Remarks of the
High Representative of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations
H.E. Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser
at the UNAOC Group of Friends Ministerial Meeting
28 September 2018 | UN Headquarters, Trusteeship Council Chamber
“Building Bridges: Using Soft Power to Promote a Culture of Peace”
Your Excellency, Mr. Josep Borrell Minister of State of Spain,
Your Excellency, Mr. Sedat ONAL, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs,
Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,
At the outset, I would like to welcome the Foreign Ministers and representatives of International Organizations, academia, civil society and the media and thank them for their support to the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations throughout this year.
Each of us, within our own unique mandates and priorities, have committed to a culture of peace.
Since UNAOCs founding in 2005, many countries around the world have become more multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious. Globalization has ushered in a new era of cultural exchanges. Migration has increased, with humanity on the move more than ever before. New technologies have revolutionized information and communication, creating unprecedented opportunities for exchange and cooperation, especially among young people.
Today, more than ever, identities are multiple and fluid, a by-product of our interconnected world.
However, it is a truism that globalization and innovations in information and communication technologies have been accompanied by deepening divisions and conflicts — both within and between societies.
In too many parts of the world, cultural diversity is increasingly perceived as a threat rather than an opportunity. Our shared vision of peace and harmony is being challenged by forces who seek to divide the world and advocate for ‘otherness”.
The values of pluralism and inclusivity – prerequisites for achieving a culture of peace – have yet to be fully assimilated in many societies.
In this context, soft power is a powerful, although quite often a neglected, peace-building tool.
UNAOC’s project activities are all designed as soft power tools to address those underlying issues that undermine social cohesion and make conflict and violence more likely.
Allow me to touch on a few examples:
First, we approach this mission by engaging and empowering civil society to work for peace at the community level.
Through our Young Peacebuilders Programme and Youth Solidarity Fund, we support the growth of local networks of young peace-builders through trainings in peace education and conflict resolution. Our intensified engagement on this front continues to produce tangible benefits.
We also promote media and information literacy to tackle hate speech and incitement to violence. As part of our Spread no Hate Initiative, we have convened hundreds of journalists to develop best practices and professional standards to counter negative stereotypes and xenophobia against minorities and migrant populations in the media.
Soft Power as a form of cultural diplomacy is also significant in achieving a culture of peace. Our Fellowship Programme seeks to foster cooperation between young professionals from different cultures and faiths. Over 200 young leaders from 43 countries have harnessed the power of intercultural dialogue and understanding in shaping lasting peace in their local communities.
Second, we provide a platform for religious leaders from different faiths to work together toward a safer world.
Since 2013, we have organized or co-organized more than 30 events involving religious leaders creating a global platform for dialogue. A notable achievement includes the adoption of the “Alicante Declaration” inspired by the three Abrahamic faiths in 2016.
Third, and perhaps one of the greatest soft power tools in our toolkit is the UNAOC Global Forum. The Forums have proven to be the premier platform to advance the global conversation on building dialogue and understanding across cultures and religions.
As we prepare for the 8th Global Forum taking place here at UNHQ in November, I look forward to renewing our shared commitment to creating more inclusive and peaceful societies. I hope that you will all join the global conversation on 19 and 20th November.
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
Two out of every three major conflicts in our world have a cultural dimension.
It is undeniable that special envoys, economic sanctions, and disarmament are an integral part of the peace and security architecture.
With this said, it is my firm belief that soft power diplomacy is the antidote to cultural polarization.
UNAOC remains committed to advancing our shared humanistic values that contribute to a culture of peace and mutual understanding among all people.
I thank you.