Astana, August 23, 2013
Excellency, Mr. Imangali Tasmagambetov, Chairperson of the National Commission of the Republic of Kazikhstan for UNESCO and ISESCO
Excellency, Mr. Erlan Idrissov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan,
Excellency, Ms. Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO
Distinguished Representatives of the Civil Society and the Media,
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
At the outset, I would like to thank the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan and UNESCO for inviting me to address this important gathering ushering the launch of the International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures. It is certainly an honor to be here with you today in this beautiful city Astana.
I would also like to seize this opportunity to praise the decision of the Government of the Kazakhstan to host this International Forum devoted to the official launch of the International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures from 2013 to 2022. It goes without saying, that intercultural dialogue is a vital tool in bringing people together. Global peace, stability and prosperity require indeed harmony and respect among peoples and cultures. As such, cultural diversity can be used as a tool for inclusive dialogue. Respecting it can help prevent conflicts and protect the rights of marginalized groups, within and among nations. Unfortunately, we live in an increasingly complex world, where polarized perceptions, fueled by injustice and inequality, often lead to violence and conflict, threatening stability.
Religions exist throughout history. Billions of people around the world identify themselves as believers, and one is hard-pressed to find any society, culture or civilization which has not been shaped in significant ways by religious values and practices. Moreover, as interreligious conflict gives way to interreligious dialogue and cooperation, religion’s potential in the promotion of peace and stability in our world becomes more apparent.
Too often politics can divide people, while faith should be the tie that binds us together. As such, promoting respect among human beings and embracing the diversity of their beliefs and cultures and languages are at the core of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations mission as well as the UN Charter.
I would like to bring to your attention concrete examples of the UNAOC work in promoting intercultural and interreligious dialogue introducing culture, arts, entertainment, music and sport as a new tools for peace building. The Alliance launched its Fellowship Programme, which maims at facilitating exposure for emerging leaders worldwide to media, culture, politics, institutions, civil society and religion. In addition, our Intercultural Innovation Award aims to identify the most original grassroots projects that encourage intercultural exchange around the world. It guarantees that selected projects, especially youth ones, are rewarded for outstanding achievement in creativity, excellence and proven positive impact.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In our globalized world, with societies composed of people of different world views, and characterized by a great diversity of religions and cultural references, The Alliance of Civilizations promotes pluralism and good governance of cultural diversity. The mantra of the Alliance is: Many Cultures, One Humanity. This is what we believe in and what we, in the Alliance strive to fulfill.
Overcoming national boundaries and promoting peace, social harmony and human values through diversity is our goal, with the understanding that humanity can be one and many at the same time.
Cultural and religious differences do not produce exclusion unless they are hardened by discrimination; they do not generate conflict unless prejudices and stereotypes perpetuate marginalization. The Alliance is aimed at addressing these challenges. More than a decade after 9/11, the Alliance proclaims the value of diversity, the role of dialogue and consensus and the invaluable sense of human dignity.
Thank you all for your attention, wish you all a successful forum.