“The Role of Religious Leaders in Peacebuilding in the Middle East”
High Representative of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations
H.E. Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser
UN Headquarters, New York 18 July 2017
Your Excellency Mr. Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations,
Your Excellency Mr. Alfonso Maria Dastis, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain,
Distinguished Religious Leaders,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me begin by thanking you all for joining us today. I would like to express my special gratitude to H.E. Mr. Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations for his participation in this panel and his support for the United Nations Alliance of Civilization.
I also extend my thanks to H.E. Mr. Alfonso Dastis, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain who has supported this initiative since its formal launch in Alicante last November.
This meeting allows us to follow up on the Spain Summit for Religious leaders for Peace in the Middle East in November 2016 and its outcome. I must acknowledge that it was hard to imagine that such gathering between religious leaders from the Holy land representing the 3 faiths of Islam , Judaism and Christianity could even take place whether here in NY or before that in Alicante. I have seen my team and your team overcome one obstacle after the other. So I applaud you for your determination and commitment. The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations is proud of its sponsorship of this initiative.
The Alliance is one of the UN’s main leading entities promoting interfaith and intercultural dialogue. We recognized that peace cannot be in attained through the endeavours of politicians alone. For this reason, we value the partnership and engagement of various players such the civil society, the private sector, the academia and most of all, the Religious Leaders and faith-based organizations.
We have reached out and worked closely with religious leaders since 2013. For the last four years, more than 30 events involving religious leaders were organized or co-sponsored by UNAOC creating a global platform for dialogue among those essential actors.
We firmly believe that Religion is not the source of the problem. On the contrary, religion can part of the solution. This notion applies in many ways to the Israeli Palestinian conflict. It is one of the longest standing conflicts. One which the international community has failed to resolve one decade after the other. So clearly there is a need to expand the scope of our work.
As H.E. Mr. Guterres just pointed out in his remarks, sustainable peace requires not only political will from all sides but also collective efforts of the international community, civil society and religious leaders. Indeed, Mr. Secretary General we need to expand the space for dialogue to include actors who have a voice and influence. This is what today’s meeting is about.
Religious leaders can and should play a role in peacebuilding in the Middle East. The adoption by consensus of the Alicante Declaration demonstrates this ability. The standing committee established by the Declaration has the aim of implementing its principles. This is more than welcome because we need to translate words into actions.
I will conclude my remarks as I am sure you want to hear more from the religious leaders themselves.
But allow me to say once again that the Alliance is very proud of its sponsorship of this initiative as we share a common objective that of serving the world by promoting peace, tolerance and dialogue. It is in this spirit that I welcome you here and ask for your wisdom and passion and encourage you to continue the work that you have begun.
I thank you again and look forward to listening to your views.