REMARKS OF H.E. MR. NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER
HIGH REPRESENTATIVE FOR THE UNITED NATIONS ALLIANCE OF CIVILIZATIONS
AT THE World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development
(Delivered on his behalf BY Hanifa Mezoui, PhD
Senior Advisor Humanitarian Affairs & Civil Society)
22 May 2017, UNHQ CR 4
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Gordon and Judith,
It is a great honor to be here today with you, in response to the kind invitation to address this conference in observance of the “World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development”, discussing the importance of ‘DIVERSITY” and the critical role it plays for Dialogue and Development.
I am delivering this message on behalf of His Excellency Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, the High Representative of UN Alliance of Civilizations, who conveys his profound regrets on being unable to attend due to prior travel engagements.
Let me begin by addressing special thanks to the organizers of this event: “Give Them a Hand Foundation” and the “International Association of Applied Psychology” and of course the Permanent Mission of Jamaica and Ethiopia to the United Nations. Your partnership demonstrates how actively involved you are in the goal of building bridges across boundaries. Your efforts are appreciated and our presence here today is another acknowledgment of your commitment to do more for the promotion of Cultural Diversity.
May 21st was chosen as the” World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development” by the General Assembly in its Resolution 57/249 of 20 December 2002. It represents an authoritative instrument: an instrument we must use to call for the promotion of peaceful societies. We need to go from commitment to results in line with the Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The Assembly has chosen this day to promote a greater awareness of the crucial relationship between diverse cultures, peace and development. They are inseparable and this is why this special observance is so important. At a time where our world is divided by disputes, hatred, conflicts and crisis, the mission of the Alliance to promote cultural understanding and social inclusion has never been more relevant, nor under such challenge. While diversity and cultural understanding is our goal, we would be fooling ourselves not to recognize what a difficult task we have when all the trends in the world seem to be pulling people apart rather than bringing them together.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations seeks to counter such negative tendencies through its activities and outreach. For instance, we part of working group of the campaign called ‘TOGETHER’ – Respect, Safety and Dignity for All!
TOGETHER promotes diversity and acceptance of migrants and refugees through dialogue, cooperation and assistance between the UN, Member States, the private sector and civil society. Together we are working to change global attitudes regarding refugees and migrants, turning fear into hope.
In this spirit, the Alliance recently held a Symposium in cooperation with the European Union on “Hate Speech against Migrants and Refugees.” This event highlighted that migrants and refugees bring richness and diversity to our societies and opportunities for growth and prosperity. It responded to the need to promote Ethical Journalism and addressed the impact of Hate Speech on promoting violent extremism. It highlighted the link between the treatment of migrants and hate speech by the promotion of stereotypes.
Deconstructing these stereotypes is now more vital than ever, knowing that such stereotypes raise the barriers that divide us. This task is aligned with the guiding principles of the 2013 UNAOC High-Level Group Report. As such, diversity of civilizations and cultures is a basic feature of human society and a driving force of human progress. That is the essence of the mission of the UNAOC: to promote understanding and tolerance between people through 4 pillars: Education, Youth, Migration and Media.
The activities of the Alliance keep evolving to dissolve tensions rooted in cultural differences. It is a reflection of the Alliance’s engagement in the fields of sports, music, art and entertainment, to explore ways in which the UNAOC and the entertainment industry can join forces and mobilize public support for peace and development by promoting tolerance and respect.
The 2030 Sustainable Development Goals provide pathway of cooperation between all 193 Member States working together.
Goal 16, to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive instruction at all levels, and Goal 17, to strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development, explicitly recognizing the importance of cooperation and intercultural dialogue as the primary focus for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations.
We must work in alignment with all seventeen SDGs in order to seize this opportunity of international cooperation and ensure that no one is left behind. More specifically, we must make a considerable effort to invest in preventative diplomacy.
In taking office, Mr. Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the UN, shared his vision on prevention of crises as a priority. He pointed out that violent conflicts continue to “rage in many corners of the world” and that we need to work together to resolve them.
We must remember that acceptance of diversity is a tool for prevention of conflict.
Let’s also remember that 2017 is the year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. Sustainable Tourism is essential for peace, and can be better achieved when the conditions for wealth creation exist in a country, when economic progress can be shared with the community, and when cultural diversity is respected.
Tourism connects people beyond borders and raises curiosity of people from all around the world. The more diverse is culture, the more we have opportunities for economic growth. Creative economy is one of the most rapidly growing concepts according to the United Nations Creative Economy Report 2013, co-published by UNESCO and UNDP. It provides a source of income and employment. Promoting Sustainable tourism effectively contributes to poverty alleviation and is therefore a necessary tool in order to achieve the 1st Goal of the SDGs: To End poverty.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Fifteen years have passed since the first celebration the “World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development”. It is clear that we cannot have peace if we don’t accept diversity. We cannot have development and economic growth if we don’t recognize diversity. The goal of sustaining peace and prevention of conflict can only be achievable if we learn to live with each other, to understand each other and to tolerate each other’s differences.
I am glad to know that this day is celebrated all around the world. It has reached a new level of recognition. There will be a European Night of Museums at UNESCO in Paris in order to send a message of tolerance, a Youth Conference on Intercultural Dialogue in Kazakhstan, film screenings on Diversity in Geneva, to name just a few. Million have shared their willingness on line to see the world in peace, accepting Diversity with the hastag #WorldDiversityDay!
Now, how about us?
In the midst of conflicts, the increase of inequality, xenophobia and forms of extreme violence, we need to work harder towards building bridges between cultures and societies. Every single effort from each of us constitutes one step further in the promotion of Diversity.
There was a VISION when the “World Day for Diversity” was established. We need to reinforce this vision that promotes tolerance, interreligious and intercultural dialogue, a culture of peace and combating the blight of violent extremism. When we look at these diverse areas of action, we understand that promotion of diversity goes beyond being a celebration. It is a call for action and for taking charge of our responsibility to foster a sound and empowered international community.
Let me conclude with one over-riding idea:
“There is no peace without development, there is no development without peace, there is no development and peace without security and there is no peace, development and security without human rights.”
But, let me add, that the most important thing is that there is no peace, no development, no security and no human rights without accepting and embracing the idea of strength and resilience through diversity.