H.E. Mr. Miguel Moratinos
The High-Representative for UNAOC
11th Ambassador’s Conference
Panel: “Rising Populism and Racism”
Ankara, Turkey, 8 August 2019
Good morning. I feel very privileged to be among such a distinguished gathering of seasoned diplomats and veteran experts in international and global affairs . I thank H.E. Mr. Mevlut Cavusoglu, the Foreign Minster of Turkey for giving me this opportunity.
At the outset, I would like to stress the strong linkages between the theme of the Conference and the topic of this roundtable. Implementing a robust diplomacy on the ground and at the table is key to an effective strategy to address the challenges of rising populism and racism.
A robust diplomacy can only be effective in addressing the complex and intertwined challenges of a globalized and increasingly polarized world if it is anchored on multilateralism. But it is not enough to say that we need multilateralism, particularly when we see that multilateralism is under attack. People have lost their trust in the effectiveness of multilateralism.
Whereas isolationism and unilateralism seem to be gaining more ground propagated by a growing populist trend.
Allow me to draw a bit on the current global context of that scene:
Conflicts are multiplying and are becoming more complex. People whose identities are defined by religion, culture or ethnicity, continue to be besieged by hatred.
We see it in the ignorant vitriol directed at refugees and migrants who are being used by far-right parties and white supremacists to score political gains. We see this hate in rising anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and attacks on Christians . Xenophobia and violent misogyny are amplified through digital platforms. The scenes of the massacre of worshippers in mosques, churches and synagogues: the Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand, the Christians in Sri Lanka and the Jewish people in Pittsburg are still fresh in our minds.
Those attacks on places of worship are some of the most blatant examples of lack of respect for each other and for our common humanity. The recurrence of such violent and terrorist acts are an affront to international peace and security. This led the United Nations Secretary General to make a global call on March 22 and entrust me with developing a UN Plan of Action to Safeguard Religious Sites and to guarantee the safety of worshippers. A plan has been submitted on 31 July to the Secretary General for his consideration and to determine the next steps.
Respect of human rights, without discrimination based on race, sex, language or religion is enshrined in the UN Charter. These are the core values embraced by the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations. An initiative that was born 14 years ago under the co-sponsorship of Spain and Turkey to address the root causes of polarization and violent extremism and to promote intercultural and interreligious dialogue as a tool to achieve diversity, inclusiveness and tolerance based on mutual respect. The rasion d’etre underlying the creation of the Alliance back remains to be the same now.
This brings me back to the notion of multilateralism. Those of us who strive for a pluralistic multicultural world where we can live together in peace, need to be able to demonstrate that multilateralism is able to address the root causes of violent extremism conducive to terrorism and can deliver responses to large sectors of disenfranchised populations in different parts of the world who feel abandoned in an increasingly globalized world and may resort to intolerance, racism and discrimination.
Crucial components of an effective multilateral system lie in the commitment to respect, dialogue, empathy, inclusion, diversity, solidarity, dignity, multiculturalism and living together. These are precisely the values and principles underpinning my vision as High Representative of the UN Alliance of Civilizations.
Through the work undertaken under the four pillars of the Alliance- namely media, migration, education and youth- we are addressing issues related to intolerance, racism, discrimination, xenophobia and anti-immigrant sentiments, and we are doing so by empowering young people as critical agents for social change; by enabling people to acquire intercultural competencies and critical thinking skills; by fostering inclusive societies in an increasingly diverse world; and by building critical media literacy skills and training journalists.
In our work at the Alliance of Civilizations, we are very conscious that- as the theme of this Conference states- this robust diplomacy that is at the core of our responses to the increasing challenges that we face, must be active ‘on the ground and at the table’. The work ‘on the ground’ is crucial to translate principles and points of convergence reached ‘at the table’ into specific actions that can bring real change to people’s lives in the context of the effective multilateralism that I mentioned previously.
In this context, allow me to give you few examples of what we do on the ground from Australia, France and Italy to Argentina, Morocco, South Africa and Kyrgyzstan :
1. All Together Now – Everyday Racism is a joint project we are implementing in Australia with BMW Group, a long-time partner and supporter of UNAOC. It is a mobile phone app addressing the challenging task of reducing the incidences of racism among children and enabling them to better understand people from different cultures, and help them see the importance of speaking up when they witness racism
2. Café Babel in France : It is a unique network of citizen journalists from across Europe. Every year cafebabel.com sends ‘on the ground’ multicultural teams of young citizen journalists in European cities to report on cultural diversity and combat racism and xenophobia with intercultural online journalism.
3. Bridge to Co-existence in Morocco : is a project implemented by Chantiers Sociaux Marocains and supported by UNAOC Youth Solidarity Fund. A traveling caravan creates space for artistic expression and dialogue between Moroccans and migrant communities in five small cities of Morocco, thus breaking stereotypes and reducing xenophobic incidents.
4. Africa e Mediterraneo – Comix4=Comics for Equality in Italy promotes intercultural awareness by engaging migrants and second generations in Europe in the artistic representation of their migration experiences and racism.
5. Welcoming America in the USA : provides a roadmap that support cities and communities to become more inclusive toward immigrants and all residents.
6. Encontrarse en la Diversidad (Meeting in Diversity) in Argentina: This grassroot organization works with youth, offering spaces for reflection on how diversity enriches society, making visible day-to-day practices that reinforce discrimination, and providing tools to recognize and dismantle such practices. Yearly, about 100 workshops are implemented at high schools, universities, sports clubs and religious institutions.
7. MyDunoon in South Africa supported by the Youth Solidarity Fund implemented “Who is Your Neighbour” project to address the issue of xenophobia in South Africa. A short film course and competition was coordinated, where local and migrant youth were trained in the art of filmmaking then they produce short films on combatting xenophobia.
8. Institute for Youth Development in Kyrgyzstan implemented the “Lives of Others” project. A youth exchange was conducted between host families from the Kyrgyz, Uzbeks and Uyghurs communities, thus overcoming racism and stereotypes of other ethnic groups.
Distinguished guests, in concluding, allow me to reiterate that words like dialogue, tolerance, diversity and respect 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 and human solidarity 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 I look forward to the discussion.