing some level tension across communities.

• I was touched by what I perceived to be a global feeling for the need to work together and protect one another for the sake of our future generations.

• Our forum in Bali addressed many of these live ongoing situations around the world with a view to helping and empowering our young people to resolve some of these issues. After all, they are the ones who will inherit the dilemmas we face today.

• During the Forum, we engaged in a profoundly interesting and interactive dialogue; we listened to the voices of youth, civil society organizations, religious leaders, and politicians.

• We learned how the state of global harmony continues to be worrisome. We saw that many of today’s conflicts have a cultural, religious or ethnic dimension. Identity-based division continues to be a common feature of conflicts in Africa, the Middle East and even Eastern Europe. The Alliance is mindful of this troubling fact and remains responsive to the scourges that it was created to combat with its soft power preventive approaches.

• Based on this fact, I decided to choose for the discussion during our ministerial meeting today the very pressing issue that threatens all of us in the 21st century: the rise of violent extremism and its role in fueling the scourge of terrorism.

• In relation to the theme of this ministerial meeting, “New and Emerging Ideological Threats to International Peace and Co-Existence”, let me brief you on how the Bali forum contributed to the UN’s agenda on the culture of peace and its counter terrorism strategy:

• The Theme of the Global Forum was Unity in Diversity. This theme weaves through the mosaic of efforts aiming at countering radicalization, polarization and violence.

• The Alliance created, in Bali, a platform for dialogue among world leaders, thought leaders, politicians, religious leaders, media experts, NGOs and businessmen. They all gathered there, to brainstorm and think out of the box on how to foster dialogue among different communities and cultures, so as to eradicate radicalization and extremism.

• All of our 11 breakout sessions, 6 side events and 2 plenaries stressed that education, social inclusion, the promotion of shared values, tolerance and mutual respect, are essential components for combating violent extremism – this is itself a critical element in building peace and security and promoting a culture of peace among nations.

• We learned that there is a need to examine our differences, if we are to build a proper foundation for conflict resolution. We learned that we need to resolve protracted conflicts, create better educational curricula and improve understanding of a culture of peace among the next generation, enhance the approach of media, do more to integrate migrants in their new societies, and explore new and innovative paths for the Alliance to increase its effectiveness.

• Panelists agreed that among the actions absolutely necessary to counter violent extremism is a more constructive approach to religious education, one that fosters the key ingredient of teaching about shared humanistic values. This approach is important to teach the future generations that religions are a source of peace and co-existence, and not of confrontation and violence.

• I also take this opportunity to invite you to implement the Bali declaration, which emphasizes the roles and responsibilities of the international community to save this planet from the scourge of terrorism.

• Governments are responsible to promulgate the necessary legal structures. International Organizations are responsible to ensure that new standards of tolerance and inclusion are institutionalized. And individuals are responsible to lead by example – to act before their families and friends in a manner conducive to the spread of harmony.

• Above all else, our attempts at building peace must be effective and everyone must feel the dividends of these activities. For it is protracted conflicts and the exclusion and marginalization of specific groups in society that help create the ground in which violent ideologies can easily take root. Let us not forget this fact.

• The events we are witnessing in the Middle East are further evidence of this. In this context, I welcome recent actions taken by the Security Council to combat violent extremism and terrorism in the Middle East and Africa regions. For the Alliance, our role as a soft power preventive tool that targets hearts and minds complements actions by other UN organs and agencies in this area.

• Today, you, senior representatives of Governments, International Organizations, civil society, media and academia, will discuss this very pressing issue , at this ministerial meeting in order to explore how we can effectively bridge cultural divides.

• We will discuss how the Alliance, with your support, can contribute to building mutual understanding and respect among and between troubled communities, how we can best fulfill our vision and how our mission can be made more realistic and more responsive .

• Isn’t this why the Alliance was created? If we really want to see results then we need to be frank in discussing the circumstances conducive to the spread of terror, insecurity and savageness. This includes the entire range of members of the International Community.

