By the High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations
at the High Level Meeting on
Interreligious Dialogue for Peace:
Promoting Peaceful Co-existence & Common Citizenship
Vienna, 26-27 Feb 2018
Your Excellency Mr. Faisal Bin Muammar , Secretary General of KAICIID Dialogue Center
Ladies & Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to be participating in your meeting again. Today I am wearing 2 hats: One as a representative of the United Nations Secretary General Mr. Antonio Guterres who could not be participating in person due to prior commitments. He asked me to convey to you his support to your meeting and his best wishes for successful discussions.
My second hat is my capacity as High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations. I recall the first time I met with Mr. Faisal Bin Muammar back in February 2013 here in the beautiful city of Vienna during UNAOC 5th Global Forum which was hosted by the Austrian Government. Faisal explained to me the mission and objectives of newly created KAICIID and we agreed to collaborate since we have common goals: fostering interreligious dialogue and promoting tolerance and respect. Then I had the honor to participate in your first High Level Meeting in 2014 and speak about the “Image of the Other in the context of international and intercultural education”.
Today, I would like to congratulate the Secretary General of KAICIID and his able team for the progress you have made and the milestones you have achieved in the short span since the inception of KAICIID.The center has indeed established an impressive track record with events and consultations with religious leaders and thought leaders in South East Asia, Africa and South America.
The theme of this High Level meeting is certainly a timely one. Placing the emphasis on interreligious dialogue as a pathway to peace is a reminder to all of us of the vital and indispensable role religious leaders play in shaping our world. Faith is and will always be central to hope and resilience. Yet around the world, we see how religion is being hijacked by radical groups and twisted by intolerant ideologies to justify incitement to violence, discrimination, xenophobia and acts of terrorism.
These ideologies seek to divide humanity based on false versions and interpretations of religious, cultural and social values. No one can deny the short and long-term damaging results of these factors on international peace and security as well as development. Together we must counter such narratives. Allow me to recall, the UN General Assembly Resolution 59/23 of 11 November 2004 which affirmed that mutual understanding and interreligious dialogue among civilizations constituted important dimensions of the dialogue among civilizations and of the culture of peace.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
To achieve sustainable peace, one that truly lasts and endures , it must be based not only on nurturing a culture of tolerance, dialogue, solidarity and mutual understanding but also on a culture of prevention. Sustainable peace requires not only political will from all sides but also the collective efforts of the international community, civil society and fundamentally, religious leaders. We need to expand the space for dialogue to encompass local and regional leaders and other actors who have a voice and influence within their respective communities. As such, all of the world’s major religions bear shared commitments to building peace and emphasizing the oneness of humanity to standing on the side of the marginalized, and working to resolve conflicts.
In this context, the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations is one of the United Nations main leading entities promoting interfaith and intercultural dialogue. We recognized that peace cannot be in attained through the endeavors of politicians alone. For this reason, we value the partnership and engagement of various players such the civil society including youth-led grassroots, 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 five 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. Before concluding, allow me to re-iterate that words like dialogue and reconciliation and tolerance mean little if not supported by concrete broad range of actions under an international umbrella of sincere cooperation from state and non-state actors. After all, peace, justice, human dignity and tolerance that we all aspire for are what bind us together as we are all part of one humanity despite our many diverse cultures.
I thank you and look forward to listening to your discussions.