Presentation Ceremony of the
Third World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue
by H.E. Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser
High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations
30 January 2015 – UNHQ, New York
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to welcome everyone for joining us, especially my friend, His Excellency Abulfas Garayev, the Minister of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan. We are gathered here today to launch the Presentation Ceremony of the 3rd World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue scheduled to take place in Baku on May 18-19, 2015. It is always a great pleasure to join forces with Mr. Garayev who shares the Alliance of Civilizations’ passion for education, dialogue, youth empowerment and whose long and successful career as a Minister offers multitude inputs to our work.
I am also very pleased that UNAOC hosted yesterday in our office the meeting of the Task Force designated with the preparations for the 3rd World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue, which will be held in Baku as of May 18-19, 2015. UNAOC as a partner in organizing the 3rd World Forum for Intercultural Dialogue has proposed to organize a Plenary Session on: “Violent Extremism and Promoting Religious Pluralism and Shared Well-being”, and 2 workshops on: Youth as Agents of Change and Contributors to Peace-building and Dialogue, and Youth & the Responsible Use of Social Media. We also look forward to working together with the other partners in this forum UNESCO, UNWTO and OIC.
Now, taking into consideration the ever-growing involvement of Azerbaijan in promoting intercultural and interreligious understanding at the regional and international levels, I am pleased that UNAOC has found such a vital partner.
A partner geographically positioned at the corner of cultures and religions and represents a great example when it comes to successful cultural and religious development. Azerbaijan’s strategic location at the borders of Eastern Europe and Western Asia has allowed the country to receive the precious and priceless influences of Islamic, Persian, European, Turkish and Russian communities.
Therefore, it is not surprising that this hybrid identity plays a constructive and exemplary role to advance powerful intercultural and interreligious dialogues worldwide. This role is very relevant to the work we do at UNAOC.
I would like to stress the fact that President Ilham Aliyev is to be recognized for his important contribution to multiculturalism through integrative and innovative initiatives.
Allow me to note that Azerbaijan’s support for the UN Alliance of Civilizations is warmly appreciated. As a valuable member of UNAOC’s Group of Friends, Azerbaijan has provided critical inputs for our programs that enhance intercultural dialogue but also valuable contributions for our Trust Fund.
It would be stating the obvious to say that Azerbaijan and UNAOC share an important agenda for tolerance, peace and diversity, which is why I strongly support the Baku Process launched with the Baku Ministerial Declaration of 2008 to promote “Intercultural Dialogue as a Basis for Peace and Sustainable Development.”
We cannot deny that we are currently witnessing a rise in the wave of religious extremism, violence and terrorism across the globe. These religiously and culturally based conflicts threaten sustainable development, peace and security of human life. And unfortunately, no one country is fully protected by the threats of intolerance, fanaticism and extremism.
They compel us to reaffirm the moral importance of human life, mutual understanding and respect of diversity.
It is necessary to remember not to associate acts of terrorism with any religion, nationality or civilization.
It has become critical to reaffirm our strong commitment to promoting awareness, understanding, reconciliation and forgiveness while preventing conflicts to happen or to escalate to lethal levels. We need to advance a common vision of inclusive, indivisible and respectful societies, while contributing to the pressing themes of the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda.
Very often, some miss the connection between culture, sustainable development and peaceful societies. In my long career at the United Nations, I have observed a simple truth: culture connects people beyond borders. It allows to bring communities closer through language, music, education, food and tourism. That is why, when I accepted the position of High Representative for the UN Alliance of Civilizations, I recognized culture as one key pillar, in which our efforts have ever since been significant. I would like to thank you for joining us today.
I now leave the floor to H.E Abulfas Garayev.