• We at the Alliance will also continue the activities we are conducting to counter violent extremism , in cooperation with DPA and its Mediation Support Unit, CTITF, CTED, DESA, UNDP, UNESCO and other components of the UN system. We will continue and enhance our collaboration and partnerships with civil society and count on the enlightening thoughts of academia, in order to serve the peoples of the world.

• Having said all this, I don’t want you to think that we are not surrounded by negative events only. I want to also recognize that there are many positive signs and actions done by governments, civil society and regional organizations that we can invest and improve. So lets use every opportunity we have to help our selves for living our lives in dignity, civility and to count on the rule of law, which is the corner stone for every modern society.

• So we need to unite and reject any suggestion of a clash of civilizations. Belief in permanent religious war is the misguided refuge of extremists who cannot build or create anything, and therefore peddle only fanaticism and hate. And it is no exaggeration to say that humanity’s future depends on us uniting against those who would divide us along fault lines of tribe or sect; race or religion

• Following this session, I will ask my staff to take note of all the concrete suggestions in order to build our first non-paper on our topic of discussion. I intend to discuss this non-paper with you at a later stage and build on it through a series of consultations.

• I thank you and will stop here since I’m looking forward to your important contributions.

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Joint Press Statement By The UN High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations and The Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan

New York, 26 September, 2014

During the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations Ministerial Meeting of the Group of Friends, held during the High-level segment of the 69th Session of the UN General Assembly, the membership of the Group of Friends endorsed by consensus the offer by the Government of Azerbaijan to host the Alliance 7th Global Forum in Baku, Azerbaijan in 2016.

The UN High-Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations, Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser expressed his appreciation to the Government of Azerbaijan for its commitment and support for the mission and objectives of the Alliance.

Both, Mr. Al –Nasser and the Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, Mr. Elmar Mammadyarov pledged to continue to work together to make the Alliance 7th Global Forum 2016 in Baku, a successful one.

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VA — Position title Project Management Specialist — Migration and Media

Vacancy code VA/2014/B5004/5926
Position title Project Management Specialist – Migration and Media
Level ICS-10
Department/office GPSO, Development Group
Duty station New York, United States of America
Contract type International ICA
Contract level IICA-2
Duration Up to 6 month with possibility of renewal based on satisfactory performance and funding (first 3 months as probation period).
Application period 22-Sep-2014 to 02-Oct-2014
United Nations Core Values: Integrity, Professionalism, Respect for Diversity
Background Information – UNOPS

UNOPS mission is to serve people in need by expanding the ability of the United Nations, governments and other partners to manage projects, infrastructure and procurement in a sustainable and efficient manner.

Within these three core areas of expertise, UNOPS provides its partners with advisory, implementation and transactional services, with projects ranging from building schools and hospitals, to procuring goods and services and training local personnel. UNOPS works closely with governments and communities to ensure increased economic, social and environmental sustainability for the projects we support, with a focus on developing national capacity.

Working in some of the world’s most challenging environments, our vision is to advance sustainable implementation practices in development, humanitarian and peacebuilding contexts, always satisfying or surpassing partner expectations.

We employ more than 6,000 personnel and on behalf of our partners create thousands more work opportunities in local communities. Through our headquarters in Copenhagen, Denmark and a network of offices, we oversee activities in more than 80 countries.

Background information – GPSO

Based in Copenhagen, Denmark, the Global Portfolio Services Office (GPSO) develops and manages a portfolio of projects and services delivered in various locations across the globe.

GPSO supports partners such as the World Bank, the European Union, the Department of Peacekeeping operations, the United Nations Mine Action Service, the Global Fund, and the Millennium Challenge Corporation, amongst others.

This global portfolio constitutes a substantial volume of UNOPS project delivery.

Background Information – Development Group Cluster

Development Group Cluster

UNOPS Development Group Cluster is based in the GPSO – New York Office and supports a diverse and complex portfolio including partners such as the United Nations Development Programme (the Bureau for Development Policy, the Special Unit for South-South Cooperation), the United Nations Population Fund, the United Nations Secretariat and a broadening community of primarily New York-based UN partners in the delivery of project management, implementation and administration services.

