Remarks by H.E. Mr. Miguel Moratinos
The High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations
“The Role of Transformative Education in Dealing with the Challenges of Our Times”
New York – July 16, 2019
Your Excellency, Ambassador Cho Tae-yul, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Korea
Your Excellency, Sheikha Alya Ahmed bin Saif Al-Thani, Permanent Representative of Qatar
Distinguished panelists and discussants,
It gives me great pleasure to be here today and address this important topic. I thank the Mission of the Republic of Korea and the Mission of Qatar for taking the lead on bringing Global Citizenship Education at the forefront of the UN agenda.
Education, as you are aware, is one of UNAOC’s four pillars. It is a powerful tool for the prevention of violent extremism and radicalization. It is a long-strategy that equips our young generations with the skills and capacity that helps them filter away racist ideologies, hate speech and fake news.
Nonetheless, education in the past as we know it, has often been regarded as merely teaching knowledge, techniques, and skills. But time has changed. We live in a more complex world today. New technologies have transformed our lives by bringing us closer. Ironically, it also created a gap in understanding of each other’s cultures and beliefs. In this context, education must be able to cope with these new paradigms and go beyond the conventional education. It should aim at cultivating life skills that nurture values and attitudes to achieve a better future for all. These values are core universal values that include tolerance, respect, empathy, and an understanding of different peoples and cultures.
In a multicultural and multiethnic world, learning to live together with others has become more necessary than ever before against the backdrop of the rising populist rhetoric, racism, hate speech against minorities and xenophobic rant. This is where Global Citizenship Education fills the gap by providing the understanding, skills and values students need to cooperate in resolving the interconnected challenges of the 21st century, including climate change, conflict, poverty, hunger, and issues of equity and sustainability. It helps become active and responsible global citizens with a sense of belonging to a common humanity.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We have long recognized at UNAOC the value of investing in young people’s education. Through our various programming activities, UNAOC has encouraged youth leadership become active global citizens, resilient to extremism and able to counter radicalization through critical thinking. To that end, the Alliance has developed an extensive network of Alumni involved all over the world in key expertise areas, such as youth policy, global education, interreligious dialogue, social inclusion – only to name a few.
I am happy to see here as a discussant one of our alumni participating in this side event as a discussant. Mourad Yazli from Algeria is one of UNAOC Alumni of our most recent projects the Young Peace Builders. He was a participant of the MENA edition of the programme, a peace education initiative that is designed to support young people in gaining skills that can enhance their positive role in issues of peace and security and in preventing violent extremism. The programme also brings visibility to actions initiated by young people towards peace and the promotion of diversity and dialogue. UNAOC plans to implement this programme in different regions of the world to grow and strengthen the movement of young global citizens constructing peaceful communities.
Last but not least, I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the important role that education can play in a comprehensive preventive strategy to safeguard religious sites, an issue which has become a priority in my mandate as High Representative since the Secretary-General entrusted me with the elaboration of a Plan of Action to safeguard religious sites in the aftermath of the attacks against mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.
The Plan of Action dedicates a section to the issue of prevention to identify and address the underlying root causes and societal grievances that lead individuals and groups to commit terrorist attacks against people of other faiths in their places of worship. Among the recommendations for states and religious leaders, there is emphasis on investing in education from an early age to ensure that children have access to curricula that promotes tolerance and mutual understanding; and on promoting education initiatives that highlight the role of religious sites in bringing people together.
I thank you all for your attention and I look forward to following the other presentations and discussion.