Remarks by H.E. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser the United Nations High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations at the Ministerial Meeting on Culture and Sustainable Development in the post-2015 Development Agenda

Remarks

By

H.E. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser

The United Nations High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations

At

The Ministerial Meeting

Culture and Sustainable Development in the post-2015 Development Agenda

3rd World Forum for Intercultural Dialogue in Baku

May 18-19, 2015

 

Your Excellency Mr. Abulfas Garayev, Minister of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan,

Your Excellency, Mrs Irina Bokova, Director

Your Excellency Dr. Abdulaziz Altwijiri, Director General of ISESCO,

Your Excellencies Heads of Delegations,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Yesterday, I heard very inspiring words from the distinguished participants in this forum on the value of sharing culture for our shared security. I also followed closely the discussions on the virtues of multi-culturalism, the silk-roads initiative and its potential for today’s cultural dialogue. Furthermore, we learned about the power of education as well as how the tourism industry is an agent for promoting tolerance, understanding and dialogue between peoples, cultures and civilizations.

There was consensus among the speakers who came from different parts of the world representing diverse stakeholders that cherishing our common and shared values, embracing diverse cultures, and promoting inclusive societies is the only way to attain global peace and security in today’s world.

Today, we are discussing in this round table an equally important topic: Culture and Sustainable Development in the post 2015 Development Agenda.

Allow me first to remind you that in the year 2000, the international community agreed on a set of Millennium Development goals, to ensure globalization would act as a positive force for all peoples. Since 2000 onwards the power of cultural diversity has been recognized. The Outcome Document of the 2010 MDG Summit emphasized the importance of culture for development and its contribution to the fulfillment of the MDGs. The message was re-iterated in the Culture and Development UNGA Resolution in 2012, advocating for the mainstreaming of culture into development policies and strategies.

Culture is a cross-cutting concern. It affects all the dimensions of development. As such, a human-centered, culturally centered approach to development will yield the most effective, sustainable and inclusive outcomes. Specifically, diverse cultural approaches will contribute to economic development, promote social cohesion and foster environmental sustainability.

Investing in culture and creative industries is an excellent way to revitalize economies. Facts speak for themselves. Creative industries represent one of the most rapidly expanding sectors in the global economy. The tourism sector has, also become one of the world’s fastest growing economic sectors, in addition to being a very powerful tool for fostering diversity and bringing people together. According to statistics, every year more than one billion people are crossing national borders of which 25% are under the age of 25. This is a perfect example of human interaction, cultural exchange, dialogue and breaking stereotypes.

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

There are many initiatives within the UN system that aim at making the implementation of the SDGs more measurable through the use of targets and indicators. It is important though to emphasize that such targets and indicators must be country specific and adapted to the needs and capabilities of those using the indicators. There is no one sixe that fits all.

The Alliance of Civilizations have launched a number of initiatives to support the goals of sustainable development. If you look at the 17 goals proposed by the Open Working Group, you will see that each and every one of them calls for dialogue across civilizations and religions. Each of these goals can only be achieved if people, communities and nations work together across cultures, religions and ethnic groups. This includes the first goal, which calls for an end to poverty in all its forms, to goal number 17, which stresses the need to strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development. In that context, the mission of the Alliance is in line with goal number 16 which states the need for securing peaceful and inclusive societies.

There is an undeniable truth: the interdependence between societies and that prosperity and well-being can only be achieved if differences between people are seen as an asset to development. All 17 goals with their social, economic and environmental aspects, can only be fully attainable by leaping over the barriers that divide us and embracing our common and shared values.

Allow me to re-iterate again, that the Alliance is dedicated to the proposition that cultural, ethnic and religious diversity are pillars of sustainable development, rather than obstacles on its way. It requires partnerships on all fronts. We partner with the corporate sector, the civil society, academia and faith-based organizations as well as governments to promote and fund projects and programs that support the role of young people of all denominations in social and economic growth.

We are gathered here today in the shared belief that the 17 sustainable development are achievable and require our commitment to nurture inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue in all societies for the sake of peaceful and inclusive societies.

