High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations
Mr. Miguel Ángel Moratinos
Global Conference of Human Fraternity
United Arab Emirates | 3-4 February, 2019
Session 1: Principles of Human Fraternity
Ladies and gentlemen,
At the outset, I wish to express my deep appreciation for the kind invitation to attend this timely conference.
I commend the Government of the United Arab Emirates for organizing this important meeting and for declaring 2019 the Year of Tolerance. The announcement is yet another testimony of the virtue of human coexistence that the Alte Sheikh Zayed s known to have instilled in the people and is embraced by the government of the United Arab Emirates.
There are different – and often competing – conceptions of human fraternity in contemporary political philosophy.
So in preparation for this conference, I drew inspiration from Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – the magna carta of all humankind -which states, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood”.
All the prophets and religious messengers throughout history have preached a similar message of peace, love and fraternity.
For instance, the dignity of all human beings in Islam derives from our common humanity, regardless of race, creed, color or gender. Islam views the world as a single family with global citizenship the basis for cooperation and peaceful coexistence. Islam is a faith of tolerance, a faith of humanism that is important to recognize when we talk about Islam today.
I quote from the Holy Quaran, Surat Al-Hujrat: “Oh, mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other”
And these values are not limited to the scriptures of the three monotheistic religions. They are cherished by all the world’s major religions and faiths.
In short, human fraternity is about recognizing each other as equals by virtue of our shared humanity. I must add: human fraternity is genuine when it emanates from respect of the other.
Yet, in all corners of the world, we see an erosion of these universal values and growing social and cultural divides. And this is quite ironical. Because one would have expected that in today’s multipolar, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic world, multilateralism would prevail and people would be more cosmopolitan.
Instead, tribalism, ethnic violence, Islamaphobia, anti-Semitism, xenophobia, hate speech and ultra-nationalism, are in full swing.
Atrocity crimes continue to shock the conscious of humanity. Look no further than the suffering of the Yazidi or the plight of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.
Religious and ethnic minorities are still among the world’s most vulnerable groups, particularly in situations of armed conflict.
And there is little doubt that women and girls throughout the world continue to suffer simply because of their gender.
Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
These challenges represent a stark reality.
They are testing the resilience of local communities and undermining trust in our institutions.
Today, however, we have an opportunity to demonstrate our shared responsibility and practical commitment to reclaim the notion of universal fraternity as the bedrock of international cooperation.
As your beautiful city prepares to welcome His Holiness, Pope Francis, I recall his message for the 47th World Day for Peace, “fraternity is the foundation and pathway of peace”.
Quoting Pope Saint Paul the VIth, he noted that, not only individuals but nations too, through mutual understanding and cooperation, must encounter one another in a spirit of fraternity to build a common future for all humanity.
Allow me to touch on a few pragmatic approaches to move this paradigm forward:
First, the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, the organization that I have just started to lead 3 weeks ago, remains an ardent defender of inclusiveness and efficient multilateralism. Against the diversity of global, interconnected challenges, our responses must transcend national borders. Our mantra is “ Many Cultures, One Humanity”. We have to recognize that there is a pluralism of civilizations. Each and every one of them has contributed to enriching our common and single humanity. There is unity and richness in our diversity.
At the same time, we need to cultivate new forms of cooperation – based on genuine inclusivity – with other international and regional organizations, civil society, global thought leaders and the private sector.
Religious leaders and faith-based organizations of all denominations have a key role to play in our multilateral order. My office remains particularly committed to promoting inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue as a tool for combating intolerance, negative stereotyping, and incitement to violence against persons based on religion or belief.
Second, Global Citizenship.
Inclusive citizenship, where individuals enjoy equal opportunities and rights, whatever their gender, religion, or ethnic background is a key enabler of peaceful coexistence.
The Marrakesh Declaration, and its promotion of new jurisprudence on inclusive citizenship, provides a powerful and useful reference. Individually and collectively, we should ensure that the Declaration and its Framework receive greater visibility and help support its implementation.
