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Alliance of Civilizations Seeks Global Harmony for Development & Prosperity

UNITED NATIONS, Sep 27 2013 (IPS) - Speaking at the annual UNAOC ministerial meeting on “Global Harmony for Development and Prosperity”,  Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, the U.N.  High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations said  that without global harmony, as enunciated in the U.N. charter, “the development and prosperity that our nations deserve will be difficult to achieve. “

He said progress cannot be realized amidst conflict and instability—and  recent reports support that premise. Thankfully this statistic has changed as of this year, but the challenges to development posed by cultural tensions are well-documented and very real, he noted.

“The fact that there is no apparent conflict within a society does not mean that the society is a harmonious one. Cultural intolerance through hate speech, racism, religious tensions and discrimination can really hamper the development of a well-functioning society, and they can lead to more dangerous fractures.”

In this context, he pointed out, the need for the Alliance of Civilizations is more apparent than ever. The Alliance was created with the intention of fulfilling the vision of friendly relations among nations enshrined in the Charter.

At the UNAOC’s Fifth Global Forum in Vienna held in February, Al-Nasser said he presented a vision and a new strategy for the organization.  “This vision is shaped by the fact that we are living in a smaller world and we are all inter-connected. Today, technology allows us to connect with each other no matter where we are”.

“I hope the Vienna Report that the AOC just published, will be enlightening for your reading pleasure and to provide you with more details on that spectacular forum.

“He said in “no other time in human history have we had more exposure to those different from us. Access to, and information about the ‘other’ can be powerful unifying tools for humanity. But they can also be used in divisive and destructive ways. Ideas are no longer local. Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) make them global”, he declared.

“In a globalized world, information is an essential component of our life- it can lead to prosperity, or if misused, can drive us to confrontation and division.

Having laid that out, I am convinced that it is necessary to channel these tools and forces in a positive way to achieve our nations shared interests. As such, I can see the Alliance playing a pivotal role to achieve these goals for the sake of sustainable human development”,” he added.

He shared some examples of recent achievements:

i) “One of my earliest goals since assuming office was to oversee greater integration and mainstreaming of the UNAOC into the UN system.  I am happy to report that through my team’s efforts much progress has been made, with notable coordination now taking place between my staff and the UN System, for instance, with DPA, OCHA, UNDP, UNICEF and other UN entities.

ii) Addressing youth issues is a priority for me and is one of the original pillars of activity for UNAOC. Our Youth Solidarity Fund has expanded, offering youth oriented civil society groups start-up grants after a competitive process.

ii) The Fellowship Programme, which is the first trilaterally supported (i.e. Arab world, Europe, and the United States) exchange program of young professionals focused on overcoming identity-based conflicts and tensions, is about to convene its sixth class of Fellows.

iii) Our work with the Media has continued to grow.   We have partnered with the World Bank and Google, to organize capacity-building workshops for journalists in transition countries in the Arab world, with the aim of introducing them to the latest tools and best practices in newsgathering and reporting. The UNAOC has also multiplied projects and activities in improving the coverage of migration by the media.

iv) Since the beginning of my tenure, UNAOC has also expanded its focus and activities to the Asia-Pacific region.  This has included outreach visits to Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan.

vii) Finally, and perhaps most important, I have produced a strategy document to complement my vision for the next years. This document will remain viable and will be enhanced periodically under my vigilant guidance.”

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