I thank you and I look forward to our discussions.

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United Nations Alliance of Civilizations and the BMW Group launch search for innovative projects that promote intercultural dialogue and understanding

United Nations Alliance of Civilizations and the BMW Group launch search for innovative projects that promote intercultural dialogue and understanding

ELIGIBLE ORGANIZATIONS SHOULD APPLY BY 30 SEPTEMBER 2015

New York/Munich, 18 May 2015 – The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) and BMW Group are pleased to announce the fourth edition of the Intercultural Innovation Award. Grassroots initiatives that are working to alleviate identity-based tensions and conflicts around the world using innovative methods are encouraged to apply online at interculturalinnovation.org. The deadline for applications is Wednesday, 30 September 2015 at 5:00pm in New York.

Ten organizations will receive the Intercultural Innovation Award following a rigorous selection process.  Awardees will be given a financial contribution to help their project expand and replicate, with a first prize of USD 40 000. They will also take part in a one-year support program that includes training and capacity-building, increased visibility, access to a network of change makers working in intercultural dialogue and ongoing project-specific mentoring.

“Honoring grassroots organizations that are deeply committed to improving relations across communities and people lies at the core of the Alliance’s work. That we are doing in this partnership with the BMW Group is further evidence of the innovative approaches we pursue,” said H.E. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, United Nations High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations. Added Mr. Bill McAndrews, Vice President Corporate Communications Strategy, Corporate and Market Communications at BMW Group, “Our commitment to the awardees extends beyond financial support to include every relevant resource we can offer. This can make the crucial difference in turning an idea into a reality that improves peoples’ lives.”

Launched in 2011, the Intercultural Innovation Award is the result of a unique public-private partnership between the UNAOC and BMW Group. With the overarching aim of helping people to help themselves, the two partners jointly mobilize their resources, time, and networks to support awardees. This new model of collaboration between the UN and the private sector creates deeper impact, as both partners provide their respective expertise to ensure the sustainable growth of each project. The Award has benefited more than 600,000 individuals around the world since its establishment in 2011.

For the last edition of the Intercultural Innovation Award, more than 600 applications were received from over 100 different countries.

###

The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) is an initiative of the UN Secretary-General which aims to improve understanding and cooperative relations among nations and peoples across cultures and religions, and to help counter the forces that fuel polarization and extremism.

The Alliance was established in 2005, at the initiative of the Governments of Spain and Turkey, under the auspices of the United Nations. On 28 September 2012, H.E. Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser was designated UN High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations by the Secretary-General of the United Nations. The UNAOC is supported by the Group of Friends, a community of over 100 member countries and international organizations and bodies.

The BMW Group is the world’s leading premium manufacturer of automobiles and motorcycles and also provides premium financial and mobility services. As a global company, the BMW Group operates 30 production and assembly facilities in 14 countries and has a global sales network in more than 140 countries.

The success of the BMW Group has always been based on long-term thinking and responsible action. The company has therefore established ecological and social sustainability throughout the value chain, comprehensive product responsibility and a clear commitment to conserving resources as an integral part of its strategy.

For enquiries, please contact:

Milena Pighi, BMW Group, Corporate Communications, Spokesperson CSR

Telephone: +49-89-382-66563, Fax: +49-89-382-24418, Milena.PA.Pighi@bmw.de

Nihal Saad, Spokesperson for the UN High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations

Telephone: +1- 929-274-6205, Fax: +1-929-274-6233, saadn@un.org

Alessandro Girola, Project Management Specialist – Intercultural Innovation

Telephone: +1- 929-274-6217, Fax: +1-929-274-6233, alessandrog@unops.org

 

Internet: www.press.bmw.de

E-mail: presse@bmw.de

 

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Remarks by the United Nations High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations at the Plenary “Countering Violent Extremism: the Role of Religious Leaders in Promoting Religious Pluralism and Advancing Shared Well-being” 3rd World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue

Remarks

By

H.E. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser

The United Nations High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations

At

The Plenary

Countering Violent Extremism: the Role of Religious Leaders in Promoting Religious Pluralism and Advancing Shared Well-being

Third World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue

Baku – Azerbaijan

18-19 May, 2015

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Distinguished Guests,

 

It is a pleasure for me to address you once again today. In my address this morning at the opening ceremony, I highlighted the importance of a global collective action to stem out violent extremism and protect our youth from falling prey to radical ideologies.

