New York, 14 February 2014
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Our meeting have come to an end, but before we adjourn, I would like to brief you on you some of the main observations and humble achievements that the UNAOC could achieve within its very limited resources:
1) Build on Previous Achievements
I have acted to implement my intent to build on the achievements of my predecessor and move further to additional goals through our four pillars of Youth, Education, Media, and Migration.
In particular, this has been done by strengthening and expanding projects such as the Intercultural Innovation Award and the Summer School. BMW has more than doubled its financial contribution and last year, more than 140,000 people benefitted from the award. At the same time our Summer School has found a long-term home in the New York area through a partnership with the Swiss based company EF that allows participants from around the world the unique opportunity to study and visit UNHQ. In addition, we have been considering new ways to engage in regional approaches using Regional Strategies. We are grateful for the efforts of the Government of Austria in that regard, as they consider developing a Central Europe-Central Asia Regional Strategy in partnership with Romania, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan.
2) Build partnerships and increase cooperation in the multilateral system
My staff has, in one short year, developed close working relationships with DPA, UNESCO, UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF, the Office of the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, and DESA, among others. This has led to a much more mainstreamed engagement of the Alliance with the UN Secretariat. We have started negotiations for new MoUs with regional organizations including the OAS, the AU, and the League of Arab States.
3) Adding complementary tools to the conflict resolution tool box
You will recall my devotion to the importance of Mediation as reflected in my work as President of the General Assembly during the 66th session. Within the mandate of the Alliance the importance of promoting and encouraging interreligious and intercultural dialogue is critical. These measures serve both as a tool of conflict prevention as well as reconciliation – essential elements of the broader topic of Mediation. To that end my staff has continued to work at bringing the issue of interreligious and intercultural dialogue to the forefront through its work with the Mediation Support Unit of DPA. As the Secretary Genera in 2012 said in Istanbul, and I quote: “the Alliance could have an important mediating role in the many conflicts where culture or religion comes into play”.
4) UNAOC’s role in the Development Agenda
Harmony among different groups in a society is an essential requirement to reach the needed stability for achieving sustainable development and prosperity. Since my arrival I have instructed my staff to work alongside UNDP to ensure that the issue of Culture takes its rightful place in the post-2015 Development Planning debate. Meetings are taking place regularly and UNAOC is directly engaged. Just earlier this week, former President Zapatero of Spain joined me for a discussion on the importance of the migration and social inclusion issues as they impact the post-2015 Development Planning debate.
5) Strengthening the Financing and Structure of the Alliance
The Alliance is grateful for the generous contributions of many Member States. However, as we consider future activities, we must take steps to improve the level and type of predictable funding. The level of contributions to the Trust Fund remains inadequate and more frequently pledges and contributions come with demands for their use in restricted ways.
I have reached out to the UN Partnerships Office to identify and approach private sector sources of funds. We are in contact with the United Nations Foundation now for the purpose of establishing a formal relationship that could make it easier for us to receive donations from private individuals. But we must not think that such donations, however generous, can substitute for robust, predictable support from member States.
Therefore I have sent written requests to Member States representatives, acknowledging their contributions while stressing the importance of the continuation and increase of such support that we appreciate. Similar requests were also sent to those members whom we are benefiting from their friendship in our group, however, I appealed to them to support the Alliance financially as well.
I want to thank the Member States that contributed to our Trust Fund in 2013: Argentina, Australia, Azerbaijan, Ireland, Germany, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Spain, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, and Turkey. The total amount of funds provided for 2013 expenditures was US$ 2,939,957.29.
6) Increase interaction with Media, Civil Society, Business Sector and Academia
In the past year we have entered into relationships with multiple civil society institutions and universities. My Senior Adviser on Civil Society has linked UNAOC to a growing list of civil society organizations and we look forward to partnering with them in the future.
We continue to enhance the visibility of UNAOC with the media by engaging with the various media outlets, here in the US or abroad during my trips.
Since our mission is to facilitate global understanding, we also work on skill-building programs tailored for journalists. At the moment UNAOC is working to create a glossary of media-friendly terms related to covering migration. Last year we organized two seminars for journalists and migration experts in Paris and Berne which resulted in a set of recommendations to help journalists improve their coverage of migration.
Similarly we have established relationships with universities in the US, UK, Finland, Turkey and Malaysia. As I mentioned earlier we have successfully expanded our relationships with private sector businesses.
With regard to my plans to develop an enhanced role for sports, arts, music and other forms of cultural expression as tools for building bridges among groups. Already I have attended multiple concerts and art openings that have connections to this role. We are currently reviewing proposals that could include connections to major sports leagues where UNAOC could incorporate peace education measures into youth programs and film festivals to celebrate films that promote messages of tolerance and understanding among groups.
Thank you and I wish you wonderful weekend and a happy 14th of February!