Remarks by the High Representative
For the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations
Mr. Miguel Angel Moratinos
“LA Dialogue on Creating Cities of Belonging”
LA City Hall, Los Angeles, California, 5 March 2020
I am here today representing a United Nations entity which in itself is an epitome of multiculturalism and multilingualism. I am also here as a global citizen who has many identities but shares the same common humanistic values that binds us all as one humanity.
The LA Dialogue is about creating cities of belonging. Cities are on the frontlines of welcoming newcomers be they migrants, refugees or expats. Mayors and governors get the picture really well because they understand what the people want at the local level. Central to the United Nations agenda is the Sustainable Development Goals. Climate change stands out as one of the major challenges to our planet as it is moving faster than we are, exceeding worst case projections and driving people to migrate to better climates where they can secure a better livelihood for their families.
The LA Dialogue is about creating cities of belonging. Cities are on the frontlines of welcoming newcomers be they migrants, refugees or expats.
Cities, all cities are where sustainable and inclusive development will be met. People rely on mayors and governors to make cities havens for diversity, social cohesion and job creation.
I totally agree that we are facing a climate emergency that threatens the viability of human societies on this planet. But equally important to saving cities and countries and ultimately the planet is ensuring that everyone in those cities are well-integrated into the society, receive adequate services and are safe. Sadly, not all cities are welcoming safe havens for migrants, refugees and diverse communities hence creating ethnically and socially fragmented areas in the cities.
Sadly, not all cities are welcoming safe havens for migrants, refugees and diverse communities hence creating ethnically and socially fragmented areas in the cities.
- The global scene is very complicated. Xenophobia, racism toxic nationalism, bigotry , anti Semitism, Islamophobia and Christianophobia are on the rise everywhere. Such trends are an affront to our values, Social fragmentation and mistrust between citizens always leads to tension and often violence and instability.
- Hate Speech is spreading everywhere igniting a cycle of acts of violence and terrorism.
- Even before the migration crisis, a growing atmosphere of intolerance has been evident in many member States, with populist and xenophobic parties gaining popularity across Europe. The large-scale arrivals of asylum seekers create an even more urgent need for interventions that promote tolerance and inclusion.
- Young people are pulled towards 2 juxtaposed directions : either towards extreme radicalism or towards atheism and losing faith. We cannot lose youth to either side.
- Europe’s cultural fabric has long been a rich tapestry, made up of many different traditions, heritages and outlooks. Diversity, however, must be managed.
- Before the migrant crisis started to hit Europe, MENA region countries such as Morocco, Tunisia , Egypt , Jordan and Lebanon as well as Gulf countries have long been hosts of refugees and migrants from Syria, Palestine, Iraq, South Sudan and different regions in Africa.
- Integration does not happen by accident. Without smart policies to foster it and to promote mutual understanding and respect, parallel societies emerge: people living alongside one and other.
The way forward:
I have identified in my Action Plan for 2019-2023 priority areas of work that will help achieve our goal of Living Together , Respecting each other’s diversity, and Exercising compassion, understanding.
- Global citizenship education and lifelong learning, equitable opportunities, gender parity and empowerment of young women and men are the best tools that we can provide our youth with. They should lead the way in our present and future.
- An all-of-society approach that includes state and non-state actors including civil society is crucial to our success. I am very pleased that we have 2 success models for partnerships that work between civil society and municipalities. Both are partners and collaborators with UNAOC : La Courneuve and Welcoming America.
- Strengthening our collaboration with Faith based organizations who have the mobilizing capacity given their close links with the community.
- Strengthening municipalities and including them around the table.
- Gender parity that empowers and includes women in decision making processes. I am very pleased that I see many remarkable women here today especially the honorable Governor of Damietta , one of the most important cities in Egypt.
- Preserving places of worship is the primary responsibility of governments with the cities’ role at the heart of it. (UN Plan of Action to Safeguard Religious Sites)
I look forward to our interactive discussions. We need to learn from you and understand how we can work together to make the “cities of belonging” a reality in your communities and beyond.