Committed to Dialogue: DOC Research Institute participates in 8th Global Forum of United Nations Alliance of Civilizations

Photo by UNAOC

The 8th Global Forum of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) was held 19-20 November 2018 at the UN in New York. The Forum’s theme – ‘Commit2Dialogue: Partnerships for Prevention and Sustaining Peace’ – stressed the need for a joint search for possible ways to recommit to interreligious and intercultural dialogue and to promote tolerance, diversity, and a culture of peace.

DOC Senior Researcher Nikita Konopaltsev participated in the Forum and spoke in the plenary session on the rights and responsibilities of media in debates around migration.

The Forum provided an open platform for different stakeholders and partners from intergovernmental entities and civil society institutions including NGOs, faith-based organisations, media, and the private sector to share practices on ways to promote dialogue and mutual understanding.

Keynote speakers included UN Secretary-General António Guterres, President of the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, the foreign ministers of Turkey and Spain, and a number of former heads of state, heads of government, and ministers.

In his opening remarks, António Guterres decried the rise of extremism targeting the “other,” stressed the role of youth in peacebuilding, and emphasised the relevance and importance of UNAOC programmes and activities: “We must all work together to build societies that are truly respectful and inclusive, where diversity is seen as a richness, not a threat.”

At the second Plenary Session (‘Words Matter: The Role and Responsibility of the Media in Shaping Public Perceptions about Migrants and in Promoting Inclusive Societies’), former Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Ángel Moratinos, who will assume his new post as the UNAOC High Representative from January 2019, tackled the issue of enhancing the preventive role of media in creating a better environment to understand issues around migration in different cultures.

DOC Senior Researcher Nikita Konopaltsev asked whether the strategy of multiculturalism should be revised and redesigned, and whether multilateralism is the answer in the context of a migration crisis, or whether an alternative concept be researched and introduced.

Following his personal experience in Spain with African migration in 2006 and 2007 and involvement in drafting the Rabat Action Plan, Mr Moratinos answered that the current wave of populism in Europe and the “identity crisis” in the continent’s politics are due to the parties involved failing to make a convincing case that multilateralism is the answer. Multiculturalism has to be reinforced and has to be defended; if not, certain decisions should be taken at the EU level as part of internal debate, Mr Moratinos said.

The Forum concluded with a Joint Statement in which Spain and Turkey expressed support for the UNAOC as an integral and vital part of efforts to support “thinking and acting together, better and stronger” to meet complex and inter-connected challenges like poverty, displacement, armed conflicts, inequality, climate change and unfortunately every type of discrimination, in particular against women.

More about the forum can be found here:

The full Joint Statement can be read here:

Full Video of the Plenary Session 2: Words Matter

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