In this plenary, I will be more specific as to what course of action should be taken to counter violent extremism and acts of terrorism as well as the role of religious leaders in this context.

Allow me first to recall the landmark adoption of the UN Counter-terrorism Global Strategy in 2006 – and I use the word “landmark” because this was the first time that all Member States agreed to a common strategic vision and approach in the fight against terrorism – three biennial reviews of strategy have taken place.

At the United Nations, we achieved among other outcomes, an important universal document; the United Nations Global Counter Terrorism strategy. The Alliance is focusing on its first pillar or as we call it pillar 1 which focuses on the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism. We know from our experience – from both successes and the failures – that regardless of how much we improve our society, terrorism and violent extremism will not vanish until we address the conditions conducive to its emergence and growth.

Last September, a very important resolution was adopted unanimously by the Security Council aimed at stopping the flow of foreign extremists to battlefields around the world, in the context of combatting the threat of terrorism. Security Council 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 persecute such fighters. It also calls on states to undertake various steps to improve international cooperation in this field, such as sharing information on criminal investigations, interdictions and prosecutions. Specifically, the resolution calls upon States to enhance CVE (or combatting violent extremism) and to take steps to decrease the risk of radicalization and terrorism in their societies such as engaging local communities and engaging religious leaders in reaching out to the various sectors of the society.

Why religious leaders? I see few distinguished religious leaders among the panel. The answer is simple.

All of the world’s major religions bear shared commitments to building peace and emphasizing the oneness of humanity, to standing on the side of the marginalized and to working to resolve conflicts.

Therefore, religious mediation compliments and supports preventive diplomacy. Religious communities have followers across race, class and gender. The international community and national governments should support religious leaders in spreading their messages of peace, harmony and hope. We should encourage them to be fully engaged including with the United Nations to maximize their respective strengths.

It is important to note that Combating Violent Extremism is a process that needs programs, as means to ensure that we take actions that are practical and effective. While doing so, we need to take into account to employ human centered approaches. By this, I mean by listening to the concerns and experiences of communities, particularly marginalized communities, that have long struggled with violence and violent extremism. While being human-centered, we need to willfully and honestly work as the providers who build the capacity of local communities to handle their own affairs. Our commitment should always be on working towards creating behavioral shifts and changing mindsets. At the end we should focus on building societies that are peaceful and inclusive.

Often our work at the Alliance in this area consists of creating avenues of empowerment for marginalized communities and especially young people. We are also constantly looking for ways to improve our monitoring and evaluation of such activities so that we may better assess their impact and adjust accordingly. We also believe that we should always focus on challenges facing youth, who are the primary victims of radical ideologies.  Youth are vital in creating a more tolerant future generation with educators at school and parents at home having a particularly important role to play in their upbringing.

We should not overlook, the constructive use of media being an important communications platform for moderate voices. Social media tools need to be creatively and effectively leveraged to counterbalance negative messaging from violent extremist groups.

In conclusion, violent extremism is a global problem that requires a global solution. The political and collective will of the international community working hand in hand with religious leaders, civil society , and academia is vital if we are to conquer violent extremism.

Thank you. I look forward to our discussion.

