REMARKS OF H.E. MR. NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER HIGH REPRESENTATIVE OF THE UNITED NATIONS ALLIANCE OF CIVILIZATIONS
WORLD INTERFAITH HARMONY WEEK- NEW YORK
7 FEBRUARY 2018- UN CHURCH CENTER- 1-3 pm
Ladies & Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure to be with you again. I would like to thank the Committee of Religious NGOs at the UN for their persistent commitment to interfaith dialogue by bringing together spiritual, traditional and religious leaders to advance global unity.
This initiative aims to celebrate our common values instead of our differences, and thus provide a vision of peace and harmony to our communities. I would like to take a moment to recognize all NGOs present here for their extraordinary efforts in promoting and protecting human rights across the globe, and “Inspiring Faith for Humanity”.
I believe that interfaith and cross-cultural dialogues are interlinked, as the moral imperatives of all religions, convictions and beliefs call for peace, tolerance and mutual understanding. Therefore I am encouraging the trend towards dialogue with religious and interfaith organizations at the United Nations with the goal to eliminate conflict and sustain peace.
My faith is Islam. At the heart of Islam is the call for justice. Those who misuse and abuse Islam to support a political agenda do injustice to the basic teachings of our religion. Too often politics divides people, while faith, or belief in something more transcendent than ourselves, should be a tie that binds all of us together. As such, promoting respect among human beings and embracing the diversity of their beliefs and cultures and languages is at the core of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations and the UN Charter.
The Alliance is one of the United Nations leading entities promoting interfaith and intercultural dialogue, reconciliation and forgiveness.
We have organized more than 30 events involving religious leaders since 2013. We have taken the time to understand the dynamics and social processes that drive interfaith dialogue and encourage peaceful coexistence. We recognize that we must give every group—no matter its faith—an equal chance, an equal voice in decision-making.
Let’s focus on achievements that restore our Faith in the possibility of humanity rising above its political and economic differences. Actions resolutions, and decisions adopted at the United Nations provide examples of our collective human capacity to do good. Building a world from the 2030 Agenda, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, Beijing+20, Treaties on the Non-Proliferation of Weapons, inspires our own search of purpose in life. It’s a good moment to congratulate, the “International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons” (ICAN) that received the Noble Price last year.
During my GA mandate, I showed a compelling documentary titled, “Beyond Right and Wrong.” It was directed by Roger Spottiswoode and Lekha Singh. This film explored the true stories of people who were either victims or perpetrators of violent acts in conflict situations. The film focused on unique and touching stories from people affected by the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, the “troubles” in Northern Ireland and the genocide in Rwanda.
They listened to courageous survivors, who spoke about their personal struggles for justice, healing, and reconciliation. The resulting film demonstrated how the power of forgiveness can start to break the cycle of violence and create meaningful closure for those who have suffered terrible human loss. They also observed in some cases, the successes of such life-changing efforts.
We need more inspirational stories, we must share your journey and struggles to demonstrate how religions teach us to be compassionate.
Whether you follow a certain faith, or are not practicing any at all, there is no set of beliefs that endorses violence, destruction and harm. In fact, every major religion and philosophy is based on the idea of “Love your neighbour as yourself”.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to draw your attention on the crucial role of youth in this regard. It is essential to provide young people with adequate tools and instruments to understand freedom of religion, of belief and tolerance of the other, and promote it worldwide to overcome every form of discrimination.
In accordance with SDG 16, we must resist the siren song of virulent nationalism that promotes me and mine over our shared human needs and values. Instead, we must promote social and cross-cultural harmony with inclusive societies that unify rather than divide people. There is no single country, no single race or religion that has a unique or exclusive claim to universal truth. Each has something positive to contribute to social harmony and human values. I invoke the mantra of UNAOC: Many Cultures, One Humanity.
The spirit of this special event will be enhanced by uplifting music and culinary, the voices of children and a beautiful ceremony with people of different faiths, where everyone plays his part, with all of us praying for the same goal: Peace On Earth.