 

Background Information – Job-specific

The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations seeks to reduce tensions across cultural divides that threaten to inflame existing political conflicts or trigger new ones. Through preventive diplomacy initiatives, it works at grassroots level, promoting education, youth, media and migration projects aimed at building trust and respect among diverse communities.

The Alliance was established in 2005, at the initiative of the Governments of Spain and Turkey, under the auspices of the United Nations. In March 2013, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, former President of the General Assembly, was appointed by the United Nations Secretary-General to succeed Jorge Sampaio, former President of Portugal, as High Representative for the Alliance. UNAOC is supported by a Group of Friends – a community of over 130 member countries and international organizations and bodies. The UNAOC Secretariat, based in New York, NY, is funded by multiple donors, with operations-level support provided by UNOPS.

The UNAOC is looking for a Project Management Specialist to run activities focused on Migration and Media which are key areas of work of the UNAOC. The work of the Project Management Specialist – Migration and Media would include responsibilities linked to project development and implementation, monitoring and evaluation, partnership building, research and data analysis, as well as support for other UNAOC activities.

Functional Responsibilities

Under the coordination of the Programming Coordinator and the direct supervision of the Director, UNAOC, the duties of the Project Management Specialist – Migration and Media will include:

  • Design, implement and coordinate new project activity across the full spectrum of the UNAOC pillars of activity with an emphasis on Migration and Media projects;
  • Engage in the development and expansion of partnerships with research bodies, think-tanks, civil society groups and universities to build and expand on initiatives focusing on media and migration; research and develop new areas featuring best practices and resources on media and migration, e.g. media coverage of migrants;
  • Monitor the full field of international project activity by international and regional organizations as well as NGOs involving innovative grassroots projects, with a focus on media and migration;
  • Draft new initiatives with specific focus on media and migration, in accordance with internal procedures to participation of selected organizations in various events of the Alliance and partners; Incorporate a consultation process with stakeholders and partners from different regions;
  • Responsible for actively monitoring the financial aspects of the assigned project including keeping progress report of budget execution and drafting reports to the donors.  Actively provide support to all logistics needed for project activities while working closely with the Administrative Associate;
  • As appropriate, participate in the selection of the projects related to competitive processes; Where appropriate, follow up with the selected organizations, providing technical support and expertise;
  • Ensure use of best practices in monitoring and evaluation of all UNAOC projects;
  • Draft TORs for services and liaise with vendors as needed including collecting vendor forms.
  • Maintain records, file and organize documents regarding project operations.
  • Liaise with UN departments and agencies in order to maintain policy relevance and identify innovative and entrepreneurial practices;
  • Coordinate website and other electronic (internet, social media, etc.) outreach efforts with the Communications staff; Assist Communications team when relevant to monitor and track stories about achievements of organizations or individuals supported by UNAOC; Support Communications team and provide input for the communications team to produce communication materials pertaining to assigned project activities and activities of the High Representative;
  • Contribute to the overall work of the UNAOC Secretariat and take on additional tasks as and when needed.
Competencies
  • Ability to work in a multicultural and international environment;
  • Ability to harmoniously work in a team to achieve organizational goals;
  • Ability to work well under pressure and to meet tight deadlines;
  • Strong entrepreneurial spirit;
  • Strong attention to details.
Education/Experience/Language requirements

Applicants need to possess all of the following to be considered:

  • Master’s Degree in international relations, global studies, media studies, migration studies, development studies, public policy, social sciences or other fields related to the mission of the UNAOC;
  • Proven knowledge of international relations, particularly matters related to the United Nations, including trends in the field of media and migration in a cross-cultural context;
  • In-depth knowledge of migration and media, especially in an international context;
  • 5 years of relevant work experience in project support or management in the field of media or migration;
  • 1 to 2 years of work experience with international organizations or international non-governmental organizations;
  • Fluency in both spoken and written English; working knowledge of another UN language is an asset; and
  • IT proficiency.
Contract type, level and duration

Contract type: International ICA
Contract level: IICA-SP 2
Contract duration: Up to 6 month with possibility of renewal based on satisfactory performance and funding (first 3 months as probation period).

