UNAOC high-level Group of Friends meeting, followed by 2 interactive panel discussions
September 29 | 9:00 am - 4:30 pm
Annual High-Level Meeting of the UNAOC Group of Friends
“Shaping a Better World: Building Cohesive and Inclusive Societies in a Challenging COVID-19 Environment”
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic unraveled, there was a strong push-back on cultural diversity, religious pluralism and human rights. Rightly described as a global human crisis, the pandemic threw under a magnifying lens critical issues that lingered on and metastasized over the years. It laid bare entrenched inequalities and fractures. Societies are divided across cultural, ethnic and religious lines. We see it in the resurgence of Neo-Nazis organizations and anti-Semitism. Manifestations of hate speech, racism, xenophobia, and all forms of discrimination against vulnerable communities continue, leading to a vicious circle of extreme violence and terrorist attacks. Youth and women were further marginalized depriving communities of significant potential sources of resilience.
Coincidentally as we mark the 15th anniversary of UNAOC, the international community also celebrates this year the United Nations at 75. It is worth recalling that the existing multilateral governance structures emerged from a devastating global war and the world-wide depression and a pandemic that preceded it. Only events of such global consequence could generate the solidarity, resolve and vision necessary to create those structures.
Events as such remind us of our common fragility and our interconnected fate. If a neighbor, family member, friend, or country is not safe, none of us is safe. History taught us that our well-being and safety are linked to what happens to our neighbor. There is no alternative to standing together in unity and solidarity in cohesive and equitable societies. Fulfilling Goal 16 “Promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies” of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is more imperative now than ever before. It is the raison d’être of UNAOC.
The current dark moment in the history of humanity also presents a rare opportunity to emerge from this pandemic closer delivering as one. After all, sustaining peaceful, inclusive and just societies requires an integrated and coherent approach through strong collaboration across the different sectors in any society.
In this context, the overarching theme of the opening plenary session of the annual high-Level meeting of the UNAOC Group of Friends “Shaping a Better World: Building Cohesive and Inclusive Societies in a Challenging COVID-19 Environment” will serve as an occasion to mark the 15th anniversary of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations and take stock of what has been accomplished. It will be also an opportunity to present to the Group of Friends, which has grown to 124 member states of the United Nations, along with 27 international inter-governmental organizations and 1 non-member state, the progress made by the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations since September 2019 across the different pillars. The High Representative will also present the new initiatives launched in the areas of prevention and mediation, as well as the new actions taken to address challenges posed by the global pandemic of the coronavirus in 2020.
The opening plenary of the meeting will provide the Group of Friends with the space to express their views regarding these underlying questions: What future do we want for our societies, and how do we get there? What can the UNAOC Group of Friends do to support UNAOC in its endeavors?
The opening segment will start at 09:00AM (EDT) and conclude by 11:30AM (EDT). It will be followed by 2 interactive webinars, each for 90 minutes, focusing on: 1) “An Intergenerational Conversation: The Future They Want”, and 2) “Racism, Xenophobia and Discrimination: The Tearing of Our Societies”. The concept note and format of the webinars will be shared in due course.