Brief Remarks at the Press Briefing
New York – UNHQ
14 March 2013 (11:15 am)
Ladies and Gentlemen of the media,
I am very pleased to meet with you here again in my new capacity as High-Representative for the UN Alliance of Civilizations.
I would like o express my gratitude for the Member States and the UN Secretary General for their trust.
At the same time, I am also aware of the tremendous responsibility that was bestowed on me.
In fact, the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations is more relevant than ever, particularly in these times of historical changes and unprecedented political, economic, social and cultural challenges.
Yesterday, I had a very successful meeting with the UN Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon and I handed him a copy of the Vienna Declaration, which is also under circulation to all Member States, the UN agencies and members of the Partners Assembly.
The document which was adopted by consensus at the Vienna Global Forum of the Alliance of Civilizations, reflects the political will of the Group of Friends of the Alliance. This document is the first of its kind, never before has the members of the Group of Friends united to express support for the mission, agenda and activities of the Alliance, including the priorities I identified for the coming period. True, there remain some differences among members regarding the inclusion of certain language, but this is normal and I was keen on meeting with the different stakeholders to reach a common ground. At the end, they all saw the immense value that could be attached to this Declaration as a consensus document of this group as we move forward into the future.
The Vienna Declaration will be available on the UNAOC website next week.
Now , I would like to say few words about my vision and priorities in the next few years.
Before being designated as the UN High-Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations, interfaith, diversity, tolerance and Alliance-related forums have always been close to my heart.
I believe that the Alliance can become a major soft power tool to diffuse tensions and conflicts especially those which are ethnically or identity based.
With that in mind, I have identified 6 main priorities during my tenure:
1. Building on previous achievements and moving further to accomplish additional goals in the areas of Youth, education, Media and Migration.
2. Strengthening Partnerships and cooperation in the multilateral system.
3. Initiating complementary concepts and tools : The Alliance can play a preventive role using mediation as a soft power tool. In addition, the Alliance will use sports, arts and music to foster the culture of peace.
4. Connecting the UNAOC role with the development agenda (post 2015).
5. Strengthening the financing and the structure of the Alliance.
6. Increasing interaction of UNAOC with media, civil society and the business sector.
Under my leadership and from the Alliance office here in New York, I will reach out to religious leaders, community leaders, grassroots organizations and youth groups, these are the real change-makers. I will work with peacemakers, wherever we may find them to strengthen our capacity and achieve our shared goals of peace, tolerance and mutual respect.
This is my vision and priorities. I am willing to take your questions and elaborate .
You can view the video of the press conference here.