The primary mission of the UNAOC is to forge collective political will and to mobilise concerted action aimed at improving cross-cultural understanding and cooperation among countries, peoples, and communities. The Alliance develops its actions at both governmental and civil society levels. It also works to counter forces that fuel polarisation and extremism. The UNAOC’s particular focus is on improving relations within and between Western and Muslim societies and addressing persistent tensions and divides.
Respect and tolerance among human beings in the diversity of their beliefs, cultures, and languages are fundamental values at the core of the UNAOC. The Alliance aspires to the ideal of a culture of peace and dialogue, based on the conviction that “differences within and between societies be neither feared nor repressed, but cherished as a precious asset of humanity.” (UN Development Declaration, 1-6).
What is the United Nations Alliance of Civilisations (UNAOC)?
The Alliance of Civilisations is a United Nations political initiative of the Secretary General. It was launched in 2005 by former Secretary General Kofi Annan, with co-sponsorship from the Prime Ministers of Spain and Turkey. Based on the recommendations of a High-Level Group in November 2006, Secretary General Ban Ki Moon appointed Jorge Sampaio, former president of Portugal, as his High Representative for the Alliance of Civilisations. Since May 2007, President Sampaio has been in charge of achieving the mission of the Alliance by developing a functional framework for action, setting an agenda, and building a network of stakeholders.
While active on a number of crosscutting issues, the Alliance works predominantly in the following four priority areas:
- Education – In increasingly multicultural contexts that shape our lives in the 21st century, education is fundamental to address the ignorance and the mistrust that are the source of human conflict. Enabling citizens to acquire intercultural competencies and skills is key to fostering intercultural dialogue, overcoming cultural stereotypes, and intolerance and winning the fight against a “clash of ignorance”.
- Youth – Youth is a main target group of the Alliance. Roughly one in five individuals, over 1.2 billion people worldwide, is between the ages of 15 and 24. A pool of talent, ideas and energy, young people are key agents for social change, economic growth development and technological innovation.
- Media – Traditional media as well as social media and new information technologies shape perceptions, narratives, and attitudes. They hold the potential to bridge cultural and religious divides and to develop a positive narrative around diversity. Amplifying this constructive role is one of the core tasks of the UNAOC.
- Migration – Migration and mobility of population shape our multicultural societies. They bring potential for development and innovation which must be harnessed, but also create new challenges that need to be addressed in order to build inclusive and tolerant societies.
Find more information about the UNAOC here: http://www.unaoc.org/