For more details about the ICA contractual modality, please follow this link:
https://www.unops.org/english/Opportunities/job-opportunities/what-we-offer/Pages/Individual-Contractor-Agreements.aspx

Additional Considerations
  • Please note that the closing date is midnight Copenhagen time (CET)
  • Applications received after the closing date will not be considered.
  • Only those candidates that are short-listed for interviews will be notified.
  • Qualified female candidates are strongly encouraged to apply.
  • For staff positions UNOPS reserves the right to appoint a candidate at a lower level than the advertised level of the post
  • The incumbent is responsible to abide by security policies, administrative instructions, plans and procedures of the UN Security Management System and that of UNOPS.

It is the policy of UNOPS to conduct background checks on all potential recruits/interns.
Recruitment/internship in UNOPS is contingent on the results of such checks.

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Welcome Remarks By H.E. Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, The United Nations High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations: SOCIAL JUSTICE IN ARAB STATES

Panel I
ESCWA 28TH MINISTERIAL SESSION
TUNIS, 17 SEPTEMBER 2014

Dear Rima Khalaf, Under- Secretary General, Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia,

Your Excellency, Mr. Sultan Bin Saeed Al-Mansoori, Minister of Economy of the United Arab Emirates, Chair of the Twenty seventh Session of the Commission,

Your Excellency, Mr. Mehdi Jomaa, Prime Minister of Tunisia,

Distinguished Guests and Panelists,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me express my gratitude to the Government of Tunisia for hosting this important event and to ESCWA under the leadership of Rima Khalaf, for inviting me to take part in this 28th Ministerial Session of ESCWA as the United Nations High Representative for Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC). I am confident that through this meeting we will demonstrate complementarities in our actions, as much as the proximity of our visions.

This theme we are addressing today of “social justice” is of great concern not only for Arab States, but for Humanity as a whole. Your deliberations and recommendations will become of universal interest and they are awaited with great interest by the world community, and also as a matter of civilization.

We observe that the notions of “justice” and of “social progress and better standard of life in larger freedom” already appeared in the 1945 opening statement of the United Nations Charter which, in its Chapters IX and X, also referred to the “conditions for social and economic progress” and, for this purpose, to the creation of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

In 1948, the United Nations concluded the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was followed in 1976 by International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and also by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. These important Treaties already spelled out a number of social justice obligations for Member-States and were followed by 7 other UN Conventions concerning Women, Children, Discrimination, Disabled persons, etc. These Treaties on Human Rights were ratified by most of Arab States and such commitments now constitute the bedrock not only of human civilization, but of all our discussions on social justice.

In view of the above historical background, in our discussions we should avoid considering “social justice” as a new concept or as a concept distinct from its deeper “natural justice” roots which all Humanity share as result of 3000 years of human civilization and progress. For example, there can be no genuine “social justice” when no fair justice system is in place to ensure its implementation and equality of access for all citizens. Social justice should always be understood in its larger context of natural justice and to access to justice, and this is why the United Nations Human Rights Covenants have a justice machinery to protect and implement these Treaties: the Human Rights Council.

One attempt to define “social justice” at the United Nations was made in 2006 stating that “social justice may be broadly understood as the fair and compassionate distribution of the fruits of economic growth”. But social justice is much more than just an economic issue, although a consensus on a single encompassing definition of “social justice” remains to be reached between UN Member-States, and is at the nexus of our agenda. The Copenhagen Declaration concluded that social development and social justice cannot be attained in the absence of peace and security, or in the absence of respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

In practical terms, through the last part of the 20th Century, United Nations’ specialized Agencies have made extensive effort to fine-tune the definition of “social justice” through its various components, such as  Human Rights (UNHCHR), Labor Norms (ILO), basic Education  (UNESCO), public health (WHO), environment at Johannesburg and Rio and so forth in all major fields of human activities.

