Remarks by Mr. Miguel Moratinos
The High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations
at the Church Center Event
‘UNITING TO CONFRONT VIOLENCE AGAINST PLACES OF WORSHIP’
19 September 2019
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
At the outset, let me thank the US Council of Muslim Organizations, the National Council of Churches USA, Religions for Peace USA, and the World Council of Churches Ecumenical UN Office, for their invitation to participate as a guest speaker on this timely event on how we can confront violence against places of worship around the world.
As you know, exactly a week ago the UN Secretary-General officially launched the United Nations Plan to safeguard religious sites. I am very grateful to him for entrusting with developing this Plan, a challenging and enriching exercise in view of the multi-faceted challenges related to the safeguard of religious sites.
The Plan is the result of an extensive process of outreach to all major stakeholders, including UN entities, governments, religious leaders and faith-based organizations. The Plan is also mindful of the importance of a comprehensive approach to the safeguard of religious sites in which all relevant actors have a role to play. I am very thankful to everyone who provided advice and inputs during the process.
The Plan intends to be a result-oriented document that can provide better preparedness and response to possible attacks against religious sites.
The preambular section of the Plan recognizes the compelling nature of religious sources reaffirming our shared humanity and the respect for one another. In particular, the Preamble refers to:
- the Marrakesh Declaration adopted in 2016;
- the Mecca Document which stresses the values of tolerance and equity;
- the Declaration on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together signed by His Holiness Pope Francis and the His Eminence the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar in February this year, which stresses mutual respect, tolerance, compassion and peace;
- and the agreement signed between the Muslim World League and the Appeal of Conscience Foundation also this year, which contains a call upon all people, nations and leaders to ensure the sanctity of religious sites.
The Plan stresses that engagement by religious leaders in the safeguard of religious sites should not be limited to the immediate response to attacks, but rather translate into sustained engagement to develop strategies that can foster solidarity, respect and mutual understanding in the long run. As two of the Principles of the Plan state, we have to stand together to respond with unity to attempt to divide us and we need to stay together as one to ensure that unity and solidarity are sustained and reinforced overtime.
The Plan also contains specific recommendations for religious leaders to enhance prevention, preparedness and response and I very much look forward to working closely with you in the implementation phase of the Plan in which your active engagement will be crucial.
One of the main takeaways during the consultative process was the importance of enhancing dialogue and collaboration among the different stakeholders involved in the safeguard of religious sites.
Recommendations in the Plan encourage specific actions to promote collaboration between governments and religious leaders, and the 2020 global conference foreseen in the way forward of the Plan will constitute a key opportunity to bring all stakeholders together to spearhead political support for specific actions to take the Plan of Action forward.
Needless to say, there is a clear sense of urgency and the implementation of the Plan cannot wait until the global conference next year. This is why I call on you to study the recommendations in the Plan and see how they can be applied to the work of your organizations and communities.
As a follow-up to the Plan, I intend to create a consultative mechanism with a core group of interested religious leaders and faith-based organizations to mobilize support for the implementation of the Plan.
Last but not least, I would like to recognize the staunch support that one of the co-organizers, Religions for Peace, has provided to the elaboration of the Plan. I was very honored to participate in the ‘Ring for Peace’ ceremony held during 10th World Assembly of Religions for Peace held in Landau, Germany, on 20-23 August. The beautiful Ring for Peace sculpture that was unveiled during the ceremony resonates with the spirit of the Plan of Action and with the fact that all faiths are intertwined and interlinked into our common humanity.
Thanks very much again for inviting me to this event. I wish you very successful deliberations in the course of the day and look forward to continuing the dialogue with all of you in our common goal to ensure that religious sites are fully respected and protected as places of peace and harmony where worshippers feel safe to practice their rituals.
Thank you very much.