But inclusive citizenship alone is not a panacea. Ethnic and religious minorities in all regions continue to face discrimination and new threats. Whether in the form of violent extremist attacks or because of exclusionary policies promoted by ultra nationalist groups.
Beyond classical conception of citizenship, we should seek to establish a culture of peace from an early age. Where people of different identities, faiths and cultures can identify as global citizens.
I truly believe that Global Citizenship Education is the best vehicle to instill these values.
For this reason, the Alliance will support Member States in developing curriculum that includes an understanding of, and respect for, the plurality of religions, cultures and societies. We will help equip students with the skills to challenge bigotry, division, and ignorance.
Global Citizenship Education represents an important tool in our collective efforts to achieve peaceful coexistence.
Let’s strive to ensure that global citizenship education remains universal in scope, and local in impact.
Turning to terrorism and violent extremism.
At present, Da’esh, its affiliates and other terrorist groups are weakened. Nevertheless, their intolerant ideology – kept alive, in part, by the return and relocation of foreign terrorist fighters – continues to resonate, particularly among young people.
A key component of our prevention agenda is addressing root causes and grievances that are so often manipulated by terrorists and their supporters.
Again, this requires our collective resolve. We need to rely on the support of religious leaders, teachers and educators, human rights activists and the media.
In the case of terrorists and violent extremists who cite religious belief as the justification for their activities, it is necessary to expose their falsehoods and distortions with the testimony of credible religious leaders and faith-based actors.
This involves supporting and empowering young religious leaders with faith-based critical thinking tools to deconstruct perverse messages and to help identify signs of radicalization in local communities.
And we need to extend our fraternal solidarity with the victims of terrorism, their families and communities. Following a terrorist attack, we seldom hear about surviving families, friends and communities, and the impact that terrorism will have on their lives.
Too often, the perpetrators of terrorist acts dominate the headlines.
We can and should do more to remember and support victims of terrorism in all regions of the world.
The United Nations General Assembly recently established an International Day of Remembrance and Tribute to the victims of terrorism to be observed every year on 21 August.
My office will continue to support the efforts of Member States in building a narrative of remembrance and solidarity that incorporates the story and experiences of the victims of terrorism.
I am confident that our solidarity will help facilitate common understanding and social cohesion. These testimonies will also expose future generations to the barbaric and criminal nature of terrorism.
And finally, defending the rights of the oppressed and persecuted involves bringing the perpetrators of atrocity crimes to justice, within a human rights and rule of law framework. This is the only way to end a cycle of impunity.
Accountability for past crimes is necessary for restoring dignity to victims.
It also paves the path for reconciliation and prevention of future atrocities.
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
We are all united by common bonds, our cultures woven together in a shared heritage.
But for universal fraternity to flourish, basic levels of freedom, equality, and political inclusion should exist in every society.
Acting upon and accepting our shared responsibilities and principles to turn this vision into reality requires broader, deeper and stronger partnerships and cooperation among all nations and peoples.
Rest assured that the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations remains committed to bolstering respect for the principal of universal fraternity in our collective quest for justice, dignity and peace.
Let me propose the Alliance’s Decalogue on human fraternity:
- Respect for all nations and peoples, regardless of their creed, culture, and civilization
- Dialogue as an essential tool for engaging in a better understanding of different cultures and perspectives
- Tolerance as a basis of respect for every person’s human dignity and fundamental rights with full appreciation for the rich diversity of our world’s cultures and civilizations
- Empathy as an ethnical virtue to build bridges of mutual understanding and cooperation in our quest for universal acceptance and peaceful coexistence
- Inclusion as a process that promotes the full and equal right of individuals and groups to participate in their society regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity, or disability status
- Diversity as a positive and enriching concept; a just imperative, inseparable from respect for human dignity
- Solidarity as a commitment to help others in difficult situations in a spirit of mutual assistance and concern
- Dignity and equal rights of all members of the human family as interdependent and mutually reinforcing and forming the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world
- Multiculturalism as a process of expressing diversity in an age of globalization and not simply an attitude or view about others
- “Convivencia” or “living together” as a sacred duty and attitude of peaceful coexistence