More recently, these specialized Agencies have agreed and proposed a roadmap for social justice which, in September 2000 culminated in the unanimous General Assembly Declaration by 190 Heads of States and Governments in what is known as the “Millennium Declaration”. This Declaration has now become a Universal Charter not only for Peace and Development, but also for Justice in its fullest meaning for the 21st Century, and which includes social justice.

For guidance purposes, let me read you this extract of the 2000 Millennium Declaration which states “Global challenges must be managed in a way that distributes the costs and burdens fairly with basic principles of equity and social justice”.

This 2000 “Millennium Declaration” was complemented in 2001 by the United Nations’ Road Map for the Implementation of the 8 “Millennium Development Goals” (MDGs) which, in my view, represent a synthesis of the most basic needs defining “social justice” in the world, including for Arab States. These 8 MDGs constitute a Universal Charter for Social Justice, which will now evolve in 2016 with the new 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which are currently being debated and defined at the UN ECOSOC and at its GA High Level Ministerial Task Force Meeting this month.

But already in 2001 when the 8 MDGs were approved by the UN General Assembly criticism was voiced on the absence of a 9th MDG which would

have covered justice both in its social sense and in its human rights components.

This absence of reference to justice in the initial 8 MDGs will now be covered by the new SDG Number 16 which is now under discussion thanks to the Post-2015 UN development Agenda and which states in its Goal number 16 as “Promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all level”

In Arab countries we not only benefit of the great advantage of our prominent contributions to human civilization in arts, in technologies, in medicine, in geographical discoveries and in political science but, in addition,  the concept of social and economic justice is inherent in the teachings and practice of the Holy Quran. Zakāt, one of the Five Pillars of Islam is the exercise of charitable giving by Muslims based on accumulated wealth, and is obligatory for all who are able to do so. It is considered to be a personal responsibility for Muslims to ease economic hardship for other Muslims and eliminate inequality for the followers of Islam. However, much of the impetus for the recent upheaval in many Arab countries stems from a demand for social justice that goes beyond individual or religious responsibility for generosity.  This call for social justice engages the responsibilities of the state and includes more than simple income equality, but encompasses ideas of dignity, empowerment, freedom of expression, transparency and equality before the law.

Each of the governments and countries of the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region are different and face unique challenges in terms of providing social and economic support to their respective populations. Some are faced with the chronic break down of the rule of law and stable governance. Others are involved in civil war with all of the chaos and turmoil that entails. Others are living under occupation with no internationally recognized government. Others still, have enormous wealth and prosperity, from which the population benefits. There is not one formula for social justice that fits all cases.

One economic measure for social justice that has been used rather widely by MENA countries is subsidies for energy and food. The energy and food sectors of the MENA countries are among the most heavily subsidized in the world.  International economic institutions complain about such subsidies because it is claimed they “aggravate fiscal imbalances, encourage excessive energy consumption, reduce incentives for investment in renewable energy, and divert public spending away from key social programs.”  But whenever governments have tried to reduce such subsidies, the result has been public protest, riots and social upheaval. Without effective alternatives, the removal of such subsidies has the danger of sinking the poor deeper into debt and prevents them for getting the food they need for survival.

When other mechanisms of social support, such as social safety nets and cash transfer programs have been tried in several countries, the results have been disappointing with minimal impact on the poorest segments of society. Many of the countries lack the institutional and organizational structures necessary to manage national social welfare programs. Also, the absence of national records and databases hinders the full identification of low-income groups.

