H.E. MR. NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER
HIGH REPRESENTATIVE FOR THE
UNITED NATIONS ALLIANCE OF CIVILIZATIONS
at the World Day for Cultural Diversity
9 June 2017 | The Princeton Club of New Tork
Dear Mr. Ismael Betancourt, Jr., Founder and President of the Institute for Multicultural Communications and development,
Distinguished Panellists and Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I have the utmost pleasure to be here with you today for a Celebration of Diversity, in observance of the “World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development”.
First, I want to praise the initiative to hold this Celebration. In fact, today we are closer and more interconnected than ever. Diversity is our unavoidable human condition. And the Institute for Multicultural Communications and Development plays a vital role in promoting social inclusion.
Just like the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, the Institute is actively working to bridge social and cultural divides among and between cultural communities. We are here to unite our voices in order to speak even louder for the promotion of diversity. Indeed, the Alliance believes that respecting each other’s beliefs and cultures will create a better world for all of us.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
What does acceptance of diversity have to offer?
How far will promotion of diversity advance the goals or peace and sustainable development?
Diversity first of all recognizes that the human family is made up of a rich array of peoples, cultures, languages, religions, races, ethnicities, beliefs, customs, social standings and wealth.
But underneath it all, we are still one human family, a singular species that has far more in common than some would wish to admit. Our aspirations are common in terms of our need for food and shelter, for the safety, security and love of our families and the basic desire to live in peace with our community. While we should celebrate the diversity and differences that exist within the human family, we must also recognize that politicians often use these differences to pit one group against another, or one society against another, for their own political ends. It is this misuse of diversity, which we must guard against.
Four years ago, together with the Institute for multicultural Communications Cooperation and Development, we went to the Bronx to meet with local communities from various cultures. We expressed our support for their work. We then invited everyone to do one thing for diversity and inclusion.
Did each of us keep our promise? And have we progressed since then?
We made a lot of progress, indeed.
The Alliance facilitated numerous successful forums and events in which NGOs identified their needs and could develop solutions. We signed several Memorandums of Understandings and collaborated actively with many key players. Our projects constitute successful tools in order to promote more understanding and tolerance.
But the world today is still at a critical juncture. It is facing multiple crises, terrible conflicts and rise of hostilities. We cannot ignore the urgency. We need to work more, to reach more people in order to “leave no one behind” as pledged by the 2030 UN Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals. It is, in fact, the only way to make Diversity seen as an asset rather than a threat.
Our world becomes increasingly dependent on information. The Alliance is aware of the new challenges that we have to face and is working actively to tackle them with innovative projects.
For example, among other projects, the Alliance is working on the Plural+ Project. It is a youth video festival focused on migration, diversity and social inclusion.
Through this project, we are actually giving voice to youth from everywhere in the world. We are listening to their stories. Every story is unique, everyone is unique. When every unique person comes together, our unity becomes our strength. That is the Alliance’s moto: Unity in diversity.
We are well aware that the Institute has organized hundreds of forums, film festivals, conferences and television programs to bridge divides in NYC and elsewhere. You are making a big difference for social inclusion and promotion of diversity through your work at the ground and local level.
A sustainable city is one where people with different cultural and religious backgrounds can live peacefully. A peaceful living is what enables these people to contribute to the well being of the city. For this very reason, cities must also empower migrants and minorities by giving them equal opportunities and support for their social inclusion. This is why diversity matters.
Through the projects of the Institute and those of the Alliance, we are sending a message of awareness to everyone: that their voices matter and that we are here to listen to them. But especially, we believe that by sharing their stories, we promote more understanding and more tolerance. Accepting diversity is therefore a key for a brighter future together:
– A future where poverty is eradicated – that is the 1st Goal of the 2030 UN Agenda for SDGs.
– A future where we have sustaining peace.
Few weeks ago, during the “Diversity Week”, the Alliance signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China with the aim of strengthening cooperation under the initiative of the “Silk Road Economic Belt” and the “21st century Maritime Silk Road”.
The ancient network of trade routes connecting the East and the West played a significant role in the development of the participating countries. Historically, religious and cultural diversity came to us along the Great Silk Road. The resurrection of this project is another great step towards our goal of building bridges between civilizations. This new initiative has the aim of promoting diversity of civilizations by strengthening the cooperation between parties. So far, nearly 70 countries have signed agreements with China to participate in this great initiative. At this time where we see nations standing against each other, we are pleased to testify that others are taking concrete actions for building an open and inclusive world and a community of shared future for mankind.
We then have to keep taking concrete actions for the promotion of diversity because the challenge is real. Just as these 70 countries, which renewed this Silk Road Initiative, let us renew our promises made 4 years ago. Let us all do one thing for social inclusion! Let us all celebrate diversity.