Doha — 30 April 2014
Distinguished Colleagues from the NGO Community,
Distinguished Focal Points of the UNAOC,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let my first task be to convey my profound gratitude to the Qatar Committee for the Alliance of Civilizations for welcoming this preparatory conference for the sixth UNAOC global Forum and annual UNAOC Focal Points Meeting.
On behalf of H.E. Excellency Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, High Representative of the UNAOC, who invited me to moderate this session with Civil Society, I should like to reiterate our strong support and appreciation for your commitment to the Alliance of Civilizations principles and contributions to its work based on respect for cultural diversity and inter-religious dialogue.
Building partnerships between civil society, governments and NGOs requires commitment and dedication from each and every one of us. Through your close contact with the people and situation on the ground, there are several points of entry for meaningful NGOs interventions in the peace process.
As you already heard from our High Representative, Since we begun our work with the UNAOC, we facilitated numerous successful forum and events in which the NGOs identified their needs and developed solutions, building trust, local capacity, and sustainable dialogue. Besides our 4 pillars (education, youth, migration and media), the activities of the Alliance keep on evolving and covering new sectors such as sustainable development, sport, art and entertainment, counter terrorism and mediation. These new activities leading to social inclusion have widened our civil society network.
We also signed several MOUs to seal our global partnerships with NGOs, IGO, and Specialized agencies.
The UNAOC distinguished itself with a variety of collaborations with key players in the world of higher education and academic settings, to name just a few:
• Education Above All – Sheikha Moza’s initiative to protect the right to education, especially in areas of conflict;
• Civilizations Study Center – Focus on the importance and relevance of inter-civilization processes and conflict, to diversity in higher education.
• Alliance of Civilizations Institute – Graduate school in Turkey, which concentrates in Civilization Studies; ACI also advocates the significance of diversity in academic settings to foster meaningful, enriching intellect exchange
• Fordham University – Comcentrate of higher education for human development, progress, peaceful coexistence, harmony and interaction among peoples of different cultural backgrounds, and the promotion of dialogue among cultures; embraces diversity in its academic settings by drawing students from nations across the world
• Fairleigh Dickinson University – Adamant about the notion that colleges and universities should share a common belief of experience and diversity; importance of having both a multicultural student body as well as faculties and staff
• Academy of Latinity – “Born under the sign of the pomegranate, a symbol mainly of diversity”. Promote cultural and scientific initiatives to support the exchange of conversation and knowledge between all cultures
• Pio Manzu Research Centre – Promote diversity and increase intercultural exchange of ideas and knowledge regarding issues of vital interest for the future of humankind.
• One in the making with the Yale Child Study Center – where we are promoting the importance of education from the early, developmental years.
• Last but not least the State Committee for Work with Religious Associations of the Republic of Azerbaijan with whom we inaugurated a National Tolerance Centre, Presenting the current religious and interfaith tolerance model of Azerbaijan as an example to the rest of the world. Emphasizing the positive impact of unity through religious diversity.
Dear NGOs and Civil Society Organizations,
My experiences in the Alliance of Civilizations at an institutional level, shows that most high-level authorities, dignitaries, member states see the need for civil society causes and have an understanding of interreligious/intercultural harmony and social inclusion.
However, it does not mean that the rest of society or “the people” feel the same way, have the same understanding, and will support initiatives that work towards a goal of “unity in diversity”. It is at the ground/local level, that you make global issues and social inclusion a reality.
As consequence of your on-going involvement with local communities you are in an advantageous position to pick up relatively insignificant changes in community dynamics that are often subtle signals of brewing conflict. Thus even before hostilities break out, NGOs can play a valuable role in performing the early warning function helping to avert future crises.
In terms of truly being able to support and promote the UNAOC’s mission which is centered on mutual understanding and cooperation through intercultural and interreligious dialogue, You should remain focused on your own individual organizations, initiatives, and work on a ground level in the countries you represent in order to truly make unity in diversity sustainable and with a solid impact.
In this way, focusing on at least on one initiative or project that is innovative and successful, you will truly be bringing something to the Alliance, send us proposals to present at the Bali Forum. Try to do what the Alliance cannot do which is to be ever present on the grass roots level, and maintain our mission in civil society by being our “life blood” on the ground. Moreover, by doing this you would be much more than a partner but become the link between the Alliance and Civil Society that is ever so necessary and important to it’s mission and vision becoming a sustainable reality.
Only through a concerted worldwide effort to instill into everyday life, values, attitudes and behavior based on the principles of non-violence, dialogue and cooperation, mutual respect and tolerance, sharing and transmitting knowledge, will the goal of world peace be realized.
Strength of the NGO community in creating peace will be an unrelenting focus in all its varied activities to encourage individuals and groups to rise above their differences and use their similarities to contribute to the well-being of all. This is one of the most precious contributions NGOs can make to global peace, as they place these universal values at the very center of all their activities.
The Alliance together with its partners can play a central role in bringing the views and aspirations of your local NGOs into the global arena.
You can definitively protect the planet’s resources by contributing to action that address climate change and you can help to orient national programs towards Sustainable development goals.
Though the world has evolved, in a way it must revert to earlier times as well, returning to a state of transparency, anti-corruption, governance and coordination. This is a crucial step in reducing disparities and creating a successful global partnership. As the close to the MDG period nears, we will conclude a tough yet momentous 15 years. 2015 brings promises of a new era—one of positive change and continued growth.
As we approach that era, we must adhere to the Secretary General’s recommendations for building a future of justice and hope, to ensure “A life of dignity for all.” For this we need to understand the nature of being human and must discover guided by Edgar Morin, that ” The treasure of Human Unity in Human Diversity and the treasure of Human Diversity is Human Unity”
I look forward to a fruitful exchange and wish you every success for the 2014 and beyond!