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Remarks By H.E. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser the United Nations High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations at the Opening Ceremony for the 3rd World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue

Remarks

By

H.E. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser

The United Nations High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations

At

The Opening Ceremony

Third World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue

Baku – Azerbaijan

18-19 May, 2015

 

Your Excellency Mr. Ilham Aliyev, President of Azerbaijan

Your Excellency, Mr. Abulfas Garayev, Minister of Culture & Tourism of Azerbaijan

Your Excellency, Mrs. Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO

Your Excellency, Dr. Abdulaziz Othman Altwajiri, Director General of  ISESCO

Your Excellencies , Heads of Delegations,

Ladies and Genetlemen,

It gives me a great pleasure to be back again to this beautiful city of Baku, for the second time to address this esteemed gathering.

I am also very pleased to convey to you the warm greetings of the United Nations Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon. He had met last January in New York with H.E. Mr. Abulfas Garayev, the Minister of Culture and Tourism in my presence and he expressed the importance he attaches to this forum.

It is always a great pleasure to join forces and work with H.E. Minister Garayev. As an organizing partner of this forum for the third year, UNAOC team, present here today, has been coordinating closely with the team from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations is proud of its partnership with the Government of Azerbaijan and all the other co-organizers of the 3rd edition of the 3rd World Forum for Intercultural Dialogue.

This year’s forum is themed: “Sharing Culture for Shared Security. This September 2015, world leaders will meet to adopt the new 17 Sustainable Development Goals. In that context, the mission of the Alliance is similar to Sustainable Development Goal number 16 which states the need for securing peaceful and inclusive societies.

Much of what the UN does, and indeed much of what we are trying to address through these new Sustainable Development Goals, that will guide all of us through 2030,  attempt to address certain imbalances that impede our progress towards achieving sustainable development and global security. Marginalization, economic austerity, inequity and lack of good governance are only few of the social injustices that tarnish our world in the 21st century.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As we address this year’s theme: “Sharing Culture for Shared Security”, it is very apt to remember the notion of diversity. And as I look around this room, I see a wide array of diverse faces coming from diverse countries. Azerbaijan itself, being at the crossroads between Asia and Europe has an amazing mosaic of diverse races, faiths, cultures and languages.

In two days, on May 21st the world will celebrate the World Day for Diversity and Development. The beauty of our world resides in its diversity, which at the same time, has sparked many conflicts. This occurs as a result of misunderstanding and intolerance towards people whose attitudes and traditions differ from ours.

We tend to forget that as the world becomes economically more interdependent, we face increasing challenges of living harmoniously together in a world of different cultures, languages, beliefs, ethnic loyalties and patterns of behavior. With the increasing movement of peoples across the globe, there is hardly any more society that can claim to be completely homogenous. The challenge is how to forge a united and harmonious society which respects, not just tolerates, differences, especially of the minorities. In our world today, inclusiveness has become a pre-requisite for a peaceful society – all societies. This calls for careful attention to migration laws. We are seeing in the news every day, tragic stories of desperate young people perishing in the Mediterranean sea while attempting to seek a better life in Europe. At the same time we are also hearing of violence and xenophobia against African non-citizens claiming lives in Africa.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Distinguished guests,

It would be stating the obvious to say that respect for diversity and embracing our shared values is conducive to our shared security as global people living together in a global world. Fostering peaceful and inclusive societies means recognizing the diversities and pluralism which have become a characteristic of our modern globalized world.

Nonetheless, this has not been the case. If fact, for the past few months, in which we witnessed an alarming rise in the wave of intolerance, extremism, xenophobia and discrimination, leading to brutal acts committed by terrorists. While claim religion is their guide, their extremist ideologies are contrary to the values and teachings of the major faiths. With that in mind, as you may well know, as I see around the room many of our partners – I convened in New York last month with the UN Secretary General and the President of the General Assembly a High-Level thematic Debate on Promoting Tolerance and Reconciliation: Fostering peaceful and inclusive societies and countering violent extremism.

Religious Leaders from around the world representing major faiths voiced their rejection to all forms of discrimination and all acts of violence committed in the name of faith.

UN Member States as well, underscored the urgent need to effectively address the drivers and the underlying causes that contribute to intolerance and by virtue the unacceptance of the other which is leads to marginalization, exclusion and discrimination. All of these challenges threaten global peace and security.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

No one can argue the critical importance of addressing all these challenges as the International Community moves towards a universal post 2015 development agenda. While being mindful of the globalized world in which we all live, there is a need for a collective action and a preventive strategy to address the scourge of radicalization and extremism which preys on our young generation.

