Statement Attributable to
the Spokesperson of the High Representative for
the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC)
On Combating Antisemitism
New York – 28 July, 2020
The High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), Mr. Miguel Moratinos, expresses his dismay at the antisemitic views expressed by a senior member of the Board of Trustees of the charity Islamic Relief that were revealed by The Times in a news article on 23 July 2020. The High Representative unequivocally condemns such loathsome social media posts by a high-profile member of the management team at Islamic Relief and which remained in public display since 2014 before being recently removed.
While the High Representative takes note of the statement issued by Islamic Relief on 22 July 2020, which condemned those offensive views and announced the resignation of the senior staff member – author of the social media posts – he reiterates that it is imperative for civil society organizations and faith-based actors to exhibit a zero-tolerance policy towards antisemitism and all forms of discrimination online and offline by putting in place effective measures. One way of doing so is to review the existing vetting standards and enforce a strict code of conduct applicable to all its personnel to ensure that an accountability process is in place to avoid the recurrence of such toxic, racist pronouncements that are an affront to human dignity and a disavowal of the principles of the United Nations Charter.
In his capacity as the United Nations Focal Point designated by the United Nations Secretary-General to monitor antisemitism and enhance a system-wide response, the High Representative underscores that the United Nations is fully engaged in combating antisemitism as well as all forms of discrimination and intolerance based on religion or belief. He reiterates that the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) promotes mutual respect, cultural diversity and religious pluralism, as well as strengthening interfaith dialogue across the faith spectrum in line with its motto “Many cultures, One Humanity”.
In this context, the High Representative stresses that countering hate speech and all forms of discrimination, including against Jews and all other communities, religious or otherwise, requires adopting a human rights-based approach. The High Representative recalls the United Nations General Assembly relevant resolutions including resolution 73/285 oncombating terrorism and other acts of violence based on religion or belief, and 73/164 on combating intolerance, negative stereotyping, stigmatization, discrimination, incitement to violence against persons based on religion or belief. The High Representative also recalls the 2019 report of the Special Rapporteur on the freedom of religion or belief, Ahmed Shaheed, submitted in accordance with Assembly resolution 73/176 in which he stated that antisemitism is toxic to democracy and mutual respect of citizens and threatens all societies in which it goes unchallenged.
In line with the aforementioned, the United Nations launched two important Action Plans in 2019: the first, the United Nations Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech led by the Office of the Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide to coordinate efforts across the United Nations system to identify, prevent and confront hate speech. Second, the United Nations Plan of Action to Safeguard Religious Sites led bythe United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, which provides an overarching framework to support national efforts to protect religious sites and enable worshippers to observe religious rituals safely, including through strengthening religious pluralism and promoting mutual respect and human dignity.
The High Representative stresses his personal commitment and the continued commitment of UNAOC to stand firm against antisemitism, bigotry, and hatred in all its forms.