Improvement in social justice will require attention to overall employment and job creation in Arab countries with particular emphasis on the challenges of the youth, something of particular concern to UNOAC.  A recent UNDP study shows that 60% of Arab workers are engaged in the agriculture and social and personal services sectors, with agriculture being one of the least productive sectors of the economy. The informal sector still accounts for more than 10% of employment. Unemployment in the Arab world, currently at 13%, disproportionally affects women, youth, and individuals with higher educational qualifications. Youth unemployment is a particular source of concern in poor and conflict-ravaged Arab countries, where nearly 45% of young people are currently unemployed.

One concept I find valuable is the idea of the Social Protection Floor (SPF) promoted by ILO and WHO.  Started in 2009, it is a global social policy concept that promotes nationally defined strategies for the provision of a minimum level of access to essential services and income security for all. It covers access to essential services such as water and sanitation, health, education and income security.  This, or something similar, that would seek to provide a basic floor of social protection in Arab countries, could serve as an important benchmark or guideline for social justice policy in Arab states.

The lack of stability, security and peace in the region is a clear factor undermining development efforts. It contributes to ineffective governance and misuse of resources, including weak political participation, opaque and unaccountable management systems, and unskilled public administrations. These are serious obstacles that prevent Arab countries from mobilizing and adequately using their natural, financial and human resources.  It also discourages foreign investors from taking an interest in the Arab region

Promoting social justice cannot be just the right of government by any means. Working with local, national and regional civil society organizations that represent the will and needs of the local community is especially important. Such groups can critically assist in developing transparent social welfare programs that effectively help vulnerable groups. However, I believe that communities and governments should be vigilant to the type and provenance of the NGO groups that propose to offer help and inputs. We have seen some instances where such groups promoted agendas that were not entirely transparent or in the interests of the peoples concerned. The promotion, development and engagement of indigenous community groups are particularly important to fully reflect local values and needs.

As we enter this discussion on social justice and development at this meeting, we cannot avoid the obligation to look at our balance sheet on the first 15 years of MDGs, especially in Arab States. The 15-year MDG system had a national reporting machinery known as Country Reports (MDGRs) with its series of Goals, Targets and social and economic Indicators. The reports, statistics and parameters which were produced by Arab countries were witnesses of the many social injustices, inequalities and weaknesses. National MDG Reports supported by UNDP show that nearly 140 million Arab citizens are living below the upper poverty line. Upwards of 25 million may be faced with famine and malnutrition. As noted by the ECWA report (E/ESCWA/28/8) the contribution of agriculture to GDP is low in almost all Arab countries with employment in agriculture showing declining trends and no tangible progress in food security since the 1990’s.

But the recent uprisings in many Arab States have unfortunately interrupted this MDG country reporting, which leaves us with only past data and statistics which already indicated serious policy flaws and failures which led to social disruptions. It also confirmed the need for a genuine revision and modernization of many Arab states social policies and justice systems, in order to better respond to the needs of new generations and to implement more efficiently the United Nations sustainable development goals, which will now constitute the basic threshold for social justice.

The Arab Region is in a state of profound change and transformation as countries face economic and natural disasters, civil wars, refugee and migration problems, massive inequality, poverty and lack of clean water, air and health care, among many other problems. Governments at national, regional and local levels are challenged to cope with these demands in the context of rapidly expanding populations.  At the UNAOC, we know that “Social Justice” is of paramount concern if our populations are to live in peace within their communities and be reconciled to their governance. People expect to be treated with dignity, to have access to a good job, health care, clean water and a clean environment in which to raise their families. They expect to have a government that is transparent, administers justice fairly and reflects the will of the people. They want to be free to practice their own religion and observe their own cultural traditions. They also want to be able to live in peace and harmony with their neighbors.

These are the conditions that make peaceful co-existence within and between countries possible. Social justice is necessary to meet the objectives of the Alliance of Civilizations, including intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation. It has the power to connect governments, lawmakers, local authorities, civil society organizations, the media, and individuals in promoting understanding across diverse cultural communities. Social justice is the basis on which all else is built.