We need to forge and strengthen the narrative that focuses on the benefits of pluralism, shared values and diversity as an alternative for extremist ideologies.

As a global community we must have the capacity to cope with diversity, respect the other, enhance social inclusiveness, and promote tolerance and understanding. This is our mission as well as our challenge at the Alliance of Civilizations too.

Again, the daunting challenge rests on how to manage diversity to make it work as a bonding factor rather than a divisive one.

Seen from this perspective, the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations provides a global platform to counter polarization across and within societies through its counter narrative and post conflict approaches.

A multi-faceted approach that addresses the root causes of radicalization and providing solutions with partners on the ground.

We need to protect our generations from the forces and ideologies that fuel tensions and hatred and drag us further away from our global security.

I thank you and I am looking forward to our discussions during the forum.

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Remarks at the Press Conference before the 3rd World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue

Remarks

Press Conference before the 3rd World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue

May 17 at 17:00

Khojasan Hall Marriot

Baku, Azerbaijan

 

Your Excellency, Mr. Abulfas Garayev, Minister of Culture & Tourism of Azerbaijan

Ladies and Gentlemen members of the media,

Good evening everyone. I am very happy to be back to this beautiful city of Baku for the second time. I would like to thank the Government of Azerbaijan and particularly His Excellency, my good friend Mr. Abulfas Garayev, the Minister of Culture and Tourism for his hospitality.

I am also very pleased that the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations is co-organizing for the 3rd year in a row this important forum.

The over- arching theme of this year’s forum is very timely and apt: “Sharing Culture for Shared Security”. It is timely because we need more than any other time to re-enforce the notion that respect for diversity and embracing our shared values is conducive to our shared security as global people living together in a global world. Fostering peaceful and inclusive societies means recognizing the diversities and pluralism which have become a characteristic of our modern globalized world.

And it is apt because there is no other place like Azerbaijan with an amazing mosaic of diverse races, faiths , cultures and languages.

The Alliance is organizing this year one main plenary session and two workshops. The Plenary is titled: “Countering Violent Extremism: the Role of Religious leaders in Promoting Religious Pluralism and Advancing Shared Well-being”. The two workshops are showcasing the work and activities of the alliance around youth focusing on two issues: Youth as Agents of Social Change and Youth and the Responsible Use of Social media.

With the alarming rise in the wave of violent extremism , radicalization and xenophobia , the Alliance, in line with its mandate and mission is seeking to engage religious leaders in the debate about means of combating violent extremism emanating from the belief that religious leaders with their community outreach, are the best mediators of peace and diffusers of faith-based conflicts. In that context, the plenary we are organizing will include among other experts the voices of those religious leaders.

We also believe that youth, being the vulnerable targets of extremists ideologies due to several reasons, should be empowered, through inclusive approaches  that would enhance their participation in the society. They are the true agents of change. That being said, the workshop on youth will highlight the projects and activities they have been leading through the Alliance support and mentoring to bridge cultural gaps and promote diversity.

Social Media must not be overlooked as one of the main channels which extremist groups used to reach out to youth. We are being mindful of the freedom of expression , while at the same encourage the constructive use of social media. That will be the focus of the second workshop.

I would like to leave it there. I look forward to our discussions in the next two days.

I am ready to take your questions.

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Acceptance Speech of H.E. Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser at the University of Candido Mendes

SPEECH OF ACCEPTANCE OF H.E. MR. NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER
UNITED NATIONS HIGH REPRESENTATIVE
UNITED NATIONS ALLIANCE OF CIVILIZATIONS

AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CANDIDO MENDES
REITORIA
RIO DE JANEIRO
8 May 2015

President, Professor Candido Mendez,
Distinguished members of the Faculty,
Dear students,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is with a feeling of wonderment that I find myself among you here today, in this impressive institution of higher education, the first of its kind built privately in Brazil by the family of a man I, and the international community as a whole, admire Professor Candido Mendez, a man – a friend – of great prominence.

