H.E. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser
The High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations
at the Opening Ceremony of the
3rd World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue
Baku, Azerbaijan | 18-19 May, 2015
Your Excellency Mr. Ilham Aliyev, President of Azerbaijan;
Your Excellency, Mr. Abulfas Garayev, Minister of Culture & Tourism of Azerbaijan;
Your Excellency, Mrs. Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO
Your Excellency, Dr. Abdulaziz Othman Altwajiri, Director General of ISESCO
Your Excellencies, Heads of Delegations,
Ladies and Genetlemen,
It gives me a great pleasure to be back again to this beautiful city of Baku, for the second time to address this esteemed gathering.
I am also very pleased to convey to you the warm greetings of the United Nations Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon. He had met last January in New York with H.E. Mr. Abulfas Garayev, the Minister of Culture and Tourism in my presence and he expressed the importance he attaches to this forum.
It is always a great pleasure to join forces and work with H.E. Minister Garayev. As an organizing partner of this forum for the third year, UNAOC team, present here today, has been coordinating closely with the team from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations is proud of its partnership with the Government of Azerbaijan and all the other co-organizers of the 3rd edition of the 3rd World Forum for Intercultural Dialogue.
This year’s forum is themed: “Sharing Culture for Shared Security. This September 2015, world leaders will meet to adopt the new 17 Sustainable Development Goals. In that context, the mission of the Alliance is similar to Sustainable Development Goal number 16 which states the need for securing peaceful and inclusive societies.
Much of what the UN does, and indeed much of what we are trying to address through these new Sustainable Development Goals, that will guide all of us through 2030, attempt to address certain imbalances that impede our progress towards achieving sustainable development and global security. Marginalization, economic austerity, inequity and lack of good governance are only few of the social injustices that tarnish our world in the 21st century.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As we address this year’s theme: “Sharing Culture for Shared Security”, it is very apt to remember the notion of diversity. And as I look around this room, I see a wide array of diverse faces coming from diverse countries. Azerbaijan itself, being at the crossroads between Asia and Europe has an amazing mosaic of diverse races, faiths, cultures and languages.
In two days, on May 21st the world will celebrate the World Day for Diversity and Development. The beauty of our world resides in its diversity, which at the same time, has sparked many conflicts. This occurs as a result of misunderstanding and intolerance towards people whose attitudes and traditions differ from ours.
We tend to forget that as the world becomes economically more interdependent, we face increasing challenges of living harmoniously together in a world of different cultures, languages, beliefs, ethnic loyalties and patterns of behavior. With the increasing movement of peoples across the globe, there is hardly any more society that can claim to be completely homogenous. The challenge is how to forge a united and harmonious society which respects, not just tolerates, differences, especially of the minorities. In our world today, inclusiveness has become a pre-requisite for a peaceful society – all societies. This calls for careful attention to migration laws. We are seeing in the news every day, tragic stories of desperate young people perishing in the Mediterranean sea while attempting to seek a better life in Europe. At the same time we are also hearing of violence and xenophobia against African non-citizens claiming lives in Africa.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It would be stating the obvious to say that respect for diversity and embracing our shared values is conducive to our shared security as global people living together in a global world. Fostering peaceful and inclusive societies means recognizing the diversities and pluralism which have become a characteristic of our modern globalized world.
Nonetheless, this has not been the case. If fact, for the past few months, in which we witnessed an alarming rise in the wave of intolerance, extremism, xenophobia and discrimination, leading to brutal acts committed by terrorists. While claim religion is their guide, their extremist ideologies are contrary to the values and teachings of the major faiths. With that in mind, as you may well know, as I see around the room many of our partners – I convened in New York last month with the UN Secretary General and the President of the General Assembly a High-Level thematic Debate on Promoting Tolerance and Reconciliation: Fostering peaceful and inclusive societies and countering violent extremism.
Religious Leaders from around the world representing major faiths voiced their rejection to all forms of discrimination and all acts of violence committed in the name of faith.
UN Member States as well, underscored the urgent need to effectively address the drivers and the underlying causes that contribute to intolerance and by virtue the unacceptance of the other which is leads to marginalization, exclusion and discrimination. All of these challenges threaten global peace and security.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
No one can argue the critical importance of addressing all these challenges as the International Community moves towards a universal post 2015 development agenda. While being mindful of the globalized world in which we all live, there is a need for a collective action and a preventive strategy to address the scourge of radicalization and extremism which preys on our young generation.
We need to forge and strengthen the narrative that focuses on the benefits of pluralism, shared values and diversity as an alternative for extremist ideologies.
As a global community we must have the capacity to cope with diversity, respect the other, enhance social inclusiveness, and promote tolerance and understanding. This is our mission as well as our challenge at the Alliance of Civilizations too.
Again, the daunting challenge rests on how to manage diversity to make it work as a bonding factor rather than a divisive one.
Seen from this perspective, the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations provides a global platform to counter polarization across and within societies through its counter narrative and post conflict approaches.
A multi-faceted approach that addresses the root causes of radicalization and providing solutions with partners on the ground.
We need to protect our generations from the forces and ideologies that fuel tensions and hatred and drag us further away from our global security.
I thank you and I am looking forward to our discussions during the forum.