OPENING REMARKS OF H.E. MR. NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER
HIGH REPRESENTATIVE OF THE UNITED NATIONS ALLIANCE OF CIVILIZATIONS
UNAOC AMBASSADORIAL MEETING ON
THE ROLE OF MEDIA IN BUILDING BRIDGES OF UNDERSTANDING BETWEEN NATIONS
4 JUNE 2015
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Allow me to welcome you to our second UNAOC Ambassadorial meeting we convene in the first half of 2015.
Today, we will discuss an important matter to the World’s Affairs, which is so much related to our Global Peace and Security in the 21st century.
It is also very special occasion, since we are discussing this very important topic, after enjoying a fantastic performance by our future generations who sang for peace.
They have just sent us an important message: Using universal human expressions like music, sports or the arts help in building bridges of understanding among different cultures and civilizations.
Allow me at the beginning to welcome our keynote speaker, H. E. Ms. Cristina Gallach, Under Secretary-General for Communications & Public Information.
UNAOC is very proud of its partnership and collaboration with the DPI.
Media is and has always been an intriguing topic of discussion at any given time. The reason is obvious: media is a major factor in shaping our perceptions and views.
As you are aware, Media is also one Major pillar for the agenda of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations. That being said, I decided to dedicate our Group of Friends meeting today to this timely theme“ The Role of Media in Building Bridges of Understanding between Nations”.
Media provides a global platform for exchanging information, engaging between communities, while at the same time re-affirming the commitments of saying the truth and suggesting solutions for our troubled world.
The necessity of embracing and respecting diverse cultures, promoting inclusive societies and cherishing our common and shared values, are all driving forces for Media, culminating into investment for peace and security, Sustainable Development and Human Rights.
Two weeks ago, my team and I were in Baku to participate in the Third Edition of the World Intercultural Forum, followed by participation in an OSCE meeting in Vienna. The role of Media and its relation to the world peace, dominated the two occasions.
In Baku, UNAOC organized, a plenary session and two workshops. They focused on Youth and the responsible and constructive use of social media, in which we discussed the rapid dissemination of, hate speech via social media platforms that leads to stereotyping and the spread of radicalizations, thus contributing to violence and terrorism.
The workshops we organized, showcased UNAOC programming in the area of youth, who we believe are the agents of positive social changed and contributors to peace building in their capacity as young social entrepreneurs and peace promoters.
In Vienna, the OSCE meeting that lasted for 2 days, called for strengthening international responses to radicalization that leads to terrorism.
The subject was deliberated with great importance for its relevance to the International Peace and Security and proved the necessity for the International Community to exert more efforts in combating hate speech in accordance with International Law.
Let’s take into account that there is always a space for free speech and expression, but there is no merit in the freedom of insult, incitement to hatred and spreading the messages of enmity.
While we express our views, let’s remember to observe articles 19 & 20 of the International Covenant on Political and Civil Rights, related instruments and relevant UN resolutions.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The UN Alliance of Civilizations’ foundational document, the High Level Group Report, mandates us to work on countering the factors that cause polarization, radicalization, and violence between and within communities, in particular those factors with religious or cultural motivations.
As you know, Pillar I of the Global Counter Terrorism strategy calls for action around this point.
I would also like to recall relevant UNGA and Security Council Resolutions, which emphasize need for greater dialogue between cultures and civilizations, the importance of building confidence and respects and, the necessity to assume preventive policies.
To that end, our focus on Media as a main UNAOC pillar aims to counter narratives that lead to incitement and hate speech. To achieve this, we engage in two types of activities:
- Organizing training workshops for journalists in collaboration with senior media professionals and conflict resolution experts.
- Providing a platform to voices of credible individuals who put out messages that counter hate speech and negative narratives.
Let me remind you that UNAOC’s mandate is to build bridges between nations, based on respect and confidence building.
Therefore, I believe in the constructive role the Media can play and I encourage Media practitioners to further explore ethical and legal awareness of relevant instruments and UN resolutions that require the observance of such universally accepted norms, when practicing the freedom of speech, not the freedom of insult.
UNAOC would like to see a stronger Media in order to fulfill main pre-requisites for the sake of building peaceful and inclusive societies, such as:
- Promote principles of mutual understanding and cooperation as well as the reconciliation of relations between different cultures and religions.
- Raise awareness of obstacles hindering the cultural dialogue in order to face and overcome them.
- Promote practical media programmes on reconciliation and overcoming stereotyping.
- Shape a proactive public opinion, favorable to the cause of tolerance and respect for religions through social media, so to foster a positive social dialogue.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Journalists working in new and traditional media alike, contribute to a large extent to building stronger, healthier and more peaceful societies when their reporting is balanced, objective, responsible and accurate.
I have offered here UNAOC’s reflections based on what we have learned, as an organization tasked with preventive mandate to defuse cultural and religious tensions that may lead to threats to International Peace and Security.
Over a number of years of working in this field and as High Representative, I can assure you that I am committed to ensuring that the UN Alliance of Civilizations will continue to refine its approaches in this area, amplify its voice and invest this part of its mandate to build bridges between nations.
In that regard, I invite each one of you to explore forming new partnerships aimed at enhancing our work and our use of Media, as an enlightening tool for our common path.
I thank you.