Remarks by Mr. Miguel Moratinos
The High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations
at the High-level Forum on the Culture of Peace
“Empowering and Transforming Humanity”
13 September 2019
Thank you Mr. Chair,
I would like to commend the theme chosen for the 20th Anniversary of the culture of peace. Nothing is more befitting to describe the impact of nurturing a culture of peace than empowering and transforming humanity. As we pay tribute today to the 20th Anniversary of the 1999 Declaration on the Culture of Peace, we need to ask ourselves if we had genuinely carried out our moral responsibilities to transition from a culture of war to a culture of peace given the current global context.
Let me seize this opportunity to pay tribute to the inspiring leader of this initiative Federico Mayor Zaragoza. He was the one who grasped from the beginning the need to anchor this concept in the UN architecture. Thank you Federico, for your consistent and continuous engagement and that of your “Foundation of Culture of Peace” and your personal efforts.
Our world is moving fast – and so are the forces of division and hate. Let me focus in an area that has recently shocked us. It is especially appalling to witness those who carry out violent and terrorist attacks in the name of religion They claim glory but they only bring shame. Around the world, we have seen a surge in hatred and xenophobia amplified by social media. Terror attacks on religious sites targeting Jews, Christians and Muslims killed worshippers.
Yesterday the Secretary-General launched the United Nations Plan of Action to Safeguard Religious Sites. A plan that he entrusted me to develop in the aftermath of the Christchurch attacks provides concrete recommendations to support Member States in their efforts to ensure that religious sites are safe, that worshipers can observe their rituals in peace, and that the values of compassion and tolerance are fostered globally.
The Plan is anchored in the following principles:
RESPECT for all peoples:
RESPONSIBILITY to build bridges of mutual understanding and cooperation;
DIVERSITY to accept and respect differences among human beings;
DIALOGUE as a tool to better communicate and engage with one other;
SOLIDARITY to support one another, particularly in times of sorrow or trouble;
STANDING TOGETHER as one to respond with unity to attempts to divide us; and
STAYING TOGETHER as one to ensure that unity in response to attacks against religious sites is sustained and reinforced over time.
The time has come to shift the paradigms to positiveness and move from security to peace; from tolerance to respect of the other; from minorities to citizenship rights; from co-existence to living together peacefully; from dialogue to an alliance and a commitment to peace.
At a time when conflicts are multiplying and are becoming more complex. When people whose identities are defined by religion, culture or ethnicity, continue to be besieged by hatred, we cannot continue to do business as usual.
We cannot build a culture of peace without uprooting hatred and division.
We must act as one, because only together we fulfil the promise of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and empower and transform humanity. Only then we can truly live to the motto “One Humanity and Many Cultures”.
This last month of August I had the privilege to participate in the 10th Congress of the Religions for Peace in Lindau, Germany. It was a very moving and special moment. We concluded the Congress by inaugurating a sculpture that stood for a “Ring for Peace”.
I have decided to brand the UN Plan of Action to Safeguard Religious Sites, as “Rings of Peace”. Let us use “the Ring for Peace” as an alarm bell to remind ourselves of the seriousness of the situation and the urgent need to work collectively to sustain a culture of peace.
Let us aslo join hands together and make rings of peace that would protect our humanity.
I hope that the next 20 years will be celebrated for living up to that motto.