Remarks by H.E. Mr. Miguel Angel Moratinos
The High-Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations
International Day of Tolerance
Global Interfaith Summit
16 November 2021
Your Excellency, Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan,
Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence,
Your Eminence Cardinal Peitro Parolin,
Vatican Secretary of State,
Your Eminence Mohamed Al Duwaini,
Deputy of Grand Imam of Al-Azhar,
I am very privileged to address for the second time this distinguished gathering of eminent religious leaders, faith actors, prominent diplomats and politicians and young people.
Placing the emphasis on promoting tolerance and interfaith understanding as a pathway to building a compassionate world is needed now more than ever.
The global context is gloomy. Hatred, division and conflict have had their day. People whose identities are defined by religion, culture or ethnicity, continue to be besieged by hatred.
It is time to usher in a new era of peace, trust and mutual respect. It’s time to demonstrate tolerance, compassion and humility.
At the same time, it is a reminder to all of us of the vital and indispensable role religious leaders and faith-based organizations play in shaping our world. Faith is and will always be central to hope and resilience. Yet around the world, we see how religion is being hijacked by radical groups and twisted by intolerant ideologies to justify incitement to violence conducive to acts of terrorism, discrimination and xenophobia This vicious circle continues to plague our world despite our earnest global efforts.
These ideologies seek to divide humanity based on false versions and interpretations of religious, cultural and social values. No one can deny the short and long-term damaging results of these factors on international peace and security as well as on development efforts.
Driving a wedge between us as humans is adverse to the Charter of the founding fathers of the United Nations. which refers to people “determined to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as neighbors”.
Over the past 2 weeks, world leaders gathered in the COP26 summit in Glasgow. They have been sending apocalyptic warnings on the dismal future of our planet if firm collective action is not taken now to curb carbon emissions to save the planet. Vert true.
But it is also ultimately crucial to save “our humanity”.
I believe that is important to answer a central question of “how to live together peacefully in inclusive and diverse societies on this planet of ours?”
This is where the role of religious leaders and faith actors comes into play. They can use their moral voice and the trust of their communities to strengthen and advance interfaith and interreligious dialogue and promote diversity as a richness rather than a threat.
The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations has long recognized the value-added of religious leaders and faith-based organizations. Hence, we expanded a unique global platform for interfaith dialogue. Intercultural and interreligious dialogue is a critical tool against isolation, mistrust, and confrontation. It is also the most powerful vector for conflict prevention and conflict resolution. I must say, a viable tool that has been often overlooked.
I personally take pride in possessing many identities. From being a seasoned diplomat to a foreign minister to a lecturer then my current capacity as an official at the United Nations leading an organization that was my brainchild.
In a way, I have come a full circle. The Iberian peninsula from where I come from has been the battleground of the three Monotheistic Faiths and that has left it with a sense of respect for cultural and religious diversity.
The truth is – today more than ever – diversity is the reality that informs human life. Diversity means embracing pluralism in nations and cities, tribes and villages, in ethnicities and identities, in beliefs, faiths and traditions.
There is a good story to tell though. The story happened in this beautiful and proud country of the United Arab Emirates. The joint document of His Holiness Pope Francis and His Eminence the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Dr. Ahmed El Tayeb on Human Fraternity was signed in Abu Dhabi 3 years ago on the 4th February. The document is a shining light at the end of the dark tunnel, a true model of interfaith. It is a blueprint for interfaith dialogue not only among one or two faiths, but it encompasses all faiths. History has shown that dialogue is not a simple process, but that if we fail to teach and cultivate it, the situation can give way to a monologue or to mutism, which is conducive to conflict and violent extremism. HH Pope Francis describes it as parallel monologues.
Concluding, allow me to reiterate that words like dialogue, tolerance, diversity and respect mean little if not supported by a concrete broad range of actions under an international umbrella of sincere cooperation from state and non-state actors. After all, peace, justice, and human fraternity that we all aspire for are what bind us together as we are all part of one humanity despite our many diverse cultures.
I thank you.