On a final note before we enter in our deliberation is a reminder that social justice requires economic progress, and that business is an essential part of social and economic progress. For this reason, we must not hesitate to address bluntly some major justice issues raised by the UN Global Compact. One issue of concern for Arab States which has become a business deterrent is corruption. Corruption creates mistrust for investors and has become a major disincentive for economic growth. Corruption destroys any hope of social justice and progress in any country and, instead, it fosters even more social injustices and inequalities.

A genuine and fair justice system must be put in place in any country willing to combat corruption and aiming to achieve social justice. The Arab States are invited to support the UN Global Compact Principles and to adopt policies which take positive steps to combat corruption, in order to avoid the overall poor image and standing found in the recent 2013 survey entitled “CORRUPTION PERCEPTIONS INDEX ».

To become investor-friendly countries and to stimulate economic progress inclusive of all society, corruption should be eradicated from Arab States, in order to open the way for social justice and economic progress and in respect for our great civilization achievement represented by the Zakāt, one of the Five Pillars of Islam and of Arabic States.

We now welcome your important exchange of views on how social justice and development should be enhanced in Arab States, within the scope of the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

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Remarks of H.E. Mr. Nassir Abulaziz Al-Nasser, The High Representative of the UN Alliance of Civilizations: Global Issues and their Impact on the Future of Human Rights and International Criminal Justice

4 September, 2014
Siracusa, Italy

Excellencies, Ladies, and Gentlemen:

Thank you kindly to Cherif Bassiouni and the organizers at the International Institute of Higher Studies in Criminal Sciences for inviting me to speak to you today at this prestigious event.

How fitting is it that we are in Syracuse, Italy, which was once the home of the Ancient Greek thinker Archimedes.

Some of you here, I am sure, will recall the Archimedean Point as a tool or a point of view from which an observer can objectively view his or her subject of inquiry.

Many legal scholars have used the Archimedean Point to demonstrate how a rational being might arrive at a more objective formulation of justice by removing elements of personal bias. This includes the biases naturally created by our beliefs in our cultural and religious traditions.

And this is why we gather here today: to discuss universal notions of justice across cultural and religious traditions!

As this topic is vast—not to mention the additional issues Cherif asked me to address on the need to uphold Human Rights and advance International Criminal Justice in light of the challenges posed by Globalization, and the role of religious leaders—I shall divide my talk into two parts.

First, I will talk about the limits, possibilities, and dangers of universal notions of rights across cultures and civilizations. And then, I will specifically address the role of religious leaders.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

The Muslim Caliph Umar ibn Al Khattab once said, “Your freedom ends where the other’s freedom begins.”

I like to begin with that quote because in my many years of living in the West, I have noticed a tendency to see things through the lens of short term historical memory. The perspective of time is often ignored.

Much of what we now understand as Human Rights, and certainly the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, emerged from the violence of the Second World War, and, I would argue, the Holocaust in particular.

Prior to this, of course, there were famous attempts—not least during the French and American revolutions—to define certain sets of rights for human beings as a part of natural law. These attempts then went on to inform systems of positive law.

From my perspective, stating our own history in the area of rights and observing the history of others, is an important point of departure because it helps remind us that people who don’t think as we do now are no less human or fallible than we are.

I find that, in the most basic sense, all conceptions of justice and rights are necessarily informed by culture. Culture here is defined as the totality of material symbols, stories, traditions, oral and written bodies of knowledge, belief systems, artifacts, and values distinctive to a people that are transmitted across generations.

Now, from my own experience, I can say that someone from a particular culture is not bound to that culture’s understanding of rights or even to the sources it uses to determine those rights. An individual may well dissent from such a view. In doing so, that person may use intellectual resources from their own culture—and likely the cultures of others as well—in articulating such a view.

Here, it is important to note that whether we say the best source to determine individual rights is the revealed will of God or we hold the notion that the secular operation of human reason is a more reliable method, we must recognize that, in a way, both methods equally draw on “cultural” notions and historical experiences.

When it comes to the project of asserting a universal set of rights, there are some who build a case from a supposed objective point of departure, and use liberal values to rationally determine what individuals would endorse as rights that are shared by all.

