Remarks by the High Representative
KAICIID Interfaith Fellows and Youth Forum
8 October 2020
Mr. Faisal Bin Muammar, KICIID Secretary General,
I am very pleased to be here today, despite the early morning hour here in New York.
There is no other way to kick-start the G20 Interfaith Forum next week than with this curtain-raiser event talking to young women and men and KAICIID fellows representing different faiths.
Just last week, UNAOC organized an inter-generational conversation between UNAOC youth alumni and Senior officials representing the UN relevant entities, state actors and international foundations. The conversation focused on 4 major clusters : Youth, Peace and Security Agenda, Challenges of COVID19 for youth, Hate Speech and Xenophobia and Role of Youth in Prevention of Violent Extremism.
The session provided an open space for a genuine conversation with the youth where they got to ask question to the senior officials and tell them about their aspirations as well as their frustrations. We were inspired and informed by the voices of youth. It is to be noted that the Declaration on the commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations refers to youth as the missing piece for peace development.
Since our inception, we recognized Youth as one of the pillars of the Alliance. We work with them and for them.
Through education, capacity building, training and many other opportunities for innovation and creativity, UNAOC empowers young women and men and youth-led civil society globally and recognize them as powerful agents for social change. Over the years, UNAOC has developed programming that recognizes young people as essential partners in fostering mutual understanding between peoples of different cultures and religions, highlighting the will of the majority to reject violent extremism and embrace diversity. Youth-led organizations that foster peaceful and inclusive societies have been supported since 2008 through the Youth Solidarity Fund (YSF). Seed funding and technical support are given to projects, led by and focused on young people, that demonstrate innovative and effective approaches to intercultural or interfaith dialogue.
At the same time, COVID19 has taken its toll upon all of us including young people. The pandemic further exacerbated those challenges for most young women and men. Millions lost their jobs and hundreds of thousands remain without education due to partial closures of educational institutions. Failure to address those challenges leads to alienating young people and eroding their trust in the political establishments. Such environment provides an open space for extremist groups to exploit youth’s anger and despair to fan the flames of hatred and radicalization. Extremists and radical groups are taking advantage of the proliferation of digital platforms to double down on social media spreading hatred and offering youth a twisted sense of purpose based on lies.
However, during the pandemic, young people had also been in the front lines volunteering and providing support to their communities. They found ways to engage, demand change and fight for peace, inclusion and justice.
We were heartened to see UNAOC Youth alumni engaging with vulnerable communities providing healing hands and advocating harmony and reconciliation. They stepped up using traditional and new technologies to assist in peace-building and advancing intercultural and interreligious dialogue. And I am certain that you too have inspiring stories to share with us.
Our work is far from being done. We have to continue to amplify the voices of young people like all of you.
At UNAOC we are all committed to continue working with youth and for youth with the conviction that o build a better tomorrow, we must listen to the voices of the young generation as we chart the course for rebuilding a better world.
I look forward to hear the outcome of your discussions and the policy recommendations you will present.