I also feel deeply honored by your university’s decision to bestow on me the title of Doctor Honoris Causae, in my capacity as High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations.

Thank you most sincerely, for this honor.

Allow me, Ladies and Gentlemen, to devote my acceptance remarks to the notion of diversity and its relationship to the institution I am privileged to lead. The institution that Professor Mendez him self, participated in the path of its establishment.

Why “diversity”? Because we are in Brazil.

Brazil reminds us that diversity is the reality that informs human life: diversity in states, cities and villages, in ethnicities and identities, in beliefs, faiths, and traditions.

The very special social fabric of Brazil, brilliantly demonstrates the interpenetrations of African, European, Christian, and non-Christian cultures in this country, from colonial times to the present.

This diversity mirrors the morals and ethics of the supreme world organization that I’m working under its emblem, United Nations, and its charter, which is the mother International Organization.

Not only this, but, Brazil is the metaphor for that wider inescapable truth apprehended by many world visionary thinkers.

Our world today is a “global village” and it is closer than ever to expressing that most challenging of philosophical propositions: unity in diversity.

How to manage diversity and turn it into an incubator of progress, peace, and security — locally, nationally, and internationally? This is the challenge we all face today.

Let me here beg your indulgence, Professor Mendez, as I will try to briefly recall for my audience the genesis of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations. I beg your indulgence, because you were present at the institution’s inception.

The UNAOC was born at a critical juncture, when the world faced a potential cultural confrontation, the result of the criminal fanaticism of a band of terrorists who, before hijacking commercial flights and turning them into weapons of mass destruction, planned to hijack a faith of peace-Islam, my faith.

Faced with this new fanaticism that risked to pit the West against the Muslim World and lead to the “clash of civilizations” predicted a decade earlier by Samuel Huntington, the international community heeded the urgent call of two European powers, Spain and Turkey – one Christian, the other Muslim — for the establishment of a new UN organization with the objective of countering the tide of intolerance and misunderstanding unleashed by the September 11 tragedy.

The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations was established in response to the recommendations of the High Level Group composed of eminent personalities widely acknowledged for their wisdom, and their prestige.

Professor Candido Mendez, you were a member of that outstanding group and you and your colleagues worked hard for almost two years to lay the foundations for the organization, which I am proud to lead and represent before you today as High Representative.

The new institution was intended to equip the United Nations with a new tool of preventive diplomacy to apply to situations of cultural and identity tensions in a world equally blessed and damned by the new paradigm of globalization. This is our new world, our “global village”.

Again, the daunting challenge was how to manage diversity to make it work to the benefit of all, instead of becoming a source of tensions and conflicts.

Seen from this perspective, the Alliance can be considered as one of our best hopes to counter polarization across and within societies, through its counter narrative and post conflict approaches.

As an example, in the Alliance’s work, this is the approach we take when we help young people through small grants and train them to resolve tensions in places like the Middle East, the Horn of Africa, or Asia.

We accompany them in trips around the world, both those from East and West, and provide them the opportunity to interact and know about their respective cultures.

We focus on the media too as one of the four pillars of the Alliance’s intervention strategy. When it comes to the media, we all unfortunately know that the loudest voices tend to get the microphones.

Cameras focus on the fringe. In this context, we , at the UNAOC, are trying to enhance the level of public debate on identity-based conflicts through skill building of journalists ethics around the world.

In all areas of the Alliance’ programming, our ability to deliver on our goals is based on meaningful partnerships on the ground- and this not just in the area of youth and media.
Religious leaders, academia, civil society organizations, and the corporate sector have a critical role to play in fostering understanding, respect for diversity and tolerance.

Migration is another pillar of the Alliance’s work. The situation of migrants throughout the world is fraught with potential for controversy. I am sure you are familiar with the uneasy status of Muslim immigrants in Europe.

