Remarks by Mr. Miguel Moratinos
High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations
at the Webinar on “Moderation of the Religious Discourse: the nexus to promoting interfaith dialogue, mutual respect and understanding”
Global Pledge by Religious Actors and Faith-Based Organizations
to Address the COVID-19 Pandemic in Collaboration with the United Nations
Thursday 27 May, 10:00-11:30
First of all, allow me to extend a warm welcome to all participants to this last webinar as part of the implementation of the Global Pledge by religious actors and faith-based organizations to address the COVID-19 pandemic in collaboration with the United Nations.
The journey that we complete today started almost exactly a year ago when, on 28 May 2020, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Office of the Special Adviser, and ourselves decided to convene a group of engaged and diverse faith actors to encourage a collective reflection on the response to the pandemic. The result of that rich discussion was the adoption of the Global Pledge for action which contains assurances and commitments by the signatories to address and counteract hate speech and promote interfaith dialogue, among other commitments. With the objective of translating the Global Pledge into specific actions, from December 2020 until today, the three UN organizations have organized monthly webinars focused on the role and experiences of faith actors in promoting gender equality; addressing hate speech; safeguarding religious sites; protecting religious or belief minorities; and preventing atrocity crimes and facilitating and fostering interfaith dialogue and mutual respect.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank our colleagues in the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Office of the Special Advisor for the Prevention of Genocide for their collegiality and cooperation and to all of you who have been part of the whole series of webinars for your commitment to this important initiative.
UNAOC organized a webinar on the safeguard of religious sites back in February and has the pleasure to lead in this one on the moderation of the religious discourse and the nexus to promoting interfaith dialogue, mutual respect and understanding.
Moderation is an important value and approach to countering violent extremism and hate speech and contributes to promoting dialogue, mutual respect and understanding. Enabling the voices of moderation particularly in the context of religious and cultural tensions contributes to fostering tolerance and paves the way towards more inclusive, cohesive and peaceful societies. If this topic was already relevant when we proposed it at the beginning of this process, I would argue that it is even more urgent today in the light of recent developments in the Middle East that we all have in mind. Yesterday I issued a statement in this regard. The rich and diverse experience that our speakers bring to the table combined with the whole spectrum of faith-based actors participating at this event bodes well for a rich and productive discussion.
As I mentioned at the beginning, the journey of the webinars finishes here but our work on these important topics certainly does not. In this sense, in July and in the margins of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, our three UN organizations are planning to organize an interactive peer-to-peer learning event. Participants in the six webinars will be invited to share their feedback on their learning experiences from the series of webinars, as well as challenges and opportunities for the implementation of the Global Pledge going forward and options for further action and collaboration. We look forward to your active engagement on that occasion.
Thanks again for your interest and active involvement in this important initiative.