Remarks by Under-Secretary-General Miguel Moratinos
The High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC)
Third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation
“People-to-People Connectivity, United for a Prosperous Future”
18 October 2023, Beijing, China
I am very pleased and privileged to be addressing the thematic segment of the Third Belt and Road Forum for the second time.
I am also delighted to be back to Beijing in less than 3 months. My last visit was last July at the invitation of the Chinese Association for International Understanding.
This year marks the 10th Anniversary of the new Belt & Road initiative which offers a new vision for a better future based on mutual respect for all humanity, multilateral cooperation, understanding civilizations and charting a course for a prosperous future for all.
If we look back at the routes our ancestors took at the Ancient Silk Road, we will see the spirit of inclusiveness and openness. From the Nile valleys, the Tigris and Euphrates to the Ganges and Yangtze Rivers, we will see the story of encounters between diverse peoples, civilizations and religions. These ancient Silk Routes connected the ancient civilizations of Egyptians, Babylonians, Indians and Chinese as well as Muslims, Christians and Buddhists.
It is always useful to remember our history so as to build a better future. And the Ancient Silk Road is telling of a story of human progress as well as economic prosperity.
This brings me to the Global Civilization Initiative, which H.E. the President of China Mr. Xi Jinping launched earlier in March this year. The GCI is based on 4 pillars : respecting diversity of civilizations, advocating the common values of humanity, valuing the heritage and innovation of civilizations and strengthening people-to-people exchanges and cooperation.
Today, humanity is at the crossroads.
The global landscape as we see it today reminds us of difficult times that prevailed during the Cold war era, if not worse.
Back then, it was a bipolar world seen through the narrow lens of 2 superpowers. It was an era when great powers’ competition shaped the geopolitical scene.
Today, as we transition into a multipolar world, we witness a similar pattern where great powers are defining the global landscape.
Paradoxically, there are also power vacuums. From Sudan and Sahel in Africa to Eastern Europe, the Balkans and south Caucusus.
The devastating situation in the Middle East is a case in point.
This is when people are looking for true leadership and political will to bring the 2 parties to the negotiating table and avert the scourge of an impending catastrophe that may spill over other countries in the region.
Nonetheless, there is none.
We need to restore universal humanistic values that are embedded in the UN Charter.
We need a new narrative to address the current global context. One that is people-centered focusing on the vulnerable.
We need to rebuild trust and restore solidarity.
We need to invest in social cohesion through inclusion and protection of human rights and human dignity.
We need to enhance global citizenship education.
We may all agree that peace is often an elusive goal.
Yet it is our only hope for a better world for the future of our children.
As we are increasingly living in multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural societies, it is imperative to build inclusive and peaceful societies.
A society that is strong in its respect for each and every individual regardless of their identity, religion, faith, color, ethnicity or gender.
A society that is just in its protection of all its citizens and its citizens rights, equally and without discrimination.
A society that is rich in its diversity
All this is possible if we all work together in opening new channels for dialogue.
Dialogue nurtures trust, understanding and respect. Dialogue between peoples serves as a diplomatic tool that contributes to fulfilling peace.
In this context, the Global Civilization Initiative encourages dialogue, and the Alliance of Civilizations provides a global space for dialogue among state and non-state actors.
Through the Belt and Road Initiative, China brings a tremendous instrument that will support our common objectives of fostering understanding and dialogue between different religions, different cultures, different civilizations and at the same time to create the environment for exchanging ideas, respecting each other, and working together.
I will conclude by quoting President Xi JinPing, who, in his speech at UNESCO in March 2014, referred to a world of civilizations, saying that,
“First, civilizations come in all shades, and it is precisely this diversity that gives exchange and learning among us its meaning.
Second, civilizations are equal, and it is precisely this equality that makes exchange and learning among us possible.
Third, civilizations are inclusive, and it is precisely this inclusiveness that gives exchange and learning among us the drive we need to move forward.”
Therefore, we should forge a new norm of international collaboration based on a win-win cooperation and equal partnerships and alliances.
I thank you.