29 AUGUST 2014
Your Excellency, Mr. Ban Ki – moon, UN Secretary- General
Your Excellency Mr. Marty Natalagawa, Foreign Minister of Indonesia
Your Excellency Mr. Juan Manuel Garcia-Margallo, the Foreign Minister of Spain,
Your Excellency Mr. Ali Naci Koru DeputyvMinister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am pleased to welcome you to our ministerial segment of the 6th Global Forum. I am happy to see Foreign Ministers and representatives of International Organizations, academia, civil society and the media and I thank all of you for their support to the Alliance.
We have had and we are still convening many exciting sessions that will continue till tomorrow.
Under our banner for this year’s Forum “Unity in Diversity”, we will explore a variety of topics that provide us insights into the importance of those words and their importance to the mission of the Alliance. President Yudhiyono has been most gracious in his hospitality and the commitment of the Indonesian government to making this Forum a success will always be remembered.
I also wish to thank our co-sponsors the Governments of Spain and Turkey as well as the Governments that previously hosted these important events, Brazil and Austria. My special thanks go also to Qatar for hosting the 4th Global Forum two years ago and the preparatory conference of this Forum last April and I would like to seize this opportunity to welcome here with us, His Excellency and my dear friend Mr. Ahmad Bin Abdullah Al-Mahmoud, the Deputy Prime Minister of the State of Qatar.
I also wish to take this opportunity to congratulate all of you who worked so diligently to arrive at agreement on the text of the Bali Declaration. This important document crystallizes the most important concepts we wish to take away from the two days we will be spending here. I thank you and your representatives for your efforts in this regard.
Since we last gathered in New York last September, we have witnessed a continuation and even an increase in the level of violence attributable to religious violence and cultural divisions. I need not reference each one here but it is enough to remind you that these problems span the globe from Africa to the Middle East to Asia.
This morning, the Secretary-General has made this point to us yet again. Religion and culture must be a bridge – never a wedge. The Alliance must lead the way in engaging with religious and cultural leaders to promote messages of inclusion, tolerance and understanding. It is in-comprehensible that religious leaders use their positions to claim the right to promote atrocities in the name of God. We must reverse that trend.
Today I intend to review with you what I promised to you last year, what has been achieved in the past year, and my plans for the coming year.
What I promised
My vision as described in Vienna and later expanded upon in our Strategic Review and Plan for 2013-2018, focused on the need to build on the achievements of the past. I also indicated that we must be prepared to expand our thinking about how to best reach the largest number of people.
The vision I described last year consisted of six primary elements:
First, we would build on Previous Achievements
Second, we would strengthen our partnerships and cooperation in the multilateral system
Third, we would seek to add complementary tools to the conflict resolution tool box
Fourth, we would contribute to post-2015 Development Agenda by adding considerations of culture
Fifth, we would seek ways to strengthen the Financing and Structure of the Alliance
Sixth, we would increase UNAOC’s interaction with Media, Civil Society, Business Sector and Academia
What I’ve done
I would like to share with you some examples of our recent achievements:
1. On building on Previous Achievements: We have worked diligently to identify the program activities that had the greatest impact and had the best chance for sustainability. This has resulted in building up several of our activities including the Youth Solidarity Fund, the BMW-Intercultural Innovation Award, the Entrepreneurs for Social Change Project, the Summer School, the Media Literacy Program, the Hate Speech Project and competitions such as Plural + and PeaceApp.
2. On strengthening our Partnerships: I have insisted that our staff develop an increasing level of cooperation within the multilateral community and this past year we have focused on our internal efforts with the UN Secretariat. Our partnerships with DPA, UNDP, PBSO, UNICEF, OCHA and other entities has resulted in AOC staff taking on increasingly important roles in inter-agency activities.
3. On adding to the Conflict Resolution Toolbox: We are making all reasonable efforts, in coordination with the Policy and Mediation Unit of the Department of Political Affairs, to assist and augment their work wherever possible. We have expanded our work into the prevention field through our efforts on Combatting Violent Extremism in cooperation and consultation with the Counter-terrorism Task Force of DPA and will be hosting a training event for diaspora Somali journalists in September. This morning we heard from President Yudhiyono who added his voice to the call for us to do more to use religion and culture as bridges between peoples. We heard specific suggestions to this effect from Foreign Minister Garcia Margallo to use mediation for defusing tensions. I have heard the call. And I am committed to making this a reality.
4. On contributing to the post-2015 Development Agenda: At the invitation of UNDP we have participated in their planning process and have contributed to deliberations related to the inclusion of culture as a planning feature in this process. UNDP’s work on this subject is based on their pillar for the planning process that is led by UNESCO and UNFPA, and our interventions have been welcomed.
5. On strengthening the Financing and Structure of the Alliance: Over the past year we have established a new organizational structure that has permitted us to operate in more collaborative ways and for staff to work together on projects more frequently. Unfortunately, our financial support continues to be inadequate and requires urgent efforts on your behalf to secure funding on an immediate basis from your governments.
6. On increasing interaction with Media, Civil Society, Business Sector and Academia: I have signed Memoranda of Understanding with civil society organizations, opened the door for them and for the media to interact with the Alliance in every meeting and occasion.
What I plan to do
Finance: As you heard from my own messages and in letters to your governments from the Secretary-General, our financial situation count on your support. I will employ every option at my disposal to keep our financial ship afloat. I have been negotiating with the United Nations Foundation to establish a means under United States law for philanthropists to contribute to the Alliance in accordance with the law of the host country.
Governance: This past year I have considered changes to the governance structure of UNAOC. Our challenge is to ensure you, the members of our Group of Friends, are as fully engaged as possible and that your advice can be considered in a timely fashion. I will be reviewing current structures, perhaps adding or amending some structures while possibly eliminating others, to ensure that the Member States of the Group of Friends can fill its crucial advisory role.
Substance: You have heard this morning about the need to bridge divides based on identity, especially identities derived from religion and culture. The Secretary-General has been clear in his desire to see the Alliance take a leading role in promoting Interreligious and Intercultural dialogue as a critical element in the mediation agenda and I will do everything I can to expand the role of the Alliance in this field as we move forward. I pledge to you that I and my team will work tirelessly to ensure that the United Nations has a strong voice in the promotion of shared human values, that we will make sure religious and cultural leaders are reminded of their obligations and their opportunities to be genuine peacemakers, not warlords. The inspiration we witnessed last night will guide us as we move forward.
I extend my sincere thanks to Secretary – General Ban Ki-moon for his kind support and personal attention to the Alliance, and I take this opportunity to say thank you to our donors and partners, whose help and support has been invaluable in enabling us to carry out our duties.
Ladies and gentlemen,
In closing, allow me to thank all of you for supporting the outcome of this meeting.
We will continue our work in contributing to the vision of universal peace among nations laid out in the United Nations Charter for the sake of global harmony for development and prosperity to live in a better world.
I thank you.