High-Level Political Forum Side Event on the
Global Pledge for Action by Religious Actors and Faith-Based Organizations
to Address the COVID-19 Pandemic in Collaboration with the UN
7 July 2021, 1:00 pm
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am very pleased to co-organize this event with our colleagues of the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights and the Office of the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide.
I would also like to recognize the role of the Permanent Representatives of the Kingdom of Morocco and Croatia in encouraging the United Nations to reflect with religious leaders and actors on our collective responsibility and respective roles in addressing the multi-faceted challenges of the pandemic.
We have come a long way since the three co-organizers of this event held a substantive and inclusive consultation with representatives from a wide spectrum of religious actors and faith-based organizations on 28 May 2020, which resulted in the Global Pledge for Action by Religious Actors and Faith-Based Organizations to Address the COVID-19 Pandemic in Collaboration with the UN.
In order to ensure that the Global Pledge translates into recommendations for action, six webinars took place between December 2020 and May 2021 to explore how the UN, religious actors, civil society organizations with particular emphasis on grassroots organizations, and human rights mechanisms can learn from each other and come together to address key challenges of our times. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all participants in the six webinars, from the speakers to those of you who attended the sessions regularly, for your commitment and engagement to ensure that the Pledge remains relevant and global in its scope.
In order to allow ample time for our conversation in the following section of the event, I will finish my remarks by offering the following reflections:
First, I would like to stress the importance of continuing to engage with grassroots organizations that bring direct experience from the field. Our three co-organizing entities made an important effort to reach out to diverse interlocutors who brought fresh perspectives and contributed to the rich discussions during the webinars. This experience of going beyond our usual interlocutors could be replicated in other contexts in which the UN is looking to better understand and collaborate with external actors on issues of common interest. From our side, the UN Alliance of Civilizations will continue to tap into the unique and rich expertise that grassroots organizations bring to the conversation.
Second, the learning points and recommendations contained in the final report from the webinars offer clear ideas and suggestions to strengthen dialogue, partnerships, social cohesion, and education- to name a few- that can be further developed in initiatives that our three organizations and other members of the UN working with FBOs can take forward in different fora. Prioritizing some key points and recommendations would be very helpful and our meeting today can assist us in this regard. In this regard, out of the 55 recommendations coming out of the six webinars, I would like to highlight two sets of recommendations coming out of the webinars about the safeguard of religious sites and the moderation of religious discourse:
Education to encourage critical thinking and religious literacy conducive to strengthening dialogue among different religions. Schools of interreligious journalists, joint studies of sacred texts, the use of virtual reality to visit and learn about religious sites, and peer-to-peer learning among religious actors are some concrete ideas that can be further developed.
Youth mobilization through the establishment of associations, dialogue events, and the use of social media to fight misperceptions and biases and promote understanding and conversations including creating spaces for disagreement.
Third, I think that, at time passes by, we are only starting to understand the implications and complex ramifications of the pandemic. The role of religious actors and FBOs remains more crucial than ever and the issues identified in the Global Pledge continue to play a central role in the multifaceted response that is needed to come out of the pandemic stronger and more united.
The UN Alliance of Civilizations is committed to assisting in the implementation of the Global Pledge by continuing to strengthen our partnership with all relevant actors, prioritizing recommendations coming out of the webinars, and identifying opportunities to test them.
Thank you very much.