Remarks by Mr. Miguel Moratinos
The High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations
at the Extraordinary Virtual Conference
of Culture Ministers of ICESCO Member States
(Delivered on his behalf by Ms. Nihal Saad, Chief of Cabinet)
Ladies and Gentlemen
I hope that you are all safe and in good health.
And very special thanks also to H.E. Dr. Salim Al Malik, Director General of Islamic World Educational Scientific and Cultural Org (ICESCO) for inviting me to address this important topic.
Amid this pandemic, culture and intercultural dialogue is even more relevant than ever before as we saw a surge in stigma, polarization, racism and hate speech against vulnerable communities. I also see culture and education as 2 intertwined and interconnected elements. Culture nurtures our souls and education informs us about the many cultures enriching our world, yet we are One Humanity despite our many cultures.
With its motto, “Many Cultures, One Humanity,” UNAOC was created to embrace and promote cultural diversity and religious pluralism. Amid the current crisis, we need to work even harder towards building bridges between cultures and civilizations. Every single effort from each of us constitutes one step further towards that end. Therefore, I was very pleased to learn today about the different initiatives that has been undertaken during this pandemic. I commend ICESCO’s Digital Home timely initiative.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented disruption in our activities including a complete halt of all cultural and artistic activities.
During this crisis, there are many lessons that we have either learned or we came to re-emphasize their importance.
- We have learned how empathy, compassion, respecting cultural diversity and being able to recognize and challenge discrimination are key skills that young people need to acquire. These skills can only be learned at home or at school especially at early age. These traits are universal and global values that constitute an essential component for a global citizenship education. It protects societies becoming more polarized. Recent research shows that socio-emotional skills contribute to building the resilience of young people, especially in times of crisis. I am very pleased that our joint collaboration with UNESCO, the UN Counter Terrorism and the Mahatma Ghandi Institute are launching a project Intercultural dialogue and socio-emotional competencies for peacebuilding” it is a Videogames project training young people to use video games in peace building.
- Another essential element is Digital technologies which have become a positive enabler in this crisis for millions of people around the world. Therefore bridging the digital gap is imperative.
During this pandemic, we have re-purposed our website and launched a brand-new microsite featuring important UN statements related to the current health crisis, along with stories of solidarity and compassion from its global community of alumni and programme participants around the theme and hashtag #OneHumanity. We are also contributing to the United Nations COVID-19 Communications Response Initiative Verified campaign which aims at countering misinformation .
We have also extended virtual spaces for open conversations with our Alumni around the world who are doing important work in the area of intercultural dialogue to learn from them how we can continue to support their work.
Concluding, let’s find new opportunities during this human crisis. Opportunities to re-enforce a culture of peace and our common humanity. I thank you.