Remarks by Mr. Miguel Moratinos
The High Representative of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations
at the Annual Beneficiaries Forum
Doha, 27 March 2022
Your Excellency, USG Vladimir Voronkov,
Allow me first to congratulate UNOCT and the Government of Qatar for organizing this meeting.
It gives me a great pleasure , as always, to participate in this important meeting and I am very proud of UNAOC successful partnership with UNOCT which is yielding fruitful outcomes for both our entities.
Since 2019 and under the umbrella of UNOCT , UNAOC , as Vice-Chair of the PCVE Working Group along with UNESCO and UNDP have been actively engaging with other members of the Global Compact to leverage “All-of-UN” approach, complementing the security governance component of counter-terrorism efforts through deploying soft power tools to bridge cultural divides and cement cohesive societies essential to PCVE.
Building peaceful, inclusive and cohesive societies requires an All-of-Society approach and commitment to including young women and men who are uniquely positioned to influence and inspire others to take a step in the right direction.
UNAOC works closely with civil society organizations including youth-led grassroots and faith based organizations. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic over the past 2 years, we ensured the continuity of business converting our programming activities to on-line versions.
I wish to brief you on activities that UNAOC completed its the implementation under UNOCT seed-funded projects :
1. The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations in partnership with UNESCO, The Mahatma Gandi Institute of Peace (MGIEP) and UNOCT and UNCCT completed in March 2022 the Intercultural Dialogue and Socio-Emotional Competencies for Peacebuilding or Digital Games for Peace Initiative which aims to address the rising tensions and incidents of violent extremism in South Asia through an educational project for young leaders.
We long recognized that Intercultural dialogue is a viable tool for bridging the cultural and ethnic divides that contributes to instilling mutual respect and advancing diversity with the aim of preventing and countering violent extremism. However, the success of intercultural dialogue depends on our ability to listen with empathy and willingness to interact with diverse groups.
Thus, harnessing intercultural competencies, including social and emotional skills, non-violent communication and ability to engage appropriately with others is a core focus of the #Digital Games for Peace initiative.
Understanding that training in social and emotional skills (SEL) can start to build common grounds and spaces that provide opportunities to transcend ideological divides predicated on hate and the notorious “Us versus Them” beliefs was the driving force behind engaging young gamers and peacebuilders to develop “Digital Games for Peace”.
2. Recognizing that the surge in hate speech conducive to violent extremism and violence against ethnic, religious and other minorities across the world over the past three years, accelerated by the COVID-19 ‘infodemic’ continues to be alarming, Terrorists and violent extremists across the ideological spectrum have exploited the fall-out from the pandemic to foment division and polarization, to incite hatred and violence. Against such backdrop, UNAOC, UNOCT and UNCCT completed the project EDIN (Empowering Interfaith Dialogue Networks) which was launched in January 2021.
The closing event took place this past February in New York in which USG Voronkov and myself met in person with the participants in the project and heard first hand from them the significant impact of the project.
EDIN targets young religious leaders, representatives of faith-based organizations and young media makers in a peer-to-peer capacity building training.. The training was implemented in 2021.
Twenty EDIN participants designed and implemented their social media campaigns on social media platforms including(Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Spotify, podcasts etc.). The campaigns focused on a) encouraging interreligious and intercultural dialogue and encounters in specific national contexts to defuse violent extremism and b) deconstructing the processes of prejudice, hate speech, discrimination, abuse and radical extremism through dialogue. Building on the lessons learned and skills gained under EDIN, the participants and their lead trainers worked together on developing a toolkit and a guide, which could be used in future iterations of the project and by a wide circle of practitioners. I am happy that one of EDIN alumni Yannis Umlauf is taking part in the Youth Town Hall Meeting in Doha.
Following the success of this pilot project, we need to continue to reshape responses to all forms of hate and violence through meaningful partnerships . I therefore hope to find necessary funding to adapt this initiative and approach to different regions and different faiths. We stand ready to further collaborate with UN partners, member states, civil societies and the private sector in finding innovative and effective approaches to counter violent extremists’ misuse of new communication platforms.
3. Delivering on UNOCT’s Global Programme on Sports and Security in partnership with UNAOC, UNICRI, and the International Centre for Sport Security (ICSS), I was pleased to participate yesterday in the roundtable discussion around the outcomes of the program.
Very briefly we have developed with our partners a handbook on “PREVENTING VIOLENT EXTREMISM THROUGH MAJOR SPORTING EVENTS – A HANDBOOK FOR ORGANISERS”, as part of the multi-year Global Programme on Security of Major Sporting Events, and Promotion of Sport and Its Values as a Tool to Prevent Violent Extremism.
The handbook aims to support organizers of Major Sporting Events (MSE) including sports governing bodies, organizing committees and governments at all levels, national , regional and local actors to take joint measures aimed at Preventing Violent Extremism by leveraging the positive values of sport.
4. Also within the deliverables of the program, UNAOC in collaboration with the partners, plans to organize a MENA Youth Forum in Rabat, Morocco from the 13th until the 16th of June 2022.
The Forum will build on the power of sport to amplify youth participation in national and regional PVE strategies and re-affirm the importance role youth bring to the table in fostering sustainable peace and development in the MENA Region.
Three additional youth forums will be organized by UNAOC within the course of 2022.
5. Within the implementation of the UN Plan of Action to Safeguard Religious Sites, developed by UNAOC , we rolled-out the pilot phase of mapping of religious sites in 2 countries in Burkina Faso and Argentina . Maps of religious sites will capture the universality of religious sites and contribute to fostering mutual respect and understanding of their significance for individuals and communities.
UNAOC was also actively involved in the elaboration of the United Nations Global Programme on Countering Terrorist Threats against Vulnerable Targets, led by UNOCT in partnership with UNCTED, UNAOC, UNICRI and INTERPOL, and officially launched in January 2021. In 2021, UNAOC actively engaged in the elaboration of the modular guide on religious sites – one of the five guides produced as addenda to the United Nations Compendium of Good Practices on Critical Infrastructure Protection – containing tools, recommendations and good practices from around the world on the safeguard of religious sites.
Concluding, I wish to re-iterate that UNAOC stands ready to undertake new projects particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa .
I look forward to further enhancing our collaboration with UNOCT and other members of the Global Compact entities and ensuring the coherence and complementarity. Undertaking new projects, subject to funding