I’m also sure you heard about the atrocities committed against migrants and minorities, in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

In our global world in which migration is increasing and will continue to increase despite more daunting border restrictions, it is sometimes tempting to see only one side of the picture.

Far-right groups and political parties do not hesitate to point to immigrants as the source of the nation’s troubles, blaming them for increasing criminality, national budget deficits, falling educational standards, and worse.

On the other hand, when civil society idealizes immigrant communities, giving immigrants the illusion that they can defy social and legal norms at no cost, they undermine the consensus on how to live together, making it more difficult for immigrants to integrate and condemning them to a marginalized life in their new country.

Let me conclude with few remarks on the future — the future of our living together.

You will agree with me that the daunting challenge for our societies in the near and, more so, in the long-term future will be how to live peacefully with the other: he or she who does not share the color of our skin, our deeply-held beliefs or traditions, or our language, but who is our neighbor or colleague in this globalized world in which borders have become fluid, if not obsolete.

More than ever, the wise idiom, “live and let live,” will be of great value. But this phrase should not be our only motto, because we at the UNAOC want the peoples of the world, to live together without letting the others go, we want to live and work together, to build our future in a positive globalized world, not to live separately.

The virtues of tolerance, mutual respect, moderation, and reason, if taught seriously in schools, upheld in the home, and practiced in daily civic life could save future generations from collective catastrophes like those of the last century.

Not only does diversity matter even more tomorrow than it does today: it is our inescapable human condition. The question is how to equip future generations with the tools that will enable them to make this coexistence an experience of peace, creativity, personal happiness, and a better life for all.

Educational institutions such as your university can play a major role in this regard, as should our religious organizations, civil society groups, political parties, and, I emphasize, international organizations such as the Alliance of Civilizations.

Let’s all work together to make a brighter future possible.

Thank you.

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Remarks by H.E. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser The UN High-Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations at the Luncheon of the High Level Thematic Debate

Remarks

By

H.E. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser

The UN High-Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations

At

Luncheon,  22 April 2015

 

Your Excellency Mr. Sam Kutesa, President of the General Assembly
Your Excellency Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the Untied Nations
Excellencies,
Distinguished faith leaders,

Good Afternoon,

It gives me great pleasure to be hosting this lunch in your honor . Looking around the room and seeing this gathering of highly-esteemed religious leaders representing most major faiths whom we have all heard their enlightening statements throughout the morning, is a testament of the vital role that religious leaders play in our diverse communities.  We,  at this organization we value your role. So thank you for travelling all the way to join us in this important meeting. We certainly need your help to give meaning to the global conversation and the protection of human rights.

As I mentioned yesterday in my remarks, tolerance and reconciliation are two noble values inherent in all major faiths. But radical and terrorist groups have been disguising their ugly faces behind religions. By doing so they distort the image of faiths.. all faiths.

This is where the role of religious leaders come into play. Your words today at this universal body, the UN General Assembly about tolerance and reconciliation will be heard by thousands of people around the world. Indeed, you are messengers of peace. Your voices are respected within your respective communities , that’s why we count on you to carrying back home a message of peace, reconciliation, forgiveness and tolerance.

We want this High Level Thematic Debate to culminate in more than words and declarations about tolerance for diversity. We would like to see it translated into action on the ground within your own communities.

I now give the floor to my good friend Dr. William Vendley, Secretary General of Religions for Peace, whom I am sure you all know and have worked with before.

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Remarks by H.E. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser the UN High-Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations at the Press Briefing for the High Level Thematic Debate

Remarks

By

H.E. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser

The UN High-Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations

At

The Press Briefing

22 April , 2015

Good afternoon everyone,

I am very pleased to be standing here today among this distinguished gathering of religious leaders. We, at the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations  work with faith leaders and faith-based organizations and we count on their role in leading their own communities towards embracing noble values such as tolerance , reconciliation, respect for diversity and the true meaning of respecting the other regardless of their different race, faith or language. Isn’t that what major faiths teach us?

