Opening Statement by
High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations
His Excellency Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser
at the 4th World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue
“Advancing intercultural dialogue:
New venues for Peace, security and sustainable development”
Baku – Azerbaijan | 4-6 May 2017
President Ilham Aliyev
President of the Republic of Azerbaijan,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me a great pleasure to be back again to Baku. It has been almost one year since your beautiful city hosted the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations 7th Global Forum. The great success of that forum, Mr. President, will always be a legacy we share as a UN organization with you and your government.
I am very pleased that our teams are working together again as partners in organizing the 4th World Forum for Intercultural Dialogue.
The “Baku Process” has become a real platform that enables people worldwide to support intercultural dialogue and promote peaceful and inclusive societies. For the second year, the Alliance of Civilizations decided to support the initiative since its inception as it aims at enabling and encouraging people and communities worldwide to take concrete measures towards promoting diversity, dialogue and mutual understanding among nations.
The focus of this year’s forum is particularly significant.
Human Security places people at the center of multi-disciplinary approaches and responses, including development and human rights. Peace, security, sustainable development and human rights are mutually reinforcing. When we tried to implement them separately, it has often failed to achieve the objectives.
We have failed our people. Several reform processes that were undertaken at the United Nations have identified fragmentation as a major weakness. The Charter of the United Nations – which we are all here to uphold – has been fundamental in linking those three pillars.
“Peace must be our goal and our guide.” When he first took office, Secretary-General Mr. António Guterres launched an appeal for peace with the hope that everyone strive to overcome differences. Peace takes constant effort, and we must all work together within our respective mandates, means and responsibilities to achieve it.
We must collectively draw strength from the spirit of the UN Charter to better prevent armed conflict and sustain peace through intercultural dialogue, social inclusion and development. And this means ensuring the effective protection of all human rights _ civil, political, economic, social and cultural.
The current global challenges to peace and harmonious coexistence among peoples of different religious and cultural backgrounds require urgent attention and action. We must promote intercultural dialogue as a tool to prevent conflict and mediation as a process for reconciliation that will allow us to reaffirm the universal values of understanding, tolerance, and respect for diversity.
The main objective of the Baku Process and the WFID is to promote sustainable dialogue and peace in the World. As it emphasizes the Human security approach, it will strengthen community resilience and enable dialogue across diverse communities.
Let me recall that in December 2012 the United Nations General Assembly endorsed the UNESCO proposal declaring the period of 2013-2022 as the International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures and adopted resolution A/67/L104 on the “Promotion of Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue, Understanding, and Cooperation for Peace.”
Moreover, the United Nations reiterated its support for interreligious and intercultural dialogue as means to prevent violent extremism and tackle the causes of radicalization at its roots. Through the UN Global Counter Terrorism Strategy and the PVE Plan of Action, the United Nations not only acknowledged the intertwining of peace, security and sustainable development but also recognized the importance of education and intercultural dialogue to prevent tensions, violence and extremism. In this vein, The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations works closely with the relevant UN agencies and divisions mandated with the implementation of this Plan of Action. I am honored to be one of the members of the High Level PVE Action Group appointed by the UNSG.
The instruments I mentioned earlier also enshrine the role of various actors in the prevention of conflict and the promotion of peace, including civil society and the business community, with a particular focus on women, youth and religious leaders.
Therefore, this year the Fourth WFID iteration integrated new dimensions, including the First High Level Meeting of International Organizations, with strong partners such as DfD, CIDA, USAID, ASEAN, the Breton Woods Institutions, the Business Sector and of course UNESCO and ISESCO to name but a few!
In this 4th WFID, we welcome you as our Global Connectors.
The WFID will serve as a platform for Member States, religious leaders, civil society, public and private institutions, and other stakeholders to counter the ideological struggle led on the ground by violent extremist groups such as ISIS and Boko Haram.
In order to fight this scourge, advance intercultural dialogue and achieve peace, it is our duty to strengthen partnerships with all these actors through diverse cultural approaches that promote social cohesion, inclusivity, resilience, creativity, skills and knowledge.
Let’s not forget the importance of religious understanding. In the midst of today’s challenges, fundamentalist groups are misusing religion to manipulate vulnerable people and spread terror, while religious minorities, as well as multiple cultural and ethnic groups are being violently targeted due to their religion or beliefs. Millions of men, women and children fleeing war and conflict are being excluded and ostracized.
We must together towards implementing human security and achieving peace and development. This not only entails expanding our actions and capabilities, but also understanding and human solidarity.
At the turn of the 21st century, we invested great hope in creating inclusive societies, in which all men and women would be united through the indivisible and universal values of human dignity, freedom, equality and solidarity, but also human rights ensuring equal access to opportunities, respect for diversity, tolerance and understanding. The United Nations hence launched the Millennium Development Goals in 2000 with the full support of Civil Society. This commitment was renewed 15 years later with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals.
Let’s make sure that we achieve these new goals together. Let’s capitalize on our achievements by reinforcing cultural bridges and building on our cultural and religious commonalities.
More than ever today, we all understand that the 2030 agenda must include all people, especially youth and women, embracing cultural and religious diversity. No one must be left behind.
It is crucial to remember that human progress will only be secured through better interaction between peoples, societies, religions and cultures. In this regard, political leadership plays an important role, particularly at this critical time where some political leaders use xenophobic rhetoric and people’s fears to divide societies and advance their own political objectives. I urge on political leaders to avoid hate speech that ultimately contribute to that plays into the hands of those extremists who seek to undermine our values and the fabric of our societies.
At UNAOC, we are highly aware of the issues at stake and continue our efforts towards promoting cross-cultural and religious dialogue and building bridges in close partnership with Civil society organizations. In pursuing these objectives, we have found in Azerbaijan a vital partner.
This initiative will certainly strengthen further multi-level cooperation that will, I sincerely hope, serve intercultural dialogue, mediation and reconciliation to prevent critical situations worldwide.
In closing, let us reflect on those words:
“The world can never be at peace unless people have security in their daily lives”
I look forward to exchanging creative ideas and initiatives with you during the forum sessions.