Then there are others who say that it is impossible to assert a universal set of values, beyond building a minimal consensus around the rejection of flagrant practices such as extraordinary physical cruelty and genocide. According to them, there is no true way to judge what is deemed as just in one culture against what may be deemed as just in another.

Going beyond the difficulty of considering rights across cultures, there is also the issue of balancing the respective interests of individuals as bearers of rights versus collectives as the bearer of rights.

Of course, we must first recognize the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The identification of the individual as possessing rights is clearly articulated. So, too, does the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Interestingly, Article 27 of the Covenant explicitly articulates the right of a minority to enjoy its own culture. This right is further emphasized for individuals in Articles 13 through 15 of the International Covenant of Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights.

At the same time, regional attempts at adapting the International Bill of Human Rights tend to put a stronger emphasis on group rights, including the Banjul Charter or the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and to some degree, the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam as well.

For those of us in the business of building meaningful relationships across cultures, as we at the UN Alliance of Civilizations are, we have encountered the fact that not every culture sees the individual as the only locus of rights or responsibilities. Of course, from our perspective, this is as an opportunity to open a larger conversation on the issue. Our shared understanding of human rights is only enriched in doing so.

Put together, these challenges are not easy to deal with. Beginning to address them requires a number of careful steps.

Perhaps above all else, we need to learn to listen to where others are in their conception of rights. We need to accord them the space to make their own journey toward universal notions of justice and rights. We also need to acknowledge that while we conceive of rights as immutable and indivisible, our conversation around them, as a global community, will always be evolving.
What we can agree to, in the meantime, is the very minimum consensus around the kind of flagrant actions or violence that needs to be prevented. This is another ongoing conversation, especially since the advent and recent applications of the Responsibility to Protect.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

The Catholic theologian Hans Küng reminds us, “No peace among nations without peace among religions. And no peace among religions without dialogue.”

A 2000 study by the Church of Norway further states “the great world religions have both similarities and fundamental differences. And one of the most important similarities is actually a conviction that is part of the innermost essence of religion to be a source of peace and reconciliation.”

Religious leaders have a critical role to play in peacebuilding, and perhaps this role would be best focused on creating the conditions that help prevent the onset of violence. A large part of the prevention process, in my view, is assuring everyone that his or her rights are protected. In other words, religious leaders have a vital role to play in the prevention of conflicts. But it all starts with dialogue.

But this dialogue should not be a study in comparative religion. It should be a dialogue that acknowledges that doctrinal differences do exist, but that those differences should not prevent effective interfaith partnerships. In this regard, some theologians have effectively argued that interfaith dialogue should be geared around mobilizing different communities to address shared societal challenges.

Religious leaders can and should model respect for other human beings, as they are part of an engaged global citizenry. For religious leaders to be effective in this pursuit, they must be committed to their engagement with one another. They must pursue shared values. They must work on shared challenges the global community faces, such as eradicating poverty, HIV/AIDS, gender inequality, climate change, and other aspects of sustainable development.

Finally, to speak to the work of my own organization, the UN Alliance of Civilizations, much of what we do through our various programs and projects—capacity building, providing grants to youth-led peacebuilding activities, enabling journalists to do more culturally sensitive reporting, and engaging the private sector—is all geared toward mobilizing communities across identity lines to work together to resolve shared societal challenges.

In our work, we see religious leaders as potential champions of our approach, and as credible voices within communities on sensitive issues, ranging from addressing extremism to resolving conflicts.

As Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated during the first-ever thematic discussion by Heads of State and Government on the Rule of Law at the the 67th UN General Assembly:

“The Rule of Law is like the law of gravity: it ensures the world remains grounded, so that order prevails over chaos. It unites societies around common values, anchoring us in the common good. But unlike gravity, the rule of law must be nourished by continued efforts by genuine leaders.”
Let us thus continue to support our religious and cultural leaders in this worthy cause.

I thank you for listening and I look forward to your comments.

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