You heard those distinguished religious leaders speak this morning. Their words were enlightening, particularly when we think about the rising wave of  xenophobia, extremism and violence that has taken its toll on all of us disguising behind religion. Their words are reminders to all of us that all faiths teach us quite the contrary.

Yesterday when I spoke at the panel which focused on counter terrorism, I stressed that violent extremism breeds on a host of complex factors, including social exclusion, marginalization of certain categories in the society, and inequitable economies.

Our approach to countering violent extremism should be a multi-faceted approach. One that addresses the root causes, while at the same time focuses on building effective institutions, good governance, respect of human rights, inclusiveness and the promotion of universal values.

We aim at the end of this High Level Thematic Debate to come out with more than mere words, but rather a genuine commitment to building societies that are peaceful and truly inclusive. The Alliance of Civilizations is already doing so through focusing on yoth challenges, educational shortcomings, the constructive use of media and the realistic consideration of migration . Most importantly to make the best use of religious mediation to complement diplomatic mediation.

Finally, I would like to thank the Secretary General and the President of the General Assembly for their support in convening this meeting.

I am ready to answer any questions.

Thank you

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UNAOC High Representative interviewed on UN Radio and TV

On the opening of the High-Level Thematic Debate at the United Nations General Assembly to discuss “Promoting Tolerance and Reconciliation, Fostering Peaceful, Inclusive Societies and Countering Violent Extremism”, the High Representative of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations was interviewed on UN TV and Radio.

Please find the video here.
Read the article here.

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Remarks at Interactive Panel on Practical Strategies for Fostering Peaceful and Inclusive Societies and Countering Violent Extremism

U N I T E D   N A T I O N S                        N A T I O N S   U N I E S

REMARKS OF H.E. MR. NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER
UNITED NATIONS HIGH REPRESENTATIVE
ALLIANCE OF CIVILIZATIONS

REMARKS AT INTERACTIVE PANEL ON PRACTICAL STRATEGIES FOR FOSTERING PEACEFUL AND INCLUSIVE SOCIETIES AND COUNTERING VIOLENT EXTREMISM

April 21, 2015

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a pleasure for me to address you once again today.

This morning when I opened the session, I made four concrete observations related to Combating Violent Extremism “CVE”.

CVE is a process that needs programs, as a means to ensure that we take actions that are practical and effective and pro-active.

Briefly, my views meant the following actions to eradicate the environment conducive to the emergence and spread of extremism:

First, we must build trust within local communities and between states at differences or conflicts.

Second we need to employ human centered approaches.  By this, I mean we must ensure a strong sensitivity to context, particularly by listening deeply to the concerns and experiences of communities that have long struggled with violence and violent extremism.

We must also commit to a long-term partnerships that take into account our acceptance of each other, knowing in the same time that, our collaborators on the ground are assured of our support;

Third, while being human-centered, we need to willfully and honestly work as the providers who build the capacity of local communities to handle their own affairs, because the truth is that we are not going to be sticking around forever.

Fourth our commitment should always be toward creating behavioral shifts that are measurable positive social changes.

I want to emphasize this last point ahead of our panel, because I know that CVE is an area of activity that we, the international community, have had some political and cultural difficulty in showing measurable results in.

However, we can still cure this difficulty, gradually, and by building on our small bricks of success, rather than just wishing to fix the world in one action.

By bringing together insights from interactive and intellectual forums alongside the invaluable experience of actors on the ground, we can significantly improve our approach.

At the end of the day, our focus, during this discussion at least, must always remain on, building societies that are peaceful and inclusive ones.

As High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, I believe that we can do so through focusing on youth challenges, educational shortcomings, the constructive use of media, the realistic consideration of migration and globalization issues, and to make the best use of religious mediation that our religious leaders can provide.

We know that this requires a broad range of actions.

This requires, as I said before, broad range of activities under an international umbrella of sincere cooperation.

For global success we need global action.

That said, with great excitement for the upcoming discussion, I will hand over now to the moderator Ms. Pamela Falk.

Thank you.

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