The High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations
Mr. Miguel Moratinos
at the Ministerial to Advance Freedom of Religion or Belief
16 November 2020
Your Excellency, Mr. Zbigniew Rau
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland
Your Excellency, Mr. Michael Pompeo
Secretary of State of the United States,
Excellencies & Distinguished Guests,
It’s a great pleasure to be addressing this important annual gathering dedicated to one of the most pressing issues in the human rights sphere. I wish to convey the warmest regards of the United Nations Secretary General.
Following-up on what’s been happening across the world, It is disheartening to see the increasing numbers of individuals subjected to religious persecution, harassment, alienation and exclusion because of their religion or beliefs. These violations of a corner stone of human rights is taking place even as we are fighting for our lives against a deadly pandemic. It is shameful that in the 21st century, we witness entire faith communities demonized and their places of worship destroyed or vandalized and their rights as citizens are being violated by the political institutions not only by their fellow citizens. The protection if this fundamental right enshrined in article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is primarily the responsibility of the states.
Therefore, it is also very encouraging to hear the commitment of all distinguished speakers in this session who have demonstrated their governments commitment to the promotion of the freedom of religion or belief. Global efforts to combat this menace will only be successful through a holistic approach where all state and non-state stakeholders work together to put an end to all forms of discrimination.
We must all be vocal in our rejection and condemnation of those who falsely invoke religion to justify the stigmatization and insults to specific communities This pattern often leads to tearing apart the societies, triggering hatred and acts of violence.
The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations is stepping up action in this regard on 2 fronts that are interrelated and interdependent : the first is the operationalization of the UN Plan of Action to Safeguard Religious Sites launched by the UN Secretary General in September 2019. It all starts from here. Enforcing the universality and spirituality of religious sites. I am convinced that whether you are believer on non believer, places of worship, all places of worship are sacred to adherents of that faith. As citizens , they should be respected by other believers and non believers alike. They have the right to practice their religion or beliefs publicly without fear. Therefore, We have launched a communication campaign with the hashtag #forsafeworship inviting young people to submit storied describing their connection to religious sites. A mapping of the religious sites is in the pipleline with the UN Operational Satellite Applications Program.
The second component is my additional designation by the UN Secretary General as the UN Focal Point to monitor and enhance a system-wide response to anti-Semitism. A very timely designation. I have been in extensive consultations with the main Jewish Organizations in the US and beyond as well as like-minded governments and Envoys and coordinators of combating antisemitism to forge comprehensive actions to combating anti-Semitism. I plan to convene a broader meeting in early 2021 with the aim of exploring an agreeable definition of anti-Semitism to mobilize more countries into adopting the IHRA definition of anti Semitism which could be a good base to start from. The meeting also aims to outline the best practices to mainstreaming combatting anti-Semitism in the UN system.
Concluding, as One Humanity, we must nurture mutual respect and enforce interreligious and intercultural dialogue as a way to mutual understanding. We all have a responsibility to look out for each other, to respect differences and to promote peaceful coexistence.
I thank you.